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Book Talk: Author Ridley Pearson ends up juggling books

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - American novelist Ridley Pearson has become a master at juggling -- crime books, children’s books, books about Disney World.

Pearson has just published his first book in a new crime series, “Killer Weekend,” featuring detective Walt Fleming which is based in Sun Valley, Idaho.

He has also been working with his long-time friend Dave Barry, a fellow author and humorist, on some prequels to Peter Pan and has been employed by Disney to author a second novel set inside the Disney World Resort in Florida.

He spoke to Reuters about how he manages to keep so many projects on the go at once:

Q: Why did you pick Sun Valley as the location?

A: “I’ve had a home there in one form or another for 27 years so it is an incredibly familiar place ... Sun Valley, which is a big place for skiers, has attracted mega, mega million and billionaires. I have watched it go from being a popular resort to being a wildly affluent resort. It is just ripe for good crime fiction.”

Q: Is it different setting out to write a series?

A: “It is very different. I wrote a series with detective Lou Boldt which takes place in Seattle but that series is on hiatus although by no means done. I wrote it as a single, standalone book but it turned into a series. That is a very different experience because you have to go back and read your own book to work out the people. In starting a series I was ready to embed little landmines that may or may not go off in future books.”

Q: Who is the main character?

A: “I am very good friends with a real life policeman, a sheriff named Walt Femling, and I made him into Fleming in the book. He has been sheriff there for nearly as long as I have lived there and he is a class act -- a terrific guy and a great sheriff. It is invaluable having the ability to know your character so well.”

Q: Did he mind you turning him into fiction?

A: “No. He has read everything I have ever written. In a way it was an honor for him. He liked it very much. He had suggestions. Many of the characters are real life characters in Sun Valley.”

Q: Why a new series?

A: “I moved publishers. I left Hyperion and went to Putnam. Putnam felt that for a few books they wanted their own Ridley Pearson without any baggage.”

Q: How do you juggle your day?

A: “I have to be super disciplined right now because I am also writing a children’s book (a thriller called “Steel Trapp”) and co-authoring another children’s book with Dave Barry, The whole key is self discipline and staying in the chair. I am juggling multiple careers with the most important being the crime novels.”

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

A: “I am at my desk about 11 hours a day. I do that five days a week and put in about three hours a day on Saturday and Sunday. I have an assistant. She’s been with me for 12 years, and we have figured out a system where I can write and she can really do everything else. I enjoy it. I put about five hours in a day on Walt and the afternoon is a potpourri of Disney and working on chapters with Dave Barry.”

Q: Any chance of your books being made into movies?

A: “Yes, Dave Barry and I are well into a fourth book, a standalone for Disney called “Science Fair.” It is based in a middle school and how ridiculous parents are about trying to get their kids to win it. Dave’s humor in this book is unbelievable. There is a very important producer already looking at it. That has never happened to me before.”

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