Name Will Viharo
Where are you from
Born in Manhattan, raised mostly in South Jersey, lived in California (mainly in the Bay Area) for most of my adult life, currently relocating to Seattle, WA.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’ve been on my own since age 16, dropped out of high school, and worked numerous odd jobs to survive. I completed my first novel, “Chumpy Walnut,” a Runyonesque fable about a guy only a foot tall, when I was 19. My mother was Miss Houston 1960 and an aspiring actress until she was stricken with schizophrenia while I was in her womb. The illness destroyed her life and aborted our relationship. My father, Robert Viharo, is a retired professional actor/filmmaker. I am happily married to a beautiful actress/educator, Monica Cortes, who is about to enter the PhD program at the University of Washington School of Drama and realize her goal of being a professor. We are the proud “parents” of two cool cats, named Googie and Tiki.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Relocating to Seattle after nearly three decades in California, mostly the Bay Area, though I spent my late teens and early 20s in Los Angeles. I am really looking forward to the change of scenery and climate. I’m sick of all this sunlight! My soul needs the cloud cover.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
When I was just a kid, maybe ten, I thought I wanted to be a comic book/comic strip artist. I created a character called “Chumpy Walnut” – literally a talking walnut – but eventually I realized I wasn’t that good an illustrator, so I decided I’d best express myself via the written word. It came very naturally to me. I was a voracious reader and loved all genres of literature. I reinvented Chumpy as a foot tall human being, and began writing a novel about him at age 16. I finished the final draft at age 19, while staying with relatives in Houston, Texas. After I returned to LA. later in 1982, I wrote a novel a year for the rest of the 1980s and into the 1990s. I’ve only published about half of them.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I was around 12.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A lousy childhood and a vivid imagination.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not really, although to paraphrase Elvis Presley, “I don’t sound like nobody.” My early influences include Damon Runyon, J.D. Salinger, and Raymond Chandler. I characterize my body of work as “pulp” because of all the lurid content, but I tend to mash up genres – horror, noir, sci-fi, etc. – so they are difficult to easily categorize. I think the novel that best represents my mature sensibilties is “A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge.”
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
All of my books start with a title. For instance, “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me” was a phrase I dropped during a casual phone conversation with my father circa 1993. He said, “that’s your next book title.” And so it was. It became the first Vic Valentine story – currently in development as a film by Christian Slater, who has owned the option since 2001, after he happened to find it in a LA bookstore. A couple of years ago he flew me out to his home in Miami to rewrite his script, setting the action in South Florida instead of Northern California. He really relates to the main character, so naturally we hit it off. He plans to both star and direct the film.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Life is weird, sad, and beautiful, often all at once, like a strange dream.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Assuming you mean “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me,” some of the situations were inspired by some real experiences I was enduring while working as a delivery driver for the local blood bank. I just reimagined my own loneliness and romantic pursuits in the context of a hardboiled detective novel, but most of it is wholly fabricated. My recent books are much more fanciful and over-the-top, though still rooted in truth.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of my novels contain personal resonance, though I won’t reveal all the parallels. My novel “Lavender Blonde” is party inspired by my youthful friendship with actor Mickey Rourke in the 1980s, and an actess with whom I was totally obsessed. The Vic Valentine series is also somewhat auto-biographical, but in the end, Vic and I are quite different. Especially now.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
“The Catcher in the Rye” is still my favorite novel. I read books primarily for The Voice, not the plot. I find continuous inspiration in the works of John Fante and Charles Bukowski, since they were working stiffs with literary aspirations, like me. I also really dig crime writer Jim Thompson. More contemporary authors I admire include James Lee Burke, Walter Mosley, Barry Gifford, James Ellroy, Joe Lansdale, Paul Auster, and Carl Hiaasen, though truth be told I haven’t read any of of their recent works. I mostly read books by struggling authors now.The established guys don’t need my support, and I’ve mined all the inspiration I need from them. I am far more influenced by cinema and music than literature, anyway. David Lynch is a major influence on my recent work, for instance, much more so than any single author.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
