84 year-old George Ferguson recalls abandoning a publisher to save his heroine and embracing People and Places instead…
George Ferguson is a retired Methodist minister. He learnt his love of words and writing at Avoca School in Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, and he has never lost it. A clergyman will write many words. The themes may often be similar but the variety is infinite and that is “the spice of life”. In addition to routine responsibilities, George had opportunities to serve in several specialities. The Church had concerns for education, social welfare, fund raising, administration, communication. Radio and relevision demanded the learning of new skills. All needed words.
My English teacher taught me to enjoy writing. That love has never left me. When I became a clergyman, it was clear that I was going to write a lot of words even if they might usually be on the same theme.
Retirement prompted a different kind of subject. My relaxation reading had always been about dangerous fictional heroes and the detectives who eventually caught them. Mystery, murder, suspense with an occasional touch of violence and romance was my diet. It contrasted sharply with the more serious content of my duties.
I began to wonder if I could write something in the nature of my leisure reading. I loved it. I could lose myself for hours enjoying the fun and dangers of my characters. I was in charge. I could dispose of those I didn’t like and give a helping hand to those I wanted to succeed.
Then, with great daring, I thought that others might enjoy my fictional friends too. I approached a publisher. He appointed a reader for me. She liked my novel but wanted to make changes to my heroine that would have spoilt my whole story. I had grown very fond of my heroine as she was and had designed a lovely destiny for her. If the appointed reader wanted something else, then I decided she could write her own story and leave my girl alone!
I turned back to what I know best – People and Places. The supply was endless. There were so many people of great worth and so many places of interest. Ireland needed new heroes – ones that didn’t carry guns and let off explosives. The worlds of medicine, education, art, exploration, research and development had many Irish heroes. I abandoned the fictional thrillers and sought out real life ones. The articles about people and places began to grow. The joy of writing increased. I offered a piece to “Sunday Miscellany”. Oh! Wonder of Wonders, a letter came back to me to come and broadcast it! I had found my niche!