I had the pleasure of meeting NY Times best selling author, Ridley Pearson, at a recent book signing for his latest release, The Return. The small bookstore was busting at the seems with Kingdom Keeper fans and people were lined up outside in the rain to get an autographed book. Seeing the excitement on children’s faces when they met Ridley made it clear that he has reached celebrity status—not something many authors can say. I asked Ridley about his books as well as some wisdom on writing for middle grade.
Middle Grade Mafia: Being such a prolific writer, can you share some of your writing habits with us, especially when you’re on a busy book tour?
Ridley Pearson: I write whenever possible. I have long days at home, and grab every free minute when on tour.
MGM: Fans of the Kingdom Keepers include girls and boys, teens and even some adults (like me). Why do you think it has such broad appeal?
RP: I think initially the Kingdom Keepers and The Return had/have appeal because of everyone’s love of the parks and going backstage in the novels. Hopefully that has grown to a love of the characters and the world they live in.
MGM: On a similar subject, the series says its for grades 5th-9th. Middle Grade writers often hear conflicting advice on content for this audience ranging from ages 10-14. Can you give us your advice on the subject?
RP: I don’t pay much attention to ages or grades. I try hard to write stories that excite the imagination.
MGM: So many people are familiar with Disney parks, do you find this a challenge or benefit in creating your world?
RP: I have the rare opportunity to regularly visit the Disney Parks and show readers what I find. That can’t help but benefit us all!
MGM: Fans can participate in the some fun fan fiction at www.kingdomkeepersinsider.com, how did you come up with this idea?
RP: I wanted badly to include my readers on the the end of the first Kingdom Keeper series. I worked with several companies to come up with a way to accomplish that. I had 150,000 readers voting on the direction of the story. It was so great!!!
MGM: Writers always like to hear how successful authors got their start. Can you give us an idea of what your experience was like?
RP: My publishing career took 8 years of writing 6+ hours to get my first novel published.
MGM: Do you still find time to read? If so, what do you enjoy reading?
RP: I read everything from women’s fiction ( for better female characters) to mysteries and non fiction. ” The more you read, the smarter you are!”