At eight years old I turned into a ladybird. The story prompt in the Puffin Post said to choose a creature and write a story from its point of view. I spent days wandering around my house and garden in Barking, a working-class borough of London, peering into my dad’s magnifying shaving mirror and imagining my life as a tiny red, spotted crawling thing. Then I wrote that story and sent it off to the magazine and I waited.
Two months later I tore open the envelope that held my Puffin Post and scanned through the pages and there was my name in print – Deborah Manber. I’d got a mention for my ladybird story. You see even back then I was fascinated with shapeshifters. My favorite Harry Potter book was always book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban, when Rowling introduces the idea of the animagus, but I wanted more details. How did a wizard turn themselves into an animal? What did it feel like to change? Were they scared that they might not be able to change back?
These thoughts bubbled around my head, percolated, and eventually lead to the creation of P.A.W.S. – The Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves and Shapeshifters. And the more I write the more I discover; and yet there were years when I put this whole writing thing on hold. I worked on my puzzles (I’m a freelance puzzle constructor for Penny Press magazines) and thought that a novel could wait. Wait until the kids were out of the house, wait until I had time to devote to it, but then life threw me a curveball.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was terrified, yet I got through it, chemo, surgery and radiation and today thankfully I’m cancer free. But it made me realize something. I made me realize I’m mortal and that if I really wanted to write that novel, I needed to do it. So during NaNoWriMo of 2012 I sat down and wrote the first draft of P.A.W.S.
I encourage everyone to try this. For me NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) worked really well – it allowed me to get my story down. It took many edits and meeting a wonderful writer’s group for that original draft to become a novel, but NaNo (and my cancer) was the push I needed to get started.
Today I have two novels in the series and I’m working on a third. I also have something I never had when I started this I have a network of writer friends, both online (check out the FB group, The Dragon’s Rocketship) and a few in real life. I still write my puzzles, and drink about a gallon of hot tea with milk each day and sometimes I still watch those ladybirds and wonder what’s going on in their tiny heads.
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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