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Monday, June 16, 2008

"Tigerheart" by Peter David w/Bonus Q&A

Order “TigerheartHERE
Read An Excerpt
Read An Interview with Peter David

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Peter David is the New York Times bestselling author of more than seventy novels including Star Trek: New Frontier, movie novelizations (Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man), and such original works as the Sir Apropos of Nothing fantasy series and “Darkness of the Light”. Peter is also an award-winning comic book writer of The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Gunslinger Born/The Long Road Home (co-writer) prequel mini-series to Stephen King’s famed Dark Tower series, among many other titles. His television credits include scripts for Babylon 5, Crusade and co-creating the Nickelodeon series Space Cases w/Bill Mumy.

PLOT SUMMARY: Paul Dear is a good and clever boy, doted on by a father who fills his son’s head with tall tales, thrilling legends, and talk of fairy-folk, and by a mother who indulges these fantastic stories and tempers them with common sense. But Paul is special in ways that even his adoring parents could never have imagined. For by day, in London’s Kensington Gardens, he walks and talks with the pixies and sprites and other magical creatures that dwell among the living, but are unseen by most. And at night in his room, a boy much like himself, yet not, beckons to Paul from the mirror to come adventuring. It’s a happy life for Paul, made all the more so by the birth of his baby sister.

But everything changes when tragedy strikes, and Paul concludes that there’s only one course of action he can take to dispel the darkness that has entered his home and make things right again. And like countless heroes before him, he knows that he must risk everything to save the day.

Thus begins a quest that will lead Paul down the city’s bustling streets, to a curio shop where a magical ally awaits him, and launches him into the starry skies, bound for a realm where anything is possible. Far from home, he will run with fierce Indian warriors, cross swords with fearsome pirates, befriend a magnificent white tiger, and soar beside an extraordinary, ageless boy who reigns in a boundless world of imagination…

CLASSIFICATION: Like the J.M. Barrie classic that served as inspiration, “Tigerheart” is a Victorian/Edwardian ‘bedtime story’ that is at once charming, whimsical, sentimental, insightful, magical and timeless. Recommended for readers from age ten to one hundred )

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 290 pages divided over twenty-one ‘titled’ chapters. Narration is a blend of third-person omniscient and first-person with our ‘narrator’ constantly “breaking the fourth wall” and addressing the audience. The narrative itself mainly follows Paul Dear, but occasionally breaks to see what’s going on with The Boy, Gwenny, Fiddlefix and Captain Slash. “Tigerheart” is a standalone novel, but there’s potential for ‘further adventures.’

June 17, 2008 marks the North American Hardcover publication of “Tigerheart” via
Del Rey. Cover artwork is provided by Scott McKowen.

ANALYSIS: Whether you’ve read the original J.M. Barrie play or novel, seen the Disney film, eaten the peanut butter, or been exposed to any of the other countless adaptations out there, most people are probably familiar with the tale of Peter Pan and Neverland, and because of this familiarity, readers should be able to immediately connect with Peter David’sTigerheart” which is an homage to, an original retelling, and a sequel to the classic bedtime story…

As an homage, “Tigerheart” liberally borrows from J.M. Barrie’s classic including characters, places and themes—names and certain elements have been changed such as The Boy instead of Peter Pan, Anyplace instead of Neverland, Captain Hack for Captain Hook, Vagabonds/Bully Boys in place of The Lost Boys, Fiddlefix for Tinker Bell, Gwenny instead of Wendy, Seirenes in place of mermaids, a sea serpent instead of a crocodile, and so on—and Peter even goes so far as adopting the author’s fanciful narrative style, which is actually one of the book’s most endearing qualities, along with the novel’s ability to appeal to readers of all ages :)

It is as an interpretation though where “Tigerheart” really shines, by telling a story that is fresh, imaginative and enchanting while retaining the whimsical nature and enduring spirit of the original. For starters, Paul Dear, or ‘Tigerheart’ as he will come to be known in the book, is really the star of the story instead of The Boy. What I like about Paul is that he’s like the anti-Peter Pan. Where The Boy is cocky, selfish, fearless, and wants to stay a boy forever, Paul wants to grow up, is modest, and cares more about others than himself. In fact, the whole reason Paul travels to Anyplace is not because of grand adventures and having fun, but because he wants to help his mom, and actually spends most of his time there sacrificing himself for others. Other interesting departures include Captain SlashCaptain Hack’s sister, a fellow pirate and the novel’s main villain—Paul’s best friend, the snow tiger; Noplace; a wonderful subplot involving The Boy’s shadow; and The Boy’s parentage. Also of note is how certain ‘controversy’ was avoided in Peter’s book compared to the original. In other words, there’s violence and one or two bad words in “Tigerheart”, it’s dark at times and deals with some adult issues, but the sexual innuendo has been toned down to virtually nothing and Peter keeps things politically correct :)

