Tell us about yourself:
- Where do you live? My wife Dana and I live in a restored hundred-year-old building located on the Main Street of Clifton, Texas.
- How long have you lived there? We’ve lived at the top of the Texas Hill Country since 2013.
- Are you married? Yes, Dana and I are approaching four decades of marriage—to each other!
- Kids? One son, Brad.
- Full-time job? I’m supposed to be retired, but my current title is CEOC (Chief Elf On Call). In that capacity, I assist my wife with her art gallery and painting studio.
- Education? I have a degree in Management as well as designations and licenses associated with my prior roles in the financial services industry.
- Who is your favorite author and book? My favorite writing teacher is James Scott Bell because his writing style and examples resonate with the way I learn. Also, I’m inspired by the masters of expressing Christian ideas, such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. But I also follow many other writers for middle schoolers and young adults. For example, Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games Trilogy, The Underland Chronicles), Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians), James Dashner (Maze Runner), and many others. I attempt to make “kid friendly” the techniques employed by notable mystery writers, such as Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason), Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye), and several others.
- What is your preferred genre? Middle School Mystery Books that intermix fantasy, science fiction, and action and adventure.
- How did you start this journey to become a writer? As a former executive, I enjoyed a long career and wrote extensively, including corporate policies, operational procedures, and sales copy. After my father died in 2012, I wrote a memoir regarding the last six months of his life. When I retired in 2015, I reflected on life and realized that my ability to read coupled with imagination had given me a competitive advantage that I used to solve business and life problems. I began researching commercially viable books that encouraged middle schoolers to read. I found books like I wanted to read when I was in middle school. I also discovered a new purpose in retirement, one that gets me up early each day and raring to go!
- What have you written so far? At first, I wrote non-fiction books about retirement and personal cash management, and even though I had the knowledge and experience, those books were not my passion. Then, I began writing fun books for young people. The four middle school mystery books available on Amazon are Cliftopolis BELOW, Cliftopolis ABOVE, Cliftopolis BEYOND, and Cliftopolis SERIES (the three-book box set).
- Tell us about your current book. The Cliftopolis SERIES is set in a small town like where we live:
- In book one, Cliftopolis BELOW, eleven-year-old Preston Gustoffagus along with his friends accidentally unlock a monster’s cell while exploring secret tunnels. The bite of the escaped beast transforms kids into zombies, and the monster’s mind control turns parents into slaves. The four friends, along with the unlikely assist from the school bully, must destroy the beast.
- In book two, Cliftopolis ABOVE, the friends must figure out how they can travel back in time to wipe out the beast. The future rests on their shoulders because the adults remain under the mind control of the monster.
- In book three, Cliftopolis BEYOND, the friends travel back in time to 1914 to find out what can be done to reverse the curse. Exploring turn of the century Cliftopolis, they discover a secret society bent on replacing workers with a legion of zombies. After making many timeline changes, they cannot predict the effect on present-day Cliftopolis. Only time will tell.
- What is the inspiration for your current book? When my wife Dana and I purchased our hundred-year-old building, we noticed a repaired section of flooring that might have once been a staircase to a hidden basement. I wondered if there were tunnels underneath the 1906 building. And if yes, what would I find down in those old tunnels? Given the many Norwegian settlers in Bosque county, I also kept thinking, what if there were troll-like monsters in those tunnels? Those seed questions grew into the Cliftopolis SERIES.
- Who was your favorite character to write and why? Preston Gustoffagus, known as G to his friends, was so much fun to write because he felt no limitations on where his imagination might lead, including time travel. Researching the time travel theories and making them believable was especially rewarding.
- Is there anything of you in that character? Through my belief in God’s power, I’m convinced we can do more in our lives than we can ever ask or imagine. That belief was built into the lead character’s attitude and actions. That belief is what helped him overcome self-doubt and other flaws, demonstrating to young people that while no one is perfect, you can learn to overcome life’s issues.
- What sets your book apart? A subtle theme of friendship, loyalty, and duty permeate all three books, encouraging young people to emulate those Christian ideas.
