Ridley Pearson has popped up on Luke Reviews a couple of times now, first with The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red (see review) and then just a week ago with his brand new novel, Killer Summer (see review). I was a fan of both books, and when I got the chance to talk with Ridley and ask him a few questions, I was thrilled.
Ridley, thank you for the interview!
First, I'd just like to congratulate you on a wonderful new novel. Killer Summer was particularly engrossing, in part due to the vast array of subject matter covered, from airplane flying terminology to wine, fly fishing to police work. For a novel like this, how much research is required on your part?
I believe in putting as much fact as possible into my fiction to keep it believable. The research is basically never ending.
Do the topics covered generally focus on areas you are familiar with, or do you touch on subjects outside of your normal realm?
Both. Whatever the story requires. If I don't know it, I turn to those who do. More often than not, this is the case!
What were the big influences on Killer Summer, and the whole series following Walt Fleming?
The influence is place: The Wood River Valley (Sun Valley, Hailey, Bellevue, Idaho). There are crimes here, situations here, that are unique to the both the landscape and degree of wealth (and poverty). It's an interesting locale to write about.
I know this is a long step back, but Luke Reviews contains a review of another of your novels, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red. What was it like working on a media tie-in project, especially one attached to a big name like Stephen King?
Stephen and I play in an all-author rock band together, so I'm privileged to count him as a friend. When a publisher proposed a book tied-in to Steve's Rose Red (mini-series) they suggested a coffee table architectural book. I countered with Ellen's diary, and Stephen loved the idea. I then wrote a first-person account from the point of view of a nineteen year old woman in 1906 Seattle. It was a tremendous thrill.
In October you and Dave Barry have a new novel for kids coming out, Peter and the Sword of Mercy. Do you find it hard switching between adult crime novels to young adult fantasy novels, or do the two help feed the creative push for each other? Do you find your novels for younger audiences easier or harder to write than your adult books?
Story is story. Dave and I don't "write down" to our younger readers. Hopefully everything I do is exciting, fast paced, and has characters you care about. That's the challenge. I enjoy switching, often on a daily basis, between various projects.
Finally, what can we expect in the future from Walt Fleming and Ridley Pearson?
My next Walt Fleming book is completed -- it's a true "mystery" novel, my first in over a decade (as opposed to suspense thriller, although incorporates aspects of both sub-genres, I think.) I wanted a vehicle to explore the relationship between Fiona Kenshaw and Walt Fleming--and there's nothing like a dead body to stir things up, don't you think?