Will Ferguson stars during time at MRU
Author discussed latest novel and dished publishing secrets
For a man who made a living off of novels like Why I Hate Canadians, Will Ferguson was sure a treat to Mount Royal University students in March.
Creative writing students at MRU once again got to benefit from the guidance of a distinguished author under the writer-in-residence program on Mar. 12-14.
Ferguson is known throughout Canada and beyond for his elegant use of humour to tell a story, and is the award-winning author of How to be Canadian, I Was a Teenage Katima-Victim, and most recently, recipient of the prestigious Giller Prize, 419.
“(It’s) crucial, I think,” said Ferguson of the writer-in-residence program. “It connects students of creative writing to the business world of publishing and authors. It’s a way to bring them together.
“I think Mount Royal University is ideally set up for creative writing,” he noted. “It’s a small-class-size, intimate, workshop atmosphere. The creative writing instructors are very, very good. They have a nice balance of practical and artistic. So I think this is a really good place to study creative writing.”
During his short, three-day visit at Mount Royal, Ferguson gave a public reading and discussion — for which the free tickets sold out in only 25 hours — and a round-table discussion that focused on the more professional side of publishing.
The reading saw an audience captivated in laughter for the entirety of the event, between his hilarious tales of his roots in traveling and his journey from travel writing to writing fiction.
Though he became well known for his Quixote-style humour, Ferguson mostly discussed his latest novel, 419.
419 is very different than his previous works of satire, but Ferguson talked a lot about how there are many parallel themes that can be found not only in his writing, but in all writing with any genre.
The discussion on publishing was much more intimate, attended in majority by students curious about the largely unknown secrets of breaking into the publishing world.
Ferguson also had a full schedule of visiting class after class, sharing insight into the world of professional writing through the same method that made him so loved by his readers — pure story-telling.
“I was worried,” Ferguson joked, “because I thought I was going to come in, because with these young’uns on Twitter or something — they’d all be on their iPods — ignoring me. But the students were great, the classes were fun.”
“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said, “kind of spending a week as a part of Mount Royal.”
Ferguson left a lot of students teeming with excitement that should hold them over to the next year, when MRU will hopefully bring in an equally talented writer to help the development of its students.