Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (reposted!)

   Back in 2009 I wrote a monthly humor column for Pop Syndicate which gave me the opportunity to interview some great humorists. Unfortunately, Pop Syndicate bit the big one ... maybe the real Syndicate got to them for name plagiarism .. and these columns and interviews disappeared into the ether.
   But not forever. My blog last week "Chasing Dave" reminded me of these interviews, so I thought I'd start dusting them off, starting with the interview I did with legends Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
   So here ya go...
     This month I’m delighted…well, not delighted... I don’t get delighted.   I'm a guy, I haven’t been delighted in my life. We have emotions … mostly anger … the others all buried deep and all that. Anyway, I’m emotioned (as much as a guy is able) to be able to talk with not one, not two, but THREE best selling authors!   

Dave  -   PULITIZER PRIZE WINNING   -  Barry  (Woo-hoo!   Clap, clap, clap!)
and …
 (Woot!   Shrill whistling)
and …
Dave Barry/Ridley Pearson, co-authors of …  a bunch of books!
     Okay, okay, there are just two authors.  I got excited.  But two best selling authors?  It’s like having three regular authors, so of course I’m excited.  Who wouldn’t be?
     Anyway, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have collaborated on yet another Peter Pan book, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, which should be hitting the best seller lists any time now.  Between them they’ve written a bunch of books (legally defined as more than sixty), and gained fame on their own before ganging up together to assault the book world with their combined efforts.
     Without much more ado or adon’t here we go: 
Question (for Ridley):  You’re a mad talent as a thriller writer, but now you’re into the humor/YA market.  Are you doing this just to show off? 
   RP:  I make porpoise sounds to show off (which is why Molly can speak porpoise in the books).  I'm writing for young readers because they are the best readers out there.  That, and I never grew up. 
      Question (for Dave):  When I was reading the Peter Pan books, all I could think was, ‘what, no exploding cows.’  How hard was it to keep the cows out of the books? 
     DB – I thought about putting some cows in the Neverland lagoon – mer-cows – but this would not have been popular with the mermaids. I also considered flying cows, but that could get really messy. So as of now it’s basically a cow-free series. Although we do have a really smart bear. But it does not explode. 
     Question (for Ridley):  Did Dave let you write any of the funny stuff in the books?  
      RP:  Dave is -- thankfully -- the humor police in this collaboration.  But I sneaked in a line or two when he was napping. 
     Question (for Dave):  I guess this is more of a comment, but you realize you ruined my Sundays when you retired from writing your Pulitzer prize winning syndicated column and it no longer appeared in the Chicago Tribune. 
       DB – Just for you, I’ve written a bunch more columns, which will appear in a book coming out next May called “I’ll mature when I’m dead.” You had BETTER buy this book, Mr. You-Ruined-My-Sundays. 
     Question (for either or both):  Tell us a bit about the hardest part in the process of collaborating on a novel and the part that surprised you the most. 
       DB – The hardest part is when we spend days arguing as we try to figure out a plot that’s exciting and satisfying and not utterly ridiculous. The most surprising part is how often, when I’ve written myself into some hideous plot dilemma, Ridley comes up with some nifty solution. Exploding cows, for example. 
       RP: We outline the books together - usually in person. Then we divide by character and write first drafts of various chapters -- and we send the first draft to the other guy and a war of editing begins that is actually very healthy for the prose, story and characters.  We've learned over time to write in a kind of third voice -- not Ridley, not Dave -- but the editing is still as ferocious as ever, in hopes neither we nor readers can tell who was behind the keyboard at any given time.  Unless a character breaks wind: that's Dave. 
     Question (for both):  When I was contacting you, the name ‘Disney’ came up.  Disney!   Wow!  So, um … what’s up with that?  
       DB -- We LOVE Disney. They support us and let us wear pirate outfits and make our books look beautiful. And they found us a wonderful illustrator, Greg Call.

·        RP:   Enough said      
     Question (for either/both):  As most of the world knows, you guys play in a rock band with Stephen King, Amy Tan and Mitch Albom.  Who plays what … who sings … are you breaking any state laws … and is this on YouTube somewhere? 
       RP:    The Rockbottom Remainders is a garage band of authors that raises money for non-profits, but as Amy Tan has said, "I would do this to kill the whales. 
             DB – About 17 of us play guitar, but never exactly in unison. Most of us also sing. Amy Tan wears Spandex. Scott Turow wears a wig. We try very hard never to allow ourselves to be recorded, or even to allow our notes to linger too long in the air. 
       Question for (Dave):  What do you like most about what Ridley contributes to your joint writing projects? 
         DB – Ridley is a great combination of being disciplined and psychotic. You cannot beat a disciplined psychotic as a writing partner. 
       Question (for Ridley):  The same question, er, though, about Dave’s contributions. 
         RP:  Eye patches. 
       Question (for Dave):  How’s the campaign for Presidency going?  
         DB – I am leading in all 57 states. 
       Question (for Ridley):  Did you have to alter your writing habits or style in order to go from writing thriller to writing a joint YA book? 
         RP:  Dave and I strive to write story and fun characters.  We aren't there to teach life lessons, we're there to entertain.  We don't "write down" to our younger readers, and I think they respect us for that.  I think I can speak for Dave (but do I dare?) in saying we've never had this kind of fun writing. It's simply the best -- and that's because of the audience.  Kids are the best. 
       Question (for both):  Why should people rush right on out, through heavy traffic, caffeine overdose and exploding cows to buy Peter and the Sword of Mercy? 
         RP:  Because our daughters have to go to college someday.  Actually, it's because Peter and Molly and Tinkerbell are at it again, and any reader knows WHAT THAT MEANS! 
         DB – Because it – and I say this in all modesty – is a terrific book. If you’ve enjoyed the previous books in the Starcatchers series, we think you’ll like this one a lot. 
       Question (for both):  Where can people get your stuff, follow you on Twitter, FaceBook and all that? 
         DB – Google! 
        Thank you very, very much for showing us more of the Dave Barry/Ridley Pearson world! 
         RP:  What's amazing is that it looks a lot like the regular world, only more regular.

Okay, readers, you know what to do!  Get out and buy their books!! 

founder, Humor Writers of America

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