The Next Chapter

Genki Ferguson explores feelings of young love and isolation with debut novel Satellite Love

The Calgary author, and son of acclaimed writer Will Ferguson, talks about writing his first novel.
Satellite Love is a novel by Genki Ferguson. (McClelland & Stewart, genkiferguson.com)

Genki Ferguson is a writer from Calgary, and the son of acclaimed writer Will Ferguson. Satellite Love is his first book.

Satellite Love is set in a city in Japan in 1999. Anna is a lonely teenager who turns to stargazing for comfort and escape. But when the Low Earth Orbit satellite (aka LEO) returns Anna's gaze and comes down to earth as Leo, what follows is an unconventional story about love, loneliness and human connection.

Ferguson spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing Satellite Love.

Gazing at the stars

"I grew up in Calgary. Like any large city, there's a fair amount of light pollution. You can't exactly see space. I have a lot of memories of childhood, of going to southern Japan, and a lot of friends and family there on my mother's side. 

I have a lot of memories of childhood, of going to southern Japan, and a lot of friends and family there on my mother's side.

"Southern Japan, similar to the fictional city Akita in the book, is semi-rural. It has this incredible swath of stars in the sky. I have lots of memories staring into the skies as a child, specifically in Japan."

Starry images

"I had written a couple of different stories in high school, and one was about a girl who falls in love with a plane. I realized satellites are a bit more romantic as an image than planes and I've always been fascinated with space.

I realized satellites are a bit more romantic as an image than planes and I guess I've always kind of been fascinated with space.

 

"When it came time to write the book, I took apart all these different stories and combined them. You hear a lot of authors say this, but it is true — it's out of your hands, the characters took on a life of their own."

A study of in-betweens

"Satellite Love is a story of in-betweens. It's occupied by these characters who are in-between worlds. Ana is in-between reality and her imagination. 

Human feelings and characters are messy — and this is certainly no exception.

"But she's also in-between this dual desire to be accepted and to push everyone away. There's a whole swath of reasons for that. The most obvious being her ethnicity: she's half-Japanese. Her past is a bit shrouded in mystery, but you get hints of it.

"She's half-American, but that's the tip of the iceberg. Human feelings and characters are messy — and this is certainly no exception."

Genki Ferguson's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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