by Debbie Manber Kupfer
I love doing character interviews with other authors, because a lot of authors love to do them live. This leads to some wonderful role-playing as the characters and authors bounce off each other to create the interview.
Today, I bring you one of my favorites to date… I think you’re going to enjoy seeing how different their worlds are, and get an idea of what makes them tick.
After the interview you’ll also have an opportunity to read a sample from Griddlebone (Tales from P.A.W.S. Book 3)
Encounter In Vienna
Shaking his head, trying to kill the ringing in his ears, Richard looks around frantically. Just moments ago, he’d been running through the streets of Fremont, and about to pass under the bridge. Then something happened, and the world had gone dark as a huge hand reached for him. He should have known something was going to happen today. It was April 1st, and the Fremont Troll had been known to drag people into the Elderwylde. It had happened to his pack alpha a few years ago, and now….
Now it had happened to him, and he’d been forced to run. Kicking off the last of his clothes, he pulled himself together, and ran from the creature chasing him, and it’s sing-song rhymes. Nothing looked familiar though, or anything like the descriptions of the Elderwylde that he’d heard.
Shifting to wolf-form, Richard kept running as sounds thundered around him…
Richard smelled smoke in the distance, and smoke meant fire. His wolf balked at the idea of approaching the potential danger, but smoke also likely meant people. He knew he couldn’t face the troll on his own, but could he trust anyone who lived here?
Pushing his wolf onward, Richard almost didn’t notice the world slowly changing around him as he approached his goal. Forest gave way to rock, rock gave way to paving, and the smells shifted with it. The changes were subtle, but there was a feeling that he was no longer in the Elderwylde, and there was smoke everywhere… Then something thundered nearby, and the world went black.
The weathered tabby cat perched on a chair behind a wooden desk piled high with papers. His tail twitched as he took in the appearance of the newcomer.
“And whom do I have the pleasure?” he asked.
The voice broke through the blackness, and the wolf rolled upright, scanning the room. Something was off. This didn’t feel like the place its human side called home. And stranger still, that cat had just… No, animals didn’t talk… Where the hell was he… Richard forced the shift to human form, he needed details, and his wolf wouldn’t be able to get the information as easily…
“I should be asking who you are, and where the hell I am…” he demanded even before the change was finished.
“You are in my headquarters. I ask the questions here.”
A snort of derision that came from the wolf, said everything about how Richard felt about that idea. Then something behind the cat caught his eye.
“Are those posters in German? Seriously? What is this, a gathering of the local Nazi party?”
Griddlebone spat! “How dare you? Are you one of Alistair’s minions? Did he send you here to spy? As you can see I am very busy. I have no time for some upstart wolf.”
“I’ve never heard of Alistair, and… and as for the upstart wolf, that’s rich coming from a…”
Richard paused as if trying to come up with an insult, and failed… His frustration became obvious as his hands slam down on the desk, leaving him glaring down at this…
“Housecat” he spits out.
Griddlebone stared at his visitor for a moment, then smiled. “You look a little chilly,” he said. “Jacob,” he called out into main room.
A boy of about 13 with a dirty face stuck his head in the door.
“Yes, Griddlebone,” he said.
“Can you go ask Dr. Wechler if he has some spare clothing for our guest. He seems to have lost his.”
Jacob scurried out and Griddlebone returned his gaze to the man sitting opposite him.
“Maybe we can start again, without the insults this time as you clearly are confused. I am Griddlebone the leader of Vienna P.A.W.S. We fight AGAINST the Nazis here and believe me it is no game and I am NOT a housecat.”
He stood up and seemed to swell in size in front of the man and reached forward with a single sharp claw.
Pushing off the desk, Richard stepped back, preparing for an attack, mind racing as he tried to piece together the little information, he already had.
“So, this is not Seattle, and you’re expecting me to believe it’s what nineteen-forty-something? I don’t buy it. What’s really going on…”
The door pushes open and a flustered Jacob appears his face red.
“Here” he said shoving a bundle of worn clothing into the man’s hands. He turns to Griddlebone. “Can I go sir?”
“Of course, Jacob. Thank you.” He turns back to the man opposite him. “It is indeed 1942 and you still haven’t told me who YOU are.”
With the apparent attack not forthcoming, Richard relaxes a little more, and looks at the pile of clothes.
