Hey there everyone.
Welcome to yet another fun and thrilling installment of the Author Interview series.
I am very excited to be chatting to author, magician, mentalist and performer Paul Voodini today, as he discusses his books and inspired takes on classic Victorian characters, putting his own original spin on them, along with sharing with us his inspirations, passions and writing advice.
Enjoy the show and have a great time folks, I’m sure you will find this one to be simply magic 🙂
Hi there Paul, thank you for being our distinguished guest over her today to talk more about your engaging genre mash-up stories.
Let’s start with your book “Dolly Biters!: The Vampire Girls of Victorian London”. This is a collection of Short Stories and novellas set in Victorian London that melds the supernatural shenanigans of saucy vampires with the gothic Victorian past that we have previously encountered in literature. Please tell us more about the themes of these stories and which notable characters we will stumble across as you take us way back to the 1800’s.
“Dolly Biters: the Vampire Girls of Victorian London” is set in an alternative Victorian London in which vampires are real. The premise is that in the 19th Century humans and vampires co-existed, although not very peaceably! This conflict led to humans, who far outnumbered the vampires, wiping out the vampires, and by the early 20th Century vampires became all-but extinct. Since that time, the fact that vampires existed has been written out of our history books, so that now, in the 21st Century, they are regarded as fictional creatures.
But having said that, all of my stories take place in the mid-to-late 19th Century, when vampires were rampant in the East End of London. The vampires are all female (for medical reasons not fully understood, males could never make the ‘turn’ from human to vampire and all would die) and a side-effect of their vampire state is that they are also lesbians with quite extraordinary sexual appetites! They are also monsters who kill humans nightly and feast on their blood. Although the vampire girls are the ‘heroes’ of the book, it is made abundantly clear that they are very much ‘anti-heroes’. The reader will have sympathy for their plight, but will also understand why the humans found it necessary to eradicate them.
As a reader, I have always enjoyed reading alternate-history stories, and stories which ‘mash-up’ genres and characters from other works. This manifests itself in Dolly Biters as characters from the Sherlock Holmes universe make appearances (although in vastly different guises – for instance Sherlock Holmes himself and his brother Mycroft are very much the bad guys!), alongside characters and events from the Jack the Ripper murders. In the Dolly Biters’ universe, the Jack the Ripper killings were all part of an underground war between vampires and Vatican-endorsed hit men.
The actual book features three novellas and one short story, although they are all tied together. Characters from one story may turn up in another, and although I say that the book is a collection of novellas and short stories, the whole collection actually reads like a novel.
What is it about this particular era in particular that inspires you to write your stories? And will you spill the beans regarding your fascination with The Fox Sisters? 🙂
As a child and young teenager, I had two obsessions – American comics (Marvel mainly, and DC) and the Gothic melodramas and early science fiction of the Victorian era. So I would read Frankenstein alongside Spider-Man, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde alongside Batman, and the Time Machine alongside The Avengers! These joint obsessions placed in my psyche a love for all things supernatural and other-wordly, and also the belief that the Victorian era was a time when magic could really happen!
There is something about the Victorian era that draws me to it; perhaps it is the clichéd imagery of fog rolling in off the Thames, Big Ben lit up at night, cobble-stoned streets and horse-drawn cabs. As a very young child, I can remember that we had place mats on our kitchen table depicting scenes from Victorian London. I would spend hours poring over them, and even today when I see an image of, let’s say, Big Ben at night, I’m suddenly that little kid again, looking at those place mats in the kitchen!
If I believed in reincarnation, I would say that I’d experienced the Victorian era in a previous life, but that’s a huge discussion for another time!
The Fox Sisters reference comes from an short bio I wrote about myself for a website. For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Victorian era was the rise of Spiritualism and the belief that it was possible to communicate with the dead. For the most part, these ‘mediums’ and psychics were charlatans and con-men, but for me that makes the whole matter even more interesting. The whole Spiritualism movement began with the Fox sisters, who were born in New York state and claimed to be able to communicate to the dead via knocks and bangings (what was referred to in the 1800’s as ‘rappings’ – although rapping has a very different meaning today!). They went on to great fame and fortune and led fascinating lives. I would love to be able to meet them, get them drunk, then tell me how they really pulled off their con!
If your stories were to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
When I’m working on a story, it comes to me like a movie in my mind. I see the set-scenes and characters as though they are in a film or a TV show, and I have some very definite ideas in my head as to who the characters should be played by! The witches from Penny Dreadful season 2 reminded me a lot of the Dolly Biter girls, and did Jessica Barden, who played Justine in season 3. I think she would make a really great Dolly Biter.
