Sunday, August 12, 2012

Inside the Mind of Sands Hetherington, author of the Night Buddies

Sands Hetherington 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. 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. 

 Interview with Author Sands Hetherington

Q: Sands, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today for our readers. Can you share some writing experiences with us?

A: Gosh, I wish I could, but do you really want to hear about the old chaise and the green clipboard I use?  And the Cross ballpoint pens?

Q: Like all authors, you have had your fair share of rejection letters. You obviously did not let the letters deter you. How did you keep your determination without getting discouraged?

A: I did get discouraged, but I guess I always thought I was good enough, and when the John-and-Crosley idea presented itself to me, I couldn't resist.

Q: Do you consider yourself a born writer?

A: No. I was put together step by step from spare parts.

Q: Have you had any training to become a writer?

A: I have an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing. That, and I've been around for a lot of years.

Q: What inspired you to write?

A: It was in tenth grade. I handed in a sappy poetical piece in English class and this very cute student teacher gushed over it. Her name was Ellen and she was spoken for, but that did it for me right there.

Q: Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

A: That's like asking me my favorite movie. There must be thirty-five movies in my top ten. My list of favorite writers is eclectic and includes a lot of the usual suspects, starting with Homer, skipping two millennia to Shakespeare, then Fielding, and then a whole bunch of 19th and 20th Century Brits and Americans.

But I'm old now and rarely even read fiction. I like ancient history these days, and the American Civil War.

Q: Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?

A: Not full-blown "writer's block" where you sit there and stare at the paper and nothing comes for days.  But I've gotten into plenty of plot situations that I didn't know how to squirm out of, and I've come to places and just not known what to say next. When this happened to Dickens, he took late night walks around London.  I do think walking helps.
Q: Does your family and friends inspire any of your books, characters, or plots?

A: Actually my six-year-old son came up with the whole idea. We always did bedtime stories, and one night John presented me with Crosley, a red crocodile he had cooked up for an after-lights-out companion. All I needed to do was figure out why Crosley was red, and then sneak the two of them out of the house on an adventure.

Q: Can you share with us a little about your current book?

A: It's called Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare. Young John Degraffenreidt isn't ready to go to sleep yet, and Crosley, a zany red crocodile, crawls out from under the bed to take him on an adventure. Crosley is a complete fanatic for pineapple cheesecakes, and it seems the world's supply of this item is vanishing. Something definitely needs to be done, so the two Night Buddies sneak out of the house and take the subway to the great (and only) pineapple cheesecake factory. Crosley discovers who's behind the business, and that's when the scare and the excitement start.

Q: What do you like most about writing?

A: Mark Twain said it: "I hate writing. I love having written."

Q: Please describe to us your relationship between you and your editor. What makes an author/editor relationship a success?

A: My editor is very competent and usually correct. (She isn't correct when we squabble over my freewheeling punctuation.) She keeps a lid on my flights of dialect and has made any number of detail textual improvements.

Q: Tell us about your writing space?

A: It's an old chaise in my living room with a little table on one side. I prop my knees up and use an old green clipboard that I found thrown out on the ground when I was at college.

Q: Is there anything you'd go back and do differently now that you have been published, in regards to your writing career?

A: Get there sooner. 

Q: Is there any particular book that, when you read it, you thought, "I wish I had written that!"?

A: Oh my, there must be hundreds. Any of them that I thought were very good. What admirer wouldn't wish that? My most vivid recollection in this regard is running into Holden Caulfield when I was sixteen.

Q: What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?

A: I try to do what Hemingway suggested. He said stop for the day at a place it will be easy to start from the next day. Then the next day read over what's already there so everything will be of a piece.

Q: When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your books and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

A: That he made little folks merry.

Q: What advice would you give to a new writer?

A: Set up a schedule and stick to it religiously. Don't try to write all day or you probably won't last. Two or three hours may be plenty. (Have something else to do.) Also: READ.

Q: Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?

A: The World of Ink Network is currently touring my nighttime adventure book for kids, Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare published by Dune Buggy Press all through July and August 2012. You can find out more about my World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

About the Book:
Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare is the first in a series featuring John, a young city kid who isn't ready for bed yet, and Crosley, a bright-red crocodile who shows up in his room to rescue him and take him on an adventure.

Night Buddies is an astonishing and inventive adventure with unforgettable cast of characters that will make you laugh and win over your heart. The book has lots of thoughtful, multi-layered twists, giggles, and perils -- things kids can relate to and enjoy. 

Publisher: Dune Buggy Press; One edition (June 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0984741712
ISBN-13: 978-0984741717

Get a sneak peek of the book at

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