RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
He is a Grammy Award winner, an international music superstar, New York Times best-selling author. And now Ricky Martin has yet another accomplishment to add to his already impressive resume: children's author. Ricky Martin has just released his first children's book. It is called "Santiago the Dreamer: Land Among the Stars." Martin joins us from New York City. Thanks so much for being with us.
RICKY MARTIN: Thank you so much for having me. How are you, Rachel?
MARTIN: Doing well, thanks. So, you are the father of 5-year-old twin boys. I imagine this book had a little something to do with them.
MARTIN: Without a doubt. They were part of it. I became a dad and all of the sudden this amazing amount of information that I started receiving from kids was, I didn't know what to do with it.
MARTIN: So, I just started writing, you know, stories, and it's beautiful, 'cause kids, they brought me back to my childhood and I started remembering what it was like when I started in the music business. And that's what the story is about. It's about a child who auditions for his play at school and he was rejected. And the relationship that he has with his father is exactly like the relationship I had with my father.
MARTIN: Santiago, as we mentioned, is the main character of this story. And it is about his dream to perform. And he's got to get over some serious jitters in front of a crowd on the stage. Do you remember the first time that you were on a stage performing in front of a big audience like that?
MARTIN: Do you want me to be honest? The first time I performed in front of a large crowd, I thought I was the king of the world. And then when the show was over, I went back home and my manager told me you did it all wrong. So, you know...
MARTIN: How old were you at the time?
MARTIN: I was 12 years old.
MARTIN: Oh, man.
MARTIN: It's all about perception. It felt amazing. Apparently, it's not what it was coming across. I got the jitters maybe the second time I walked on stage because I was a little bit aware of the technicalities and the choreography and the things that I needed to say in order to be effective. But I guess Santiago goes through the same thing. He was nervous and then he was not accepted into the play. They said: next. And then he focused on his discipline and the importance of becoming a better entertainer and studying, which is exactly what my father helped me and guided me to do.
MARTIN: You were a big star at a very young age. Some of our listeners may remember you as part of one of the original boy bands, Menudo. Did you dad ever get worried about you, just the pressures of all that fame at such an early age? He was supportive, he wanted this for you, he wanted you to achieve your dream, but was there a part of him that struggled with the pressures that that brought to your life?
MARTIN: My father wanted me to be happy and I wanted this so much. He said, well, I have no other choice than to help him achieve his dreams. He never forced me into the business. On the contrary, I was pretty much the leader and he was just opening the path in order for this to work. I am very lucky actually. If my father and-or my mother didn't support me through this process, I would probably be a very frustrated man today.
MARTIN: Do you and your kids read a lot together? Is that part of your routine?
MARTIN: Yes. You know that through the years we have. For the last year, it's all about Santiago. And, you know, Santiago has become a son for me and a brother for my kids.
MARTIN: It's not just a book. You have recently launched PiccoloUniverse.com, which is an online community where members get together, talk, communicate, connect with other parents and caregivers. So, are you putting music on hold for a while? It sounds like you're taking a different direction, something a little more parentally focused.
MARTIN: Oh, my God. Well, no. I love music. And I am recording my music right now and hopefully next year I will start touring again. But I am a father with a lot of doubts and uncertainties and insecurities. And I said hold on man, you know, you have questions. Who can answer these questions for me? I'm sure there are thousands and maybe millions of parents, caretakers and-or teachers that have the answers. How can we create this flow of information? And it's been amazing, the reaction. And pretty much I've realized this has become a very beautiful tool. Because at the end of the day, we're benefiting children.
MARTIN: Ricky Martin. His first children's book is called "Santiago the Dreamer." It is out now. Ricky, thank you so much for talking with us.
MARTIN: Oh, thank you so much for your time. It's been amazing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.