What inspired you to start writing?
After losing my job at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, I took on the role of home-schooling my two daughters. I found the English curriculum very prescriptive and lacking in fun and imagination. To inspire my daughters to read and write, I began writing short stories and quickly found the process to be cathartic and a great means of escape. Publishing a book is the only way my daughters will read one of my stories; I hope.
What is the key theme and/or message in your debut title: Ember the Fox-Red Farm Pup?
It is part of a quote from Walt Whitman, an American poet from the 1800s. But rather than appear clever and well-read, I will admit to hearing the quote on an episode of ‘Ted Lasso’. The quote immediately struck a chord with me and helps me be less judgemental in life.
I was inspired to write ‘Ember the Fox-Red Farm Pup’, whilst taking Ember out for a walk on the Trans-Pennine Trail near our home. It was early autumn and Ember was chasing squirrels and trying to sniff the sheep, pigs and donkeys through the fence at a local animal sanctuary. All of the animals were wary of Ember and ran away. I felt sorry for Ember, she looked like she wanted to play; however I suspect Ember had other ideas.
What was your highlight in writing this book?
We recently spent a long weekend in Barmouth, Wales. Whilst in Barmouth, the initial cover design draft was sent to me. I remember seeing my daughters’ reactions when I showed them the cover design. They both immediately took themselves off for the afternoon to write Ember’s sequel. The hard part was picking which one was best.
How did you find bringing your story to life with our illustration process?
I have been blown away by the passion that the team at Partnership Publishing have shown. From the initial story board through to the final cover design, it has been an absolute pleasure to see how the story has been brought to life through the illustration process. The team really take on board the author’s thoughts, it truly has been a collaboration. Thank you.
Does the main character, Ember - hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Ember is our family dog. She came into our lives on the back of the sad passing of our first family dog, Finney. I can’t speak about Ember without first mentioning Finney.
Named after the legendary Preston North End and England footballer, Sir Tom Finney, Finney was an accident. Born in Holmfirth, he was a cross between a chocolate labrador and white cocker spaniel. He was the runt of the litter, the only black-haired puppy and only cost us £150. He was only 10 years of age when he past away. It was all very sudden, his final two breaths on the kitchen floor in the arms of my wife. I had been away all week working, I like to think he waited for me to return home before letting go.
Exactly one week later, on 2nd June 2019, Ember was born in Poynton, Manchester. We hadn’t intended to get another dog so soon, but Finney left a void.
The first time we visited Ember’s litter - or the one with the yellow collar, as she was known – my daughters wanted the bigger, more boisterous boy puppies. I remember looking in the kennel and seeing Ember curled up in the corner, tiny and fast asleep. I said, “We will take this one!”
Ember must have been terrified the first time we brought her home. It should have been a joyous occasion, but my youngest daughter was in floods of tears, screaming for “Finney!!!” all the way home.
Now 4 years of age, Ember is a massive part of our lives and is well known amongst the local dog walking fraternity. She has a wonderful loving temperament, enjoys long walks, warm hugs and attempting to sit on our laps. She is also very tolerant of her half-sister, Whiskers, the 2 year old ragdoll cat. I will let you decide who rules the roost.
If you could invite three people to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
People? Do pets count? I would invite our old pets, so that my daughters could spend one more cherished day with them. Finney - gone but not forgotten, Goldie - my golden retriever growing up, and Roxy the escapologist rabbit. The menu would consist of the finest, unlimited steak for the dogs, and raw vegetables for Roxy.
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you both…
Ember has a boyfriend called ‘Kevin the pug’.
My English teacher at school, Mr Kelly, was allegedly the inspiration behind Nick Park’s ‘Wallace’ from ‘Wallace and Gromit’, green tank-top and all.
We reside in a village called Grappenhall. St Wilfrid’s Church in Grappenhall has a grinning cat carved into the sandstone of the church tower's west wall. The grinning cat is said to be the inspiration behind Lewis Caroll's Cheshire Cat.
Have you always wanted to write a book?
I first wanted to write a book in 2008, at the time I was reading a lot of Lee Child and Andy McNabb books. I wanted to write an action thriller, but I couldn’t think of anything to write about. Maybe now I have worked in law enforcement for a few years, I can come up with a plausible storyline.
Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
I am a luddite, but yes I do have social media accounts, on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Facetube and LinkedIn. You can find me @irobinsonbooks.
Ian Robinson's debut title: 'Ember the Fox-Red Farm Pup' will be AVAILABLE SOON!