This is what I wrote before I met Bob Graham –
Today I’m meeting one of my heroes – Bob Graham picture book writer and illustrator extraordinaire. It’s hard to know what I’m going to say besides ‘love your work’. I don’t want to be a suck – but my girls and I have taken such pleasure in his books over the years. His books have that magical quality which allows you to discover something new every time you read them. There are subtle life messages and they’re full of family love – I think that’s why I enjoy them so much!
After meeting Bob Graham –
|Bob really is a dog lover!
We met at a cafe in Federation Square with the lovely Helen Chamberlin playing chaperone. Bob looks like a retired school teacher – grey hair, beard and glasses. Apparently he’s a bit on the reclusive side…but he gave no sign of this to me. Rather, he was like a friendly, well-connected uncle who wanted nothing but the best for me and my career.
He shared the story of his first publication Pete and Roland based on a true story about his son and a budgie. He created the book (he’s been drawing all his life) and dropped it into the publishers on his way into work in Canberra one day. And – as seems to be the way with some lucky few – he was picked up straight away!
Bob then showed me some of his “dummy” books – minature mocked-up picture books complete with words and illustrations. Most of his work starts with illustration, doodling around and then asking the ‘What if?’ question. However, he also showed me a work-in-progress about a sparrow that travelled by ship from India (?) and escaped at the other end in Perth – where apparently sparrows are outlawed. What a great premise for a story!
Bob then surprised me by revealing he’d done research on me! He’d read my CV and the picture book manuscripts I’d submitted for the Maurice Saxby mentorship. We spoke about my time working for the national wire service Australian Associated Press (AAP) where I had to write up news stories of 500 words in the space of half an hour. He said this was fabulous training for picture book writing and he very kindly said there was nothing anyone could teach me about writing – I just had to go and do it. Shucks!
It was a fabulous morning – thanks Bob and Helen.
And Bob – in case you’ve missed him this is our gorgeous boy Pip!
|Pip with the Rose-bear