Sands Hetherington credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years. He and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro.
VS: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. To get things started, Sands, what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Sands: Hi Mama and thanks for having me over. Actually, my family life was part of my writing life. I was a single (male) parent of a six-year-old son. We always did bedtime stories. One night John invented a red crocodile named Crosley for an after-lights-out companion. This evolved directly into the book we're talking about.
VS: Wow, how exciting to have your son help with your writing ideas. How long have you been writing?
Sands: Very sporadically for almost sixty years.
VS: That’s a long time. Now you said your son played a big part in your writing ideas. What inspired you to write your book series Night Buddies?
Sands: As I said, John handed the idea to me, this red crocodile to hang out with after lights-out. We started inventing Crosley-and-John episodes and Crosley got to be a real family member. About a year in, I started thinking about a book. Once I figured out why Crosley was red, things fell into place.
VS: The idea of a red crocodile is very interesting and after reading your first book in the series, Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, the reason why Crosley is red was fun and imaginative. Sands, you seem to be one of those authors with an imaginative muse sitting on his shoulder. What is a typical writing day like for you?
Sands: About two hours, starting in late morning, I try to do a good couple of pages and redo them at the end of the session.
VS: I think it is wonderful you have a set writing schedule. Most new writers have a very hard time with that. Sands, what was the first thing you ever had published?
Sands: I published adult short stories in "little" magazines when I was in graduate school.
VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book, Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare in the Night Buddies chapter book series and your upcoming book, Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine?
Sands: Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, the first book features young John who isn't ready for bed yet and Crosley, a zany red crocodile who shows up to rescue him and sneak him out on an adventure. The world's supply of pineapple cheesecakes is disappearing, and our buddies hop on the subway and go try to put things right.
The next book, Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine continues the same formula. Some time has gone by and John is wide-awake at bedtime again. Crosley reappears and rescues him per their Night Buddies Amalgamated contract. A great lot of vandalism has been happening around the town and Crosley is being wrongly blamed for it. He and John need to get the business stopped before Crosley is run out of town. They borrow a fantastic flying machine and fly off on their second adventure.
VS: With all the adventure and fun things you share with your young readers, what did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your books?
Sands: Writing is like any other job in that you need to get down and do it. This can be challenging when nothing and nobody is pushing you. The greatest challenge for a writer, I think, is sticking to a schedule.
VS: I’ll agree with you there. What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?
Sands: I'm rather fond of why Crosley is red. He is red because he is allergic to water, in a roundabout way. Getting wet causes him to break out into the Black Bottom dance for hours unless he takes his antidote pills. These pills stop the Black Bottoming but have a side effect, and this side effect is to turn Crosley red.
VS: A very interesting way to explain why Crosley is a red crocodile. Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Sands: I started a third book in the series last week and haven't figured how to get John out of his house yet. He was in a tight situation at the end of the last story.
VS: That can be a tough way to start the next book. I hope you work it out soon. What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?
Sands: Unless the kids are unbelievably well behaved, you simply need to wait till they've gone somewhere or are asleep. If they're little kids, naptime is a great time. Try to use all of it.
VS: Some very honest advice about writing with kids in the home, Sands. Thank you for sharing. Okay, since you have such interesting characters in your books, what would you say is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Sands: I may be the wrong one to ask since all of my characters except John are fantastic. You did remind me of those terms they use in literature classes: "round" and "flat" characters. The "flat" characters are generally one-dimensional and predictable and in good books are just devices. "Round" characters are nuanced and many-faceted, even self-contradictory sometimes, just like we are.
I suppose I'm saying that "real" (believable) characters need to be complicated and able to surprise you.
VS: Yes, I agree that “real” (believable) characters need to be just as flawed as we are. I love that you also said they need to surprise you. Most characters I fall in love with do exactly that. I know you had a great relationship with your son. Can you share with us what you feel as parents we need to do to help our children see success?
Sands: That's as deep as question. One important thing is to get them to want to read. This involves immersion from a very early age.
VS: Sands, it has been great chatting with you. Before we go, can you share where the readers of The Writing Mama can learn more about Night Buddies and your writing?
Sands: www.dunebuggypress.com and there are some generous reviews on Amazon.
VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Dad”?
Sands: Budget your time. I think I already mentioned that.
Thanks for inviting me, Mama. It seems we've toiled in the same trenches. ~Sands Hetherington
About the Book:
Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare is the first in a series featuring John, a young city kid who isn't ready for bed yet, and Crosley, a bright-red crocodile who shows up in his room to rescue him and take him on an adventure.
Night Buddies is an astonishing and inventive adventure with unforgettable cast of characters that will make you laugh and win over your heart. The book has lots of thoughtful, multi-layered twists, giggles, and perils -- things kids can relate to and enjoy.
Publisher: Dune Buggy Press; One edition (June 1, 2012)
Get a sneak peek of the book at http://tinyurl.com/7xxl8qw
The World of Ink Network is touring author Sands Hetherington’s nighttime adventure for kids, Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare published by Dune Buggy Press all through July and August 2012.
You can find out more about Sands Hetherington’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/6vgevbh
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com