Below is a recent interview that was initially approved for an online magazine, but then abruptly rejected for publication at the last minute when the chief editor discovered I am partly self-published, which was attributed to my being "overly egotistical" (to quote a privately "leaked" internal memo), even though all I did was honestly answer the questions that were posed. It wasn't like I ghost-wrote and submitted the piece myself. Plus the books in question were not self-published.
But still, no dice. Rather than offering me "another journalistic notch to justify what he does" (like I'm a vigilante!), the piece was unceremoniously and (from my perspective) inexplicably dropped, after all the work had already been done. Just another day in the life of an indie pulp writer bucking "the establishment," though I have to admit, this one hurt, because it felt like an unwarranted sucker punch.
One thing I've learned the hard way: when you're knocked down, get back up and hit back. If you don't stand up for yourself, nobody else will.
Except for your true pals. Incidents like this tend to weed out the stragglers from your social circles while confirming the sincerity of your true friends and supporters.
The author of the article, freelance journalist Dave Wahlman, a respected supporter of the literary community and pretty much anything cool and "punk," gave me permission to run our interview in its entirety.
I am doing this primarily because Dave - a total stranger who pitched the idea of a profile piece after reading my latest Vic Valentine novel, Hard-boiled Heart - put a lot of sweat into this thing, way more than I did, and it shouldn't go to waste, but also because I dig the irony of self-publishing an interview that was 86'd mostly due to the fact I am a self-publisher. Plus the answers I supplied neatly sum up the state of my so-called career right now, as well as my overall state of mind.
After the interview stay tuned for some other announcements since I haven't updated this blog in a while. I've been too busy or too depressed or both. But there are good things to report, including a brand new novella from Thrillville Press...
First, I now present for the public record The Interview That (Almost) Never Was:
"WILL THE THRILL" by Dave Wahlman
It's funny. I'm not normally the type of guy who gets caught by elements of promotion. I keep my head down and go after the things I know and through those things I find other stuff I want to know about. One day, I was on Facebook and I saw this picture. It was a black and red 70s era photo of a naked woman. In the upper right corner of the picture it said "Neo-Noir In Neon." Super imposed over the nipples were the words Pulp Fiction. And at the bottom it has a website, www.thrillville.net. Instantly I wanted to know what this was (Besides being a poster for the 1973 Italian Giallo film called Torso....get after it if you haven't seen it).
This is the world of Will "The Thrill" Viharo.
Will is a very interesting motherfucker with a unique resume. Author of Gonzo Pulp, Neo-Noir and erotic fiction, film programmer, live music book, tiki lounge lizard, friend of Christian Slater.
I gotta be honest. This guy is unique. Trying to write about him....it's like peeling a onion and I mean that as a compliment. Every layer reveals something new. It also made me wonder more than once why he isn't more known?
Back in 1995 Will wrote a novel called Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, the first in the Vic Valentine series. One day in 2001 Christian Slater came across Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me in a Los Angeles bookstore and optioned the book for film. I can totally understand why this book appealed to Slater. True Romance is one of my all time favorite films. If True Romance was the hit single from a band, Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me is the B-side. Slater adapted the novel to a screenplay and was slated to direct and star in the film. Love Stories....while initially published by Wild Card Press, it had been out of print. Slater's interest gave the book new life and it was re-issued by the infamous Gutter Books in 2013.
Now in the time span from 1995 to 2001 to 2013 to 2015, a lot happened. Around 94-95 Will was pursued by a well known NYC literary agent. Things were looking up. Then out of nowhere, he was dumped without explanation. This resulted in Will going independent. I can get behind that sentiment. The majors have all the muscle, kinda like Wal-Mart.....I digress. There were other setbacks with publishers but Will kept going.
Will's fiction has a interesting tone. The Neo-Noir is a modern throwback to old school pulp. Hard Boiled Heart is straight out of the 1950s heyday of crime novels. Think Jim Thompson on a bender with access to a laptop and no worries of censorship. Same with the Gonzo Pulp and Erotica. Will has a way of writing without fear what makes others squeamish and/or offended. The violence and sex loom large but is portrayed honestly yet graphic. I asked Will about this....