CONCLUSION: More often than not, adaptations, reimaginings or sequels rarely live up to the original, but in this case I have to say Peter David’sTigerheart” is even better than J.M. Barrie’sPeter and Wendy.” At least, I enjoyed reading “Tigerheart” more :) In fact, “Tigerheart” is easily one of the most charming novels I’ve ever read and is an instant favorite—the kind of book you just want to read over & over again while sharing the wonderment with as many people as possible…

BONUS FEATURE — Peter David Author Q&A:

Q: June 17, 2008 marks the release of your new book “Tigerheart”, which is a sort of reinterpretation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan. Where did the idea for “Tigerheart” originate from, did you have any problems finding a publisher, and why Peter Pan?

Peter: Doing a sequel to Peter Pan had always been something kicking around in my head, and with the characters falling into public domain, this seemed like a good time to pursue it. However, as the story developed, I decided it worked better as pastiche, because it was really more the story of Paul Dear than it was Peter Pan or any of the Barrie characters. And it would have been presumptuous to write a Peter Pan story in which Barrie's cast became supporting players. As for finding a publisher, Betsy was an early and avid supporter of the book, so
Del Rey always seemed the first, best home for it.

Q: Editor-in-chief Betsy Mitchell actually compares “Tigerheart” to another classic in The Princess Bride. What do you think of this comparison?

Peter: I'm certainly flattered by it. I have to think that Goldman's novel is in a class by itself, and that rather than comparing it in terms of quality, Betsy was basically saying that if you enjoyed a fairy tale with an off-beat sensibility—which is certainly Princess Bride—then “Tigerheart” will appeal to you for the same reason.

Q: As a whole, how do you feel about the way “Tigerheart” turned out and what do you hope readers will get out of reading the book?

Peter: I'm thrilled with the final product. I think that the process of editorial notes only improved it and the production values are high. It's a beautiful cover. As for the readers, I wrote the book with sufficient levels that I'm hoping different readers have different experiences based upon their age and sophistication. Very young readers will take heart from a boy taking active steps to cope with a family tragedy; older readers will, I hope, enjoy an exciting tale while considering some of the deeper messages about the responsibilities of adulthood, and adults will pick up on the subtleties and satire, and perhaps even consider it a book they can read to their own kids. The personality with which I imbued the narrator certainly lends itself to that.

Q: Now for those that may not be familiar with your work, you’ve also written comic books, movie scripts, television episodes, media tie-ins, nonfiction, manga adaptations, et cetera. Is there any format you haven’t explored yet that you’d like to write in, and why the diversity?

Peter: Pragmatically, the more venues that I explore, the easier it is for me to remain gainfully employed. Also there are certain stories that I come up with that are best told in particular formats. Having familiarity with all such formats allows me to have as many tools in my toolbox as possible.

Q: So what is Peter David most famous for—your comic books, your novels, your original work or your media tie-ins—and what is Peter David best at? For that matter, what do you feel are your strengths—and weaknesses—as a writer?

Peter: I'm probably best known for my Star Trek novels and for my twelve-year run on the Hulk. My strengths lay in dialogue and characterization. In terms of plots, I tend to operate more by the seat of my pants than anything, which means I can sometimes write myself into a corner. But I think this is offset by a freshness and unpredictability in my writing, since I tend to come up with my best ideas on the fly.

Q: Staying on this subject, how do you juggle between your different writing projects and what keeps you motivated?

Peter: Having a variety of projects at any one time is an advantage, because if I'm working on—say—a novel, and I hit a wall, I just flip over and start working on the next issue of “Fallen Angel” or something like that. It helps avoid writer's block or creative fatigue. Motivated? Well, writing is how I earn my living, and the bills don't stop coming if I don't feel like writing, so that's certainly motivation right there. But even if I were independently wealthy, I'd still feel compelled to write. One becomes a writer because NOT becoming a writer really isn't an option.

Q: Going back to your novels, last year
Tor released “Darkness of the Light”, Book One of The Hidden Earth. Could you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the series, your plans for The Hidden Earth, and how far along you are with the second book?

