A handful of years ago Andrew C Ferguson wrote a football fiction short story which featured in The Hope that Kills Us. He’s since written a good deal more fiction – you can read some of it and learn a bit about the man at Writers’ Bloc. Recently he published The Secret of Scottish Football (reviewed last week) which included the highly anticipated sequel. His answers were so generous, I’ve split the interview into two parts. This is the first.
the simplest game: As I said in the blog your story is one of the highlights in an excellent collection of football fiction. What motivated you to write Nae Cunt Said Anythin? How did you decide on the voice?
Andrew C Ferguson: I wrote Nae Cunt… in the late 90s, and it was partly inspired by Irvine Welsh’s success. I guess I wanted to show myself I could write convincingly in the dialect I grew up with, and make it funny, while still saying something about Scottish culture in the process. To be honest I never thought I would sell it, but then the anthology came along and I got it in.
tsg: Building on the magic of football with some fairy influence and subverting it is such a brilliant idea. Could you elaborate on your mergence of two seemingly disparate genres?
acf: To be honest I’ve always seen writing stories with an element of the supernatural in them as entirely consistent with the Scottish tradition – Robert Louis Stevenson, who’s a big influence, is one example, but it’s interesting Pat Nevin in his foreword to my chapbook goes further back and cites Tam O’Shanter.
Plus I wanted to write about proper Scottish fairies, who were real bad-ass characters before J.M. Barrie and Walt Disney had their wicked way with them. The folk tales often have this idea of a fairy gift which comes with strings attached.
tsg: Ian Plenderleith said good writing about sport avoids action on the field of play as much as possible. Nick Hornby said there’s enough drama in football as it is without people needing to make up stories about it. Do you agree with either of them?
acf: I wouldn’t describe myself as an expert sports writer, but I think I agree with both of these statements. There are some good stories about a single game of football – one of George MacDonald Fraser’s Private McAuslan stories springs to mind – but the problem is you’re making something up about a dramatic incident that happens every Saturday. It’s not often, for example, that one man in a string vest is all there is between some European villains and serious disruption of New York’s infrastructure, but why read a fictional version of something that is literally played out, week after week, in its manifold plot variations at Firhill and Boghead? The answer, I think, is to take the passion that football creates, and use it to tell a story about the characters. As Nick Hornby does so cleverly in Fever Pitch, for example.
And that there is a good place to leave it for the week. In the meantime, we’d like to thank Mr Ferguson for his time, his help, his intelligent answers and for the patience he has shown in the face of much pestering. There will be more.