Interrogation—James W. Ziskin

Who: James W. Ziskin

What: Author of the Edgar-, Anthony-, Barry-, and Lefty-nominated Ellie Stone Mysteries. A linguist by training, he studied Romance Languages and Literature at the university of Pennsylvania. He then spent sixteen years in the Hollywood post production industry, running large international operations in subtitling and visual effects. He speaks Italian and French. His latest book, CAST THE FIRST STONE, launched on June 6.

Where: Seattle

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

Your latest novel, CAST THE FIRST STONE, is the fifth Ellie Stone Mystery. What does Ellie get up to this time around?

Thanks for having me, Steve. I’m a big fan of your books, stories, and novellas. And hats.

CAST THE FIRST STONE gets Ellie out of the fading mill town of New Holland, NY, and drops her in Hollywood. It’s February 1962, in the midst of heavy rains in Los Angeles. A New Holland boy has scored the second lead in a real Hollywood beach movie, so Ellie is dispatched to profile the hometown hero who’s done good. It’s the chance of a lifetime for Ellie, until she arrives and finds the actor, Tony Eberle, AWOL on the first day of shooting. He’s promptly fired from the picture, and the next day the producer is found dead in a ravine in the Hollywood Hills. Ellie realizes that her own tenuous career hangs in the balance if she comes home empty-handed, so she sets out to find the missing actor. She’s drawn into the shadowy world of Hollywood’s closeted gay actors, who are desperate to keep their secrets hidden. Hilarity ensues.

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Interrogation—Brian Thornton

Who: Brian Thornton

What: Author of nine books, including THE BOOK OF BASTARDS and THE BOOK OF ANCIENT BASTARDS, in addition to serving as collection editor for the crime fiction anthology WEST COAST CRIME WAVE. His short fiction has appeared in such venues as ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and the Akashic Books anthology SEATTLE NOIR. A native Washingtonian, he is currently serving his second tour as Northwest Chapter president for the Mystery Writers of America.

Where: Seattle

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

You and I met at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago when we were both guests on the Noir on the Radio podcast. Tell me about the short story you read that night.

“Half Smart, No Nerve” is both the shortest thing I’ve ever written for me, and my first paying fiction. I wrote it over a decade ago, in response to a notice on the venerable Rara Avis Hard-Boiled & Noir Fiction email discussion list that a new British publication called BULLET UK was seeking contributions of stories 1,000 words or shorter in length. At the time I was trying my hand at short stories, having already gotten my first “mistake” novel out of the way.

It had never occurred to me to even try to write something that short, so I gave it a whirl, spent three hours on it, emailed it to BULLET UK, and was delighted when they accepted it. I got 25 pounds for my trouble (still have the check.). Easy peasy.

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Guest DJ—Will Viharo

We are THRILLED to have “gonzo pulp” author Will Viharo as our Guest DJ this week! I think you’ll agree that this playlist—including everything from Henry Mancini and David Bowie, to Nina Simone and Blondie—is a great way to kick off the weekend. Who knows, it might even inspire you to mix up a cocktail or three.

emailsignatureEarlier this week, Viharo launched Thrillville Press with an announcement on Facebook: “To say the creation of my own imprint followed a circuitous path is a gross understatement. It’s basically 37 years in the making, beginning when I wrote the first draft of CHUMPY WALNUT at age 16 in 1979.”

Since then, Viharo has released several impressive books through a variety of small presses and self-publishing platforms. His two most recent releases, both from 2015, include HARD-BOILED HEART (Gutter Books) and THE SPACE NEEDLER’S INTERGALACTIC BAR GUIDE (Createspace).

The four anthologies currently available from Thrillville Press include: CHUMPY WALNUT AND OTHER STORIES; LAVENDER BLONDE and DOWN A DARK ALLEY;  A MERMAID DROWNS IN THE MIDNIGHT LOUNGE and FREAKS THAT CARRY YOUR LUGGAGE UP TO THE ROOM, and THE VIC VALENTINE CLASSIC CASE FILES (cover design by Matt Brown).

viccoverthrillvillepress1smallBut, sorry folks, Thrillville Press is not open to submissions. This is a one man show.

“Thrillville Press, like all of my artistic endeavors over the past thirty-odd (very odd) years, is purely a labor of love. I’m truly at the point where if anybody doesn’t dig who I am or what I’m about or the work I produce, it simply isn’t my problem. Self-reliance is the key to professional happiness, at least for me.”

I’ll drink to that. Cheers, Will!

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, will be published in September 2016. His standalone novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in March 2016.

Interrogation—Michael Pool

 michael-pool-noirWho: Michael Pool

What: Author of the crime noir novella, DEBT CRUSHER, as well as the coming noir short story collection NEW ALLEYS FOR NOTHING MEN. He is the Editor-in-Chief for Crime Syndicate Magazine and the organizer for Noir at the Bar Seattle. He is also the one-off bi-monthly host of Noir on the Air for the Authors on the Air Radio Network.

Where: Seattle

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

I just finished your great new short story collection, NEW ALLEYS FOR NOTHING MEN. How did this collection come together? How many of the stories were previously published and how many are brand spanking new?

So Tote the Note appeared in All Due Respect Issue 4, Waylon, On Rerun was in Thuglit Issue 18, Two Feet Deep was in Heater Magazine Vol. 3 No. 9, An Art Show Mating Call was in Urban Graffiti, Life of a Salesman appeared in That Other Paper (now defunct), Franklin and the Finger was in Flash Fiction Offensive, and Midnight at the San Franciscan was published as an ebook stand-alone novelette earlier this year as a promotional lead up to New Alleys for Nothing Men. The other five have never been published before, either for lack of submission or because they just never landed anywhere. Actually three of those five are my favorite stories in the collection, oddly enough. Seems like it always works that way.

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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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