“Well, these are better than nothing.” Then he looks back at his host. “And I’m Richard Parsons, lupine of the Seattle shifter pack, and member of the Seattle Police Department’s Supernatural Taskforce. If this really is 1942, I’m further down the rabbit hole than I thought.”
“Rabbit hole indeed.” The cat was silent for a moment, his whiskers twitching. “So there are two possibilities here. Either you are lying to me and indeed have been sent by Alistair. Or you are telling the truth and have been flung into our time. But how? You cannot have come from Umbrae as that way is closed to lupines. Maybe Lycanthia?”
“All I know is that I was out for a run in Seattle. It’s April 1st 2015. Or at least for me. I was dragged into the Elderwylde by the Fremont Troll, and he gave chase. Next thing I know I’m here…”
“May I offer you a drink? Coffee or something a little stronger. You look like you might need it.”
“Something stronger maybe…” There was an eagerness in Richard’s eyes as he considered the possibility. But then he shook his head, clenching his fists. “No… Coffee would be fine. I might still have to deal with that damn troll.”
“Jacob,” called Griddlebone. The boy bobbed in. “Coffee please. For me and our guest.”
“Of course, Griddlebone” said Jacob.
“While he’s bringing the coffee, let me tell you a little of our situation here. This is the Vienna headquarters of P.A.W.S. P.A.W.S. is the Partnership of Animagi, Weres and Shifters. All of us living in Vienna are werecats. The werecats were engineered originally by a Nazi scientist,. We were supposed to be weapon. The Nazis however underestimated the power of cats. We are unwilling to be controlled and broke free from the Nazis and now fight with P.A.W.S. in a resistance against them.”
“You’re telling me that it’s possible to create shifters? Either this is something missing from the history books, or I’m really lost. Where I come from if your parents are shifters, there’s a chance of being born one… No guarantees. But I can certainly understand rebelling”
“P.A.W.S. indeed tries to stay hidden from the history books. In this world the bulk of the population are unaware of the supernatural outside of fairy tales.”
“Yeah, we try and keep it the same way… One of the reasons the Chief set up the STF… Though her methods aren’t always the easiest to live with, and they’re not doing something the supernatural community hasn’t done for itself for centuries”
“I am curious. Is your world at war as this one is?”
“We’ve had our wars… In fact, we’ve had the one you’re going through right now, and…”
Never having considered time travel a possibility, Richard finds himself unsure of how to finish that statement. If this is the past he’s read about in history books, he doesn’t dare say anything about how things turn out.
Griddlebone seems to sense what he is about to say and leans forward and puts his paw on the man’s hand.
“You are correct. It is perhaps prudent to not divulge too much of the future.”
“What I will say is that your Nazi scientists aren’t the only ones who think they can control shifters. They’re also not the only ones who are wrong. Just beware of blackmailers, because if they figure out which buttons to push, you’ll find yourself making deals with the devil to try and stay free.”
“Ah yes, we have this problem here too. The werewolf leader Alistair is supposed to be working with P.A.W.S. and the resistance but his methods are unorthodox. While we rescue who we can and want nothing in return he is not so magnanimous. He often takes much silver from families in order to safeguard their sons.”
“So you have the same troubles here… Figures. Well, hopefully things work for your kind as they do for me, and the only benefit that silver has for him is financial. In my time myths and movies have popularized the use of silver weapons to kill shifters. Honestly, I find the idea laughable, and expensive.”
“Yes, silver definitely has a place in the magic of our world, but not quite how it was portrayed by Lon Chaney in last year’s Wolf Man film. I chuckled a lot at that. If the world only knew what really was out there …”
“If only… Isn’t that why we keep our existence secret? If they knew, they’d panic, or worse hunt us down. I’ve already lost my mother to hunters, because one of our kind went rogue.”
“I am so sorry for your loss. I lost all my family to the Nazis. They only saved me to take to the laboratory because I was young and strong.”
“Sounds like you’d have to be for what they did to you. Thankfully being born a shifter has it’s advantages. But I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like being forced into the world I knew from birth.”
“It was difficult to say the least. I was on my own on the street. I made friends with the other cats, but they didn’t trust me to begin with. I don’t blame them.”
“Trust is a hard-won thing. I get the feeling members of the team I’m assigned to don’t trust me… But the feeling’s mutual. And yet we’re supposed to keep each other alive.”
“Trust is paramount within P.A.W.S. I trust ALL of my werecats and all of the shifters and animagi out in the woods. The only ones I don’t trust are Alistair and his wolves. I know they are supposed to be on our side, but the man does not inspire trust.”
