Interview with Ridley Pearson

Ridley Pearson is the author behind Disney’s “Kingdom Keepers” series. He has also co-written the “Peter and the Starcatchers” series with Dave Barry, the latest being “Bridge to Neverland”. Ridley is currently hard at working writing his fifth novel in the “Kingdom Keepers” series. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ridley about his books as well and what is planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you give us some background on how your started the “Kingdom Hearts” series?
Ridley Pearson: The first book came out of a visit I took with my family to the parks. On the way out I looked back and saw all these people leaving after the fireworks but none of the characters were leaving. It occurred to me that what do those characters do during the 12/13 hrs that the park is closed? I had kind of a “Toy Story” moment…where the door to Andy’s room closes and the toys come to life. I thought that since the characters didn’t come out with us that they could be in this protracted twenty year battle for whether the villains or the good characters controlled the park. I talked with Disney about the idea and they had some legal concerns about not wanting anyone or thing to be harmed in the park. I totally understood that and through a series of coincidences I ended up one day seeing this holographic disk that worked when light was shined on it. I thought then that the kids in the story could be these holograms and that anything that happened to them would hurt. The attorneys at Disney thought it was a great idea and we went with it. I generally do a lot of research for my novels and after about a month of trying I was granted full access to the Disney Park. It was and continues to be a really fun experience. Some of the things in the book were real experiences I had while touring the park when it was closed.

MG: Do you have a favorite book from the series to date?
RP: It would have to be book five, which I am working on right now. (Laughs) Recently I have been on four Disney cruises and on two of those they let me down into the engine room, crew quarters and several other off limit places so that’s what I am trying to bring to life in the new books.

MG: When can we expect the new book?
RP: The first of the cruise books will come out April 2012. We are currently discussing moving the publishing date of the second cruise book up to Oct. 2012 or April 2013.

MG: Have you been approached about a movie version of the books?
RP: Disney and I have been in discussion on that for seven years. Things have been hot and cold depending on who has the throttle at that time so right now he are hearing that there are discussion of a movie being made where the rides come to life with kids in the park. That’s good news but the bad news is its probably not going to be based on the books. Disney makes great movies but it’s sad that it’s not going to be based off the book. Maybe things will change so you never know.

MG: Can you tell us about your latest novel with Dave Barry titled “Bridge to Neverland”?
RP: There is some great news with about this series, as the first book “Peter and the Starcatchers” was turned into a stage play this winter off Broadway.  It was so successful that it is being considered for a Broadway run as well as the possibility of a film version of the book as well, which would be way cool. The fifth book “Bridge to Never land” isn’t really a Starcatcher’s book as it’s a new set of characters and it takes place in present day time. What Dave and I did was we based the book off the idea of what if some kids discovered something that led them back to our “Peter and the Starcatchers” book series and they find that it’s all real. It’s a heck of a story and I think readers will find it fun. In a away it’s an extension of “Peter and the Starcatchers” however rightfully so Disney Books are looking at it as a standalone novel. I think anyone who enjoyed the “Starcatcher” series will get a big jot out of this book.

MG: What has been your involvement with the play?
RP: Lucky for the play we had no creative involvement in it what so ever! (Laughs) I’m a big theater buff and I asked for access to their process which they gave Dave and me. We got to sit in on the meetings with Rick Elice, who co-wrote “Jersey Boys”, as well as with the producers for Disney Theatrical Productions. They have done an amazing job. So often in the adaptation world the original creator is often disappointed with how their work is adapted. That is usually because a 500 page book being shrunk down to 40 pages is going to have things left out. In this case Rick Elice is way smarter and way funnier than Dave or I. In this case we are both standing back wishing we could put our names on that. We are very very lucky.

MG: How do you split your writing between adult writing and young adult writing?
RP: Creatively there is very little difference. I think that if you try to write down to kids they will sniff you out and throw you across the room every time. Dave and I…and when I write alone, we try to write engaging books with real life characters. In my crime novels I write more in an R-rated manner than when I am writing for young adults. You have to write a book where people care about the characters and in my opinion a plot that pulls you along. There really is no difference other than the content differences.

MG: What can you tell us about the “Rock Bottom Remainders”?
RP: That’s where Dave and I met now 20 years ago. It’s a goof ball band of authors that get together and raise money for charity. We are really bad on stage but Bruce Springsteen played with us one time and he told us not to get any better because if we did we would just be another lousy garage band. We are below a lousy garage band that’s how bad we are. It’s a lot of fun and we have met so many great people. The band is made up of me, Stephen King, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., Greg Iles, Kathi Kamen-Goldmark, Matt Groening, James McBride, Amy Tan and Scott Turow. We do the band for good causes and we have a great time doing it.


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