Jody Ferguson Bio
Jody Ferguson is a fifth generation Texan, who has had the fortune to be able to have seen much of the world through his educational and professional experiences. His first exposure to foreign cultures and climes was when he lived in France as a student. During this time he was able to visit parts of the Middle East and North Africa. After finishing his studies he lived in Japan on two different occasions for over four years. During his time in Asia, he traveled from New Guinea to New Delhi, and from East Timor to Beijing. After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship he lived for two years in Moscow doing postgraduate research on Russian foreign policy. He journeyed all over that vast country, from its pristine Pacific coast to the chilly Baltic and Barents Seas.
He amassed 20 plus years of experience in political-military affairs, most recently working in the Pentagon for four years, where he served as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. For his services, he was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service in 2013. During this time he travelled often to Russia and to Japan in a professional capacity as a policy analyst and a defense contractor, based in the Washington, DC-area. Dr. Ferguson has a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Northeast Asian security affairs. His postdoctoral work at Princeton University included authoring and co-editing three books on the foreign policies and strategic thought of Japan and Russia in Northeast Asia. He speaks French, Japanese and Russian, and has developed a keen insight into East Asia and Russia.
He recently gave up his career in international affairs and resettled in Austin with his wife and three children to follow a passion for writing. Although he has been published numerous times in the political and academic press, he plans to focus exclusively on writing fiction. He plans on authoring several novels, which will be loosely based on family members, so that one day his children and their children will have a record of their ancestors. Additionally, he has been writing book reviews and posting travel blogs, encompassing past travels (and those yet undertaken). What is of particular interest to him is the examination of peoples adrift in times of international transformation. Understanding earlier periods of people swept up in the tide of momentous geo-political changes can help us understand what is transpiring presently at home and abroad in this era of globalization.
Novelists and writers who have inspired him include Willa Cather, Thomas Hardy, Wallace Stegner, Pearl Buck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Barbara Tuchman.
Stories from Family History
Coming from a family that is both large and close-knit has given me the great gift of knowing, loving and learning from some special and colorful people over the course of my life. My mother’s family has been in Austin since 1849, after originally emigrating from Scotland to Jamaica, beginning in the 1600s. My great, great grandfather on her side lived on a hill overlooking Montego Bay, Jamaica and fathered twenty children (from two different wives). Seventeen of them lived to adulthood and ended up somewhere in North America. My father’s family has lived in Houston for over one hundred years. My great grandfather on my father’s side lived in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, where he exported tropical hardwood to the southern United States. He survived hurricanes, the loss of a child to tropical fever, and bankruptcy before ultimately retiring to Kansas, where he was born. All the while his wife wrote about their story in letters and poems.
Today, I keep in touch with most of my extended family who live across Texas. A great aunt on my father’s side has served as the family genealogist for years, keeping letters, telegrams, photos, stories, and even poems that her grandparents, parents, and siblings kept and wrote over the years. An uncle on my mother’s side has done the same. They were generous enough to share these treasure troves of materials with me.
Over the years these and other stories have been passed on to me at family gatherings and reunions, in duck blinds and fishing boats along the Gulf Coast, and in fire-warmed studies over glasses of whisky. I learned about the adventures, adversities and larger-than-life experiences of my relatives. Their stories have influenced and motivated me throughout the course of my life. They have inspired my writing as well as my love for genealogy and historical fiction, and now I plan on putting their stories to use.
Get to know more about my family here.