Friday, June 15, 2012

Sands Hetherington - Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
The title really wrote itself. Halfway into Chapter One, the situation is a boy who has been put to bed before he's ready, and a red crocodile who shows up in his bedroom. "I mean here I sit," says the crocodile, "your brand-new Night Buddy...." Night Buddies Amalgamated is an organization that rescues kids who aren't ready for bed and takes them on adventures. Tonight's adventure is to go find out why all of the world's pineapple cheesecakes are disappearing. So you see, I really had little choice about Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That there's a whole world of magic out there right after bedtime!

3. How much of the book is realistic?
I suppose John the boy character is realistic enough. And he lives with two regular parents in a regular house in a city and rides the subway. Most of the dialects are realistic. Beyond that it's all fantastic. At least I hope so.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I really can't think of anything at this point. The poor little book has been edited and edited. I suppose it might have started out with a better writer.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think the hardest part of writing any book is setting up a schedule and having the will to stick to it. People who go off from nine-to-five have this done for them. Writing is hard work for most of us. There are very few like Thomas Wolfe who could dash off a page every thirty seconds and never look back. Most of us have to strain to bring all of our faculties to bear, and when I get going, I actually sweat. Mark Twain said, "I hate writing. I love having written."

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It was a real surprise to see how small a package the whole business squeezed into. A thousand hours and two thousand pages of draft, and here we have a quarter-inch of little paperback. Also, you never know when to stop editing. (But I already knew this.)

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes, very well. I wrote this sappy poetical piece for ninth grade English, and the very cute student teacher gushed over it. Her name was Ellen, but she was an older woman and spoken for.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I take it you mean fiction, since that's what we're into here? I don't have a favorite fiction author. Maybe ten or fifteen, the usual suspects. Roald Dahl, probably, for kids. I like the way he conspires with his readers to put stuff over on the adult world. I try to go to school on this. I always liked John Steinbeck and J. D. Salinger for their congenial, conversational style. I don't like to read the same line three times. Salinger (or one of his characters) mentions a dear old librarian/mentor named Miss Overman. Miss Overman doesn't like difficult "modern" writing. Salinger (or his character) says he tries to write in a style that wouldn't annoy this friend. Me too.

9. Tell us your latest news.
As I write this I'm waiting for the truck to return my lawn tractor that's been fixed. It gave out at the bottom of my big yard last week and I had to hire a truck and crew to haul it away. But nobody wants to hear about that, right? My germane news is that my little book hits the street on June first. I've read it to lots of primary classes and it's always a smash hit. By all indications it will do well.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

JOHN: "Hey, I'm John, okay? Thanks for lookin' us up! Crosley an' me are really glad t' have ya in on our adventure, right, Cros? ----------HEY CROS!"

CROSLEY (startled): "FUP! HAR?"

JOHN: "Come on, Cros, get with the Program! We're here talkin' to new prospects! Quit dreamin' about pineapple cheesecakes!"

CROSLEY: "Howja know I was dreamin' about pineapple cheesecakes?"

JOHN: "Now what kinda dumb question is that? What else wouldja be dreamin' about?"

CROSLEY: "YERK! YERK! YERK! I guess ya got me there, John. I was thinkin' about the nine of 'em that we brought back from the factory. I mean, since ya ask-----"

JOHN: "Right. D'ya guess ya could stop just a second an' say hi t' the new prospects that just looked us up? An' maybe say somethin' about the big adventure we went on?"

CROSLEY: "Ya mean the Program?"

JOHN: "Yeah."

CROSLEY: "Sure, I can do that. Ain't that what we're here t' do?"

JOHN: "You're catchin' on, Cros."

CROSLEY: "YERK! YERK! Right----------Hey, new kids, I'm Crosley an' this here's John an' we're Night Buddies. The way this works, I show up after bedtime anytime John can't sleep. An' we sneak outta the house an' go on a Program."

JOHN: "That's the Night Buddies word for adventure. We solve mysteries an' help out an' stuff."

CROSLEY: "An' pineapple cheesecakes. That last Program had a whole lotta them."

JOHN: "Cros, willya please quit about pineapple cheesecakes? (Cros is King o' the Hogs about pineapple cheesecakes!)"

CROSLEY: "Okay, man, but pineapple cheesecakes had a whole lot t' do with that particular Program."

JOHN: "An' so did danger, an' evildoin', an' so did the Black Bottom too."

CROSLEY: "Hey, an' don't leave out why I'm red all over! Lissen, new buddies, I promise ya never heard anything as wacko as that business is! Read our adventure an' see!"

JOHN: "He's right about the wacko part! Check us out! An' watch for a new Program real soon too, okay?"


About the Book

A boy … a red crocodile … a collection of magic whatchamacallits … inventive characters … and an innovative new series of chapter books for kids.

Night Buddies revolves around the nighttime adventures of a young boy named John, who is not ready to go to sleep, and a bright red crocodile named Crosley who turns up under John’s bed. As the stories in each book open, this unlikely pair sneaks out of John’s house using Crosley’s I-ain’t-here doodad, which makes them invisible to John’s parents. They embark on their Program, the Night Buddies word for Adventure, and make their way around the Borough chasing down enemies and cleaning up the mishaps at hand.

The first book in the series is Night Buddies and The Pineapple Cheesecake Scare. The Program for the night is to find out why all of the pineapple cheesecakes in the world’s only pineapple cheesecake factory are disappearing.

These adventures after lights-out will delight any young reader who relishes an adventure/fantasy in the wee hours of the night.


About the Author

Sands Hetherington, creator of the 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.

Connect with Sands:
Web Site
Facebook

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