Peter: The inspiration stemmed from wanting to try my hand at something involving world building and would be a tale of far greater scope than anything I've done before. There will be two more books in the series, but the contract was only just signed, so I've only just begun plotting out the second book. I'm hoping to turn in the first draft before the end of the year.

Q: Are you involved with any other books that you could discuss?

Peter:Mascot to the Rescue” is a fun young adult novel that is coming out in September from
Harpercollins, about a young comic book fan who is so obsessed with a comic book sidekick that he comes to believe that whatever happens to the sidekick will happen to him as well. So when he learns, to his horror, that the character is slated to be killed off, he embarks on a quest to the wilds of Westchester to find the writer/artist of the series and convince him to change his mind.

Q: Interesting :) Moving on to comics, your resume includes The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, The Punisher, She-Hulk, X-Factor, and so on. Out of everything you’ve worked on so far, what’s been your most memorable experience? What about least memorable?

Peter: In terms of mainstream, probably the Hulk based purely on the longevity of the run. In terms of creator owned, “Fallen Angel” which is published by
IDW. “Fallen Angel” has had quite an impressive history, starting at DC and then moving over to IDW. I've had full freedom to do whatever I want on the series, and that's tough to beat. As for least memorable...I can't recall. That's how I know it was unmemorable.

Q: Even as prolific as you are, there are still a ton of comic books that you haven’t worked on yet. Which titles would you be most interested in writing and why? What about artists or other writers that you would like to work with?

Peter: I'd love to write “Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze.” Yes, I know he's a pulp hero, but there have been comic book incarnations as well. And my dream project is to write Tarzan vs. the Phantom. How cool would that be, to write the two major jungle guys? As for who I'd like to work with, I'd love to have the chance to work with
Wendy Pini on something. That would be cool. Art Adams would also be exciting.

Q: Do you have any tidbits to share about the properties (She-Hulk, X-Factor) that you’re currently writing and what the future holds for Peter David in comics?

Peter: I'm actually doing a She-Hulk/X-Factor crossover, literally by popular demand. The moment it was announced that I had taken over She-Hulk, fans started asking to see the two books interact. I have new members joining X-Factor (Darwin, Longshot) and She-Hulk becomes romantically involved with Hercules. Lots of fun stuff going on. In terms of future projects, I've just signed a contract with
IDW to do a comic book version of my fantasy series, Sir Apropos of Nothing, so that should be fun.

Q: Congratulations on the comic book adaptation of Sir Apropos of Nothing! I think a lot of readers will be interested in that :) So what do you feel are the biggest differences between writing a novel and a comic book? What about the positives/negatives of each format in relation to the other?

Peter: When plotting and writing a comic book, one has to think in visual terms. In a novel, you can have two people talking in a room for twenty pages and, as long as the dialogue is compelling, you'll be fine. Having two people in a room talking for twenty pages of a comic book is, to put it mildly, problematic. Ultimately the upside is that, collaborating with an artist, you can produce something that is greater than either of you could produce individually. The downside is that, to be indelicate, if the artist is lousy, then it doesn't matter how good a story you've written. It will be dragged down. In a novel, there's nothing between you and the audience except your own words. The success or failure of the story is entirely on you.

Q: Speaking of differences, you handled the scripting on
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower miniseries. How does that differ from regular comic book writing and what was it like working with the author on the series? Also, will we be seeing any more of The Dark Tower after The Long Road Home is complete?

Peter: It's different for me in that I'm only providing the dialogue, with the plot being done by
Robin Furth. Between Robin's doing the story and Jae Lee providing the visual breakdown of the art pages, this is a far more collaborative endeavor than when I'm simply writing a full script and passing it on to the editor. Dark Tower is currently slated to run around thirty issues, taking us through to the battle of Jericho Hill.

Q: Excellent news! Now you’ve actually dabbled in many other established worlds as well including Babylon 5, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and numerous movie novelizations including the Spider-Man series. What are the advantages and disadvantages of writings books/comics in already established universes?

Peter: The advantage is that you're contributing to a vast tapestry, part of something that's bigger than yourself. Plus you're getting your name and your stories out in front of a wider audience who will then, one hopes, follow you back to the work set in worlds of your own creation. The disadvantage is that it's that much more people to tell you what you can do and what you can't.

