By SARAH CHAIN
Daily Record/Sunday News
“Billy’s Bedtime Adventures” started out as a silly story that Amanda Redwine told to her son when bedtime became a struggle. Kael Clugston, then 5, was “anti-sleep,” Redwine said with a laugh.
Curious about everything that happened after he’d fallen asleep, Kael dreaded heading to bed, said Redwine, of Dover.
“I just thought that I missed everything,” said Kael, now 10.
So Redwine encouraged him to use his imagination as he tried to fall asleep.
“He didn’t go for it,” she said. “He knew I was trying to trick him into going to bed.”
But the idea developed into a story about a young boy named Billy, who, at bedtime one evening, meets a two-humped camel named Lumpy.
One afternoon, Redwine and Kael sat down and put the story to paper. Kael offered ideas on the setting — a home in Virginia, since that’s where he was born — and a few details in the bedroom, including the hanging solar system. Lumpy and Billy’s plans to travel to Mexico City and enter a ring-toss challenge were also ideas from Kael.
Creating the character of a two-humped camel, though, came from Redwine’s growing collection.
She used to harbor a love for watermelons, but when that trend became widespread, she said, “it got out of control.” So she began collecting something that was harder to find: two-humped camels.
Once Redwine and Kael finished writing the story, she let it sit for a while. She submitted it to a few book agents, but without illustrations, she said, it didn’t come to life.
Then, at a Tae Kwon Do class at the Dover YMCA, Redwine met a woman who said her daughter might be interested in doing art for the book.
Emily Wick, a Dover Area High School graduate and current sophomore at Marywood University in Scranton, jumped in with both feet.
“(Redwine) already had the story written out,” said Wick, 19. “I went through it and said, ‘This could be a scene and I could draw it,’ and went from there.”
Redwine was thrilled.
“The first time I saw her pictures, it was like seeing old friends,” she said. “She drew them exactly like I see them in my head.”
They published the book through CreateSpace, a self-publishing arm of Amazon.com. The book was published at the end of August, and Redwine sold about 100 copies in the first month.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this much work to sell books,” she said.
But Redwine was well-motivated to publish the story.
“I didn’t want to not do it and spend the rest of my life wondering,” she said. “I wanted to show (Kael), if you want something bad enough, you can go out and get it. Your first rejection is not your last rejection.”
And if all goes according to plan, readers will see much more from Redwine and Kael in the future. Lumpy the camel only eats foods beginning with the letter P in “Billy’s Bedtime Adventures,” so they plan to write 25 other books to cover the alphabet.
“It’s a big hit with the 4- to 6-year-old crowd… (and) the 6-and-under crowd, they’re very much into alphabets,” Redwine said.
The other stories will all start in Billy’s bedroom, with plenty of adventures to be had.
“We’re going to Greece in the fourth book,” Kael said. “I don’t want to give anything (away), but there’s someone who combines my love for animals with my love of mythology.”
“It’s just wild,” Redwine said of brainstorming the storylines. “You can imagine what a night at my dinner table is like.”
Name: Amanda Redwine
Family: Son, Kael Clugston, 10
Occupation: Dentsply International
Hobbies: Volunteers with Quilts for Kids, a nonprofit that makes quilts for ill and abused children