childrens author | firefighter | father

Jonathan C. Nordstrom

Since you may not have been with us since the beginning of this crazy ride, I suppose the best way to tell you about the book is to provide the backstory on how I came up with “Sometimes Sleep”, and how the project came to fruition. So here goes…

Roughly five ago I had a dream… Corny, I know, but bear with me… This dream entailed an elderly grandmother, enveloped in black robes that spread far, far around her. The black robes swaddled, warmed, encircled and soothed children to sleep. There is the basis for the book, right? The problem was, my dreams rarely, if ever, are what some would call pleasant.  The grandmother in my dream resembled Medusa in the movie “Clash of the Titans”, and I am pretty sure the old hag was not exactly soothing children to sleep. Nevertheless, a seed was planted with the idea of soothing children to sleep, and the various ways sleep could appear to be delivered.  I wrote down some ideas, sputtered and stumbled working with them, drawing a couple of illustrations, and calling it good. I would give anything to prevent what happens next.

October 31st, 2010.  My family had a normal Halloween, with the exception of having truck issues I had to work with.  We went trick or treating in grandpas neighborhood, and had a genuinely pleasant evening, seeing many friends and hanging with family.  We finished a bit early and headed home for the evening.  I adjourned to my shed to fix the issue I was having with my truck, when I heard a cry from my back porch. I will never, ever forget this moment, as heartbreaking as it is, and as I write this I need to fight back tears.  My wife was on the phone outside, sobbing hysterically. I could not figure out what was happening, and could not get a coherent answer. I took the phone from her, and talked to my father in law on the other end.  Our 11 year old nephew, Nathan, had been killed in a car crash. My heart dropped to the floor.  He was the apple of my wife’s eye, my daughters best friend, the son I will never have, and my sister in laws only child. The news was devastating. The following weeks are such a blur, so awful, I have a hard time remembering them, nor do I feel the urge to try.  I write this not to bring sympathy to us, but to explain how the worst thing that can happen can have a profound effect on life, and how our darkest hour has turned into a project of joy.

For months after his death, I struggled to find a way to cope with his death. Work as a firefighter was becoming harder and harder, with run of the mill sick children calls bringing my heart into my throat. If we had an accident with injury call, his memory flooded back. I needed a way to calm my nerves and immersed myself in drawing while on my down time at work.  I came to the conclusion I HAD to memorialize this young man, and the only way I could do that was with my book. His illustration pushed the rock down the hill, and ideas and illustrations started flowing out of thin air. The months stretched on, and I finished the project.  I sometimes think I felt little hands pushing me and giggling when I was getting stuck, and I know he was there. Thank you, buddy.

My family came to my aid with help scanning, photoshopping, and getting the project ready when I was finished. I am forever in their debt. Kickstarter sealed the deal by allowing so many generous people to assist in getting the book published. We have sold more than one thousand books since the Kickstarter project. In my eyes, even if we sell no more books, I have succeeded, Nathan has been immortalized, and that has been the goal.

We have done several readings at elementary schools, and I would just like to share two quick observations. When we did our very first reading, I was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but my wife observed the whole reading, and gave me the greatest compliment a children’s book author can get. Her compliment was simple, I appeared 100% comfortable, the kids responded fantastically, and I seemed so very much in my element. Being as nervous as I was, that is high praise indeed. We had a journalist cover the reading from our local newspaper, and he struck home with one point, which I shall end this entry with… He pointed out the paradox of being the author of a very gentle children’s book, with the (not so children’s book author) appearance I apparently project, and he asked the question whether I thought anything of it. I did not have an answer at the time, but now I think… Never judge a book by its cover, clichéd but true…

Finally, a little about me… My qualifications as a children's book author begin with being the proud father of two beautiful daughters, and a goofball uncle to some really great kids. I am married to what can only be described as the light of my life, and she has pushed me in this project and forced me to stay on track.

I have been a firefighter for over 15 years, after serving 4 years in the Air Force. Other than high school art classes and sublimely talented family members, I have been self-taught in all forms of my illustrations, as well as Adobe CS. "Sometimes Sleep" was created on paper with ink and marker, edited with Adobe Creative Suites.

All of my work is reviewed by my daughters, who are candid and frank on what they think of whatever they are reviewing. I place great stock in their opinion, there are no greater editors in the world. This book is not an occupation for me, but rather a dream and a passion.

Sometimes Sleep is dedicated to the memory of our beloved nephew Nathan, who was taken from us far too soon, and whose bright smile and infectious laugh still echoes in our hearts.