When Barry met Ridley

Best-selling authors team up to create Peter Pan trilogy

  • Known as a crime writer and occasional musician, Ridley Pearson has teamed with Dave Barry to create a Peter Pan prequel.

    Known as a crime writer and occasional musician, Ridley Pearson has teamed with Dave Barry to create a Peter Pan prequel. Marcelle Bright | Staff Photographer

Published: 10/26/2007 12:14 AM

All they promise this Halloween are lousy costumes and tacky magic.

Oh, and they say they've written a pretty good children's fantasy book, too.

On Wednesday, Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and New York Times best-selling writer Ridley Pearson will visit Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville to discuss their children's book, "Peter and the Secret of Rundoon."

The book is their third in a series of Peter Pan prequels, following "Peter and the Starcatchers" and "Peter and the Shadow of Thieves."

The final book, they say, can stand on its own and tries to create one possible explanation for the Peter Pan saga.

On the phone from Barry's hometown of Miami, both authors revealed a few secrets of their craft, thoughts on their new book, and why they will spare Naperville from their musical talents.

They agreed to surrender to some silly questions -- but only if they could provide equally ridiculous answers.

Q. Anderson's has brought authors like J.K. Rowling and presidential hopeful John Edwards to Naperville. It seems like you're in prestigious company this week.

Barry: Or we're ruining their reputation. I don't know which.

Q. How does a Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist team up with a New York Times best-selling crime author to write, of all things, children's stories?

Pearson: The idea came to me years ago as I read "Peter Pan" to my eldest daughter, who was 5 at the time. We weren't very far into the book when she put her little hand over it and asked "How did Peter meet Captain Hook in the first place?"

The original story asks readers to accept, without question, that there is a boy who can fly; who never grows old; who is being chased by pirates; who has a tiny little assistant; and who is separated from his shadow.

So my daughter asked in her own little way: How did a boy become Peter Pan?

I approached Dave with the idea while we were at a gig with our band, the Rock Bottom Remainders.

(The group features other famous writers like Stephen King and Amy Tan.)

His eyes kind of lit up and I thought: Good, because I'm this sadistic kind of crime writer and this isn't going to work without some humor.

Q. Dave, your children are far apart in age and it seems the Peter Pan stories are more appropriate for your younger daughter. But do both kids read the books?

Barry: My son, Rob, is 27 and my daughter, Sophie, is 7. Rob did read the new book and it was kind of high praise, because it was the first time he actually admitted to reading one of my books.

I don't plan to let Sophie learn how to read.

Well, actually, she already knows how and it's alarming. They must pick it up in the streets or something.

Q. Now that the trilogy is over, what's next? Will you collaborate in the future?

Barry: Yes. We love working together, so we will work more on our Neverland books, which are for younger readers.

Pearson: And Dave is running for president.

Q. So, Dave, are you going to run against fellow humorist Stephen Colbert?

Barry: I've been running for president way before Colbert; 1984 is when I started running. I'm thinking of challenging him to a debate.

Q. Both of you are in Miami now, but normally you live several states apart. Is collaboration difficult?

Pearson: There's a lot of trust in this relationship. Our work is almost all done through e-mail. We will meet up and make an outline together across a kitchen table in the beginning, but then it goes back and forth. Dave might do five chapters, for example, and then I'll take it from there.

Q. So when you're not writing, you guys are musicians of sorts. What's the difference between touring for the book and touring with your band?

Barry: They're very different. We actually are proud of the book.

Q. Can the audience expect to hear any of Dave's guitar riffs or Ridley's bass grooves during the Naperville reading?

Pearson: No. We want to be invited back.

If you go

Who: Authors Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson discuss "Peter and the Secret of Rundoon"

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Anderson's Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville

Cost: Free admission

Info: (630) 355-2665 or andersonsbookshop.com