Getting to know Sands Hetherington, author of Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine, Dune Buggy Press, by Nancy Naigle

Sands Hetherington

Night BuddiesSands Hetherington writes fantastic and delightful fun-filled adventure book for kids. His latest, Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine is now available. Sands 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. 

Nancy: I love these books. They are so colorful, and it’s got to be quite a feeling to bring something that was so special between you and your son to others to enjoy. Can you share a little about when you realized your stories were meant to be shared with a broader audience?

Sands: You seem to know some of the background: that I read to John every night from the time he could hear speech, that one night he introduced me to a red Crocodile named Crosley that he had invented for an after-lights-out buddy.John and I started throwing Crosley ideas around and making up episodes, and Crosley got to be a real member of the family.

I had a literary background and had written some grownup short stories over a number of years.I read the entire kids' canon to John.When Crosley came along I hadn't written anything in forever.Then one Saturday night I was with John at our cabin in the mountains, walking across the living room, and it just landed on me: Put John and Crosley into a sure-enough adventure!It's what they had been doing for over a year anyway.Crosley had started out as a bedtime buddy for a kid named John, so why not make him a member of Night Buddies Amalgamated, whose charter is to rescue kids from lying in bed awake and take them out on adventures.It just fell into my lap.All I had to do was figure out why Crosley was red!(It’s because he is allergic to water.Sort of.)

Nancy: Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine is the second in this series. Tell us a little about the story.

Sands: It's a much longer and more complicated tale than the first book, Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, but it starts the very next time John is wide awake and Crosley shows up in his room.Crosley actually dozes off under the bed this time and John has to look for him and wake him up.

Same deal, same formula.This part was already there for me.When they get outside, though, I didn't know what to do with them, and wouldn't you know, neither does Crosley.He hasn't been able to reach his brother Crenwinkle, the Night Buddies dispatcher.John and Crosley wander around trying to get in touch with Crenwinkle and finally find him getting off a bus.By that time I had it figured out.I would have Crosley look-alikes running all over town doing bad things and trying to ruin Crosley's reputation.Crenwinkle is right there with me and has come to warn them.So the Program now is to get the business stopped before Crosley is run out of town for being an undesirable.(Meaning no more Night Buddies!)

Our two friends decide on a stakeout, and this means going to a fantastic Emporium and getting a magic flying machine.The deal is, Rodney Oglesby's sauerkraut and jellybean hot dog cart keeps getting attacked by a fake Crosley, and our friends determine to fly over on top of it and watch.Soon enough, an extraneous red crocodile sneaks up and snatches the cart and sails off down the sidewalk with it, causing general pandemonium.John and Crosley chase from the air, but the impostor turns into the adjacent park and escapes.

What's going on?Why is Rodney Oglesby's sauerkraut and jellybean hot dog cart being attacked?When John and Crosley finally figure this out, the contest begins.It takes many twists and turns, and a night of fantastical flying around, and John and Crosley meet lots of cool new characters who help along the way.It's almost dawn when things get wrapped up.

Nancy: The books are eye-catching. Tell us a little about the collaborative process between you, as the author, and your illustrator.

Sands: I think I can say that I had nothing at all to do with the aesthetics of the thing, which is good.I gave the illustrator, Jessica Love, complete freedom of interpretation and choice of scenes.I only interfered when the picture strayed from the script.

Nancy: Will there be another book in the Night Buddies series? When can we expect it?

Sands: I'm working on book three as we speak and hope to have it roughed out by the end of summer.It will feature John and Crosley, of course, and my next favorite character the racing blimp.

Nancy: I’m a dog-lover and I know you are too. We just added a yellow lab puppy, Cheyenne, to our family. We now have the complete Labrador Retriever rainbow – gold, black, chocolate. Tell us about yours.

Sands: “Cheyenne,” I like that one!My two Saint Bernards are Dudley and Maggie, five-year-old littermates born on Valentine's Day.They couldn't be much more different.Dudley is a big lumbering doofus clown with a long ("rough") coat, and Maggie is an electric 110-pound runt with a short ("smooth") coat.As sweet as she can be, but you wouldn't believe the power!She once ripped a large hole on my chain-link fence with her paws, just to go visit the neighbors' dog.I finally had to electrify the fence.The two siblings are very attached, and Maggie likes to sleep half on top of Dudley.

Nancy: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Sands: That's easy.Mark Twain said it: "Having written."
Nancy: What’s on the horizon?

Sands: Finishing book three and doing readings at schools and bookstores.John just moved from Granada to Brussels and I need to go make sure he's behaving.After that I wouldn't mind seeing Patagonia.
Nancy: What else would you like to share?

Sands: John is thirty-three now and is a trained chef and an interpreter in five or six languages.He hasn't decided which one to do in Belgium.