WV: Basically, I write the type of stuff I like to read. Unfortunately, at least as far as my finances are concerned, my tastes tend to be pretty extreme when it comes to art, whether as consumer or creator. To me, that type of art, whether movies or books or illustrative art, is just natural primal energy, channeled constructively. I see it as a healthy sublimation of urges that could otherwise prove both self-destructive and socially unacceptable, or at least problematic.This is why I love grindhouse exploitation cinema – it’s so unabashedly sleazy, and yet boldly honest when it comes to the dark side of human nature. But I call it “dark” only because it’s hidden from the light of mainstream media consciousness. But the high tide of raw sensuality flooding my work really stems from my lifelong obsession with sex, though I was never much of a swingin’ bachelor, because I was also way too romantic. And yes, that dichotomy created a lot of internal and external conflicts. Though I mentally lust after women now and always, I’ve always been monogamous by nature. I’m not really that crazy about violence, either real or imagined, though I do enjoy violent films, as long as they’re artfully stylized. I’d say that less pervasive aspect of my work is a lot more surrealistic and purposely over-the- top than the sex stuff, which is much more graphically depicted. That’s simply because I personally dig sex way more than violence. I simply do not understand our society’s surface condemnation of physical pleasure, while simultaneously celebrating the infliction of pain and death, whether it’s gun culture, video games, extreme sports, etc.
I had to find out about his angle of promotion. I was not kidding when I said I'm oblivious. I need to be hit with the equivalent of a baseball bat in the head to pick up on things sonic, visual or literary.
WV: When my 12 year career as a film programmer abruptly ended in 2009 following the closure of the theaters I worked for, and I decided to devote myself to my first love, fiction, I was lucky enough to have a pre-existing public platform due to my longtime persona as “Will the Thrill,” my lounge lizard B-movie impresario doppelganger. My “brand name,” known to Bay Area aficionados and others in the relatively small subcultures of tiki, burlesque and horror movie hosts, is “Thrillville.” So when I finally hung up my fez and refocused my creative energy on writing, both as a craft and a profession, I decided to exploit that already-built brand as a platform to pimp my pulp fiction (and I only called it “pulp” because I had no idea how else to categorize it, not realizing it was already a contemporized niche). It has taken a while to re-introduce myself as an author, since I’d let go of that part of me for so long, only writing freelance articles about retro pop culture for various publications, print and online. As for my marketing “style,” the memes and such I constantly share on social media are meant to evoke the exact type of imagery that inspires my work, whether it’s lurid Italian horror comic art from the 70s known as “fumetti,” grindhouse movies, or vintage pin-ups. Basically, my fictional universe collectively called “Thrillville” is a mixture of monsters, pornography, noir, cocktails and exotica, all filtered through my real life experiences. My fiction is consciously cinematic in nature, since my main influences are movies and music, much more so than literature. So that aesthetic shows up vividly in the promotions.
Obsessions aren't inherently a bad thing. It's all about what you do with them. And yeah, some shit is gross and insane but that isn't the kind of obsession we are talking about. This wise man once referred to "My Magnificent Obsession". I stole that and used it to describe some of things I get out of bed for. I love Will's take.....
WV: I wear my obsessions on my sleeve. I have nothing to hide, because I have no shame. Always trying to please others as an artist or as a person is a waste of time and energy, mine anyway. If someone has a problem with you just being yourself, that shouldn’t be your problem, too. As I’ve also often said, I’d rather be the bold person on stage than the coward tossing tomatoes from the audience.
Now with such a wide range of influences, many people would be scattered like a deck of cards tossed into the air. Sometimes instead of asking what a person would label or call themselves, try asking what they aren't.
WV: I never considered myself a “crime writer” per se. Other than the Vic Valentine series, and one of my standalone novels, Down a Dark Alley, I haven’t written any straight up crime novels, and even those mentioned are highly unconventional. I’m just not that interested in cops ‘n’ robbers stuff. I love noir, and neo-noir, but that’s more psychological in nature. It’s the introspection of noir narratives that intrigues me, much more so than the plots. So I weave that into my fiction, resulting in genre hybrids. Most of my work could be summed up as horror noir erotica. That’s my favorite type of escapism.
Many writers are grunts. Meaning they are in the trenches grinding it out. It's not glamorous, it's fucking work you love but the reward is fleeting. Throughout literary history, many writers have resorted to means that could be classified as uncomfortable to support their pursuit. James Ellroy and Will Viharo have something in common. Selling blood plasma. I think it's badass in the sense of making shit happen by any means necessary.
