Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Guest Post with author Sands Hetherington

Night Buddies is the result of a bedtime collaboration my son John and I had many years ago.  I was his single parent and had read to him every night since he could walk, maybe for longer than that.  It was an essential for us and went on for fourteen years.  One night when John was six and I was done reading and John wanted more, I may have suggest he invent a lights-out companion to go off to sleep with.  Or maybe I didn’t and he undertook the matter on his own hook.  In any case, the next thing I knew, there was Crosley the crocodile, complete with goofy name and bright-red color.  I was duly charmed, and John and I started throwing Crosley ideas around and making up episodes.  This went on for a year or more and Crosley developed into an important family member.  Even after John tired of the game, Crosley would pop up in conversations.  He refused to fade away.

Maybe it was a couple of years after John invented him that I got the idea of giving Crosley some proper print.  The thing was right there: not ready-made but at least a neat premise.  John would be in it, of course, and the two of them would have themselves an adventure.  The trick was to figure out why on earth Crosley was red.  You couldn’t just plop a red crocodile down as one of the main actors without some explanation.  Then it occurred to me: Crosley was red because he was allergic to water!  Well, sort of.  If he got water on him he broke out doing the Black Bottom dance and couldn’t stop for hours.  Unless he took his antidote pills. These stopped the Black Bottom well enough but turned him red at the same time!  It was one of those side-effects you can get from Black Bottom pills.

The rest fell into place fairly easily.  Crosley started as a lights-out buddy for a kid named John who wasn’t ready to go to sleep yet, 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.  He shows up in John’s room on the night of our stories.

I give John most of the credit.  He made Crosley out of whole cloth and plays himself in the story too.  I was just the editor who tinkered with them a little and dropped them into a different situations.

To editorialize for a moment, I think it’s vital to read to kids every day from the time they can understand speech.  (It’s even better if you can get them to collaborate!)  It’s a real pleasure to them and makes them want to read on their own.  This is where educated people come from.  I hope some of them will read or listen to the Night Buddies series. In the second book (which is releasing soon) it features John and Crosley, of course, and they get themselves a really fabulous flying machine and swoop around town from one wild episode to the next.  If the kids don’t read this, there are some other pretty fair stories out there!

About the Author:

Sands Hetherington, creator of the Night Buddies series of chapter books is delighted to have published his second title, Night Buddies, Impostors, and One Far-Out Flying Machine. Sands credits his son John for being his principal motivator in creating Night Buddies. He 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. Now, Sands is pleased to announce the second title in the series!

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.

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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