Peter and the Starcatcher, based on the bestselling series of books, is currently in previews on Broadway. The show tells the story of a miserable orphan boy named Peter, who’s sailing away to a life of servitude on the H.M.S. Never Land . . . but is destined for greater things (i.e., becoming the one, the only, Peter Pan).
Suspense writer Ridley Pearson and Pulitzer-prize winner Dave Barry, who co-wrote the Starcatchers series as well as a number of other books, took your questions from the forums–and here they are with their answers! Read and learn, and don’t forget that you could win tickets to see the show by entering Figment’s Peter and the Starcatcher Contest!
Evey asks: “What was your favorite book as a kid?”
DAVE: I read a lot of Tom Swift books. Tom Swift was this boy-genius inventor who was always inventing things and using them to thwart criminals. The books were written in the early 1900s, so the inventions seemed kind of old and quaint, even back when I read the books—the titles would be things like “Tom Swift and His Electric Runabout” (sort of like the original Chevy Volt). But I still thought the stories were great, because they were about a kid taking on bad guys and beating them.
RIDLEY: As a VERY young boy, it was Harold and His Purple Crayon. It taught me there are no bounds to imagination. But it was probably Huck Finn as well as the Hardy Boys that got me thinking: adventure!
Anna asks: “How did you work out having two people writing? How did you split it up? Was it hard?”
DAVE: We outline first, so we know where the story will be going. Then we divide up the chapters by characters—if the chapter had mostly my characters, I’d write it; if they were mostly Ridley’s, he’d write it. When we finished our chapters we’d email them to the other writer, and he’d make whatever changes he wanted, then email it back. We’d keep going back and forth until we were both happy with it. We called this process “ping pong.”
RIDLEY: In fact, Dave had never outlined a book until this one!! I take chapters that involve the villains and most of the adult character (pirates!); Dave takes those with Peter and the funnier characters. Either person writes a first draft of that chapter and then we send the chapter back and forth MANY TIMES editing like mad.
Joshua asks: “Who is your favorite character in the Starcatchers series?”
DAVE: I love Captain Hook, because he wants very much to be evil, but he’s not very good at it. I also love Tinker Bell, because she really doesn’t like anybody except Peter, and she expresses her feelings in amusing ways. And of course I love Mister Grin, because if I don’t say I love him he might eat me.
RIDLEY: For me, it’s Molly, with a runner-up: Tink!
Rose asks: “Did you run across many difficulties adapting something like Peter Pan, since there are already so many adaptions?”
DAVE: We really didn’t think about other adaptations. We just went with our vision of how an ordinary boy could turn into Peter Pan. Part of the greatness of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is that it has inspired so many variations. We’re just happy to be part of all that.
RIDLEY: We didn’t think of it as an adaptation. This was more a “what if?” The idea: How did a boy become the incredible Peter Pan.
Sammie asks: “How did you two react to having your book turned into a play—how did that idea even occur?”
DAVE: I thought it was wonderful – especially when I saw the amazing job Rick Elice did of adapting it.
Wayfarer asks: “How do you get yourself to keep writing? Do you ever feel like you’ve written everything there is to say?”
DAVE: Sometimes there are days when I don’t write much, but I still try to write at least something every day. Unless your brains stops working, there’s always more to say.
RIDLEY: Dave and I both love telling exciting, action-filled stories. I never tire of excitement!
Katherine asks: “What is your favorite music to write to?”
DAVE: Usually I don’t have music playing when I write. I do, however, have my dog, Lucy, with me in my office, so sometimes I write to the sound of barking.
RIDLEY: For me it keeps changing: sometimes classical, sometimes pounding rock-and-roll; most of the time I don’t have any music on at all.
Nika asks: “Dave, I’d imagine writing a series for children is totally different from writing the columns and humor books you are so well-known for. What issues did you have when you switched to novel writing? How did you get over them?”
DAVE: The main difference is that when I’m writing a humor column, all I’m trying to do is be funny. I don’t really care if it makes sense or follows any logical format, as long as the reader laughs. When I’m writing a novel, the most important thing for me is telling the story, and to do that I have to think a lot more about logic and organization. I still want to use humor when it works as part of the story, but the story is the big thing. And coming up with a good plot—one that will keep the readers turning pages, and satisfy them at the end—is hard.
Molly asks: “Will you write any more Starcatcher books?”
DAVE: We’ve written five now, and every time we finish one, we say, “OK, that’s definitely the last one.” We said that when we finished the fifth one, the Bridge to Never Land. But you never know. Lord Ombra is still out there . . .
RIDLEY: We keep coming up with ideas . . . Right now, however, we’re writing three books set in the FUTURE!
Mickey Mouse: I love Dave Barry! I learn something every time I read one of his books. I probably learned more about recent history from “Dave Barry Turns 50” than I did from the sixth grade.
DAVE: That is truly scary.
Rose Granger-Weasley: AAAAAAAAHH! /fangirling/I LOVE Peter and the Starcatchers–my childhood in a book series (besides Harry Potter, of course).
DAVE AND RIDLEY: We’re guessing you’re kind of a Molly.
Joshua “LF” Mitchell: THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOK SERIES! *calms down*
DAVE: THAT MAKES ME VERY HAPPY! *lies down*