Writing Bob the Railway Dog
For me, the story of Bob the Railway Dog began in 2008 as I was dashing through Adelaide Railway Station enroute to an appointment at the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide, researching another book. I recall I was in a hurry but screamed to a halt when the vision of a scruffy dog-smiling-face stared back at me through a glass cabinet – a sign underneath read ‘Bob the Railway Dog’.
I was in Adelaide as I’d been fortunate enough to receive a May Gibbs Creative Time Fellowship there, for which I’ll always be grateful.
While I was taking photos of trains and learning what information I could at the National Railway Museum for the other book, I was again surprised to find another photo of Bob and even his collar.
Shortly after, back in Melbourne an author friend who had recently travelled on the Indian Pacific, gave me an article on Bob which had appeared in the rail magazine, ‘Platform’ saying, ‘this is your kind of story, Corinne.’
But there were other priorities and along the way Bob was kept waiting ‘at the station.’
The research trip to Adelaide, this time by train with my daughter, so I could get a sense of place, took me back to the National Railway Museum where a lovely old railway man showed me more photos and assisted with detailed information on trains, tracks, stations, railways and all things ‘Train’ . . . and everything he could find on Bob.
Briana and I then drove into the ‘outback’ areas of South Australia, the places Bob had left his mark on – Carrieton, Terowie, Saddleworth, Peterborough (then Petersburg), to name a few, and it was after this trip that the writing and rewriting truly began. Once Andrew McLean began illustrating – as always there were changes to the text.
Bob died at about 11 years of age outside a butcher’s shop he frequently visited in Hindley Street, Adelaide, where he was regularly given free ‘treats’. This was reported in the Newpapers on August 3rd 1895 – exactly 120 years before the Melbourne launch of our book.
Site of the old butcher’s shop.
Thank you’s are many – Maryann Ballantyne, Publisher Black Dog Books who loved Bob the moment I found him, Walker Books in Sydney, Andrew McLean for making Bob and the Australian landscape ‘real’, Ron Fluck, OAM and all those at the National Railway Museum in Adelaide, Pauline Luke for giving me ‘that’ article, Mary and Eldon Zimmerman who helped me in Peterborough, Julie Webster for allowing me to visit and take photos of her gorgeous Smithy and for bringing him along today all the way from Mansfield, Carolyn from the Railfan Shop and the Association of Railway enthusiasts for allowing us to launch at the Railfan shop and to the National Railway Museum in Adelaide for allowing us to launch there.
and as always to my Cranny girls for putting up with me and keeping me ‘on track’ – to my family who always have to live with ‘book’ chaos and thank you to you all for braving the weather on those cold days back in August, 2015.
Bob the Railway Dog was launched at the Railfan Bookshop in Mont Albert on August 1, 2015 and at the National Railway Museum in Adelaide on August 15, 2015.
Bob the Railway Dog was named a Notable Book in the 2016 Children’s Book Council, Book of the Year Awards.
A U.S. Edition was published by Candlewick Press in 2016 and was named a Junior Library Guild selected book in that same year. It was also selected for the United States Board on Books for Young People Outstanding International Books honor list (USBBY OIB) in 2017.
The book will be translated into the Azeri language and published in Azerbaijan which is located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, straddling Western Asia and Eastern Europe.