WV: Actually the blood bank scenes in “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me” were written while I was working as a delivery driver for a blood bank in Oakland during the early 1990s. I never actually donated blood while I was employed there. In fact, the only time I had ever given blood before was during an employee drive at Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills when I was working in the restaurant there as a busboy, age 16, circa 1979, fresh from New Jersey, supporting myself. Afterwards I feinted in the elevator – in the arms of a woman I had a crush on, so it wasn’t too bad! Ironically, in a bitter sort of way, I recently began selling plasma for cash, because I don’t sell enough pulp and dog walking is fun but doesn’t pay that well, either. A middle-aged struggling pulp author is basically unemployable and unavoidably poverty-stricken, barring some big break, and my ship had come and gone without me once too often for me to maintain any hope of financial rescue at this point. I hate having my veins drained just as much as I thought I would, but it does echo Vic Valentine in a weird, funny way. Funny to everyone but me, anyway.
Some people consider "grindhouse" or B-movies to be pieces of shit. I don't. I consider them punk rock art. When I was in high school, I remember cutting to go see a double feature of Foxy Brown and Coffy. I was a weird kid who grew into a weird adult and not sorry for that. Will has a real grindhouse/B-movie sensibility that reminds me of Joe Bob Briggs.
WV: I have always related to B movies more than mainstream cinema because my own life is like a B movie – low budget and unconventional. As I get older I appreciate exploitation flicks more and more, not sure why, unless it’s just a reaction to the ennui of my daily existence these days. I’ve always been drawn to the primal elements of human nature, which are denied, misinterpreted, misunderstood, feared, and otherwise exploited by various institutions, from churches to corporations, capitalizing on peoples’ vices, desires, and “weaknesses.” I love erotica and porn partly because they are “forbidden” by “polite society,” the zenith of our culture’s hypocrisy, since most people are obsessed with sex, whether they admit it or not. I’m just honest about it, and so is exploitation cinema. Sure, it appeals to our baser instincts, but it’s a healthier sublimation than acting them out. As long as you’re not overly indulgent, I don’t see any harm in creatively harnessing these primitive instincts. Suppression and denial only lead to destructive backfire. So anyway, yes, I am far more influenced by cinema than literature, and always have been. I just don’t have the desire to be an active participant, which is why I’ve never tried writing an original screenplay. I lived too close to that scene when I was in L.A. and saw how it destroyed the spirits of too many talented people. I simply wanted no part of it. Now, if one of my books was made into a movie, that would be great, and poetically correct, since I’m such a film buff myself. My books are so cinematic the translation to the screen would be simple, although most are way too explicit and graphic, particularly sexually, to make the transition intact.
I lived in Seattle for a bit over 2 years from 20-22 roughly. Seattle draws a person of a certain mindset. I mean The Manson Family vacationed in the area. Yeah we all know about grunge and heroin, etc. What people don't know is there are many (or at least when I was there) book stores. It's a literate atmosphere. Unless you are a certain type of person I don't want to know, You will read or write or both when you can't go outside. I've found with a handful of exceptions, the sun and warm weather aren't conducive to the creative process.
WV: I moved to Seattle for one reason: I hate the sun. Always have. That’s why my fictional world is always so dark and cold (“like your heart,” my wife jokes.) Seattle’s rainy rep appealed to me, and has for years. Finally I could no longer resist its psychic pull, but we couldn’t make such an epic move based purely on weather. So I asked Monica (who shares my disdain for bright heat) to apply to the University of Washington School of Drama PhD program, she was accepted against high odds, and so here we are. Unfortunately we moved here during one of the hottest summers on record, and in fact there have been four record hot summers in a row year, but otherwise the weather is cool, cloudy and wet, which is my ideal environment, creatively and personally. I lived in the Bay Area for three decades and overall I loved it, but I never felt completely at home there, and I think a lot of it was due to the mostly arid climate. Even the famous fog disappeared during the drought, and basically it was warm and sunny almost every day of the year, unlike when I first moved there in 1985 from L.A. for the same reason I moved to Seattle, to escape the incessant heat. But it followed me again! I can’t really complain though. Most of the year Seattle feels just right. I call it “ambient therapy.” I’ve been very productive since moving here, and much more content. It shows in my work.
We've all heard stories about some element of Hollywood nipping at the edges of a project. They seem poised to take a big bite and all of a sudden, they aren't hungry anymore. It's like you have a bagel. They want your bagel, they go on and on about how great your bagel is and they tell you all about how they want to prepare and present your bagel. They get you so excited. Oh My God Hollywood Wants My Bagel!!!!! Then you get the call they decided they wanted chicken fingers prepared by somebody else. In this instance the chicken fingers was named Mr Robot.
