Derrick Ferguson was a titanic guy in personality as well as stature.
I was informed today of his passing and it was an unexpected and heavy blow.
Derrick and I first became acquainted when I was running a service in the 1990s called Electronic Tales where I would email out a page of story every day that ended on some sort of cliffhanger and picked up the story the next day, only to end on another cliffhanger. He must have recognized a kindred spirit, because he emailed me not just a single page of his own work, but an entire novel called Dillon and the Golden Bell.
I was skeptical at first because I’ve been sent a lot of stories that were agonizingly slow moving or uninteresting. Dillon and the Golden Bell was the antithesis of slow moving and uninteresting. It was fast-paced and thrilling and I felt as though I had stumbled across a buried literary treasure.
In fact, I had stumbled across one of the best writers to every stride the planet Earth. You may chalk this up to hyperbole, but I rank Derrick Ferguson with authors like Homer, Dumas, Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Over the years, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Derrick on a number of projects. My characters would pop up for cameos or even bigger roles in his stories and I would borrow his characters for my stories. One of his characters who I got the most mileage out of (and continue to do so) is Fredrick Whalen, the henchman of one of the villains from Dillon and the Voice of Odin.
Derrick’s iconic hero, Dillon, disposes of Fredrick Whalen by ducking beneath a charge and levering him off the balcony of a high rise building. He is presumed dead but I presumed he barely survived and Whalen shows up in my Denbrook Supernatural novel Devil Take the Hindmost to plague the protagonist. Eventually, though, a defeated Whalen has a change of heart and becomes a different man. Whalen plays a prominent role again when Derrick and I collaborated on The Specialists, which features Dillon and Sly Gantlet and a host of other disreputable types on a suicide mission.
It always brought me great amusement when Derrick would send me a chapter or two of something that he was working on that included the further adventures of characters I invented. It was as though they had a life of their own that continued even when I wasn’t writing about them.
My own writing has been and will forever be informed by the creations of Derrick Ferguson and though I will greatly miss that interplay of ideas, I know that his titanic talent and imagination will continue to spark my own imagination.
My most recent communication with Derrick involved me sending him a manuscript that included mentions of Dillon and Wyatt Hyatt. I also proposed writing a story for the second Odd Jobs compilation which would involve Dillon and the folks at Damage Inc. paying a visit to the sinister Blagdasen Citadel which nearly claimed the life of Dillon’s mentor Eli Creed when they last passed through it. I apologized for not being able to deliver until the end of May because I was in the middle of writing a novel.
His reply: “If you say you’ll deliver the story by May, I’ll wait for you to deliver the story in May. Simple as that. Dillon and Damage, Inc. going to The Blagdasen Citadel? That’s worth waiting on, son! I anxiously await your epic.”
I don’t know if Dillon: Odd Jobs 2 will ever see print, but I am still going to write that story. Thanks, Derrick, for inspiring and feeding my imagination for the past three decades…and more to come.