Q: As far as television and film (Trancers, Babylon 5, Oblivion), you’ve done everything from writing, producing and even acting. What do you think about the biz and are you currently involved in any film/television projects at the moment that you could talk about?

Peter: I have some film and TV stuff in the hopper, but nothing far enough along to discuss. As for show business, there's no business like it I know. The problem is that the money can be fantastic, and you can get your stories out to millions of people in one shot, but creatively it can suck your soul dry.

Q: What about your own creator-owned properties? Is anything in development?

Peter: The most likely for development would be “Fallen Angel”. Unfortunately
Warners still owns the dramatic rights, and although a myriad of studios and producers have approached them, Warners won't let anyone else do anything with it...while continuing to fail to do anything themselves.

Q: Well hopefully something will happen with “Fallen Angel” soon, but for now let’s fantasize :) Out of your original work, what would be your dream adaptation?

Peter:Tigerheart” with script by William Goldman, directed by either Terry Gilliam or Ron Howard, with Kate Winslet in the dual role of the mother and Mary Slash and David Tennant as the father and Captain Hack. We'd need a fresh face for The Boy since the first choice, Freddie Highmore, would be too old for the role by the time the film gets going.

Q: What do you think of the cross-pollination today between different formats such as films, novels, comic books, television, et cetera? Is it getting to the point where it might become more advantageous for writers to have experience in more than one medium?

Peter: I think there's always an advantage for writers to have experience in more than one medium. As for the cross pollination, the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned, as long as the movie and TV guys don't dump their comic book commitments the moment something larger paying comes along.

Q: On a related note, with entertainment becoming more technology-based, which in turn is becoming more advanced, are comic books and novels in any danger of becoming obsolete, and what can publishers & writers/artists do to adjust to the changing times?

Peter: I don't think they're in danger of becoming obsolete. The means of reading them may change, but the need to experience stories goes back to caveman scrawling adventures on walls of their caves. As for adjusting, I think they just have to be open to new opportunities rather than say, “No, that's something I would never get involved with.”

Q: You’ve been involved with comic books and writing novels since the 80s. What are your thoughts on the evolution of comic books and the science fiction/fantasy genres and what the future holds for them?

Peter: There still seem to be too many people who consider comic books to be purely the province of children. The snobbery is so pervasive that, when
Neil Gaiman'sSandman” won the World Fantasy Award for best short story, the rules were changed within twenty four hours to make sure it never happened again. As successful as comic book movies or comics themselves become, there is still some degree of snobbery in how they're regarded, and I don't see that going away anytime soon. I think you're going to see more and more web comics and such, although I couldn't say whether they're ever going to supplant print, I've no idea.

Q: What books/comics have recently impressed you the most, what are you currently reading, and what titles are you most looking forward to?

Peter: I think “
Secret Invasion” has been terrific, and I also like Terry Moore'sEcho” as well as Jeff Smith's new title, “RASL.”

Q: Who do you feel is an underrated writer that deserves more attention and why?

Peter: Me. Just because.

Q: Good enough! To conclude, is there anything else you’d like to say to your readers?

Peter: Buy “Tigerheart.” Don't make me hurt you.


Harry Markov said...

You are quite productive in a major way. I can't keep up with you. Hah! Brilliant review and interview! I have aspirations to work in several mediums as well with ideas for comic books and the likes. I have this artist friend and hope to start web comics, but we have problems with finding domain, since we are just so poor. Hah!

Robert said...

Thanks Harry :) Yeah, I think it's cool when writers branch out into different mediums. Web comics would be cool :) Myself, I've always wanted to write movie scripts ;)

Harry Markov said...

No biggie! I would like to be the writer ofa freaky manga series as well, but I have no idea how to propose ideas to the companies taht draw mangas and I doubt it will be that easy.

RobB said...

Good review, mine is up now. Very good interview, too.

I do have to ask, though. Do you sleep at all?

Robert said...

Harry, a manga series sounds like fun, although a lot of the manga I've seen is already pretty freaky in their own ways ;)

Rob, thanks for the heads up! I was wondering when you were going to post your review :) Great stuff as usual! I'm a big fan of Peter's comic book work, but I need to check out his other novels. Will probably start with "Darkness of the Light". As far as sleep, I get enough ;)

ThRiNiDiR said...

This book sounds really endearing; I have to dig up something from Peter David - I'll probably start with his comics. great review, btw.

Robert said...

Uros, well you have a lot to choose from :) Let me know what you decide to read...

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