Interrogation: Will Viharo

Experience the Thrill–SeattleWho: Will Viharo

What: A pulp novelist, freelance writer, B movie impresario, and lounge lizard at large. One of his novels, LOVE STORIES ARE TOO VIOLENT FOR ME, has been optioned for a film by Christian Slater since 2001. For many years in the San Francisco Bay Area he programmed and produced a roving “cult movie cabaret” called “Thrillville,” hosting hundreds of live B movie/burlesque shows as “Will the Thrill” along with his wife, Monica Cortes Viharo, AKA “The Tiki Goddess.”

Where: Seattle

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just finished A MERMAID DROWNS IN THE MIDNIGHT LOUNGE and my head is still swimming. Great stuff. How did this story begin for you? What are some of the most unexpected ways in which it evolved?

I actually first began writing this novel—which turned out to be my personal favorite of all my books—back in 1997. I’d just split from my first wife of like three months, so I was emotionally devastated, and I was working my ass off 12 hours a day as an Aero delivery driver in San Francisco while living in a cheap little hovel over in Oakland, near Lake Merritt, walking distance from the Parkway Theater, which had just been reopened and renovated as a combo movie house/restaurant by some friends of mine, who asked me to host and program a weekly midnight movie show, which I initially called “The Midnight Lounge.” These same friends had founded Wild Card Press and published my novel LOVE STORIES ARE TOO VIOLENT FOR ME back in 1995, but frankly they were professional dilettantes and quickly dropped the press in favor of the much more lucrative film exhibition/food racket, which proved very successful, until the entire business collapsed due primarily to internal turmoil in 2009. pulpcollection2By that time I had pretty much given up on ever achieving my dream career as a novelist, though I still wrote and published a lot of freelance articles on pop culture and such. Plus my live show, now locally famous as “Thrillville,” garnered a ton of local publicity, establishing my “brand name,” though not in my field of choice. I was also happily married to my “lovely assistant” from my cult movie show, Monica “the Tiki Goddess” Cortes. We were wed at the Cal-Neva in North Lake Tahoe with a Rat Pack/mariachi ceremony/reception on May 31, 2001, exactly four years after I first met her at my screening of Jailhouse Rock on May 31, 1997. So I was no longer lonely, the main source of much of my literary therapy. Anyway, I’d put down MERMAID once the theater took off and I was hired as a full time publicist/programmer. But when the company abruptly folded, my backup career went with it. Now, suddenly without a steady income again, facing a return to the series of crappy odd jobs I’d been sustaining myself with since age 16, I was back in familiar, full-on panic mode.
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ADR Reissues “Criminal Love and Other Stories”

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Mike Monson’s TUSSINLAND was one of my favorite crime novels of last year. That book is dark, gritty and brutal—but not without heart. So I was pretty stoked when I heard that All Due Respect Books was reissuing CRIMINAL LOVE AND OTHER STORIES, his collection of crime, dirty noir, author interviews and selected blog posts.

CL-new-2I was lucky enough to meet Mike at Bouchercon last year and interview him for this blog. Here’s an excerpt of what the ADR editor had to say about his writing way back in December of last year:

[Mike Monson interview excerpt] You didn’t start writing until 2012. Since then you have published several short stories, novellas and a novel. How do you explain the sudden burst of creativity and productivity?

I really can’t explain it. I tried to write all my life and I’d been a reporter off and on and did some playwriting years ago, so it wasn’t like I was brand-new at writing in 2012. My best guess is a combination of two things happening: first, I had just spent a couple of years really digging into zen and vipassana buddhist meditation techniques and ended up with a very clear conviction that the important thing to being alive was to just be yourself as completely as possible and part of that for me was to write whether or not anyone ever read what I wrote; and second, I found myself married to a woman (Rebecca of course) who just had my back in a way I’d never experienced and gave me the kind of love and support that I needed to write the stuff I wanted to write the way I wanted to write it. Oh, and one other thing — I’d spent years and years with a long commute in which I’d read several books a week and I think that was a great education for a writer.

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