Welcome to my first Author Spotlight!
Today I am excited to be chatting it up with Debbie Manber Kupfer. Debbie is a published author from the United Kingdom and has published her first novel P.A.W.S. in June of 2013. Currently, she is working on the sequel for it but also has three short story anthologies under her belt as well. As a fellow writer myself, I could not wait to ask her questions and learn more about her.
At what point in your life did you say to yourself “I’m going to write a book?”
Well, I’ve been saying that for most of my life! I even wrote a few “books” while I was in junior school! But I only started taking myself seriously as a writer in October of 2012. That’s when the idea for P.A.W.S. came to me. I clearly saw a young girl being given a silver cat charm by her grandmother and knew her story was important. I told the story to my daughter and she said “Mom, you have to write that!”
I’d heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and set about writing my story during November 2012. Initially I wrote the story for myself. I wanted to know what happened to Miri and her friends and family. I was amazed when a few months later I took my prologue to a local writers group and everyone there told me I needed to publish it. It was there I also met Robin Tidwell of Rocking Horse Publishing who would eventually become my publisher.
Today we’re getting ready to release Argentum, in the fall, the second installment of the P.A.W.S. series. I know I have a long way to go until I complete my series, but I’m really enjoying the journey.
What is a central theme or thought you incorporate into your writing?
I don’t believe in absolutes. All of my characters in P.A.W.S. and Argentum are fluid, not entirely good or evil. Everyone has their own motivations for why they act the way they do and they CAN change. With this in mind I wrote a background story about my villain, Alistair, which will appear in an anthology, Heroes & Villains, which will be available in December.
Alistair may be truly evil in my books, but even he has reasons for his actions.
Are there specific places you think about that you base the setting of your stories?
In P.A.W.S. we visit Vienna, the Lower East Side of New York, and St. Louis. My father was born in Vienna and left on the Kindertransport when he was just 6 years old. Miri’s family also flee the Nazis and Vienna is also the location of my story, Griddlebone, that will appear in the anthology, Sins of the Past.
The Lower East Side of New York has always held a fascination for me. I spent a few years living around New York and particular loved that area of the city.
It was natural for me to include my current home, St. Louis in my books. P.A.W.S. – the secret magical institutes that features in my books is located underneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, a real place that is very pretty from the outside, but often closed so that I myself have never been inside. Seemed like the perfect front for a secret magical institute.
Any taboos you believe should not be put into novels?
I personally feel uncomfortable with extreme violence in books that feels gratuitous. I am the editor of Sins of the Past that will shortly be published and we rejected a couple of stories for this reason. I understand the need for violence in stories (particularly in horror), but sometimes it just goes beyond the boundaries of what is necessary for the story.
What kind of interesting trivia did you include in your stories?
Nearly all of my stories contain cats and puzzles, because, well, I like cats and puzzles! When I’m not writing fiction I write puzzles for magazines and my website Paws4Puzzles. I have been doing puzzles all my life. When I was in last year of senior school I met with a teacher for careers counseling. He asked me what I enjoyed doing and I said puzzles. Being a chemistry teacher, he was not impressed. “Crossword puzzles,” he said, “only lead to other crossword puzzles!” Well I made a career out of puzzles and wrote a scene in P.A.W.S. reenacting my encounter with that teacher all those years ago.
Finally, what advice would you give to new writers?
Just write. Don’t worry if it’s good or bad at the beginning, just get the words down on paper. Also I highly recommend trying NaNoWriMo this November. I know that without NaNo I would never have finished my novel and certainly would not be published today. For same reason I suggest you seek out a local author group where you can meet others in real life. Sharing your work and getting feedback is a wonderful thing and I have made some of my best author friends from my local group.
Be sure to catch her novel P.A.W.S. and her other three short stories: Flash It!, Fauxpocalypse, and Shades of Fear. And connect with Debbie on her blog http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor .