1) Tell us about yourself and your story?
I grew up in London, and lived in Israel, North Carolina and New York before moving to St. Louis 16 years ago. I have a husband, two kids, and Miri Billie Joe, our very opinionated kitty. I divide my time between writing fiction and writing puzzles for magazines and for my website, Paws 4 Puzzles.
The idea for P.A.W.S. came to me in a flash in October 2012. I clearly saw a young girl being given a silver cat charm by her grandmother and understood her story and that of her grandmother, Celia. During the course of the day I told the story to my daughter, Ronni, who encouraged me to write it. I’d heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), so decided to give it a whirl. It worked for me. With two kids, household stuff and puzzles to write, it’s hard for me to commit time to write stories all year round, but easier to tell my family that for one month in November to leave me alone!
At the end of that first November I had a rough draught of P.A.W.S. It would take me months for it to be ready for publication, but it was a start and one I wouldn’t have had without the push of my daughter and NaNo.
2) What or who was the biggest inspiration for you behind writing P.A.W.S.?
My favourite Harry Potter book is book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban when she first introduces the idea of the animagi. The concept of shapeshifters fascinated me, but I wanted to know more. What did Sirius, James, Professor McGonagall, have to do to become an animagus. What kind of things did they study? What did the transformation feel like? From those original thoughts came the seeds of P.A.W.S.
3) Who is your favourite character to write, and why?
The kangaroo animagus, Joey Marks. I wrote this character for my son, Joey, and he contains a lot of my son’s traits. Super enthusiastic and bouncy, crazy smart (my kid does math problems for fun!), always trying new things. Joey’s not a major character in P.A.W.S., but I love his scenes.
4) How long have you been writing, and when did it all start?
I’ve been writing stories ever since I was kid. The first I remember was one I wrote about turning into a ladybird. I sent that one to the Puffin Post and got a mention in the magazine. (See I wrote about shapeshifters even back then).
I didn’t start taking myself seriously as a writer though until 2012 when I wrote P.A.W.S. I’d always wanted to write a novel, and had started many over the years, but never finished one. NaNoWriMo helped me finish one and writer friends in St. Louis and on the internet have encouraged me to continue down this path.
5) Do you have a writing routine? Talk us through how you gear up to work.
Writing involves copious amounts of hot tea and the occasional square of dark chocolate. I grab the moments early in the day, once Joey has gone off to school, to write and work on my puzzles and sometimes I take my work out to a local coffee bar or McDonalds. I like to people watch and have gained a lot of inspiration from random snippets from people who pass by or are sitting at the next table.
Nowadays also you can’t but help overhear phone conversations and sometimes it’s fun to fill in the gaps and imagine what the person is saying at the other end of the line.
6) Who is your biggest writing influence?
JK Rowling. Her story is so inspiring to me. Written as a single mother, sometimes on napkins in cafes (I’ve done that too!) Also that she sent her work out to so many places before she was accepted. Proves you shouldn’t give up.
7) What are your future plans? What’s your next project?
Well I’m currently writing book 3 of the P.A.W.S. series, which is tentatively titled, Maze of Shadows. I’m also the editor of a horror anthology, Sins of the Future, that should be coming out on Halloween. And I’m working with an illustrator to put out a children’s picture book, Adana the Earth Dragon. I’m really excited about this one. I wrote the story originally for an anthology and am amazed to see my little brown dragon come to life.
8) What advice would you give to any new and aspiring writers reading this?
Try NaNoWriMo – seriously, November is coming, I’ll be writing, join me!
9) What is it about your book that makes it special?
P.A.W.S. represents a huge fantasy world that inhabits my head and is slowly making its way onto paper. I know where it’s all leading, but as a discovery writer, I have only a vague idea of the steps along the way. That’s what makes it so exciting. My characters lead me off into far corners of the globe – in P.A.W.S. alone we go to Vienna, to New York and to St. Louis. In Argentum we travel to Ireland and Wales. In Maze of Shadows we’ll visit Israel. P.A.W.S. as an international organization has branches everywhere, so who knows where my story will lead next. I hope you’ll come with for the journey.
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 she works as a writer and a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. Her first novel, P.A.W.S., was published originally in June 2013 and her second book in the series, Argentum, was released in October 2014. In addition she has stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Shades of Fear, Darkly Never After, and Sins of The Past. In February 2015 she published a book of logic puzzles, Paws 4 Logic, with her son Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!
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