Featured Book of the Week
Steven "Steel" Trapp has been placed in an East Coast boarding school for gifted kids by his FBI agent father. He soon discovers that there's a clubby element of the faculty and upper classmen that is very secretive and protective. To his surprise, his friend Kaleigh arrives to board at the school and it isn't long before the two realize that this is not your normal boarding school. It seems a select few students are recruited, while still minors, to serve as special "translators" for the US Government. People—including diplomats and dignitaries—will say things around kids that they wouldn't otherwise dare speak outside of embassies. The willing student "agent" takes a semester abroad and ends up spying for his country.
But there are dark elements at play at the school. Foreign agents may have penetrated the school's secrecy and may have sleepers in place: kids spying on future kid spies. There is conspiracy and competition among the elite faculty that threatens security. As Steel and Kaileigh are recruited for their first test run—trying to break a ring of pickpockets in a Boston hotel—things go impossibly wrong. Betrayal and conspiracy cloud what should have been a straightforward assignment. And all too soon, their very lives are in danger. (Publisher's summary from Amazon)
Interview With Ridley Pearson
Mr. Pearson graciously took time out of his busy writing schedule to answers a few questions about Steel Trapp and his writing life.
Jan: Where did the idea to create an adolescent protagonist with a photographic memory come from, and did you know when you first began developing Steel that his mind would be so useful to creating suspenseful plots?
Ridley Pearson (RP): I think photographically, so creating this character came naturally. The more I wrote in Steel's world, the more unfolded and I realized how big the canvas was.
Jan: Your first adult novel was released in 1985. What prompted you to begin writing books for adolescents, and how is writing for this audience different than adults?
RP: I became a dad. That's about it. That led me on unexpected adventures; and since I read each night to my kids and invented stories at bedtime, I started to want to write something more permanent.
Jan: I read that you often work on four books a year? Can you explain a little about the process it takes for you to accomplish such a feat?
RP: I'm writing three at the moment. I actually enjoy the process. Nothing gets stale -- to say the least.
Jan: Steel Trapp seems like a natural extension of your adult crime novels, all of which have intricate and twisting plots, and like your crime novels, both of the Steel Trapp novels are “aerobic fiction,” a term you used to named “good old page turners”. Can you provide insight into your writing process that helps you create fast paced exciting plots?
RP: With Steel, and to a certain degree the Kingdom Keepers, I wanted to write books of a slightly more "adult" level. Not "See spot run," as so many YA books are. I wanted to write my crime novels but PG-13 or PG instead of R.
Jan: In addition to creating such great plots in the SteelTrapp novels, you also write very realistic characters and carefully described settings. Is there any one element of fiction that you feel is more important than another or that seems to be more difficult to create?
RP: Character is what carries the reader through a book. Place can be an important character. Plot is the engine. If the engine's too loud it can drown out the characters -- it's that balance that either works or not in "fun" fiction. I'm not writing to deliver a message; I leave that others. My message is: have fun.
Jan: Steel Trapp is told from third person limited. Why did you choose this perspective instead of writing it from first person?
RP: As much as I like writing in 1st person, I rarely publish in it. 3rd person allows the writer multiple view points -- inside the head of the girl, the boy, the criminal. It expands and is a more complex world to create. I like to be challenged.
Jan: You have a home in Idaho and in St. Louis. From what I’ve read you spend the school year here in St Louis do you consider yourself a Missouri resident or an Idaho resident? What advantages does St Louis have over other cities?
RP: I am very much a Missouri resident, but my heart is probably more firmly rooted in Idaho where I spent 20+ years of my middle life. There is nothing like a hike or ski in the Idaho countryside.
Jan: You are a bass guitar player and play in a band called the Rock-Bottom Remainders with other published authors. How did the band begin? How often do the members get together to jam, and when and where is your next gig?
RP: Most of this can be read about on my web site. The Remainders had a strange beginning indeed! Our next tour is April: Washington, DC; Philadelphia; New York City; Boston. Should be a great one.
Jan: What is up next for Steel Trapp?
RP: China? My family just got back from living in Shanghai for a year.
Jan: You will be releasing a new Kingdom Keeper book in April 2010. Can you tell us about this series and what to expect from Disney in the Shadow.
RP: This is SUCH a fun series to write. Disney gives me full access to their parks, and the Imagineers give me back stage, behind the scenes tours when the park is closed at night, or in the early, early morning. I translate that research into the lives of five teenagers battling Disney villains. Shadow enters the world of EPCOT and takes us to places we have not been before.
About the Author
Ridley Pearson is the author of more than twenty novels, including the New York Times bestseller KILLER WEEKEND; the Lou Boldt crime series; and many books for young readers, including the award-winning children's novels PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS, PETER AND THE SHADOW THIEVES, and PETER AND THE SECRET OF RUNDOON, which he cowrote with Dave Barry. Pearson lives with his wife and two daughters, dividing their time between Missouri and Idaho. (bio retrieved from Bookreporter.com)