With three titles in print and a fourth coming this summer, we revisit Night Buddies author Sands Hetherington’s journey to becoming an accidental author. It started when he found himself a surprise single father.

When Sand’s ex-wife announced she planned to move and take their young son, John, Sands tried to talk her out of it. Then, he fought for custody and—surprising at the time because the courts usually granted custody to mothers—found himself a single dad.

“So there I was,” Sands wrote in a 2014 blog. “And, as strange as it may sound, single parenthood ended up seeming perfectly normal to me. Maybe it’s different if you have several kids, but I had just one boy and ample time to spend on him—on us, I should say because we did everything together. It was the most fun time I’ve had as an adult. Spending time with John took me back to feeling like a kid again but with an adult’s powers and privileges. I loved every minute of the whole business (except getting him to practice piano, which I must say was a grinding experience).”

Sands’ discovered his vocation as a children’s book author while reading bedtime stories to John. They read everything from Grimm to Tolkien, Dahl, Dickens, and Victor Hugo. He remembers when Crosley became part of their lives.

“One night when I was done reading (John was about seven), I may have suggested he make up a companion to go off to sleep with—or maybe he did it on his own. The next day, anyhow, he introduced me to Crosley, his imaginary red crocodile friend.”

So Crosely became part of the nightly ritual. First, they had to figure out why Crosley was red. It turns out he’s allergic to water! Sands begin suggesting ideas for John and Crosely and their nighttime adventures. And the rest . . . is tucked into the pages of the Night Buddies adventures. A ten-year-old John narrates each book.

John is now grown, and Sands is proud of the stories they created together at bedtime.

“Raising John by myself turned out to be quite a journey,” Sands wrote, “but I think we’re both pretty happy with where we’ve ended up because of it.”