Wednesday, 11 November 2015

PUSH-UPS: Will Viharo

Will Viharo.
So, what you pushing right now?
My all-new detective novel, Hard-boiled Heart.

What’s the hook?
It’s my first Vic Valentine novel in 20 years, inspired by my real life experiences with Christian Slater and his option since 2001 of the first Vic Valentine novel Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, first published by Wild Card Press in 1995, reissued by Gutter Books (which is publishing Hard-boiled Heart) in 2013. The four sequels in between were all written back to back circa 1994-1995, when I was being actively courted by celebrity New York editor Judith Regan, who later unceremoniously dumped me without explanation: Fate Is My Pimp, Romance Takes a Rain Check, I Lost My Heart in Hollywood, and Diary of a Dick, all eventually self published in “double bills” in 2011, and collected into a single omnibus called The Vic Valentine Classic Case Files to be published soon by Double Life Press, which also released The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection, Volumes 1-3, earlier this year.

And why’s that floating your boat?
Basically as a matter of personal pride and triumph, since I was suffering from severe depression when I wrote Hard-boiled Heart, and it was my proactive reaction to a series of setbacks, including the loss of several full time jobs in a row, but mainly the abrupt and unexpected collapse of the movie deal after coming so close I could touch and taste it. Christian actually flew me out to Miami in 2012 for location scouting, and I rewrote his adaptation. I had a contract and everything. I was on the verge of being a successful screenwriter, which would boost the appeal of my novels. Now I’m a dog walker in Seattle. I love animals so it’s my favorite non-writing gig, probably ever, since I’ve made money doing everything from bussing tables to delivering blood and bodily fluids to hospitals to working as a hotel/bookstore/video store clerk to programming a popular movie theater to booking bands and burlesque acts to bouncing in a tiki bar. I’m not really complaining, though this epic near-miss often makes me feel pretty blue, like my ship has sailed without me for the final time. At least I got a good book out of it, I think. In fact, I consider Hard-boiled Heart among my best (my personal favorite remains A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge, with Chumpy Walnut coming in a sentimental second), and considering the challenging circumstances that inspired and engulfed it – even though I’d been planning on a sixth and final Vic Valentine novel for years – it’s a miracle it even exists. 

When did you turn to crime?
Decades ago, late ‘80s when I discovered the Black Lizard reprints of the great pulp guys By then I was getting tired of relatively mundane “literary” fiction and realized I could relate much more to the low class, low budget milieu of criminals, even though I didn’t have the balls to become one myself, though I’ve had my moments, which naturally I can’t share publicly. I have too strong a sense of morality to ever hurt anyone, though, even for the sake of my own survival. But as someone who has struggled to survive via crappy odd jobs since I was 16, I can understand the temptation to say fuck it and just steal shit for a living. Mainly I’m drawn to the desperate and often poetic voices of crime fiction, more so than the plots, which are mostly interchangeable. 

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
There are so many amazing authors working in the field of crime fiction today that my contributions feel extraneous and unworthy. Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts, Mike Monson, T. Fox Dunham, Greg Barth, Rob Pierce, Danny Gardner, Kurt Reichenbaugh, Max Booth III, Josh Stalling, Michael Pool, Les Edgerton…the list is almost literally endless. It’s really intimidating and overwhelming. There is essentially a glut of great talent in that field. In fact, I doubt my next book will be a crime novel, probably magical realism. I never identified as a “crime writer” per se, anyway. Most of my stuff is hybrid pulp noir-horror-sci-fi, more in the idiosyncratic vein of David Lynch than in the established tradition of Dashiell Hammett. As for the classics, the usual suspects still inspire me, like Raymond Chandler, Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson, and David Goodis, along with more contemporary guys like Barry Gifford, Paul Auster, Richard Price, James Lee Burke, and Walter Mosley. 

And, what’s blown you away lately?
Mostly incredibly well-written/shot/acted TV shows like The Walking Dead, Fargo, Ash vs. Evil Dead, The Leftovers, Mr. Robot, Masters of Sex, and Archer. I already really miss Mad Men. Really looking forward to the reboots of Twin Peaks and The X-Files, too, since those are two of my all-time favorite series. TV is the new cinema, though I still watch two movies a night on average, from my vast DVD/Blu Ray collection. Movies remain my biggest influence as a fiction writer, which is why my books are so cinematic. 

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Yeah, mine. My long delayed movie deal with Christian Slater remains on “indefinite hiatus.” Other than that, it’s hard for me to care, frankly. 

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I can’t relate much to most modern pop culture, particularly fashion and music (I’m a jazz cat, though I dig all types of music depending on my mood, except rap and country). As I’ve said many times, when it comes to contemporary society and me, it’s a case of mutual apathy. There are major exceptions in the fields of television and literature, as I’ve mentioned, both of which are enjoying golden eras. As for format, I think both have their advantages – print is more aesthetically pleasing, digital frankly more convenient. No reason they can’t peacefully co-exist. 

Shout us a website worth visiting …  - once the virtual headquarters for my long running live “cult movie cabaret,” now the online home base for my pulp fiction.

Cover art:
Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
I’m a very happy and lucky husband (my wife Monica is in her second year of the PhD program at the University of Washington’s School of Drama), passionate cat daddy, devoted dog walker, grindhouse cinema fiend, pulp fiction pimp, tiki lounge lizard, and serenely content Seattleite. I moved to the Emerald City from the Bay Area a year and half ago to escape the incessant heat and drought, plus, since I was raised in New Jersey, I’ve always missed the change of the seasons, particularly autumn. I’ve always hated the sun (as does my wife, luckily) and while I’ve ironically endured back to back record hot summers since our relocation, overall Seattle is my cool, green, and gray progressive paradise on Earth – culturally, atmospherically, politically, and aesthetically, it’s the city of my soul. Much like the Bay Area, only colder with more rain. I’ve found inner and outer peace at least. I still want that fucking movie to get made some day, though. Cheers.

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