Ridley Pearson Interview Part 2: Peter and the Starcatchers

Recently, I interviewed New York Times best-selling author, Ridley Pearson.  In Part 1 of our conversation, we discussed his “Kingdom Keepers” book series and the release of Kingdom Keepers VI – Dark Passage.  Part 2 picks up where Ridley Pearson left off discussing his desire to make a “Kingdom Keepers” film and how another of his Disney novels Peter and the Starcatchers was picked up for a movie directed by Gary Ross of The Hunger Games.

Ridley Pearson

Click on the “play” button to listen to the interview with author Ridley Pearson

[audio:http://www.adventuresbydaddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Ridley-Pearson-interview.mp3|titles=Ridley Pearson interview April 2013]

Peter and the Starcatchers

My youngest daughter, Evie, loves Peter and the Starcatchers, and wanted to know where the idea for the book came from.  Ridley Pearson explained,

Well, it’s kind of magical.  Forever, my wife and I have read to our kids at night, and I was reading Peter Pan to our then 5 year old (who turns 16 in 3 days), and she looked up – just a few pages into that short story by J.M. Barrie – and asked, “Dad, how did Peter meet Captain Hook in the first place?”

My little writer’s light bulb said, “hey, how come this boy can fly? Why does he never grow old? Why is he afraid to have his shadow? How did he disconnect from his shadow?”

I said to my daughter, “Paige, that’s its own story, that’s its own book, and Daddy’s going to write the book.”

I play in this crazy charity rock band with Dave Barry, Steven King, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, and we were playing a show about a week later and I was staying with Dave in Miami.  I mentioned this to him and his eyes went wide, and I said, “dude, you write real funny stuff and I write suspense, maybe if we combine our talents we could do something kids would like.”  He said, “I’m in.”

That gave birth to Peter and the Starcatchers.

Peter Pan

Ridley Pearson never feared approaching a treasured literary character as Peter Pan, because he was “blissfully ignorant and naïve.”  Pearson explained,

When we sat down to do this, we didn’t even envision selling it.  We thought we were writing a book for our kids.  It turned into a 600 page book, and Disney got hold of it and said, “we want to publish this.”  We kind of backed into it, blissfully unaware of what we were getting into.

We had no intention of it being THE prequel to J.M. Barrie’s classic.  It’s A prequel to J.M. Barrie’s classic.  We do not pretend or believe for a moment we’re on the level of J.M. Barrie.  It’s just a couple of fun guys, writing fun books, that we hoped kids would like.

Thankfully, after a series of books were published, we’ve heard from a bunch of Barrie scholars, and they’ve all praised the books and have said that they think J.M. Barrie would have loved these books.  All of that is great to hear, but it was good that we were a little naïve going into this.

Peter and the Star Catcher

When Disney Theatrical approached Pearson and Dave Barry about adapting Peter and the Starcatchers into a stage play, they were honored.  The idea was that J.M. Barrie’s story originally started as a play, and it seemed appropriate to “close the loop” and turn it into a play once more.  Rick Elice, who wrote the book for the Broadway musical Jersey Boys, was hired as the playwright, and pulled the nuance out of the novel to make it into a crisp, clean, imaginative 2-hour theatrical experience.  Ridley Pearson gushed, “it’s theater like you’ve never seen, and they did this magnificent job with it and went out and won all these awards.”  [Click here for more information on where you can see “Peter and the Starcatcher” in New York City and on tour.]

Peter and the Starcatcher Portaits

(L-R) Directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, and playwright Rick Elice for "Peter and the Star Catcher" ©2012 Joan Marcus


I asked if Ridley Pearson ever dreamed he would have a show on Broadway, and he replied.

There are few, goosebump experiences in life like walking up a sidewalk and seeing the name of your novel up, in lights, on Broadway.  I about dropped to my knees the first time I saw that.  That is a pinch me moment beyond anything.

Peter and the Star Catcher

Nicole Lowrance and Jason Ralph in "Peter and the Star Catcher" © Jenny Anderson


As Ridley Pearson is currently on a book tour, we wrapped up talking about family travel and advice he could share as a traveling Dad.

One very succinct, easy thing to remember to do, especially if you’re dealing with kids 8 and under, the Pearson’s have what we call our “airport rules.”  And “airport rules” means that we all have contact with each other, physical contact, a kid puts their hand in our pocket, or grabs our hand, and we’re either strung along like elephants or at least each parent has one kid in hand.  By teaching them those rules, that you keep your head up, your eyes open, your valuables in your front pockets, hang on to either mom or dad, and by establishing all that before you even take a trip, there are moments where you might be – coming out of a Broadway show into the crush of Times Square, and all you have to do is say “airport rules” and the kids immediately know what they’re to do, they tag up with you, they keep their heads up, they guard their possessions, and you get through those 10,000 people and into a cab and on your way safely.  It’s a nice little code word to have.

Times Square, New York City

Times Square, photo by Joe Buglewicz © NYC&Co


It’s a good piece of advice.  I want to thank Ridley Pearson for taking the time to talk with us.  For more family entertainment news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.