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 Night Buddies series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. Sands shared, “We always did bedtime stories and probably didn't miss a night for six or seven years. Stories were as essential as air and food.” It’s no wonder Sands loves to read and write, and is a big advocate in starting a reading schedule with young children.
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. However, he started writing at a very young age. “I think it was 10th grade. I handed in some sappy poetical piece and the very cute student teacher gushed over it. Her name was Ellen and she was spoken for, but that did it right there,” shared Sands. “I wrote a number of adult short stories in my twenties and thirties that weren't commercially successful. I quit writing for a number of years. Then my six-year-old son invented Crosley the red crocodile as an after- lights-out companion, and I was so charmed by the thing that I stole it and have used it in two books so far.
Sands can't remember exactly but one night John wanted more stories and Sands was tired of reading and suggested John invent a buddy to go off to sleep with. Before Sands knew it, John came up with this red crocodile named Crosley. “I was duly charmed and we started batting Crosley ideas around at night and making up episodes. Crosley got to be a real member of the family. John is thirty-two now and Crosley is obviously still a member of the family,” shared Sands.
It was about a year after John invented Crosley that Sands started thinking about putting the two of them into a sure-enough story. “In many ways the thing was ready-made for me, but I did need to figure out why on earth Crosley was red. I couldn't just dump something like that into a story without explaining. I was determined not to leave the red part out; this was Crosley's trademark feature,” shared Sands.
It finally occurred to Sands why Crosley was red…he was allergic to water! In a roundabout way, that is. If he got any water on him, he broke out doing the Black Bottom dance and had to go on for hours and hours unless he took his antidote pills. “These stopped the Black Bottom well enough but did have a side-effect, and you surely know what this was: they turned him red! This was fine with Crosley, though: ‘Not that I mind that part a bit. Cause when people see me now, they know not t' get me wet,’” quotes Sands form the Night Buddies and Pineapple Cheesecake Scare.
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Interview: Meet Author Sands Hetherington, Author of Night Buddies, A Lights Out Adventure Series for Kids - Books - Blogcritics