Debbie grew up in the UK in the East London suburb of Barking. She has lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where for the last 14 years she has worked as a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!
P.A.W.S by Debbie Manber Kupfer
ISBN 0989568504 (ISBN13: 9780989568500)
Extract from P.A.W.S
Vienna, October 20th, 1941, today was Celia’s tenth birthday. This was not how she imagined celebrating it. She was with her family – her mama Miriam, her papa David, her elder brother Issel and her baby sister Sara. They were huddled together in the back room of their tiny two-room apartment in Grosse Spielgasse, in the dark, barely breathing.
Outside the building, the boot steps got nearer and nearer. Celia heard shouting, screaming, gunshots. She crouched down even closer to the ground, wishing that somehow they could all melt away into the shadows. Celia clutched her cat Max tightly in her arms, feeling his warmth, his soft tabby fur close to her skin, willing him to stay quiet.
Her mamma cradled little Sara at her breast, nursing her so she would not cry out. Outside the pounding footsteps were getting closer, closer: “Juden, Juden, Heraus, Heraus, Schnell, Schnell!!” Now they were at the door of the neighbors – the Wassersteins. She heard crying and a single gun-shot.
Miriam beckoned to her, “Celia, mein Katzerl , come here,” she whispered, “I have something for you, for your birthday.”
Celia approached Miriam cautiously, still clutching Max to her, “What is it Mama?” she said, gazing into Miriam’s blue, blue eyes. She studied her prematurely wrinkled face, memorizing every crease. Mama, my mama, she thought.
Still holding baby Sara with her left hand Miriam reached round the back of her neck with her right and unclasped the chain that she always wore beneath her clothes, close to her heart. It was a silver chain with a cat charm on it. “Take this Celia, mein Katzerl, wear it always, remember I love you. Ich liebe dich.”
“I love you, Mama,” she whispered as she fastened the chain around her neck, just as the doors burst open – six gestapo soldiers rushed into their home – “Juden, Heraus, Heraus . . .” Celia watched as her family was herded out of the door . . .
* * *
Tell me a bit about your book.
P.A.W.S. is a young adult fantasy. It is the story of young girl Miri who is given a silver cat charm by her grandmother on the day before she dies. Miri is then sent away to a boarding school where she is bullied by her peers. One day she is chased up a tree and discovers the magical power that is hidden in her charm.
How did you come up with the title and storyline?
When I’m not writing stories I write puzzles for puzzle magazines. In the puzzle community it is common for setters/constructors to choose pennames or noms. My puzzle nom is Paws and it seemed only natural for this to also become the name of my first novel.
How long have you been writing and what inspires you?
I have been writing ever since I was a kid, but only recently did I start having the confidence to show people what I have written.
How did you get published?
At the end of last year I started attending a local writers’ group in St. Louis. There I met Robin Tidwell who owns Rocking Horse Publishing. Robin read my manuscript and loved my story and the rest as we like to say is history!
What do you do in your spare time?
Not sure I have a lot of that! When I’m not writing fiction or puzzles, I look after my kids and read. That’s about it!
What is your writing ritual?
It’s important for me to write something every day, whether it’s a chapter of my current WIP, a blog entry or a puzzle.
What book are you reading at the moment?
The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just write. Don’t worry about if it’s good or if someone else will want to read it. Write primarily because it’s what you want to do.
Are you working on any future novels?
Yes, I’m currently working on a sequel to P.A.W.S.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
As my kids have got older I’ve had more and more time to work on my writing and puzzles. I expect that to continue and am excited to discover where my journey through the world of P.A.W.S. takes me.
Where to find Debbie:
Where to buy P.A.W.S: