How would you describe your story in one sentence?
Stories surrounding the Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves and Shapeshifters!
What inspired you to write your story/characters/theme?
Ever since I read the third Harry Potter book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, I’ve been fascinated by animagi, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to know how Sirius and James turned themselves into animals. What it felt like? What were the spells involved? Those thoughts led me to the creation of P.A.W.S. and today as I write the third book of the series, Maze of Shadows, I delve even deeper into the mythology of all kinds of shapeshifters.
Which authors have influenced you?
Well obviously JK Rowling, but also Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman and Cornelia Funke are high up on the list.
Which are your favorite literary genres?
Mostly fantasy, but I also delve into other genres (sci-fi, humor, literary fiction and the occasional mystery) both in my reading and my writing.
What makes a book/story special for you?
The characters. I need to fall in love with the characters, both good and bad, in order to really get into a book.
Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influence your story?
Yes, yes, and yes! I grew up in London, the daughter of a holocaust survivor from Vienna. I lived eight years in Israel and today live in St. Louis, Missouri. Pretty much all of that plays into my stories.
The P.A.W.S. Institute is located underneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis, a real location that is often closed, so made a great site for a secret organization.
Miri is Jewish and her grandmother, Celia comes from Vienna just like my father. She even lived in the same street my father grew up on.
In book 3 of the series we’re going to spend some time in Israel and in London. I like to write about places I know well. I feel it gives my story more authenticity.
How long does it take you to write your books /for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?
It takes me about a year to finish a book.
Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?
For this new version of P.A.W.S. I hired Rachel Bostwick to make my cover. Previously I was published with a small press that paid for the covers and editors. When I get ready to publish book 3 I will hire an editor. I’m an editor myself and know you cannot possibly find all your own mistakes.
What have you learned while writing and publishing? Did unexpected things happen?
Oh yes, definitely. In my original concept of P.A.W.S. the villain was supposed to be Miri’s uncle, David, but a few chapters into P.A.W.S. Alistair (diabolically evil werewolf dude) emerged and made the story all about him.
What helps you get inspired and overcome hurdles when you are writing?
Whenever I get stuck I go for a walk. I’ll take my work with me – either my tablet or just a notepad and pen and go sit in a café and watch people. I’m inspired more by people watching than anything else.
What would you do differently on a future project?
There’s a world of difference to how I wrote and published P.A.W.S. to how I am today. For one thing I now have a wonderful set of writer friends I’ve met online in groups like the Dragon’s Rocketship, Fiction Writers and YA Author Rendezvous. Having support while you write and promote is really important. First time around I was much more alone.
Best piece of advice for first time writers?
Try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November). It truly helped me keep on track and let go of the idea that first drafts have to be perfect.
I love connected with readers. Please come by and say “Hi”!
What are you planning to write/publish next?
I’ve got quite a few projects in the works. Firstly on October 1st I’m releasing a short memoir, The Big C, about my experience going through cancer treatment. This was probably the most difficult thing I ever wrote. The money is going to Knitted Knockers, a wonderful charity that gives soft breast forms to women who have had mastectomies.
I’m also the editor and contributor to a horror anthology, Sins of the Future, which should release on Halloween.
Then in early 2016 I hope to be releasing a picture book, Adana the Earth Dragon. I’m really excited about this one and am currently working with a talented illustrator who is bringing my little Adana to life.
Later in 2016 I will rerelease Argentum (P.A.W.S. 2) and at the very end of the year hope to bring out Maze of Shadows (P.A.W.S. 3).