Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Author Interview: Inbali Iserles

I’d like to thank Inbali Iserles, author of The Tygrine Cat, for agreeing to answer a few questions for the Socrates’ Book Review Blog. We are honored to have her join us. Let the questions begin…

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

The Tygrine Cat is my first book. I came up with the story while flicking through an encyclopedia of cat breeds and pondering the idea of a rivalry between ancient feline tribes.

How long did it take to complete this book?

I was working full-time when I wrote the story, in stolen weekends and vacations. It took me about two and half years to finish the first draft and another six or so months of self-editing before sending it off to agents. That wasn’t the end of the matter, however! Once I’d signed with Walker Books, I worked with my editor to finalise the manuscript prior to publication. My US editor at Candlewick Press suggested a few follow-up changes, but these were largely to amend English spelling – English “miaows” became American “meows”. The UK and US covers are also quite different and I’m always interested to hear which one readers prefer.

What do your family and friends think of your work?

Other than my immediate family, I hardly told anyone about The Tygrine Cat before I signed a book deal, feeling a little sheepish about my writing endeavours. A lawyer writing children’s books? I feared that people would laugh! But they’ve all been fantastic.

As a child, did you like to read or write?

Even before I could write I was coming up with stories. For instance, when I was about four I shared a room with my sister. We had bunk beds and she, being the eldest, naturally claimed the top bunk. I was incensed by this injustice – why should she have the top bunk (the indisputably better bunk) simply due to an accident of birth (i.e. her age)? To get my own back, I made up a story about a friendly dragon that lived below my bunk. He would breathe fire at all who came near (except for me, of course). My sister dismissed this with a “Don’t be ludicrous, Inbali, there’s no such thing as dragons!” Yet she scampered up the ladder to her bunk at great speed – just in case!

As I got older I discovered the delights of reading. Tove Jansson’s Moomin adventures were among my favourites. These magical books remain in print and re-reading them still makes me smile.

Have you ever had a cat or any other animals?

I am an irrepressible animal lover. As I child I started with Syrian gerbils and Russian dwarf hamsters and soon graduated to a rabbit and kitten. My adorable old cat, Wilma, still lives with my parents in Cambridge, England, where I grew up. She turns 22 this month and we’re planning a celebration in her honour. In London I share my flat with four degus – exotic rodents that I adopted from an animal shelter.

Did you have to do any research for this book? What kind?

Children’s fantasy asks a lot of the reader. Come with me, it beckons, to a world of magical portals, sword-fighting knights and feline warlords. To be convincing, I have always maintained that it should be firmly rooted in reality. As a result, I’m a huge believer in research. For The Tygrine Cat and its sequel I watched street cats in Egypt, visited ferals in a London rescue centre, spent a freezing afternoon on a market-place and even boarded a cargo ship at one of the UK’s largest dockyards. Perhaps more bizarrely I attended a taxidermy conference while preparing to write The Bloodstone Bird – all in the name of research!

How did it feel when you learned your story would be published?

It felt indescribably wonderful. I remember getting the call from my agent and yelping with delight. I’m not normally a yelper!

Your bio says you are a lawyer…how do you juggle that career with writing? Both must require much of your time.

I am fortunate in that my law firm has been supportive of my writing, allowing me time to do both. Writing is quite solitary and I relish the social interactions at my firm and the structure that it imposes on my otherwise fairly frenetic existence! I am comfortable wearing both hats – the more hats the merrier.

Have you received much fan feedback? How did you feel hearing from someone who actually read your work?

I do receive emails and letters from fans and it always makes my day. It’s fascinating to get feedback. Take The Tygrine Cat for instance – everyone has a favourite feline! It’s great to meet readers in person too. Last year The Tygrine Cat won the Calderdale Children’s Book Award, which is entirely voted on by children. I had the opportunity to chat to readers and hear their views – it was wonderful.

One of the benefits of our modern age is that readers can more easily engage with writers. This seemed inconceivable in my youth! My sister recently set up a Facebook group for me, which means that there’s another, simple way to keep in touch.

What else have you written or plan to write?

A chance discovery on a London street set in motion the story for my second book, The Bloodstone Bird, about a quest to find an enchanted bird. Schoolmates Sash and Verity quickly learn that nothing is what it seems: while the city may look dull, adventure looms around every corner, down gloomy alleyways and even below their feet. Riddles can open secret doors – magical gateways to tropical worlds ...

I am just completing the first draft of the sequel to The Tygrine Cat, to be released under the title The Tygrine Cat: On the Run. I’ve been absorbed in this feline adventure for months and am very excited that it’s almost finished. My UK and US editors haven’t seen it yet – here’s hoping they like it!

Again, thank you Inbali for the interview and passing this book along to me for a review. It was a pure joy to read.

Check out my review of The Tygrine Cat

Inbali has a wonderful website, click here to check it out!


  1. Great interview :D
    The books sounds lovely, but maybe I am a bit subjective since I LOVe cats lol.

  2. If you love cats, you'd love this book. It was a delightful read and the best part is that there is a sequel...the bad part is, it's a year away :(

  3. How fabulous - I am so pleased you managed to get her on to your blog. I loved The Tygrine Cat too. Great post.


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