Monday, Oct 15, 2018

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The cover of Ferguson's book

Photo courtesy of: Kelly Kathleen Ferguson

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Laura Ingalls Wilder enthusiast will kick off Graduate Research Series

Kelly Kathleen Ferguson, a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing, will speak in Alden Library about her research for her recently published book "My Life as Laura" at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17.

She will speak in the Friends of the Libraries Room on the third floor of Alden Library. Everyone is welcome to attend and refreshments will be provided.

Ferguson, the first speaker in the newly established Graduate Research Series @ Alden, will present the investigation that helped her fulfill the childhood fantasy of living life as a pioneer like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

"I love talking about the research that went into the book, so it'll be a treat to speak for an appreciative audience. Although I wrote the book for a popular audience, it's nice to have the considerable work I did recognized [in an academic setting]."

Ferguson's book is a creative non-fiction memoir that follows Kelly as she explores the historical journey of Laura Ingalls Wilder through visiting the home sites of the beloved author.

Ferguson's initial research was her "obsessive rereading of [Wilder's] Little House books from age six."

"The idea to retrace Laura's pioneer journey came from seeing the historical marker for one of the home sites (Exit 271 off I-90 in South Dakota) on a drive to Montana.

Then I looked over a map and found a guidebook by William Anderson online that listed the Laura sights to see,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson spent two months driving through the prairies donning a "Laura-like" prairie dress and gathering information.

"I had read William Anderson's biography of Laura before (written for young adults), but I kept myself deliberately naive for the trip," said Ferguson. "The trip was 99 percent first person research – driving and taking notes, watching how the landscape changes from Minnesota to Missouri, taking pictures and short videos, talking to people. As I traveled, I amassed books from the gift shops and learned more about Laura from an adult perspective, which became part of the book. Once I began writing book sources beget other sources. Bibliographies and footnotes were my friends."
Ferguson's book, which is available from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com, has been hailed as "hilarious, perceptive and true, a homespun story as genuine as the ones that inspired it," by Judy Blunt, author of "Breaking Clean."

Aside from publishing her first book, Kelly has an MFA from the University of Montana, and is currently teaching and working on a Ph.D. in creative nonfiction at Ohio University. Her work has appeared in mental floss magazine, Poets & Writers, Gettysburg Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Brevity, among other publications.

Visit Ferguson's website for more information.