“I’ll be honest, you’re the first cat shifter I’ve knowingly met, but the life of a shifter is one of secrets. Especially for us wolves. I mean, we’re not exactly city dwellers. There’s more of a wildness to our nature that doesn’t play well within the rules of society.”
“Most of the shifters around Vienna live out in the woods. Only the cats traverse the city because it’s easy for us to blend in in our cat forms.”
“Sure, and sorry about the house-cat thing earlier. I wasn’t thinking straight, and I tend to be hot-headed. I still have no idea how I got here, or what caused me to black out… I heard thunder and then bam… I’m waking up here.”
“I’m sorry and I hope you are able to return. Maybe visit Alistair and his pack in the Vienna Woods. He might be able to lead you back through Lycanthia. Though be careful. He is devious.”
“Yeah, I need to get back somehow, but what makes Lycanthia a more likely way back than any other?”
“Lycanthia is a wolf world. Only wolves – weres and natural wolves can travel through it and my understanding is they can use it in the same way we cats can use Umbrae, to transfer between different times and places.”
“Hopefully we can figure out a way to get me directly home, instead of having to return via the Elderwylde… I have no wish to run into that damn troll again. Better point me in the direction of this Alistair, or I’m never making it back.”
“I will get one of my werecats to guide you out to his camp. Good luck, sir. This has been an interesting meeting.”
“Indeed it has… Keep fighting, because while one person still fights, there is hope.”
“Jacob” Griddlebone called. The boy bobbed in and started clearing the coffee cups. “Leave that now,” said the cat. “I want you to escort this gentleman out to Alistair’s pack.”
“Are you sure?,” asked Jacob, nervously glancing at the werewolf.
“You don’t have to go all the way there, Jacob. Just point him in the right direction. The lupine scent should guide him.”
The boy transformed into a rather chubby grey cat. “Follow me,” he said.
Share This Post With A Friend
About Debbie Manber Kupfer
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 freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!
Follow Debbie Manber Kupfer
Excerpt from Griddlebone
(Tales from P.A.W.S. Book 3)
The werecat padded silently across the cobbles of the dark Vienna street. It was deserted now, but Griddlebone knew it would soon be filled with bootsteps and cries, gunshots and blood. They were slated to come at dawn, to cleanse this last Jewish neighborhood of its vermin, so that the proper folk of Vienna could finally live Judenfrei.
Inside the darkened houses, the residents huddled in fear. The news of the transport had only come hours before, and some still couldn’t believe it. They had been fooling themselves for months, believing this one insignificant street could survive in its own little bubble, that somehow God would protect them.
They readied themselves with what few valuables they had left. Maybe they could still bribe the Nazi soldiers. Maybe there was still a way out.
The werecat flexed his claws, as he waited in the shadows. Griddlebone wished he could rescue them all, but his orders were clear. He could only take one. They needed to be the right age too – a teenager would be good, strong enough to fight, strong enough to survive the turning.
As the first rays of light caught the cobblestones, Griddlebone felt the bootsteps echoing down the street. Soon. His tail swished back and forth in anticipation. Within minutes, the first soldier came into view. The werecat was all but invisible to the soldiers, his mottled grey coat blending perfectly with the cold grey street.
At the same time as the first soldiers appeared on foot, a silver-grey truck arrived on the street and parked in front of the buildings, waiting for its human cargo.
As the Gestapo soldiers marched past the werecat’s hiding place, he longed to dig his claws into their ankles, to hear them scream with pain. Not yet, Griddlebone, not yet.
The soldiers reached the first house. They banged on the doors.
“Juden, Heraus, Heraus! Schnell, schnell! – Everybody out of there, quickly, quickly.”
At first there was silence. Griddlebone held his breath, waiting. And then, slowly, they came out, squinting in the light of the dawn. They had been inside for so long, sitting in the darkness. They looked like ancient patriarchs held in suspended animation from biblical times. The man had a long white beard and was wearing a prayer shawl. The woman had her head covered and bent. She held out something to the soldiers. The werecat stole closer to get a better look. It was a silver candlestick. The frightened woman offered it to the soldier.
The soldier laughed. He grabbed it and shoved it in his bag, then roughly pulled the old woman forward. She tripped and fell onto the hard cobble street. The soldier kicked her, and she cried out in pain. Throughout this, her husband was bobbing up and down in prayer, praying that God would take them before these Nazis did. His prayers were not answered, and the soldiers forced the old couple into the waiting truck.
