Pat Ferris on creating worlds and letting your imagination explore them

As part of Bright Nights in June, the North Peace Cultural Centre hosted an evening with four renowned Fort St John artisans – writer Patrick (Pat) Ferris, photographer/painter Ken Lane, photographer Wayne Sawchuk, and photographer/painter/sculptor Eliza Stanford. In the second of four installments, a conversation with Pat Ferris.

While many in Fort St. John associate Pat Ferris with the cycling community, very few might know about his other passion — writing.

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The former business owner of Ferris Fast Cycles and now a published author, says his love of writing began at a fairly early age but disappeared for quite some time.

“It really started in junior high school. It kinda vanished when I finished school, and then reappeared about 15 years ago. The opportunity just wasn’t there.”

So, what brought the passion back? It was a particular conversation, he says. 

“There was this person I was talking to, a trainer for a gas company. She was a writer. She was telling me about writing this book at home,” says Ferris. 

“I thought, I could probably do that too. I used to write some. So, I sat down and starting typing away and one thing led to another.”

Two full sets of trilogies later, and work underway on another possible series, Ferris says he loves to write fictional novels. 

“They’re my ideas. I can invent whoever — times, dates, places, people, and away I go.” 

However, like many authors, Ferris did begin by writing about a topic he knew well – cycling, the focus of his first three-book Gypsies series. 

“It’s all about cycling adventures, because there’s so much that goes into this little soap opera. Play the what-if game. What if this girl meets this guy and they’re trying to become professional cyclists, and go on from there. Build a little world for them.”

While many authors might know from the start that they’re writing a trilogy or a series, Ferris says his first book, originally published as Gypsies, was meant to be a solo effort. That concept, though, changed quickly. 

“After I finished it and sold a bunch, then people started badgering me asking how’s book two coming along? What’s going to happen to this hero? You kinda left us hanging here,” Ferris said with a smile. 

“So, I wrote the second book, and then, the same thing. What’s gonna happen with the third one? So, the third one kind of winds it up.” 

He hints later on that there might be room to make it a quartet.

Like many in the field, Ferris has had the chance to meet those who have bought and read his books. He says one of his greatest enjoyments is when someone can relate with a character in one of his novels, pointing his Disciples trilogy as an example, a story that centres around a female “swashbuckling” superhero, as he puts it. 

Although Ferris admits the character is not-altogether-made up, he’s thrilled when someone comes up to him and says they know the character personally. 

“Oh, you must know so and so...Sally from the Canadian Forces. She jumps out of a helicopter. Lands in all these terrible things and can survive it all.”

While he uses his vivid imagination to create a made-up world for his heroes and villains, Ferris knows there’s no substitute for real life stories, as odd as they might be. It’s also the inspiration behind his next project — a book of short stories, one that will include a rather interesting conversation overheard by Ferris and his wife, Pat, from a nearby table in a Victoria cafe.

“There’s all kinds of weird stories out there,” quips Ferris. “The truth, sometimes, is stranger than fiction.”

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