Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Straight from the Mouth of 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.

For More Information

  • Night Buddies Go Sky High is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author? 

 Easy. It was in tenth grade. I handed in a rather sappy poetical piece in English class, and the extremely foxy student teacher gushed over it. Her name was Ellen and she was an older woman and spoken for, but that did it for me right there.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? 

I mean what are the perks and what are the demands? There are two main perks: (A) When you read to a group of kids and really get to them, and (B) When somebody asks you what your vocation is and you get to tell them (not that very many are impressed!). The demands remind me of star college athletes who have to deal constantly with sports writers who always ask the same stuff. These are kids who aren't public speakers (yet) but have to be polite. I get a lot of inane questions, this list excepted, of course!

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

 Self-published. For the Night Buddies series, anyway. I published some grown-up stories in magazines a hundred years ago, and that process was relatively easy except for finding the magazines. Finding publishers can be extremely difficult and disappointing. That's why I chose self-publishing for the Night Buddies books. I'm getting on, and I didn't want to spend years sending manuscripts around to publishers and agents. So I got myself published right off. But gosh, I'm responsible for EVERYTHING: book designing, artwork, editing, printing, distributing, promoting---the list goes on and on. Producing a physical book and then getting it out there is terribly complicated.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you? 

My people family have long since flown, and I live with my short-haired Saint Bernard dog Maggie. Maggie demands long walks, food and water, and twice-daily brushings, but so far she hasn't said a word about how I spend the rest of my time.

Do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word? 

Maggie was born famished and would weigh 300 pounds if I let her. I could get nothing done if I were late with her feedings.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

Never a problem. Maggie and I live alone, as I just related. I don't have a boss. Never have. And I never answer the phone till the caller identifies himself on my old answering machine. Those awful robo calls ARE annoying---I have to run over to the machine and listen, but this is minor and does make me move a little faster.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process? 

When this outfit who sold stuffed animals called "Night Buddies" sued me. They backed off when I proved that I had come up with the name first.

How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid? 

I couldn't say. I've hired that part out to professionals.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about? 

I can't think of a pet peeve now that George Bush is out of the way. Maybe those robo calls? I will tell you about when I was up on the roof a few years ago. I was blowing out the gutters and accidently knocked the ladder over. There was no other way down, none of the neighbors were home, I didn't have a cell phone, and it was cold and getting dark. I had to figure out how best to jump off. I must have set a record for that sort of thing.

Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above don’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way? 

Isn't Chamomile tea something Beatrix Potter gives one of her characters as punishment? I had the impression it tasted nasty and was a purgative. Okay, though. Right. It will all be worth it if Miss Ellen should happen to come across my stuff! Thanks for having me. It's all on nightbuddiesadventures.com.

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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