- What’s your favorite part in the book? (read it) In the third book, Cliftopolis BEYOND, the friends have traveled back in time to 1914. The following is what they encountered in Chapter One:
I hear a distinct click! Luke goes all ninja, crouching as if he’s about to attack. Zack looks like he’s going to murderlize someone. I’m still clueless but freeze at the second click! My eyes struggle to penetrate the thick foliage. Scanning until things come into focus, I stop the slow pivot at the sight of a cocked double-barreled shotgun pointing at my face. Breath heaves out of me with a shudder.
“Reach for the sky!” A scraggly farmer in bib overalls steps from behind a tree.
Did this farmer guy use one of Woody’s lines from Toy Story?
Wyatt starts doing his jumping up and down thing while straining his arms toward the heavens. I glance over at Maribella, who peeks from behind Luke.
I notice movement next to the tree on the opposite side of the path. Click! Click! A tall blonde waves a shotgun as she slides from behind the tree and stands next to the farmer.
If this guy with the shotgun weren’t so gangly and bent, he’d probably top six feet two, at least a couple of inches taller than either Luke or Zack. Dirt seems to swirl around his work clothes like a swarm of flies and mud clings to his boots like a pair of wet wool socks. I bet if the string-bean farmer didn’t have that shotgun, Zack could easily take him out—quick.
In comparison to the farmer, the girl appears less dangerous. Now that she’s in the sunlight, I see she’s wearing clean but frayed jeans and a loose-fitting work blouse. But height-wise, she’s intimidating. Slightly shorter than Zack, she looms over Trish and Maribella. Each time the blonde Amazon waves her shotgun toward Wyatt, he goes bananas.
The farmer nods at the Amazon. She glances around and nods back. He spits, then grumbles, “Get on, now.” Using his weapon like a pointer, he motions for us to head toward the trees.
In less than a minute, my dream of a short walk into Cliftopolis has turned into a nightmare.
- What was the most difficult part to write? Maintaining the “structure” throughout the three books was difficult, and required sticking with fleshed-out character profiles and a pre-written outline of all chapters for each book. The outlines freed me to focus on the content without having to worry about where the appropriate actions and emotions fit into each chapter.
- What was your favorite book to write? By the third book, I felt comfortable with how the characters thought and talked as well as their everyday interactions, enabling me to relax and enjoy the unfolding story while finding key areas to spice up the action and intensify the suspense.
- How do you write? Do you have a set time or place? How many hours a day? I typically write every day from about five o’clock in the morning until eight. I use a combination of writing tools, such as Scrivener and Grammarly. I occasionally use MS Word but prefer Scrivener for everything, including the generation of MS Word docx files sent to my writer’s group for editing and feedback.
- Why did you want to be a writer? I love reading entertaining stories. I also appreciate how authors have already taken the time to write about how almost any problem can be solved. Through the combination of reading and imagination, anyone can become a problem solver.
- How do you get your ideas? I feel like I’m floating in an ocean of ideas, and all I have to do is scoop up the ones that resonate with my writing style and passions.
- What do you have planned next? I’m writing the Hidden Folk series, which will include three to seven books based on classic Norwegian tales of trolls set in modern times. Chapter One of the first book, Hidden Folk HULDRA, is included in the backmatter of the Cliftopolis SERIES. The following is the back-cover blurb for HULDRA (https://grantpferguson.com/huldra/):
Although Brad Andersen might seem like your typical twelve-year-old eighth-grader at Bryne Middle School, he’s not. His parents died shortly after his birth, and he hates living in foster care. No matter how hard he tries to obey his foster parents and please his teachers, Brad somehow ends up in trouble—a lot. And now, he’s obsessed with uncovering the truth, including whether huldra are real.
While seeking the truth about his family history, Brad discovers his birth parents were murdered, thrusting him into a dangerous investigation that reveals long-kept secrets about the original settlers of Harmony Valley.
Somehow, Brad and his two friends must bring the murderer to justice while preserving the Harmony Valley secret. But they’ll need to act quickly before the killer fulfills a plan to destroy an entire race of benevolent but misunderstood creatures.
18. How can anyone get in touch with you?