Today we are happy to be hosting a stop on the Blog Tour to support a great book by a great author.
Umbrae by Debbie Manber Kupfer was released on March 1st, 2017. It’s the third in the P.A.W.S series, which we’ll get to later on in the interview. So please give a warm Blog Welcome to Debbie Manber Kupfer!
Before we get into discussing your books, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? What started you writing? How often do you write?
Hello, and thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog. I’m a writer, puzzle maker, mom, cat-lover, and tea-drinker. I grew up in London, spent some time in Israel and somehow ended up in St. Louis, MO. I divide my time between writing fiction and puzzles and hanging out with my kids and my kitty, Miri Billie Joe.
I started writing as a kid. My first story was about turning into a ladybug – see even back then I liked shapeshifters. I sent that story to the Puffin Post and got a mention in the magazine. I was so excited. I continued writing stories over the years and knew that one day I would write a novel, but thought I had all the time in the world to do that. Then in 2011 I got a wakeup call, a diagnosis of breast cancer. I went through treatment and thankfully today I’m cancer-free, but the experience made me realize my mortality. I understood now that if I really wanted to write that novel I shouldn’t wait.
So in November 2012 I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time. It worked. By the end of the month I had the first draft of P.A.W.S. It took a lot of edits to get it to the point of publication, but it was a start and since then I have started each of my novels this way.
I write the bulk of my first drafts during NaNo months – November, April and July, and then rest of the time I edit and work on my puzzles.
The P.A.W.S series is written for the Young Adult audience, can you give us a rundown on what your stories are about, and why you’ve chosen to write geared towards YA?
P.A.W.S. is the Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters. It’s an international magical organization that trains shifters in different cities around the globe. In the first book we focus mainly on the P.A.W.S. Institute of the Midwest, which is hidden in Forest Park, St. Louis. In book 2, Argentum, we visit New York P.A.W.S., while in book 3 we are going to one of the original P.A.W.S. Institutes, the one located in Vienna.
I think I’m drawn to YA because a lot of my favorite stories are YA from the Harry Potter books and the Percy Jackson books to Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Pullman’s Dark Materials. So many of the series I have read and enjoyed in the last few decades have been YA and they say to write the stories you want to read!
Now, please, let’s jump right into Umbrae! This is the new release we are here to talk about. Give us an idea of what this third book in the series has in store for us readers?
In Umbrae we travel with Miri to the ancient city of Safed in Israel. There, with the aid of a mystical rabbi and an outspoken werecat, her omama’s story is slowly revealed. And Miri uncovers something else, a world hidden deep beneath our own – the labyrinth of shadows also known as Umbrae.
Your stories have a lot of cats in them. Is there significance to that?
Yes, I adore cats. And nearly every cat in the P.A.W.S. Saga has the form of a cat I’ve known and loved in the real world. Miri’s cat form, for example, a black cat with one white whisker is that of my childhood kitty, Snowy. And the werecat in Safed, Finny, has the same sandy and white color as the cat that I brought originally from Israel, Cecilia (also known as Cici.)
Cecilia will also be getting her own book sometime this year when I release my first picture book, Cecilia’s Tale. The book is currently in the hands of a talented local artists who is bringing my kitty story to life.
Now the fun question; you have lycanthropes, shape-shifters and animagi in your books. If you could choose to be one, what would it be, what type (cat, wolf, etc.) and why?
Animagus I would think as they have the most choice, being magic makers and all. And like Danny I’d probably flirt with the idea of being a bird, so I can fly, but decide in the end to be a cat because a cat can blend in seamlessly with the world around it. (And as you already know, I love cats.)
Blog Tours: have you found them to be successful? What other types of promotion have you used? Which have worked and which haven’t? Please tell us about your experiences.
I’ve organized blog tours, like this one after each of my releases and on the whole have found them to be successful. The secret I think to a good blog tour is variety. Each of the stops should be unique with a different interview, snippet or article. I’ve seen too many “paid for” tours where all the content is the same every day. That might be easier for the author and company, but kind of boring for fans who want to follow along.
Other than blog tours I also like to do IRL release events in local places. I’m doing four for Umbrae. Two in local indie book stars, one in a city library, and one at my son’s middle school. I always encourage authors to do this. Get out there and meet your readers first hand and events, cons, school events etc. Oh and get yourself some bookmarks with your cover on them and a QR code to the Amazon page and give them out to everyone you meet instead of business cards.
Who/what inspires you to write? Do you have any mentors that help you with your writing? What motivates you to keep writing?
Lots of things inspire me to write. I’m an avid people watcher. I will sit in cafes and observe and listen and often times characters and situations emerge from overheard snippets of conversations.
During the course of writing my novels and stories I’m fortunate to have an abundance of support from beta readers, friends, my kids and even my kitty! One friend in particular, Larry Miller, has been my critique partner and mentor throughout my process. We beta read each other’s work and neither of us are scared to say when we think stuff doesn’t work. I believe it’s important for all writers to find someone like this who you can really trust.
And what motivates me to keep writing – the story! I’m a discovery writer. That means I go into each book with only a rough idea of where it’s going. I have to keep writing because I want to know what happens!
This is a question for your main character Miri. If you could live ‘Happily Ever After’, what would your ‘Happily Ever After’ look like?
Well, um, I’d like it to include Danny. *Blush* And maybe we could settle down somewhere close to St. Louis P.A.W.S. Also if I have a daughter one day I’m prepared to pass on my cat charm to her. But I hope that’s a long, long time in the future.
What’s next? Is there a 4th P.A.W.S book on the horizon? Any other short story compilations you are working on?
Yes! I have written the first draft of P.A.W.S. 4. It is called Londinium and I hope to release it at the end of October on Miri’s birthday. In it Miri will visit the P.A.W.S. Institute of London. It’s particularly exciting for me to finally include my home city in a P.A.W.S. book.
Apart from that I have a story in a haunted house anthology coming out later this year. It’s a dark comedy about a ghost dude who watches a lot of boring TV!
And I’m also working with a local artist to produce a picture book, Cecilia’s Tale, a little story about how my cat found me in Israel.
Okay, final question. It’s pretty much a standard final question, but I think it helps the readers. What advice do you have for any aspiring authors/artists out there?
Don’t second guess yourself, don’t make excuses. Open that PC or notebook and just write. Let the words and story take you where you will. Also try NaNoWriMo. April is Camp NaNo – an easier challenge as you set your own word count. It’s less intimidating that the full 50K of November. Set yourself a word count of around 30K – that’s only 1K a day. Easy to commit to and see where your story takes you. Don’t worry about edits yet. That’ll come later. Good luck and happy writing!
Thank you very much for stopping by the blog. Best of luck on the Blog Tour! And best of luck with the new book!
Thank you so much for having me!
Follow Debbie at the following links:
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor
And of course – The P.A.W.S. Saga – http://mybook.to/PAWS-Saga
The newest installment – Umbrae – http://mybook.to/Umbrae
My Amazon author page – http://author.to/DebbieManberKupfer