Inbali Iserles – that’s an unusual name… It certainly is. I was born in Israel and moved to England with my family when I was three years old. When I was 11 my family moved to Tucson, Arizona for a year. I still remember the extraordinary wildlife. During that year I saw coyotes, road runners and snakes. I even had a close encounter with a gila monster, a venomous lizard!
What were your first pets? I have always loved animals. Some of my earliest memories are of feeding stray cats or rescuing injured birds. I longed for pets from the earliest age. My first were a couple of Syrian gerbils called Coffee and Goldie. I later graduated to Russian Dwarf hamsters, goldfish, rabbits, degus, cats and a rather mischievous dog (not all at once!).
Do you have any pets now? My dog, Michi, is my writing mascot. He’s a friendly Japanese Spitz who loves to stretch out in the sun, like a cat, or gobble up his favourite treat on the sofa. It’s possible he’s a little spoilt…
What food do you love? Strawberries and cream; pomegranate, raspberries and Muscat grapes; lemon drizzle cake; mature cheddar melted on toast. What food makes you gag? Onions, particularly raw. Also liquorice and coriander. Yuck! Do you like travelling? Travelling is one of my favourite things. The hottest place I’ve been is the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. The coldest place I’ve been is Iceland. The wettest is the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The most bizarre and wonderful animals I’ve seen are the marsupials of Australia and the extraordinary creatures that live on the Galapagos Islands, far off the coast of Ecuador. If I could go anywhere in the world, it would be Madagascar to see lemurs (distant relatives of monkeys that look like tree bears).
When did you start writing? The Tygrine Cat was my first book. I came up with the story while flicking through an encyclopaedia of cat breeds and pondering the idea of a rivalry between ancient feline tribes. When the idea still excited me two weeks later and I could think of nothing else, I realised I would have to write the story. You know the old saying: if there’s a book that you’re desperate to read, but it doesn’t exist – write it! What inspired you to write the Foxcraft trilogy? I developed a fascination with urban foxes by watching them prowl the streets of London. I was intrigued by how these elegant animals appeared to materialise from nowhere – a flash of deep red pelt, a white tail tip – only to vanish into the night. I began to read about the fox’s role in folklore. Time and again, the fox was depicted as cunning, selfish and untrustworthy. I knew this beautiful animal was misunderstood and I wanted to tell her story.
Do you have advice for aspiring writers? Read, read and read: learn to understand what you like and what you don’t like. Honing your taste is an important part of being an author. Write, write and write: be it a journal, short stories or one long novel, try to write every week. Seek inspiration from day-to-day life, and in the wild and wonderful blizzard of your imagination. Edit, edit and edit: once your work is down on paper (or a computer file), re-read and assess it with a critical gaze. Attention to detail will make all the difference. Believe in yourself, be passionate about your story, and don’t give up!