The Backstory: ROCK STARS DON'T NAP
AH: Joining us today is a rock star author, teacher, and creative that I am lucky enough to call a critique partner, Jason Perkins. Jason is here to share the inside scoop on his debut, ROCK STARS DON'T NAP (HarperCollins) with the most exquisite illustrations by Cale Atkinson. Keep reading to find out more and for your chance to win a query or picture book critique.
AH: Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind ROCKSTARS DON’T NAP.
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
JP: Baby Jimmy was born to rock, but when Mama insists that showtime should become naptime, his rock star life begins spiraling out of control. Now, with sleep closing in, Jimmy will need to give the performance of a lifetime. Otherwise, his rocking days are over.
AH: I have loved this concept from the first time I heard of it. Kids and grownups alike are going to love Jimmy's rock star performance.
AH: What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
JP: After my son was born, my wife and I agreed that I would take the second half of the school year off in order to stay home with him. Being the good Dad that I am, I wanted to make sure we were on a schedule for bottles and naps. Oliver, however, had other ideas. I rocked him every which way I could, but the boy would not nap.
So it went, day after day, until one day I set him down in his playpen in the living room and put on a record. “If we’re not going to rock,” I told him, “then we’re going to rock!” and I put on some Metallica. After a few bars, I looked over at him, and he was sound asleep.
For the next round, I tried some Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Same thing! “This boy is a rock star,” I thought. The story took off from there, and seven years later, it is finally being published.
AH: This inspiration is incredible! As parents times can get tough, and now we know that desperate times call for rock and roll!
AH: How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now ROCKSTARS DON’T NAP? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?
JP: The original idea was very different from the version that is being published. The first drafts were much more heavy metal. (I believe the original name I used was Heimlich.) The setting changed from home, to daycare, and back to home. At times there were siblings, grandparents, and more. All told, I wrote dozens, if not hundreds of drafts and enough material for two more sequels, should I be lucky enough to see them published.
AH: Here's hoping those sequels make their way to the published page. I know Jimmy has more stories to tell and I hope the world gets the opportunity to enjoy them.
AH: Did ROCKSTARS DON’T NAP undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?
JP: Once I focused in on the relationship between Mama and Jimmy, the story began to take its final form. However, the ending was the most difficult part. While the rock and roll references and jokes came easy, I couldn’t find an ending that satisfied the premise.
In the end, I kept coming back to a question Jo Knowles asked during her keynote at an SCBWI conference. “Is it true?” The truth I realized is something parents don’t want to admit. Sometimes, the kids win. They may miss a nap, or end up sleeping in your bed, or eat a less than nutritious meal here and there, but in the end, they (and you!) are going to be alright.
AH: We often look to picture books to teach lessons to the children who are listening to them. What you and Jimmy offer parents is an important lesson in giving themselves grace.
AH: Are there any books/authors that you feel influenced your work on ROCKSTARS DON’T NAP?
JP: The two biggest influences on Rock Stars were “Mustache Baby,” by Bridget Heos and Joy Ang, and, of course, “Boss Baby,” by Marla Frazee. They were instrumental in helping me get the pacing down. I actually wrote my story out on post it notes and put them in the book to help me get a feel for the pacing and the page turns.
AH: Those influences are felt throughout the book. And thanks for sharing that helpful strategy on working through pacing with post-its.
AH: As writers there are so many amazing resources available from books to webinars to organizations. What kidlit resources have been the most beneficial to you?
JP: The two organizations I’ve come to rely on most are 12 x12 and SCBWI. They connected me with my amazing critique partners, who helped me find my agent and bring this story to life. I wouldn’t be here without them.
AH: Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
JP: I will be appearing at the following events:
November 15th, Chicopee Public Library @ 4:30
November 18th, Book Launch, Barnes and Nobles, Holyoke, MA @ 1:00
November 25th, The Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, MA @ 2:00
December 2nd, Bank Square Books, Mystic Connecticut, @ 1:00
AH: What fun! I hope that you have amazing turnouts and that you have a blast sharing Jimmy with the crowd.
Where can people connect more with you?
JP: I’m on twitter @antiplayer and threads, instagram, and blueskysocial @jasonperkinsbooks. I don’t post often, so feel free to follow without worrying about me clogging up your feed!
AH: Readers, be sure to give Jason a follow to stay updated on his latest book happenings. And if you are in Massachusetts or Connecticut, see if you can make it to a rockin' event. You won't be disappointed.
While you are at it, don't forget to support ROCKSTAR'S DON'T NAP in any way you can.
This could include:
- ordering from your favorite indie
- marking as want to read on Goodreads
-leaving a review
- making a library request
Jason, thank you so much for joining us! I loved getting to help spread the word about your amazing book and I cannot wait to add a copy to my classroom library.
Jason would love to offer a free query letter or picture book critique to one reader.
Ways to enter:
1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
2. Leave a comment on this post.
3. Post about this interview on social media and tell me in the comments that you did.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT JASON PERKINS
Jason Perkins is an author, a teacher, and a proud parent of two rock star children. When his son was born, Jason took two years off from teaching to be a stay-at-home father. After a long and futile battle over naptime, he set his son down to put on a record. A few bars into The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Under The Bridge,” he turned around to find Oliver fast asleep in his swing. In that moment, Rock Stars Don’t Nap was born. This is Jason’s first book.
ABOUT ANDREW HACKET
Andrew Hacket is a teacher by day, parent by night, and writer in the nooks and crannies of life. When it comes to his books, Andrew aims to create stories that tickle the funny bone and hug the heart of readers both young and old.
Andrew is the author of the early reader, CURLILOCKS AND THE THREE HARES (The Little Press, 2024) and the picture books, OLLIE, THE ACORN, AND THE MIGHTY IDEA (Page Street Kids, 2024) and HOPE AND THE SEA (WorthyKids, 2024). Additionally, his short story, THE TUNNEL, has been chosen for inclusion in the SCBWI anthology, The Haunted States of America.
Andrew lives in Massachusetts with his wife, three young children, and puppy, Gus.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Page Turner Literary.