LP: You’ve got a new book out, a travel book, Beyond Belfast, published by Penguin. What’s it about?
WF: It’s about a two-month, 560 mile hike I did along the Ulster Way “the longest waymarked trail in the British Isles.” It was bogs, banshees and blood sausage. With sheer-drop coastlines, crumbling castles and many’s a pub.
LP: Why Northern Ireland?
WF: I was raised by the daughter of a Belfast orphan, and Northern Ireland has always been there, lurking in the background — not the least of which is due to family rumours of a lost inheritance and a possible castle of my own. My grandfather’s past is murky at the best of times, and a mystery lurks at the heart of the story.
LP: One of your first books was Hitching Rides with Buddha, where you hitchiked across Japan. As a slightly older person than you were then, were there any differences or challenges in the physical act of traveling?
WF: I’m certainly more creaky and less patient when it comes to bad meals and questionable sleeping arrangements. I camped on the trail several times in Northern Ireland, and I when I woke I always felt like I’d just come from the wrong end of a pummeling.
LP: What’s next? Are you working on another novel?
WF: The next book is a Christmas memoir with an illustrator. It’s a gift book about my own childhood in northern Alberta titled Coal Dust Kisses.
LP: Will we ever see another Canadian political/historical book from you?
WF: It may be a while. I really feel I’ve said my piece — and anyway, my Canadiana usual springs out of anger and outrage, and lately I haven’t been angry enough to launch into another extended harangue. Irked, yes. Annoyed, certainly, But not really angry.
LP: You’ll be on the road promoting this new book, do you bring reading material and if so, what for this trip?
WF: I’m reading a travel/political memoir titled Untapped. It’s about the scramble for Africa’s oil. It’s fascinating — and sobering. (Although I love writing fiction, I prefer reading nonfiction.)
Will Ferguson’s website is: www.willferguson.ca