BLOG TOUR: Interview with Robert Dinsdale (The Toymakers)

Today, I have the privilidge and honour in kicking off the Blog Tour to celebrate the Publication of The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. To get the ball rolling, Robert has kindly answered some questions. Please do check out the other stops on the tour and be sure to pick up The Toymakers, which is OUT TODAY and published by Del Rey.

Welcome,Robert, to Book Mood Reviews. I wonder if you could explain what the book is about without giving too many of its surprises away?
It’s the start of the 20th century. Cathy Wray, fifteen years old, is pregnant and facing the disappointed eyes of her parents – who plan to send her to a home for unwed mothers until a home can be found for the unwanted child. Instead, Cathy runs away, answering an advert for winter help at a toy store in London. Here she discovers the Godman family, exiles from Russia, and gets swept up in the story of Papa Jack’s Emporium itself: a toy store where childhood is crystallised and magic might just be real. Cathy arrives at the Emporium in its golden age – but it may not stay golden for long…

Where did you get the inspiration for this book?
The inspiration was all around me. When I started writing The Toymakers – or coming up with the ideas that would begin it – my daughter was one year old and I was spending most of my days playing with her. So the novel crystallised around me while I was down on the floor, playing with dolls and blocks…

Which character was the easiest/more relatable to you?
The characters of Kaspar and Emil are like the angel and devil in my own personality and I can relate to both of them well. But the challenge I set myself in this novel was to write from a perspective that couldn’t possibly be my own. Writing Cathy Wray was tough, trying to capture the experience of pregnancy and early motherhood and growing up from a female perspective. I’m not entirely sure I’ve been successful – but there’s so much else to look at in the Emporium that perhaps the cracks don’t show…!

What is your process for writing a book? Do you have any rituals or a favourite place to write your novels?
I’m a night owl, so I find writing at night most productive. I don’t know why – the imagination just seems more alive… I can write anywhere. I wrote my third novel in a string of terrible Australian motels as I drove around the country. But the one thing I do need to write properly (sorry friends and family) is to be on my own. I don’t know how writers can do anything sitting in cafes…

Do you plan your books or do you just go with where inspiration takes you when you are writing your books?
A balance of the two. I set out without knowing much and, along the way, things start to crystallise or make sense. I tried to plan a novel once and it killed it for me – it’s as if you expend all your imagination on the plan and, after that, the process just doesn’t engage. But what works for one doesn’t work for another and there are plenty of writers who work very differently…

Are you working on anything just now and can you tell us anything about them?
I have lots of ideas swirling, but right now they’re on ice. If The Toymakers reaches enough readers I have plans for a semi-sequel I’d love to write.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I have a four year old daughter so when I’m not writing I’m normally concocting ever more elaborate methods to get her to eat food that isn’t just toast.

Which authors have been an inspiration to you?
So many along the way, but over the past year I think I’ve finally been able to define what it is I like most in books: those sustained acts of imagination that not only take you somewhere else, but reflect back something, if not about the world we live in, then about what people are. Authors like Angela Carter and Ursula Le Guin do this brilliantly – they imagine worlds that reflect our own…

If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you want with you?
I would love to be stranded on a desert island. It’s one of my plans for retirement. There’ll be lots of time to kill so I’d probably take one of the epic novels I’ve been putting off reading. War and Peace glowers at me from the shelf every now and again. I’m a pretty amateur guitarist and on the desert island I could practise without driving everyone else to distraction. I’d need some fire lighters because, as hard as I’ve tried, I still haven’t been able to make fire by nature alone. And, as a balding man, I’d need a sun hat too, or I’d be dead by sun-stroke by mid-morning.

If The Toymaker was to be made into a movie or TV show, who would cast in the lead roles?
That’s a tough one! The characters are so fixed in my mind that I can’t imagine an actor inhabiting any of them. Ruby Bentall has done a brilliant job with the audiobook of the novel and I can imagine her as Cathy. And for Papa Jack we’d need someone old and venerable, capable of great kindness and great anguish at the same time. Ian McKellen, perhaps!?

Many Thanks to Robert for taking the time out to answer these questions. Please do check out the other posts throughout the tour.



Release Date: OUT NOW
Publisher: DEL RAY
Genre: Historical Fantasy


Do you remember when you believed in magic?

It is 1917, and while war wages across Europe, in the heart of London, there is a place of hope and enchantment.

The Emporium sells toys that capture the imagination of children and adults alike: patchwork dogs that seem alive, toy boxes that are bigger on the inside, soldiers that can fight battles of their own. Into this family business
comes young Cathy Wray, running away from a shameful past. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own.

But Cathy is about to discover that the Emporium has secrets of its own…



Robert Dinsdale was born in North Yorkshire and currently lives in Leigh-on-sea. He is the author of three previous critically acclaimed novels: The Harrowing, Little Exiles and Gingerbread.

He has a young daughter, and The Toymakers is a book he couldn’t have written without the experience of being a father for the first time. The idea for it came to him, almost fully-formed, in a toyshop with his daughter.

The Toymakers is his first venture into magic….


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