Author Debbie Manber Kupfer, P.A.W.S.


Today’s interview is with Debbie Manber Kupfer, author of the upcoming teen fantasy novel, P.A.W.S. RHP intern Melanie Whithaus posed these questions after reading the book:

Were the characters inspired by anyone you know personally?

Nearly all of the characters in P.A.W.S. have character traits of people I have known, but just a few I based directly on family members. Celia and Max are very similar to my own omama and opapa, who I was very close to growing up. Like Miri, my omama passed away when I was 10 years old. Though I didn’t receive any cat charms from my omama, I did receive many stories about her life in Vienna and London and about her cats, Kitty and Suzy. She also taught me to bake – though I have never been able to replicate the wonders of her sponge cake.

I wrote the character of Joey, the kangaroo Animagus, especially for my son Joey who shares a lot of the character’s traits – both are always enthusiastic and bouncing from place to place with a never-ending appetite for learning new things.

What inspired you to write PAWS?

Ever since I read the third Harry Potter book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, I’ve been fascinated with Animagi. I wondered what it would feel like to become a creature and how a person would go about the transition. I also knew without a doubt that my animal form would be that of a cat.  It was why I chose “Paws” for my puzzle nom. (In the puzzle community it is common for constructors to choose pennames or noms that represent something special in their lives.)

Miri’s story came to me in a flash and I’m indebted to my daughter and to the folks at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for encouraging me to write it.

Miri and her family are from Austria and were victims of the Holocaust. Does this have any significance to your own family history?

My father left Vienna when he was just six-years-old. He was brought to England with other child refugees on a program called the Kindertransport. He was extremely fortunate that both his parents were later able to join him. Many of his other family members were not so lucky. Thus I grew up with a small tight-knit family and only recently have begun to discover the names and histories of those who were left behind in Austria.

Do you own any cats and do you think they’re part of a secret society?

Yes, we have one very opinionated feline who, while I have no clear evidence that she is active in any secret society, has managed to gain control of our household.

What happened to Lilith in her past?

That is something we will discover in future books and something that Lilith herself needs to come to terms with before she can share her story.

The book is left opened with the potential for a sequel. Do you plan to write more PAWS? If so, what? Or if not, what does your writing have in store for us in the near future?

Definitely – there will be sequels! I have a whole world inside my head and I know already where it is ultimately going to lead, though I’m sure my characters will take me on journeys I cannot even envision at this time. I am excited to embark on those journeys and hope you will join me.

P.A.W.S. is available for pre-order now, and will be released on June 22 at a launch party at All on the Same Page Bookstore, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

“When Miri’s grandmother dies, she takes with her the family secret. Miri finds herself alone and abandoned in a St. Louis boarding school. But she is about to discover the secret isn’t dead.

“Taunted by bullies, Miri is shocked to learn she possesses a secret power. It can save her… but can it save those she loves? After she is befriended by others with the same strange, magical powers, her history comes alive. And with it, Miri’s fate becomes more dangerous.

“Join Miri on a mysterious and supernatural journey with her new friends, members of an underground St. Louis society known as the Partnership for Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters, better known as P.A.W.S.”


Fiction or Prediction?

So, I have a plan: Thursdays are book days, as in my own books, REDUCED and REUSED.


That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Okay, okay, I’ll give it my best shot – we writers aren’t always adept at promoting our own stuff. But here are some reasons you should read REDUCED (and REUSED and, in July, RECYCLED):

Because you’re a woman.

Women in my books – although there are a few men, and male readers do seem to enjoy the books – do not take crap from anyone. They shoot, they track, they even blow up things. But all violence is directed towards the bad guys, so that’s okay, right?

Because you’re, um, older.

There are plenty of YA, end-of-the-world, shoot-em-up books on the market already which means simply that a lot of teenagers are running amok. In REDUCED, my characters are nearly or over thirty at the very beginning, close to forty at the end, and yet, they STILL don’t take crap from anyone. Why should teenagers get to have all the fun?

Because you like being outdoors.

You know, camping, hiking, maybe some extreme sports, although I don’t really go into much of the latter. But, especially since the bad guys are bent on destroying almost everyone and everything, these gals in REDUCED don’t have a lot of housing options. Tents, caves, abandoned and falling down buildings; you use what you can find, right?

Because you want to be self-sufficient.

This can cover a lot of territory: finding food and shelter and any amenities that are still lying around; able to find your way around without getting lost; doctoring injuries and illnesses. Stuff you maybe wonder if you’re capable of doing, and here, in REDUCED, you can learn some basics while escaping into an alternate reality of your own.

Does that make sense? A reader will know what I mean: you read to imagine, to feel, to put yourself in a character’s shoes and live the story with her. Even if you don’t really want to take off and live in the woods, you can imagine it all right here in REDUCED.

Because you’re a prepper.

What does this mean, exactly? Well, it means you’re ready for… whatever. Some prep for Armageddon, some for rioting and a police state, some for economic collapse – these last can certainly go hand in hand – and some for weather-related events. The point is that, in REDUCED, these folks knew something was going to happen and they were ready for it. If you had to jump in your truck and head out, where would you go? How would you live? With a group, family, friends, or by yourself?

You know how they say that you should have six months’ salary socked away somewhere? Good plan, but IF something happens, even a tornado or an earthquake, money will probably be your last concern. Not that having cash on hand, hidden away – and I’m not talking a small fortune, just some cash for immediate needs – could make things a little dicey in a weather situation. Ditto for food and water.

There’s a whole movement out there for prepping. Some are diehard preppers, most do a little here, a little there. A lot more people than you might think are getting ready… for something.

And that’s what REDUCED is about: getting ready, being prepared, and taking action. If you like action, if you like reality-based fiction, you’ll love REDUCED!

Conveniently, look over to the sidebar on the right of this page – you buy both books by clicking RIGHT THERE!