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My Journey to Umbrae: Author Debbie Manber Kupfer

With the release of her newest book, Umbrae, I've invited friend and fellow author Debbie Manber Kupfer in for a visit. Umbrae is the third installment in Debbie's shapefiting series, The P.A.W.S. Saga. Please feel free to also check out Debbie's facebook event.

When I first started writing P.A.W.S. I knew I would have to at some point go back and write Celia and Max’s story. The characters are dear to me as they are based off my own omama and opapa, who fled from Nazi-ruled Vienna.

In the second book of the P.A.W.S. Saga, Miri is given an ancient book from an equally ancient crone when she goes back to her childhood home in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Miri is disappointed when she discovers the pages are blank, but feels sure that there is a story waiting for her beneath the blank pages.

It is this story that slowly unravels in Umbrae. Miri journeys to the Holy Land to the city of Safed where she meets a Rabbi from an old magical family. He helps her begin the process of reading her grandmother’s history hidden beneath the blank pages of the book of Argentum.

But there’s more. As I was writing Celia’s story a separate world emerged, a shadow world below our own that I called Umbrae. Suddenly the world I’d created with P.A.W.S. which already covers all of our own had another dimension that I had not imagined in my original concept for P.A.W.S.

However, much as I wanted to dive right in and explore Umbrae there were other important issues I needed to touch upon first. I needed to return to Nazi occupied Vienna. My father was six years old when he came to England on the Kindertransport. Without the kindness of the British people who took in child refugees like my dad, I would not exist today to tell my story. His parents, my omama and opapa, were luckier than most. They were able to follow their son and the family was reunited.

Not all of the family survived. Recently I went through the documents and photographs that my father had gathered over the years and found notifications of two family members who had died at the hands of the Nazis. One of them was named Otillia and I use her name in Umbrae in her memory. In my story she survives.

In these difficult times it is important to remember and retell our history. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

So yes, let us delve into fantasy, but let us use that fantasy to remember the lessons of the past.

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