Recovering from what he called his “latest romantic tragedy” back in 1993, Will Viharo turned down a movie recommendation from his father, which happened to be a love story. “It’s OK, Pop,” he said by phone. “Love stories are too violent for me.”
That dashed-off line became the title for the first Vic Valentine, Private Eye book, a series of five pulp noir novels Viharo wrote that year. Published by Wild Card Press in 1995, “Love Stories Are Too Violent for Me” was reissued by Gutter Press in 2013 after Christian Slater discovered the nearly-out-of-print book in an L.A. bookstore and optioned the rights to the film.
Slater intended to both direct and star in the adaptation, which was put on indefinite hiatus when he started work on the TV show “Mr. Robot,” for which he recently earned a best supporting actor nomination at the Golden Globes. While the film was in limbo, Viharo decided to make a couple of moves: first, to leave the Bay Area for Seattle; second, to write the sixth Vic Valentine book, “Hard-Boiled Heart,” which Gutter just published.
“I needed a big change in my life,” Viharo said, “and I couldn’t wait on the movie to give me that change, so I just made it myself. I thought, What could I do that’s really big, that can just completely change my life? So moving somewhere else … at 51, and just uprooting, just starting over somewhere else — that’s pretty big. But it had to be the right place; it couldn’t just be for the sake of moving.”
In the book, which opens with a scene set in Bimbo’s 365 Club, Valentine is a private investigator with an expired license, hanging out with a movie star who plans to make a movie of — and thus validate — his “pathetic” life. But a dancer is found dead backstage, and the actor is implicated; determined to make sure the film is made at any cost, Valentine persuades his new friend to flee the scene with him, even though he’s innocent.
As they travel north up the coast, another dead woman falls into the arms of the fugitive actor. Valentine’s ridiculous obsession with making the film allows him to suspend his growing suspicions of his friend’s guilt, and propels the two through a booze- and sex-fueled caper that trumps any movie the two might have made together.
“I just parlayed that into my writing career,” Viharo said about the film being put on ice. “So it didn’t go exactly the way I wanted, but I made the most of it. It just turned out to be more mercurial. We’ll see what happens next. But I can’t sit around and wait for stuff to happen. I’ve got to make it happen myself.
“I’ve changed a lot since ‘Love Stories,’” he said. “The world has changed a lot. … Vic, not so much.”
Viharo will be signing “Hard-Boiled Heart” and his also-just-released collaboration with Scott Fulks, “The Space Needlers’ Intergalactic Bar Guide,” at Forbidden Island, the Alameda tiki bar that has long carried a signature cocktail inspired by the novels, named Vic Valentine.
IF YOU GO
Will Viharo: 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27. Free. Forbidden Island, 1304 Lincoln Ave., Alameda.
Photo by Monica Cortes Viharo
Other book events this weekend
Attractive Camp, a monthly comedy show that’s part stand-up and part roast battle, features Gabrielle Poccia, Richard Sarvate and Francesca Florentini (8 p.m. Sunday, Lost Weekend Video, 1034 Valencia St., $10).
Australian spoken-word artist Lachlan the Bray collaborates with Bay Area poet and musician Garrett Riley and three musicians for an 80-minute storytelling production called “Sex, Cynicism and Other Small Miracles” (7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, Doc’s Lab, 124 Columbus Ave., $10-$15).