The character of Madame Moriarty would be a great role for Eva Green, and the female vampire Raffles would be perfect for Charlene McKenna, who was in Ripper Street.
I’d love to see my Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes characters being played by Jerome Flynn and Joseph Mawle. I think they could bring the right amount of menace to the characters.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
I’m a great procrastinator and can always find other things to do other than that which needs doing! Sometimes it’s a real battle to get me to sit down in front of my laptop and actually start working. However, having said that, the Dolly Biters stories came to me quite easily and I spent around 18 months being totally obsessed by them and their world. The real struggle was actually getting the words down onto the page quickly enough!
Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?
I’m inspired by the aforementioned Victorian authors such as HG Wells and Mary Shelley, as well as people like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby who turned the super-hero comic into an art-form (though they didn’t realise it at the time). I was hugely inspired by Kim Newman’s ‘Anno Dracula’ universe, and also Kate Williams’ ‘The Pleasures of Men’, Michel Faber’s ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’, and many of Sarah Waters’ novels.
(The Fox Sisters – Source:- courtesy of Wikipedia)
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
I have huge maps of Victorian London that I pore over, looking at the street names and imagining the characters living their lives along the various streets and roads. I have volumes of history books about Victorian London, Victorian crime, Jack the Ripper, etc., plus contemporary novels and publications such as Arthur Morrison’s ‘A Child of the Jago’ and Margaret Harkness’ ‘In Darkest London’.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I think I’m just naturally a story-teller. Reading those novels and comics in my youth, I always knew that I wanted to write ‘like that’ too. It was never up for debate. I always saw myself as a writer. My favourite lesson at school was always English, and being asked to produce a piece of creative writing was my idea of heaven.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
I’ve never really struggled with writers block. It may sound harsh, but I think writers block happens because the writer isn’t excited or passionate about what he or she is working on. My advice would be to just keep writing, just keep tapping away on the keyboard, even if what you are writing is rubbish. You can always edit or delete later. Keep tapping away and the story will come and along with it the passion.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Do better at school. Don’t waste so much time dreaming instead of doing. Believe in yourself more.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
I have two children (aged 11 and 14) from a previous marriage,and they stay with me during most weekdays, so my life tends to involve making their food, helping with homework, ensuring they take a shower and brush their teeth and have everything they need for the school-day ahead! At weekends, I love watching movies and TV shows, so most weekends you’ll find me with a glass of wine in hand, scouring Netflix for my next TV obsession!
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’m about to start working on a follow-up to Dolly Biters. It’s going to be set in the same Victorian vampire universe, although I think it will be a stand-alone piece so as not to alienate anyone who may not have read Dolly Biters. Unless, of course, Dolly Biters does a 50 Shades and becomes a huge hit! In that case, the next book will very definitely be called Dolly Biters 2!
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
I think it is Hemingway who is supposed to have said ‘write drunk, edit sober’, although I believe it is entirely apocryphal. I do like this saying though, although I’m not really endorsing getting drunk before sitting down and writing! What I think is perhaps the underlying message is, write with passion and keep writing while the passion has a hold of you. Don’t stop to edit or correct spelling mistakes and errors in grammar. Let the entire screen be full of little squiggly red lines, but just keep writing while you’re excited about your story. You can always go back and correct the spelling and the grammar later. The important thing is to get your story and your excitement down on paper (or the computer hard drive as it’s more likely to be these days!)
And that’s wrap! Thank you for conjuring up a great time Paul, look forward to delving more into your tales 🙂
Bio:- (in his own words)
“Ever since Paul discovered the works of HG Wells, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and all of those wonderful Victorian authors, he has been mildly obsessed with the darker recesses of Victorian life. ‘Dolly Biters: the Vampire Girls of Victorian London’ is the first of his books that creates a whole gothic Victorian universe in which vampires were real, and the worst (and best) of them lived in the East End of London.
Paul’s Victorian Vampire books are written in the first person and in the language of the day, giving the reader a joyous roller-coaster ride through the dark cobble-stoned streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields, where death is always just around the corner, and is just as likely to come from the bite of a vampire as it is from the bludgeon of a thug or the syphilis of a prostitute.
Paul is lucky enough to have two children, neither of which have been infected with the vampire virus as yet. Paul’s ambition is to one day invent (or steal) a time machine, travel back to the mid-1800’s and marry the Fox Sisters. All of them.”
You can connect with Paul on the following Social Media channels:-
Twitter:- @PaulVoodini (Twitter)
You can buy Paul’s books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well, Paul’s stories are set in a very dark, mysterious, gothic and moody world. For more articles on the theme of ‘Moody’ then check out the links below:-
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