More soldiers arrived now and pushed their way into the buildings. The next house held a young family, a mother and father, with two small terrified children. The mother clutched a baby girl in her arms. As they boarded the truck, the baby started crying. The nearest soldier grabbed her from her mother’s arms and flung her with full force into the solid concrete wall. The baby stopped crying. The mother screamed. A Nazi soldier silenced the mother with his gun. The father and his remaining children climbed quietly into the truck, trying not to look back.
The werecat stalked over to the baby. He nudged her gently with his nose, but it was too late, and, in any case, how would his clan have been able to care for a baby? They could barely find enough food for their own kittens these days.
Griddlebone continued watching the parade of Jews being evicted from their buildings. They had been told they were being rehoused, that their homes were needed for the war effort. As patriotic Austrians, surely they understood?
Griddlebone knew that most of these Jews would end up in the concentration camps, if they even survived the transport. A second shot filled the air; a young man this time. He had tried to run, but the soldier had used him for target practice.
Still the werecat watched and waited.
There she was, straggling at the back of another family, the girl he’d been watching for the last few weeks. She looked around with wary eyes and caught sight of the cat on the corner of the street. The cat had been her friend. She would sneak out and give him scraps to eat from her own meager portion. Now the cat was watching her with big orange eyes.
It was strange, she wasn’t scared, despite the soldiers and the guns and the screaming. Of all those here, she thought, looking around at the collection of frightened Jews, she felt that she had the best chance of surviving. She held her head upright and stared straight into the eyes of the Nazi soldiers.
Yes, thought Griddlebone, watching her, I’ve chosen rightly. Esther is strong, a survivor.
Silently Griddlebone sent his message to the rest of the clan members, who were waiting in the shadows. They moved into the previously agreed positions on the street corners. They readied themselves to pounce.
Each cat started out as an insignificant street cat, but slowly they began changing and growing into wildcats that resembled tigers more than tabbies. On Griddlebone’s signal, they launched themselves onto the Nazi soldiers – ripping at them with fearsome teeth and claws.
The soldiers shrieked in fear and fired at the cats, but the felines were far swifter than any of the men. They dodged the bullets with ease, dancing around them, taunting their enemies with their agility. Within just a few minutes, two soldiers had fallen to the werecats. The remaining cut their losses, and quickly shoved the terrified Jews into the transport. They jumped onto the truck and fled.
While the werecats attacked the soldiers, Griddlebone beckoned to the girl. Instinctively, she followed him into the shadows and ran after him through the streets until the howling and screaming was far behind them.
Finally they arrived at an old warehouse. Griddlebone stopped at the door and nudged it with his nose. It creaked open, and the two of them walked in.
The room was filled with yowls and growls . . . and laughter. It was a strange mix that met Esther’s eyes. There were many different cats. Some she supposed were werecats like Griddlebone, but amongst the cats were humans, mostly children about her age. They were sitting in groups – some playing card games or chess, others just talking.
She turned to the old cat. “Where are we?” she asked.
“Headquarters,” he said, his voice echoing in her head. “It isn’t much, but it’s our home.”
“What about my family?” asked Esther, “My friends?”
“I’m sorry,” said Griddlebone, “the Nazis have taken them on the transport. There was nothing we could do. I would love to save everyone, but we cannot. We are lucky if we rescue one person from each transport.”
“Where will they take them?” she asked.
“To the ghetto, but there are rumors that they don’t stay there for long. The Nazis have set up concentration camps, and most that enter those never leave.”
“Just for the Jews?” said Esther.
“Mostly, but not all – also the gypsies, the Communists, the homosexuals, anyone that Hitler doesn’t deem to be pure.”
“And we can’t do anything?”
“We do what we can – everyone here has lost family.”
“Everyone?” asked Esther, looking at the mix of animals and humans in the room.
“Everyone,” answered Griddlebone.
What Did You Think Of This Post?
I know this has been a very long post, but Debbie and I really enjoyed putting it together.
Did you enjoy the character interview? Does the sample from “Griddlebone” make you want to rush out and get your copy?
We’d love to see you thoughts in the comments.
Who Else Is Dropping In?
“31 Days of Halloween” is a collaborative effort, and I really couldn’t put out 31 posts in 31 days without help.
While I’ve personally filled many of the slots for the event, I also have some amazing guest posts, from some wonderful folks.
Want to see what else is happening?