Today’s interview is with Jos Carlyle of independent app development company Persian Cat Press. Their first app ‘The Gift’ is a beautiful app featuring watercolors and the ability to interact with different portions of the pages!  You can check them out on Facebook and Twitter!  Be sure to write them a note that The iMum sent you and enter to win a copy of their beautiful app!

whatisistorythumbnailG’day Jos! Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am  a writer, telling stories for all age groups and now specialising in interactive scripts.  I live with a beautiful rescue greyhound named Ziggy in a house at the foot of the Pennines in the northwest of England. It’s a
lovely part of the world.  I take inspiration from my daughter Nori, Tai Chi, travel, great graphic design – anything and everything.

How did the idea for your app come about?

I started thinking about what sort of story might make a nice Christmas picture book towards the end of 2009.  I wanted to tell a tale that was simple and straightforward but also had the same kind of lyricism and inner meaning as the very best classic fairy stories and folk tales. I eventually decided to tell a story about all of the things we might give our children, and the one thing they need most of all.  A year or so later, I started talking to Martin David about starting Persian Cat Press and the two ideas came together.

How long was the process from the original idea to the release of the app?

It’s been a little over two years from having the original idea for The Gift: An Interactive Storybook to it eventually reaching the App Store – but that includes starting up and growing an app publishing company around the title too.  Making The Gift: An Interactive Storybook was a complicated process, with no less than six teams working simultaneously on different aspects of the app’s production, from Dan Mynard’s beautiful oil on canvas illustrations and Mamma Freedom’s haunting theme song to Nick Hughes’ adorable narration and Stephen Nuttall’s elegant typography.  It’s taken a lot of planning, coordination and hard work, but it’s been worth it.

Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?

We helped a new development company – Paire Creative – to form, and then hired them exclusively. It made sense for us financially, and also helped some immensely talented developers get a new venture off the ground.
It was Paire Creative who pulled together each of the various elements of the app and added the kind of meaningful interactive features that reinforce readers’ engagement with The Gift: An Interactive Storybook’s narrative. They have done us proud.

What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?

Publishing our first app, we’ve had to learn everything from scratch, and that means that we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way – many of which have proved to be costly in both time and money.  We’re breaking new ground and one of the biggest challenges was getting back on track after the inevitable setbacks involved in something like that. You need to be prepared to put the hours in.  We’re continually making key decisions in a sector where there is no existing model, and it’s a little daunting at times. But we learn fast.

Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?

We’ve built a great team within the company, all sharing an absolute belief in what we do and how we do it. We know the sector inside out and we’re now at the stage where we feel we can compete with anyone.  With The Gift: An Interactive Storybook, we were fortunate in that we were also able to call upon the skills of a number of very talented and enthusiastic individuals and companies from our technical and creative network, around the the northwest of the UK and beyond.  We simply would not have been able to do it without them.

What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more apps?

We have three apps in development:

A picture book for younger children entitled Owls Don’t Growl, due for release in summer 2012.

In addition, we have a couple more  titles for older and adult readers:
The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone, The Ballet, an expansion of a graphic novel being published by Jonathan Cape later this year.
And Solarized, a graphic novel app set in a post-apocalyptic future, available in quarterly episodes with the first installment coming in summer 2013.

Our apps all display an unwavering commitment to quality narratives told in engaging ways – and we have a million more iStory ideas waiting in the wings. It’s going to be an exciting year.

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?

Anyone who is considering embarking on any kind of creative endeavor needs to believe in themselves and their product 100 per cent. You need to spend time finding the right people to work with. And you need to be prepared to work very hard.  We have learned some valuable lessons during our time working on The Gift: An Interactive Storybook and later this year we’re going to be passing on that knowledge with courses about various aspects of app production.


What an inspiration you are to the developer world Jos! You must be very proud of your achievements thus far from the idea of an app to the execution of ‘The Gift’.  We can’t wait to see what 2012 and 2013 bring.  Our review of ‘The Gift’ will be published soon!  Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today!