October 4, 2022 is National Rover Book Day! Maybe not officially, but when I learned that acclaimed author Jasmine Warga (OTHER WORDS FOR HOME) also has a book for young readers releasing on that day featuring planetary rovers I suddenly feel on the cusp of a trend (are rovers the next vampires?!?) Though mine is a humorous graphic novel and Jasmine’s is a heartfelt middle grade novel, I’m in no way surprised we each chose as our heroes these mechanical explorers that inspire us so much in real life. I caught up with Jasmine to learn more about her wonderful book, A ROVER’S STORY (Balzar + Bray):
Me: What sparked you to write A Rover’s Story?
Jasmine: I was first inspired to write A Rover’s Story while watching the launch of Perseverance in July 2020 with my daughters. As we watched the rocket carrying Perseverance shoot into the sky, my oldest daughter clapped, but my younger daughter looked concerned. She asked, “Mama, do you think the robot is scared?” And that’s when I first got the idea for the book!
Me: Res is modeled on actual rovers but also self-aware. How did you pull off that balancing act and develop his distinct voice?
Jasmine: Recently, I heard a quote from an educator (and I forgot who said it, but if anyone knows the attribution please tell me!) that said something like, “Non-fiction is learning through facts, and fiction is learning through imagination.” To me, that’s what this book is all about. I took real-life, amazing scientific facts, but made them come alive through imagination. It was so fun to imagine what Res’s voice might sound like—taking what I knew about rovers and then letting my imagination run wild.
Me: You obviously did meticulous research. Did reality get in the way of how you wanted to tell your story? Learn anything especially cool?
Jasmine: I think the coolest fact I learned was that NASA always makes two identical rovers. One rover goes to space, and the other stays back here on Earth, to be a model to help troubleshoot problems. To me, there’s so much narrative tension in that premise, and I love that it’s a real life fact!
Me: I love space stuff, but would probably freak out sitting in a small space capsule on the ground. Once they start sending people back to the moon and to Mars for the first time, and they find they need poets, artists and novelists to express the experience, are you likely to volunteer?
Jasmine: I think so! I love a good adventure 😊.
Me: Can you share what you’re working on now?
Jasmine: Yes! I’m working on another middle grade novel. It’s a family story with a lot of humor and a bit of mystery. It’s in early stages so I can’t say too much about it now, but I’m having a lot of fun working on it.
Me: I can’t wait to see it! Thank you so much for appearing here, I’m wishing great success for A Rover’s Story.
Learn more at Jasmine Warga