Fantasy writer and puzzle maker, Debbie Manber Kupfer believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can do anything.
Hi there, thanks so much for having me. I’m Debbie Manber Kupfer and I’m a writer, puzzle maker, mom, cat lover, and tea drinker! I grew up in London, spent time in Israel, New York, and North Carolina, and somehow ended up in St. Louis, MO, where I live with my husband, two kids and a very opinionated feline called Miri Billie Joe.
I divide my time between writing fiction and writing puzzles for magazines and my blog, Paws 4 Puzzles. I get through my day by drinking about a gallon of hot tea with milk and rewarding myself with the occasional piece of dark chocolate.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve pretty much always written. I remember as a kid I would fill notebooks with stories and once even sent one to the Puffin Post. It was about turning into a ladybug and the problems that created. (See even back then I wrote about shapeshifters!). I got a mention in the magazine and was so thrilled and knew I wanted to be a writer.
But life took over and over the years that followed I started many books and never finished anything. Then in 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through surgery, chemo, and radiation and today thankfully I’m cancer free, but my brush with mortality made me realize that if I really wanted to write a book, I needed to do it. So during November of 2012, I started writing P.A.W.S. Five years later I have two novels and a number of published short stories and released book 3 of my series this March.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until my first book was published in 2013. It became real the day I held the paperback of P.A.W.S. in my hands.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
P.A.W.S. is the story of a young girl, Miri, who receives a silver cat charm from her grandmother, Celia, on the night before Celia dies. Little does she know but the charm contains a secret, a powerful magic that saved Celia from the Nazis and is about to make Miri’s life a whole lot more interesting.
What inspired you to write this book?
Back in October 2012, I woke up one morning with an idea. I clearly saw a young girl being passed a cat charm and knew it was important. I started talking to my daughter about the story that was growing inside me and she encouraged me to write it.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m mostly a discovery writer (or pantser if you will). I have a basic idea where my series is going, but only a rough idea how we will get there, and I truly enjoy the ride along the way.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
P.A.W.S. is an acronym for the magical society in which Miri finds herself. It stands for the Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are many messages in this story. I, like Miri, was bullied as a child, so her story resonates with me. I believe there’s a lot more to most people than you see on the surface and my stories are all about scratching beneath that surface.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
Yes, even though I write fantasy many of the characters and situations in my books are based on people that have had an important part in my life. For example the kangaroo animagus exchange student at P.A.W.S., Joey Marks is based off my son Joey who shares a lot of his traits. Smart, enthusiastic, bouncy – with a love for games and puzzles.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. These four are my writing gods. I can revisit their books over and over again and always find something new. It’s all in the little details and in the humor.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I have one. My personal friend and critique partner, Larry Miller. Larry writes a completely different genre to me (literary fiction), but we’ve been critiquing each other’s work for so long now that we wholly get and trust each other’s judgment. Finding someone like this if you’re a writer is gold. Hold on to them.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
The superbly awesome Rachel Bostwick. She also creates my book trailers. Find her on Fiverr. She’s wonderful to work with and very reasonable.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you haven’t yet, try NaNoWriMo. It really helps me get my first drafts done and the support of other writers in my local chapter and online is phenomenal.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Please write to me! I love hearing from fans and try to reply to every single note.
Debbie Manber Kupfer
St. Louis, MO
Cover Artist: Rachel Bostwick