Write what you know

Will Viharo lives, breathes, and bleeds pulp fiction

The author drinks a "Vic Valentine" cocktail at Alameda's Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge


LIT Most fans probably associate Will "The Thrill" Viharo with Thrillville, the awesomely cool series of B movie screenings he hosted at the Parkway (now closed) and Cerrito (now operating under new ownership) theaters. But in recent years, Viharo's become "The Quill," shifting his focus to his first love: writing. He's written several novels and numerous short projects in a retro, neo-pulp vein; he's currently working on new material as well as publishing several of his older novels, some of which go back decades. He started his first novel, Chumpy Walnut — about a foot-tall boy lost in a world of macabre make-believe — when he was only 16.

"I am a born writer, as pretentious as that may sound. I'm basically unemployable, possess no other marketable or practical skills, and so realistically, my career options are severely limited. It's a matter of simple survival: sink or swim, write or die," the 48-year-old Alameda resident explains. "Once I started writing, I just couldn't stop. It's how I respond to life and the world in general, my natural mode of expression. I really have no choice."

Viharo's first published novel, Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, was released in 1995 by Wild Card Press. Movie rights to the book, which introduced recurring character Vic Valentine, have been owned by the actor Christian Slater for the past ten years — though Valentine, a San Francisco private eye, has yet to make his big-screen debut. Undeterred, Viharo has penned a slew of other killer, colorfully-titled books, including A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge, Fate is My Pimp, Romance Takes a Rain Check, and Diary of a Dick. All are written in a feverish style that recalls not only the hard-boiled detective novels of authors like Raymond Chandler, but also a wide variety of cinematic influences.

"My work has always been informed and creatively inspired by films, particularly exploitation cinema, and all kinds of 'mood music,' even more so than my sundry literary influences," Viharo says. "I think that's why my stuff has a keen visual sense and fluent rhythm unique to the form, kind of like graphic novels, sans the graphics."

It makes perfect sense then that Viharo has made a book trailer to help promote his work. The clip, posted on his website (www.thrillville.net), recalls a classic film noir narrated by tempting excerpts from Viharo's books. The brand-newest Viharo tome, Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up To The Room, is a blistering tale he describes as "gonzo bizarro pulp;" it's due out in November. He's self-releasing it, as he has all his works since Love Stories.

"My stuff is good, I know it, and I'm taking it directly to the audience I know is already out there, bypassing the corporate middleman," Viharo says. He's learned that the mainstream publishing industry is a conservative, fickle beast — and he's done trying to win the hearts of corporate titans. "I'm actually riding a new wave since digital publishing has usurped the marketplace, opening doors for many neglected talents at both ends of the scale."

Viharo's novels are available online through Lulu as eBooks or print-on-demand paperbacks, and he recently got approval to sell Down a Dark Alley on iTunes after a period of "special review" — it seems his more lurid material had triggered an additional vetting before being given the green light.

"Basically, after several decades of self-exploration, I have no more inhibitions, at least artistically," Viharo says. "My brain has been irrevocably damaged over the years, via sustained exposure to the insanity of our world as well as endless viewings of seriously fucked-up movies, and it shows, but I'm shameless by nature."


Yummy picture. And the drink doesn't look bad either!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

I feel that The Thill's stories describe a passion for life's more lurid offerings that is fueled by a combination of all things hidden just outside of the light. You can hear things there, lurking in the dark, perhaps waiting.....for you! Guns, babes, zombies and burning sex sounds like a Saturday night in Oakland, but The Thrill makes it all feel good....in a twisted fun way!!

Posted by Guest: King Babuu on Sep. 14, 2011 @ 3:20 am

Will always hits it out of the park with anything he tackles. Our Giants could use his hitting power this year. And don't forget to check out his articles and more in the always incredible Bachelor Pad Magazine.

Posted by Guest Dr Mike Lano on Sep. 14, 2011 @ 6:28 am

Your writing is pure shit.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 15, 2011 @ 9:23 am

Thanks for actually reading my "shit" as well as for the erudite "review," sucker! By the way, I didn't catch your name...

Posted by Will Viharo on Sep. 15, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

Forget it Will. Unfortunately this site is infested with nameless 'guests' who lurk in the dark afraid to speak their names. That's one of the downsides of Free Speech. As my dad used to say "Suffer fools gladly".

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Sep. 15, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

Thanks. Trust me, I'm used to this sort of gutless mud-slinging. They just want attention and it's best to ignore the many nameless haters out there, but sometimes, for my own amusement, I like to publicly call out one of these anonymous "critics." When I hosted Thrillville and got bugged by the occasional heckler, typically hidden in the back of a packed house, I'd invite them to the stage to share their "insights" and joust with me a bit in the spotlight. Never got any takers. "As funny as it may seem, some people get their kicks stompin' on a dream...but I don't let it get me down..." (Frank Sinatra, "That's Life"). Cheers.

Posted by Will Viharo on Sep. 15, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

Great article, Will. A delight reading it. Let's all get together soon for a long overdue Tiki cocktail

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2011 @ 7:38 pm