G.M. Ford: with something up his sleeve
Excerpts from the interview by Lynn Kaczmarek in the August/September 2003 issue of Mystery News
No, G.M. Ford is not a monopolizing auto conglomerate. Nor is G.M. Ford the errant son of an ex-president. Jerry Ford is, quite simply, one of the finest writers of mystery fiction with a talent for dialog and description that gives his contemporaries a run for their money.
Transplanted from New York to Washington State some 35 years ago, Jerry Ford taught writing and communication for almost 20 years before his first book was published. Anthony and Shamus award nominee, Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?, sported perhaps the most unsightly dust jacket ever. So bad, in fact, that Seattle Mystery Bookshop created 200 limited edition "plain brown wrapper" dust jackets for Ford's first signing. Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca? featured Seattle-based private eye Leo Waterman and his band of merry men dubbed "The Boys." (For those of you not living in the northwest, the Straits of Juan de Fuca connect Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean northwest of Seattle. And the clever pun is indicative of the wise-cracking, irreverent humor common to Ford's books.)...
When we spoke, (Ford in a park in Colorado as be began his newest book tour, me in my office in suburban Chicago) I wanted to focus not on the Leo Waterman books, but his new series. Ford was obviously played our. "After about six books I'd had enough. I still had a couple of books under contract when I called HarperCollins and said I don't want to write these things anymore." Luckily, HarperCollins agreed and in 2001 Ford changed directions and the first book of a new series was born. Fury was a darker, more brooding, less humorous novel, featuring journalist Frank Corso and photojournalist Meg Dougherty. Some of Ford's readers were not amused...
"Well, you know, I've had people who are outright upset with me. I didn't consult with them before I stopped writing Leo, you know?...On one hand, I take it as a compliment that they're that involved with my characters. And on the other hand, I'm thinking that I'm doing this for a living and I'm making waaaaay more money off Frank than I ever made off Leo...had Al Knopf come and offered me a half a million dollars to write a Leo book, I'd put one together in a heartbeat. You know? I'm not a hobbyist; I'm a professional writer."
What Jerry Ford didn't mention in our interview, is that on July 25 he received the Pacific Northwest Writers Achievement Award. According to The Seattle Times story, "...not only for his literary success but for his willingness to help others. Those who know Ford say he has graciously helped may fulfill their dreams -- his high-school students, the would-be writers he has taught in University of Washington Extension classes and the novices he has advised at writers conferences over the years."
Read the complete interview in the August/September 2003 issue of Mystery News