Paul Leone grew up reading and watching a wide range of genre books and media, ranging from classics like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia to more modern works like Star Wars and Star Trek, mixed with monster movies and comic books starting in the mid 1980s. All these things came together with his entrance into the Catholic Church in 2003 to form the background for the Vatican Vampire Hunters series that Mysterious Albion commences. He lives in Western New York with a suitably disinterested cat and is currently revising the second book and planning the third in the VVH series.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Mysterious Albion. When did you start writing and what got you into urban fantasy?
A: I first started writing when I was in middle school, and kept on through high school and college. After graduating (University of Maryland, class of 2000), I put it aside for several years before deciding there was no point wasting time and creativity. As far as urban fantasy goes, I got interested in it when a friend recommended Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. After burning through the first few books in that series, there was no looking back.
Q: Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
A: Not on a formal level, but a couple of my friends are published writers (Kelly Edwards and Paula Graves) and their examples were definitely inspiring; they were also tremendously helpful in preparing Mysterious Albion for publication.
Q: Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
A: I think the biggest trouble was creating and outlining a story that was long enough to make an actual novel. All my earlier solo works, the few I managed to finish, were a lot shorter. A novel of ~50,000 words (the length of the first draft) was on a whole different level.
Q: What was your inspiration for Mysterious Albion?
A: Far and away John Steakley’s book Vampire$, both in terms of concept and style (especially in the first draft or two before I realized this was something that might, God willing, get published and started to give it more of its own identity). The idea of “the real world + hidden monsters” occurs in a lot of books and movies, but the roleplaying game Vampire the Masquerade gave me some idea of how I wanted Mysterious Albion to feel.
Q: What do you tell your muse when she refuses to collaborate?
A: More often than not, she’s the one angry at me for refusing to collaborate. But when the inspiration is lacking, the best thing seems to be let it sit for a day or two and then go back to the stumbling block. She’s usually willing to help the scene progress by then.
Q: Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to write. Can you relate to this?
A: In my case, it’s usually after I’m done writing that I have my doubts. Is this really worth reading? Is Character A as likeable (or nasty) as I hoped? Does the plot make as much sense on paper as it does in my mind? Before or after writing, it’s not fun, and I definitely relate.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
A: When I’m writing the first draft, I try to get out at least 1000-1200 words a day. I work at home, so I can space it out into a few sessions… which doesn’t help with the disciplined side of things. Put me down in front of my computer and I’ll have a few browser tabs and an MMORPG open inside of 90 seconds. It’s a real effort to put aside that sort of thing for a month or two.
Q: How do you celebrate the completion of a novel?
A: Getting back into my favorite game and catching up! And making the people at the local pizza place happy.
Q: How do you define success?
A: A nice, positive review from a reader. With the independent publishing route I’ve embraced (at least for now – knock on wood for the future!), every bit of feedback helps. When I know a complete stranger read and enjoyed my book, that’s success.
Selling a million copies and having Hollywood call, that’d be okay, too.
Q: What do you love most about the writer’s life?
A: Shaping a grand (I hope!) story that will unfold over the course of seven books, and bringing to life all the characters floating around inside that corner of my brain.
Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about and your work?
A: I sure do! Check out paul-leone.com for all your Vatican Vampire Hunters needs.
Q: Where is your book available?
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: To paraphrase the slogan of a local restaurant: If I entertain you, tell others; if not, tell me!