I get to be a stop on the book tour for the new book “Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare”, by Sands Hetherington! Best of all YOU CAN WIN a copy of “Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare” by just leaving a comment in the comment section! A winner will be randomly chosen on June 20th!
Mr. Hetherington and his son John developed the Crosley character from the story through bedtime stories. Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare is the first book in the Night Buddies series. Mr. Hetherington is a resident of Greensboro, North Carolina. He 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.
Mr. Hetherington was nice enough to do an interview with me about his new book!
Hi Brother Erik!
I’m very happy to respond to your interview questions. Guys like you are my readers, after all, and your reaction is my absolute bottom line. By the way, I visited your site and you write better than most college graduates.
Did you always imagine yourself writing children’s chapter books?
No. I studied literature for a long time and wanted to write adult fiction. I did write a dozen or so short stories, but eventually quit. Several years later I started reading to my little son John every night and got into kids’ stories that way. I was pretty old by then!
Where did the idea for the “Night Buddies” series come from?
The idea came mainly from my kid John. Like I said, I always read to him at bedtime. One night when I was done reading (I think he was six and probably wanted more story), I may have suggested he make up a companion to go to sleep with. Maybe not; John may have done it all on his own. Anyway, the next night, there Crosley was, red color, goofy name and all. It was all John.
So at bedtime we started bouncing Crosley stuff off each other and making up episodes. This went on for a year or more and Crosley got to be a real family member. Eventually I decided to put John and him into a sure-enough story. The problem was, I had to figure out why Crosley was red. I couldn’t just plop him down on readers like that without explaining. I could’ve just dropped the red part, but I didn’t want to strip my buddy that way. Finally it hit me: Crosley was red because he was allergic to water, of course! Sort of. If he got any water on him, he broke out doing the Black Bottom dance and had to keep it up for hours. Unless he took his antidote pills. But the pills had this side-effect: they turned him red! Okay, then, Crosley got started as a lights-out buddy, so I decided to go ahead and make him a member of Night Buddies Amalgamated, right? And throw in that he’s a pineapple cheesecake freak and have this big pineapple cheesecake emergency shortage, and there’s the whole gist of it. Just remember to keep him goofy! All red crocodiles are goofy.
I really like Crosley’s accent and how you describe him sounding like a chainsaw (you describe it very well in the book so your readers can “hear” him). Do you imagine how all your characters not only look but how they sound?
I think all writers imagine this, although they might not describe voices up front like I do with Crosley and my other odd characters. Voices are such a huge part of these characters. With “normal” characters with “normal” voices like John, I don’t do this. It would just get in the way. Listen, though, you’ve made my day saying you like Crosley’s accent! Lots of grownups have warned me that this stuff would turn kids off. You didn’t seem to have any trouble understanding it!
Is pineapple cheesecake your favorite dessert?
No, but it might be if I didn’t watch my weight! Just check out the calories in the factory scene with the ingredients!
The human main character in “Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare” is named John Degraffenreidt. I am guessing “John” is after your son? Where did you get the last name Degraffenreidt?
My son John is definitely the kid in the book and he doesn’t have a middle name either! I just wanted to use a long last name like he has. I started to use Blennerhassitt. Maybe I should have looked at some of those super-long Greek names.
Crosley the crocodile crawled out from under John’s bed but John wasn’t scared. The “monster” under the bed is usually a thing most kids are terrified of. I like how something (Crosley) came out from under a bed that was really cool and fun! Was your son afraid of monsters under the bed or is that something you thought about when writing the book?
Like you say, under the bed is an old story gimmick. I didn’t know where else to hide Crosley. (I couldn’t very well let the parents see him!) Please notice that he announces he’s tired of getting under the bed and is going to hide in the closet next time. Or maybe it’s in the second book that he says this?
“Night Buddies” is a series and I read on the Night Buddies website that the next book’s title is “Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine.” Can you tell us a little about that book?
This is a much longer book, maybe two-and-a-half times longer. It features our same two adventurers, and Crosley still has his jones for pineapple cheesecakes. Lots of new characters and a lot of evildoing to deal with. My favorite part is the supercool flying machine John and Crosley get to swoop around the story in. I’m not going to give away anything about it except to say that it sure would be great to have one! Anybody! You can find out this fall, okay?
I am looking forward to reading what happens next to Crosley and John! Thank you very much for taking the time to read and answer my questions!
Thanks for inviting me in, Brother Erik. You guys are why I got into this!
NOW FOR THE REVIEW!
By Sands Hetherington
Illustrated by Jessica Love
Published by Dune Buggy Press on June 1, 2012
128 pages – ages 9+
Most kids would get creeped out if a red crocodile crawled out from underneath their bed, but not if it’s a Night Buddy! Night Buddies are from a secret agent program that helps kids wo can’t sleep. If a kid can’t sleep, a night buddy comes and takes them on an adventure. John meets his Night Buddy, Crosley (a red crocodile) and Crosley takes John on an adventure to see why the world’s one and only pineapple cheesecake factory has stopped making pineapple cheesecakes! After sneaking out of the house, the Buddies go on a silly adventure to get to the bottom of the problem. What they find is that some one (or thing) is taking the cheesecakes! But who?!? By the time the mystery is solved and they return home, John is tired and ready for bed!
I thought this book was hilarious! I love the reason why Crosley is red (I won;t tell you because I don’t want to spoil it)! I also love it that he starts to do the Black Bottom dance whenever he gets wet. John is also a really great character. I really like how nice and curious he is. The story plot is fun and original. The book is good for young advanced readers because it has clean language and no violence. The illustrations in the book are really nice and add a lot to the story. The only thing I didn’t care for in the book was the font changes in the written text. The font changes size and types a lot (I guess this is supposed to emphasize different things). I thought it was used too much and it got distracting after a while. One bonus was all the great new words the book used (Crosley talks in a very unusual way). You even got a glossary of words that Crosley and other characters use like Yerk! Yerk!, Blorf!, and Wuff. It’s a cute story that I think kids will like.
You can find an adult’s opinion on this book at Sue Morris’ blog Kid-Lit Reviews (click HERE)!
Also check out the trailer!