Todays Author Interview is Debbie Manber Kupfer; Author of P.A.W.S.
Names and dates of published novels?
P.A.W.S. (June 2013)
Argentum (Oct 2014)
Plus a bunch of short stories, both standalone and part of anthologies.
What genre/subgenres do you write in?
My main series is YA fantasy but my short stories are in a variety of genres including sci-fi, fantasy, horror and humor.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid, but only started taking my writing seriously in 2012 after I came out of cancer treatment and realized if I really wanted to publish that book that was burning inside of me I needed to do it as we never know how long we have.
What made you want to be a writer and have you always wanted to write?
Writing is something I’ve always done. I remember filling notebooks with stories from the time I first learnt to write.
Who is your favorite author?
My absolute favorite – Douglas Adams. I’ve read Hitchhiker’s Guide and it’s sequels over and over. I’m also very fond of Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Cornelia Funke and Neil Gaiman. Plus I’ve recently discovered some amazing indie authors; Michelle Proulx, Misha Burnett, M.A. Ray, and Jen Ponce to name just a few.
What was the first piece of fiction that you fell in love with?
That would be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I read that book over and over when I was a kid and often imagined myself in Wonderland. It’s where my love for fantasy began.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I get to make up stuff for a living!
How long did it take to write your first and last novels?
The first one took around 9 months to write. The second around a year and I’m still working on the third that should be out later this year.
What are three words that you would choose to describe your writing style?
Discovery, Storyteller, Magic!
Are your characters inspired by real life people, or do you make them up 100%?
A mixture. I have some characters, like Joey the animagus kangaroo, who was inspired by my son, and Celia and Max, Miri’s o’mama and o’papa, who were inspired by my own o’mama and o’papa (grandparents), but others like the old warlock, Gromer the Green, who come entirely from the recesses of my imagination.
What sort of mood or feelings did you hope to convey to your readers with your latest work?
I hope they have fun escaping into my world – as much fun as I had fashioning the stories.
Tell us about the main character of your most recent novel.
Miri starts off at the beginning of P.A.W.S. at just 10 years old. Up until that point she has lived a happy life with her O’mama, Celia, in an apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She never knew her parents, but it didn’t really matter as she had O’mama, her best friend, Jenny, and her cats Kitty and Susie.
Then the night before her tenth birthday her world changes. Celia passes on to Miri her silver cat charm telling her to keep it safe and wear it always. The next morning her O’mama is dead and Miri is shuffled off to St. Louis to relatives she never knew existed, relatives who never wanted a child and send Miri away to a fancy boarding school.
There Miri is bullied relentlessly and it is through the bullying that Miri discovers the power of the charm that Celia passed to her. The charm leads her to P.A.W.S. and a whole new world is opened to her.
How do you go about building an antagonist?
My antagonist, Alistair, a very scary werewolf dude, kind of emerged by himself. He wasn’t even in the original idea I had for P.A.W.S., but a few chapters in he arrived and took over and made the story all about him.
I later developed him further in a short origin story, Alistair, that I’ve published as part of a set of Tales from P.A.W.S. on Amazon. In it we discover why Alistair is so evil; whether you believe it excuses his behavior, well that’s up to you!
Can you describe for us your writing process?
I write the bulk of my first drafts during NaNoWriMo months (November, April and July). Then I let my stories sit for a bit and then go back and edit. It takes many editing passes for me to reach the point at which I can send my work off to beta readers and then many more to get it to an editor and finally to publish.
During NaNo months I set myself a daily goal of 2K words and don’t allow myself to go onto the internet until I’m done. I also get through my writing and editing days with the help of about a gallon of hot tea with milk and the occasional mint dark chocolate M&M.
What kinds of activities do you enjoy besides writing?
When I’m not writing fiction, I write puzzles for magazines and my website Paws 4 Puzzles. I also put together a book of logic problems, Paws 4 Logic, with my son Joey and published it in early 2015.
Do you ever need to escape from writing? What do you do to get away?
No, not really. I enjoy writing – it’s rather the other way around. If I’m ever so caught up in life that I don’t have time for creativity, either in my writing or my puzzles I feel sad. I need these things to stay balanced.
What is the hardest part for you as an author?
Dealing with distraction, particular from the Internet and most particularly from Facebook.
Any author pet peeves?
Indie authors who rush to publish without proper editing. It tars the reputation of all indies. Take your time and get an editor!
Any authors that you feel directly inspired you, your works, or your style?
Probably J.K. Rowling more than any other. I’m still in awe of what she achieved and that she got a whole generation of kids excited about reading. I’ve had a couple of reviews that compare my work to Potter and that feels like the biggest compliment I could ever get.
Would you say that you were good at English in High School?
Yes, English was always my best subject all through school and I believe a great English teacher I had in Senior School, Mr. Whittle, is who originally set me on the road towards becoming a writer.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, what are some ways that you overcome it?
If I get writer’s block I usually try and go for a walk. Creative thoughts flow much better when I’m out in the open air and if I take a pen and paper with me I’ll stop in a café and write freehand. That really helps.
Any current projects that we can look forward to?
Well, I’m currently working on books 3 and 4 of the P.A.W.S. series and hope to release both by the end of 2017.
Also I have a couple of picture books in the works. Adana the Earth Dragon – about a small brown dragon who can do great things. And Cecilia’s Tale, a whimsical story of how my cat chose me while I was living in Jerusalem.
What are your long-term goals as a writer?
The main one is just to finish my series. I’m not sure how many books I’ll need to accomplish that, but I’m enjoying the ride.
Are you planning any spin-off novels?
Possibly. P.A.W.S. is an international organization with a huge cast, so there are plenty of directions I could go in the future.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“It gets better” – I was bullied as a kid, much like Miri is at the beginning of P.A.W.S. and while I didn’t discover any shapeshifter abilities being able to write is magic in itself.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – it worked for me!
Any other interesting things that you would like your readers to know?
I once had a one-day job dressed up as Tigger for a Kindergarten orientation!
How can your readers find out more about you and your books?
Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor