‘Starcatchers’ reflect on their careers

Tucson Festival of Books


Hyperion Books

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dave Barry and New York Times best-selling author Ridley Pearson have completely different styles of writing, but the two share a similar past. Between the years of 2004 and 2011, the both collaborated and wrote the novel “Peter and the Starcatchers,” along with four sequels.

Pearson’s novels are generally suspense or young adult adventure, with “Peter and the Starcatchers” having been made into a Broadway musical. He began writing after college, when he became a singer-songwriter for acoustic and folk-rock bands.

“In there somewhere, I began writing screenplays and eventually novels,” Pearson said. “I wrote for eight years before selling my first novel. Between the songwriting and the novels, I’ve always been a storyteller; it just seems to be in my bones.”

Over the years, Pearson’s writing style has drastically changed. In the beginning of his career, Pearson started out as a dedicated mystery and crime writer.

“When the TV show ‘CSI’ came along, I elected to get out of the forensic, procedural novel as the show diluted and confused the genre for me,” Pearson said. “I’ve circled back occasionally, and I nearly always have some kind of mystery woven into my suspense novels.”

Some of Pearson’s more well-known suspense novels include “The Red Room,” “In Harm’s Way,” “Choke Point” and “The Risk Agent.” He is also known for his young adult novels, many of which are backed by Disney, including “The Return: Disney Lands,” the “Kingdom Keepers” novels and the “Peter and the Starcatchers” series.

Barry, who began his writing career as a newspaper columnist, is now one of the most popular humorists in the country. In an interview for students on Barry’s official website, he stated that the best part of journalism is that there is no routine, so the job never gets boring. Barry was a columnist for multiple major newspapers, including the Miami Herald, until he retired in 2005.

“Read a lot and write a lot,” Barry said, when asked what advice he would give to someone pursuing journalism. “Above all, get practical work experience at real newspapers; this is much more important than academic courses.”

Although Barry is mainly known for his hilarious newspaper commentaries, he has also written a handful of novels and nonfiction pieces. Some of his more popular fiction books include “Lunatics,” “Tricky Business,” “Peter and the Starcatchers” and “Insane City.” His nonfiction works include “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead,” “You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty” and “Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium (So Far).”

Barry and Pearson grew together as writers when they spent time developing the “Peter and the Starcatchers” series.

“When I stumbled into writing books for younger readers while still continuing my suspense novels,” Pearson said, “I found a different voice, certainly a different style, though not intentionally. It was a new world for me. We wrote for a decade together, and I learned a ton from Dave and treasure that time in my career.” “Peter and the Starcatchers,” the first book in the series, was the most popular.

“I have two pieces of advice for writers who are trying to sharpen their game,” Pearson said. “Read, read, read. And read ‘up.’ If you play tennis against much better opponents, the strangest thing happens — you lose. But your game vastly improves. If you read ‘up,’ you hit your target more often.”

Both Barry and Pearson will be at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend. Pearson will kick off the festival with his band, Rock Bottom Remainders, Friday from 8-9:30 p.m., and Barry will host lectures in the Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom on Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m.


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