The Short Story

Sarah-Anne Astwood’s self-published book, Along Came Franky, is about her adorable dachshund. We join the both of them on Pāpāmoa beach with a bunch of other short-legged saussies.

Sarah-Anne Astwood’s self-published book, Along Came Franky, is
about her adorable dachshund. We join the both of them on Pāpāmoa beach with a bunch of other short-legged saussies.

They say art imitates life. When Sarah-Anne Astwood, a physio by day and aspiring writer by night,
hit a stumbling block while writing a travel memoir, she found some much-needed inspiration right under her nose — her loveable dachshund named Franky.

It was three years ago, when Sarah faced a six-week recovery for a broken ankle and the lively dachshund was serving as her constant companion, that she was allowed the time she needed
to weave the story, Along Came Franky. It’s all about his arrival in their home, his quirks, cuteness
and general mischievousness.

“When we got Frank, it made perfect sense that there was a story about him waiting to be written! Dachshunds have such big personalities and Frank is curious, stubborn, affectionate and playful
— the perfect little character,” she says.

Author Sarah-Anne with Franky, her precious sausage dog.

Balancing act

Sarah’s built a successful career as a physiotherapist and notes that it’s been a challenge to juggle her new creative projects with her job. “It definitely comes down to discipline and carving out regular writing time, even when I’m not feeling inspired. Last year I set my goal to get the book finished and just went for it. I’m currently attempting book number two — splitting my time/brain between the creative and the scientific. It’s hard, but I think it brings a balance to my life.”

Writing, as with any creative pursuit, is very personal and while Sarah-Anne appreciated having her work peer read and edited, she acknowledges it was not the easiest part of the process. “There was
a lot of culling, which was hard as I felt that I was chopping out parts of myself. But as the illustrations came through, it was exciting to see the story come alive. I love how April [Zhang] has illustrated Frank with little, simple details that bring life to the words.”

She was also helped along by a serendipitous encounter at The Little Big Markets, when she met Rachel Weston and Elaine Williams, two successful self-published children’s book authors. “Their guidance proved priceless as I navigated the intricacies of printing and publishing, and they were both so lovely and enthusiastic about sharing the knowledge they had gained from their journeys.”

The Tauranga Dachshund Walking Group about to set out on their monthly stroll.

Franky, the protagonist of Along Came Franky.

Part of the gang

While exploring the world through the eyes of Franky, Sarah found herself becoming part of a community of dachshund lovers as vibrant as the book characters she creates — the Tauranga Dachshund Walking Group.

This group of dachshund enthusiasts convenes once a month for walks on Pāpāmoa Beach. It’s as funny and eclectic as it sounds, according to Sarah-Anne: dachshunds of all shapes and sizes,
their tiny legs trotting around, their floppy ears fluttering in the sea breeze. Here, conversations flow freely as they discuss food quirks and training tips, and are entertained by their furry companions.

“I was super keen to go walking with them and get Frank more socialised, and I love it. We share
ideas as we walk, have a laugh at the antics of the running sausages and get some exercise too.
It’s a supportive, daxie-loving community,” says Sarah.

Sarah-Anne recounts one particularly memorable escapade that started when a diminutive and
wise old dachshund decided to embark on a chase after a much larger dog. “Barking madly, the dachshund galvanised the entire pack into action. What followed was a hilarious display of flying sausages, accompanied by a few bewildered humans charging after them in a valiant attempt to restore order. The spectacle was such a great display of the exuberance and big spirit of dachshunds,” says Sarah.

Along Came Franky has struck a chord with readers, garnering plenty of praise and affection. With more than 120 copies sold and another print run already in the works, it has surpassed Sarah-Anne’s expectations. Parents have sent in pictures of their children absorbed in the book, some even cherished it enough to tuck it under their pillows at night.

For Sarah, the joy lies not only in achieving her personal writing goal, but also in witnessing the book, along with Franky’s character, touch the lives of readers far and wide.

Buy a copy of Along Came Franky at Books A Plenty, 74 Grey St, Tauranga booksaplenty.nz
Also available at fishpond.co.nz & realnzbooks.co.nz

Words by Clarissa van Emmenes
Photography by Katie Cox