Interview with Julie H. Ferguson, author of Through a Canadian Periscope

Interview with Julie H. Ferguson, author of Through a Canadian Periscope thumbnail

Interview with Julie H. Ferguson, author of Through a Canadian Periscope

Posted on March 19 by Julie H. Ferguson
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Julie H. Ferguson joins us on the blog today to talk about her book Through a Canadian Periscope, how she was able to research for this book, and her ideal writing environment.

Caitlyn: Tell us about your book.

Julie: Through a Canadian Periscope’s second edition celebrates the story of the Canadian submarine service on the occasion of its centenary in 2014.

Created at the beginning of World War I, Canada’s submarine force has overcome repeated attempts to sink it since then. Surprise, controversy, political expediency, and naval manipulation flow through its one hundred year history. Heroes and eccentrics, as well as many ordinary people populate its remarkable story, epitomizing the true essence of the service.
Fully updated and with new and restored images, Through a Canadian Periscope offers a colourful and thoroughly researched account of the Canadian submarine service, from its unexpected inauguration in British Columbia on the first day of the World War I, through its uncertain future in the 1990s, to the present day.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Julie: I visited my first submarine as a naval reserve officer in 1979 in Halifax and fell in love with HMCS Okanagan and her captain. In 1982 I asked my husband what books I could read to learn more about the service and discovered there were none. Over a bottle of good Chianti, I boldly declared I would write one! I began the serious work in 1984 when our daughter was one and eleven years later Dundurn published the first edition of Periscope.

Caitlyn: How did you research your book?

Julie: Finding funding to undertake the travel necessary to research Periscope was the biggest stumbling block because I wasn’t attached to a university. By sheer chance, I discovered a little-known agency in the federal Secretary of State department that would fund a “neglected subject” by an independent scholar if their grant was matched by a private corporation. International Submarine Engineering Ltd. offered to join the project and my proposal was accepted by Canadian Studies.
The textual and visual record research took me to England three times, Ottawa six times, and Victoria three times. The rest was done via letter and phone before the Internet arrived. I interviewed over one hundred people too.

Caitlyn: What was the creative process like for you?

Julie: Broken-up would describe writing Periscope best — I longed to be able to work for more than an hour at a time. I worked 28 hours a week as a physiotherapist, had a family to run and a husband who travelled 70 percent of the time. I did much of the writing phase in bed after our daughter was asleep. However, the grant did provide me with about a year of full-time writing/revising that I used when I began that process. It was a godsend.

Caitlyn: Describe your ideal writing environment.

Julie: I’m a writer who works best alone with few distractions. I’ve had my own custom-designed office for twenty years plus now. After the research is done, I do a lot of thinking, often when I go out for walks, before I put paws to keyboard. I listen to quiet Baroque music and have a small fountain in my office to help crack open my creative channel. I positively hate interruptions now, which I somehow managed to cope with as I wrote Periscope. 


Julie H. Ferguson

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014

Julie H. Ferguson

Julie H. Ferguson, a successful author and speaker, has been writing about the Canadian submarine service since 1984. Julie's submarine articles have appeared in Legion magazine, Sea Power, USNI Proceedings, and elsewhere; her second submarine book, Deeply Canadian: New Submarines for a New Millennium, was published in 2000.