WV: As you know, Love Stories was optioned for a film by Christian Slater in 2001, but after all those years, we still haven’t been able to make it happen, though we came very, very close in 2012 after he flew me out to Miami where we did location scouting, and I was contracted to rewrite his adaptation, setting the story in South Florida rather than Northern California, for budgetary and logistical reasons. Though the movie is still stuck in “indefinite hiatus,” that notoriety helped expand consciousness of my work, and I was able to plug into a whole network of other writers and literary types, many introduced to me by Joe Clifford (the Jay Porter series), acquisitions editor for Gutter Books, which reissued the out of print novel in 2012, featuring a brand new cover illustrated by Matt Brown, our storyboard artists, depicting Christian as my protagonist, Vic Valentine. If that movie had been made, I wouldn’t still be busting my ass on social media day in, day out, tirelessly pitching my wares amid the hundreds of other indie authors out there, vying for the same limited customer base. I don’t even have a target audience in mind when I write, since my stuff is so esoteric. The distinction of having a book optioned by a major movie/TV star helped lift me out of complete obscurity, but a green light on that project would’ve catapulted me right across the goal line, casting a spotlight on my entire body of work.
I could go on and on talking about the nuances of Will Viharo, from his work to his influences to his life. Remember I mentioned peeling an onion? It's like that. His current novella, an erotic horror noir called “Things I Do When I Awake,” is largely inspired by the story of his mother, but filtered thought the lens of a classic giallo film. Will's mother is a topic that is a story in itself as that of his father who was an actor and starred in films along side James Caan and Charles Bronson. Will has anecdotes about Mickey Rourke among others. Hard Boiled Heart was the book by Will that made me a fan. He's got something for everyone. Don't matter what you may be into, sex, noir, horror, sci-fi. If this piece get's you interested, head over to thrillville.net and get a glimpse inside Will's head for yourself.
End of interview. Thanks, Dave.
IN OTHER NEWS...
COSTA RICA BOUND!
I have the supreme honor of being invited by author Ezekiel Tyrus to conduct workshops at The Writer's Retreat of San Buenas in Costa Rica this coming January, 2017. When I return, I will devote an entire blog to this life-changing adventure, which will also most likely inspire a novel, stay tuned.
NOIR AT THE BAR!
Since founder Michael Pool has moved on, I have proudly and humbly taken over the reins of Noir at the Bar Seattle as organizer in addition to my regular role as host. The events will take place once per season at its home base, The Fireside Room at the Hotel Sorrento, always featuring an all-star literary lineup, like this one...
|Hosting Noir at the Bar Seattle, Fireside Room, Hotel Sorrento 10/13/16|
Additionally I have been invited by famed Canadian author Dietrich Kalteis to participate in my first Noir at the Bar Vancouver on November 2, 2016...
NEW NOVELLA: THINGS I DO WHEN I'M AWAKE
The first brand new book published by Thrillville Press, THINGS I DO WHEN I'M AWAKE, which I describe as "erotic horror noir," is coming this December, 2016. The story is partly inspired by the tragic life of my mother, who passed away this past September 23, while I was in the midst of working on the novella. The full cover designed by Dyer Wilk as well as more details - including about my mother's background - will be revealed in my next blog.
May Charlotte Ann Glenn's tormented soul rest in peace.
Otherwise, Monica is starting her third happy year as a PhD student (and now also an instructor) at the University of Washington School of Drama.
I wish I sold more books. I wish that movie had been made. But overall, my personal life is as fulfilling as my professional life is frustrating. I guess you can't expect more than that. Cheers.
|At West 5, one of our favorite spots|
|Another favorite: Sand Point Grill|
|A fan of my books from Indiana named Garry Sparks sent me this cool Svengoolie shirt!|
VIHARO ON VIDEO:
Interview with Scott Fulks and me for Tiki Oasis TV, August 2015
ONLINE SHORT FICTION
A WRONG TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE (1982) and THE IN-BETWEENERS (1987)
PEOPLE BUG ME (2013)
ESCAPE FROM THRILLVILLE (2014)
|My story MEANTIME is included in this bitchin' anthology, |
for which I also wrote the foreword:
My short story BEHIND THE BAR is included in this anthology
Bachelor Pad Magazine #37 featuring my movie column about classic Frankenstein flicks!
The new Vic Valentine novel HARD-BOILED HEART now available from Gutter Books!