Fergus, Maureen 1967-
Fergus, Maureen 1967-
Born June, 1967, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Education: H.B.Sc., M.B.A.
Home—Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Freelance writer, author, and managing director in a financial services firm. Has worked in senior management in high technology; lecturer in marketing technology at Red River College, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 2007.
Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero (young adult novel), Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.
Also contributor of fiction and articles to consumer magazines; author of business communications, including marketing materials and technical proposals.
Maureen Fergus was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and grew up Winnipeg, Manitoba; later, she moved to a series of Canadian cities, including Brantford and London in Ontario, and Montreal, Québec, before settling back in Winnipeg. She earned both a bachelor's degree in science and a master's in business administration. She then spent approximately ten years working for several technology firms, first as a manager and later in a directorial position. She has taught marketing at the college level, and now works as the managing director in a financial services firm, in addition to writing books for young readers. Her first novel, Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero, is geared toward younger readers.
Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero tells the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who is typically self-involved. He feels his family's financial pinch and resents his mother for marrying a man who stacks fruit at the local supermarket for a living. When his father has the chance at a better position and they need to move, it gives the boy one more item to resent about his life. He complains in school and insults his teachers, too. When his mother attempts to straighten him out by making him discuss why he should not share his negative opinions in a tape-recorded diary, this simply becomes one more part of his litany of complaints. Once the family moves, he gets into trouble yet again, and in an effort to make him more sensitive to others, his mother finally forces him to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Only when the soup kitchen is threatened with closure does he finally begin to understand what can be at stake in other people's lives, and he must decide whether he is willing to stand by the friends he has made there.
A Kirkus Reviews critic remarked of the book: "It's a first-rate debut. Extraordinarily witty, zippy and entertaining throughout." Horn Book contributor Christine M. Heppermann commented that "Fergus pushes this humorous caricature to the limit," referring to the protagonist's extreme misbehavior and rudeness, adding that she "introduces a chance for him to develop at least a sliver of social conscience" just at the point where the reader begins to despair of his ever mending his ways. In a review for School Library Journal, Connie Tyrell Burns observed of the protagonist that "his transformation from ego-centered insensitivity to compassion for others is heartening, if a bit hasty." Burns added that, overall, Fergus's hero is "edgy, quirky, outrageous, and hilarious."
Fergus told CA: "I first got interested in writing three weeks after the birth of my first child. I loved spending time with my baby, but I quickly realized that my brain would shrivel up if I didn't start doing something with it besides counting dirty diapers. Knowing how much I enjoyed journaling and letter writing, my brilliant husband suggested that I try writing fiction. I will never forget the first time I stretched my hands towards the keyboard with the intention of doing so—it felt like I was slipping my hands into a pair of gloves that had been waiting for me my entire life. And the rest, as they say, is history.
"Every book I read influences my work because I am constantly studying the difference between writing techniques I feel work well and those that don't. In addition, as a writer for young adults, I tend to draw on my memories of being a teenager—the kinds of emotions I experienced, the things that mattered to me, and the situations I found funny or tragic or mortifying.
"Before starting a new novel, I do some general brainstorming on direction or theme, then I sit down and wait for a compelling character to walk onto the page. As a general rule, if I haven't nailed my protagonist's voice in the first paragraph, I go looking for a stronger character. Once my main character and the main thread of the story is established, I work to develop the backstory, the supporting characters and the subplots—all the elements that make the story interesting and whole.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is how much work it is, and how critical the editing process is in terms of bringing a piece to fruition. When I first started out, I used to think that finishing the first draft was the end of the road—now I know that it's only the beginning!
"My goal is to write books that are so entertaining that I never have to dummy down my writing to keep my readers engaged."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Horn Book, May 1, 2007, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero, p. 282.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero, p. 122.
Resource Links, June, 2007, Lesley Little, review of Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero, p. 28.
School Library Journal, April, 2007, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero, p. 132.
CM Web site,http://www.umanitoba.ca/ (February 16, 2007), Pam Klassen-Dueck, review of Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero.
Flamingnet,http://www.flamingnet.com/ (January 17, 2008), review of Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero.
Manitoba Writers Guild Inc. Web site,http://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/ (January 17, 2008), profile Maureen Fergus.
Quill & Quire Online,http://www.quillandquire.com/ (December 12, 2007), James Grainer, review of Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good-Looking) Hero.