None specifically. Most writers, even or especially successful ones, are very insecure and competitive with each other, unfortunately. My friend Joe Clifford, who edited the reissue of “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me” for Gutter Books, is a rare example of a rising author who isn’t afraid to lend his literary brethren a hand. I wouldn’t call him a mentor per se, but he’s done a lot for my career lately, and I owe him a great debt.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Several at once, mostly be friends and authors and I know personally – “Hustle,” by Tom Pitts; “Eli, Ely” by Ezekiel Tyrus; “Toxicity,” by Max Booth III.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
The ones I just mentioned, including Joe Clifford. There’s a lot of awesome talent out there. It’s both invigorating and intimidating.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m slowly working on the sxith Vic Valentine novel, “Hard-Boiled Heart.” It’s set mostly in Seattle so I’ll finish it there.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My wife, though she is my family, along with my cats.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do, but so far it hasn’t reciprocated the faith.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
From reading novels and comic books and watching movies. I wanted to relate my passions to an audience in a creative way.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a line by Vic Valentine, from “Hard-Boiled Heart”:
“I wear my heart on my sleeve, like a broken cufflink.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing itself is easy. Making money from it is hard.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
The writers I loved growing up and still love – Damon Runyon, Raymond Chandler, J.D. Salinger, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Charles Willeford, Dashiell Hammett, etc – all have distinctive styles. You may not like or relate to their work, but you know their Voice when you read it. With so many words out there competing for readers’ attention, distinguishing yourself as an individual with a unique vision is very important. Fortunately I am very comfortable with my identity as a person and as a writer, so freely expressing myself comes very naturally to me. I identify with writers who likewise bleed their unique creative DNA all over the page, without shame or restriction.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Frankly I hate leaving my house. I wander around inside my own head. That’s all I can afford anyway.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover of the new edition of “Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me” was drawn by Matt Brown, the storyboard artist for the movie version. That’s Christian Slater depicted as Vic Valentine on the cover. Most of my other covers were done by artists who created event posters for my long running cult move cabaret, “Thrillville”, which I hosted/produced/programmed for 17 years, presenting classic B movies with live burlesque acts in various venues. Those great artistic talents include R. Black (“Down a Dark Alley,” “Fate Is My Pimp”/”Romance Takes a Rain Check”), Mr. Lobo and Dixie Dellamorte (“Lavender Blonde”); Rick Lucey (“I Lost My Heart in Hollywood”/”Diary of a Dick”); Michael Fleming (“It Came from Hangar 18,” co-authored with Scott Fulks); and Christopher Sorrenti (“Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room”). I accidentally discovered the striking cover image for “A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge” online and contacted the photographer, Mike Lewis, in Canada for the rights, since it perfectly suited the darkly erotic mood of that particular piece. The cover of “Chumpy Walnut” was designed by Miles Goodrich, using my original James Thurberish illustrations, which are also featured inside the book.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Once I get started, it’s easy. I simply write my characters into corners and they write themselves out. So nothing, really. I love writing. Nothing else comes even close.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always learn about myself when I write, and then share those epiphanies with readers, albeit in a heavily disguised context.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Quit now and save yourself the grief! Then if you keep writing anyway, it means you are a born writer and are beyond needing anyone’s advice, including mine.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you buy and enjoy all of my books, thank you for your support.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
“The Jungle Book,” by Rudyard Kipling,when I was about 6 years old. I have a lifelong love of animals.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Watching movies, listening to music, drinking cocktails.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My all time favorite TV shows are still the 1960s “Batman” and “Miami Vice.” Also “Twin Peaks.” Currently I love “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead,” “Archer,” and “Penny Dreadful.”
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: Italian, Mexican, Japanese. Colors: blue, purple, and green. Music: jazz, lounge, New Wave rock, film soundtracks.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Can’t think of a single thing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Will “the Thrill” Viharo
Freelance Writer, Pulp Fiction Author
“My Quill Is Quick”