Interview with Sands Hetherington, author of Night Buddies Go Sky High

Title: Night Buddies Go Sky High
Author: Sands Hetherington
Publisher: Dune Buggy Press
Pages: 144
Genre: Children's Book
Format: Paperback

 Young John Degraffenreidt and his red crocodile buddy, Crosley, show up at the Pineapple Cheesecake Factory and find Big Foot Mae lying on the floor, staring up at her Great Star Puzzle on the ceiling. Crosley only wants a new supply of pineapple cheesecakes, but what Mae points to on her ceiling will start the Night Buddies on a totally new fantasy adventure. A suspicious white dot has passed through the Corkscrew Constellation and is now moving underneath the Hound Dog Stars. Across the Borough, Crosley s brother Crenwinkle sees the same curious speck in the sky. It looks to be a long night for sleepyhead John, but thanks to the time spreader dingus with its sleep retardant setting, he gets right into their next escapade. Join the Night Buddies as they embark on another Program, this time taking them all the way into the stratosphere in their racing blimp.

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  • Night Buddies Go Sky High is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Q: Please tell us about Night Buddies Go Sky High, and what inspired you to write it.

A: Hi, thanks for having me.
Night Buddies Go Sky High is the third book in the Night Buddies series, and as such, was inspired by the other two.  So I need to go further back.  When my son John was six, he invented a red crocodile named Crosley to be an after-lights-out companion.  Crosley got to be an important member of the family, and it eventually occurred to me that John and Crosley could be the basis of adventure stories.  Once I figured out why Crosley was red (he is allergic to water), the first story (Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare) fell into place.  Most of my inspiration was the wacky character John had invented.

In Night Buddies Go Sky High, a mysterious new dot has appeared in the night sky, and our two friends decide they'd better investigate.  They modify their racing blimp to withstand extreme altitude and take off.  What they discover twenty miles up is jaw-dropping.  And that's only the beginning.  The phenomenon follows them back down to earth and does not mean well.

Q: What themes do you explore in Night Buddies Go Sky High?

A: The formula for the three Night Buddies stories is a young boy who isn't ready to go to sleep yet, and a goofy red crocodile named Crosley who sneaks him out of the house on adventures.  Crosley is nuts about pineapple cheesecakes.  He is forever on the lookout for them.  And there is a gang of six bad iguanas that the Night Buddies have to outsmart.

So that's the gist.

Q: Why do you write?

A: For the hoped-for good result.  I'm very deliberate and actually sweat during the process.  It can be a grind for me, except when the "endorphins" take over.  It's a little like Dorothy Parker said: "I hate writing.  I love having written."

 Q: How picky are you with language?

A: I like to use a lot of dialect.

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

A: Not really.  I just get my green clipboard and Cross ballpoint pen and crank the stuff out.  Once in a while, happily, the business starts writing itself.  I don't feel at all manipulated then, though; I feel like I did in a 5K race once when I got a big shot of endorphins halfway through.  I feel like, Yeah, this is what I want, now I'm really getting it on, let's run with it!  When this happened in the race, I must have passed twelve people.  Would that such a thing happened more often.

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?

A: When I get stuck.

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

A: Discovering that I don't have it.  A massive stroke.  A visit from three spirits.

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

A: When the seven awards for the series started coming in.

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?

A: No.  I just think it's a really cool thing to do.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

A: Only in the sense that my son invented Crosley.  I was the custodial parent, and John and I did a lot of bedtime give-and-take about Cros---what he had been up to that day, new attributes, and so forth.  This went on for over a year, and we really fleshed out the character.  The other protagonist (the boy) is based on John.  I suppose this amounts to somewhat of a connection.

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

A: Brother Bradbury isn't like most of us.  If that's what works for him, that's great.

Q: Where is your book available?

A: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores.

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

Sands Hetherington, the creator of Night Buddies series of chapter books, credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. They collaborated many nights on escapades starring John and Crosley, until eventually it occurred to Sands why it was that Crosley was bright red. That was when the first book came together.

 Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years: all of the classic children’s stories from Aesop through the Grimms, Lewis Carroll, Frank Baum, Tolkien and Dahl, with a lot of Dickens and Hugo thrown in. When school was out they got in the car and toured Alaska, Canada and most of the contiguous states. John still gets around. So far he has lived in Germany, Scotland, Russia, England and Spain.

 Dogs have always been a part of the author’s life, beginning with Whiskers, a cocker spaniel. When his wonderful boxer Hube died, he despaired of finding a boxer who could match him, and instead got a Saint Bernard. He ended up breeding Saints for a number of years and at this point has had twelve as house pets. Sands says dogs can do you a power of good, and if you lose one, go out and get another the next day and you will be surprised at how fast your grief goes away.

 Sands is also a Civil War buff. He would like to spend a month of evenings with common soldiers from both sides to see how they felt about the business. And eccentric generals like Jackson, Sherman and Forrest, and most of all Lincoln. Because Lincoln never gets to smile in his pictures.

 The author was born in New York City but was transplanted a year later to Greensboro, North Carolina, where his maternal grandmother lived. He never really left the area and has a lot of the South in him. His grandmother was a prominent educator and became a great friend and mentor.

 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 now, and hangs out with his longtime friend Ann and their Saint Bernards Dudley and Maggie. He likes visiting ancient Mediterranean sites in Turkey and Italy, and most of all Greece.

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