A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, husband of a Dartmouth alumnus, and son of a Brown graduate, Matt Robinson has been steeped in Ivy League culture for most of his life. A professional writer, editor, and educator for over twenty years, Matt has developed a profound curiosity about all things education-related and a knack for remembering and sharing stories about many schools. While much of Matt’s most recent research has gone into his book, Lions, Tigers, and…Bulldogs?, hundreds more pieces can be seen at www.TheRobinsonReporter.com.
You can buy Lions, Tigers, and…Bulldogs? here.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?:
My father went to Brown and, while visiting with him, I fell in love with the (current) mascot, “Bruno” (nee “Helen”) the Bear. Sometimes, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “The Brown Bear!” This love for the Brown mascot expanded to other mascots and, eventually, the idea for a book on mascots came to me. As a professional freelancer (who was working from home before it was “hip”), I kept putting the book idea off in favor of writing assignments that paid the bills. When my father was diagnosed with dementia, however, I realized it was time to get the idea out into the world, if only as a legacy piece for him. The path to publishing (which I have discussed in live presentations all over the world) was long and challenging, but the result was a book I am proud of that I feel Dad would be proud of too!
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
I have been a professional educator, writer, editor, publisher, communications administrator, boxing coach(!), and, most importantly, Dad.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
The title is admittedly inspired by The Wizard of Oz and people often ask me why I did not use “Lions, Tigers, and Bears” (especially when the mascot that started the idea is a bear). Due to a publisher who was a bit “fast and loose” with copyright law, I had enough challenges in that arena. And besides, MGM ripped off the Columbia Lion, so…
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
It was bittersweet as my father passed before it was published. However, I brought the first edition to his gravesite and “presented” it to him.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
I guess it would have to include “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (though the hard work often made me muse “If I Only Had a Brain”) and, as it is for Dad, it would have to include Tony Bennett!
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
My first “review” was my then-seven-year-old daughter coming up to my office way past her bedtime with the book in her hand. “I read your book, Dad,” she said. “It’s good!”
Since then, I have had positive responses from people aged seven to 70+ and presented the book at such diverse venues as alumni organizations, retail stores, and senior centers. While the book has been read and enjoyed by many people from all walks of life (including many who have no established ties to the Ivy League), my favorite interactions have either been with students who say the book inspired them to apply or helped them gain admittance, and members of the Ivy League world who tell me that they learned things about their own school that they had not known before or who shared with me a favorite story from their years in school. As any author can tell you, however, any reader is a treasured reader and all I hope is that they enjoy and share the book with others.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
It was great to fulfill my goal of being published (a goal I am in the midst of achieving again with a book idea I had before the Ivy League one), but it was more fulfilling to be able to honor my father and share his story as I share my own.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I am developing a series of books that will use music to teach about world culture and hopefully help support and supplement schools and other programs in which music and art education has been diminished. As I am so grateful to the many authors and readers who support me, I try to return the favor through my author interview show (www.needhamchannel.org/the-writers-block), which I have taken on the road in a series of live author talks (please contact me with interest at Matt@TheRobinsonReporter.com with “Book series” in the subject). I am also working with some AMAZING organizations, including Wish Dish (www.thewishdishproject.com), which makes homemade food for homeless communities and Project Insulin (www.ProjectInsulin.org), which is working on a synthetic insulin that will allow more people who need it to afford it. I promote independent food makers on WBZ/iHeart radio (www.Matts-Meals.com) and talk with Veterans who run their own businesses in my “Vetrepreneurs©” column (which is now a radio segment on www.VeteransVoiceNetwork.org). I am also teaching writing and entrepreneurship at a local prison and, as I said, being a dad to my eleven-year-old twins.
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