Tag Archives: Interview

Interview with Cinematographer Richard Vialet

 

This marks the first time I’ve interviewed a cinematographer, so this is pretty cool. I learned about Richard because he reviewed my novel IT’S ONLY DEATH and my novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL. Like most creators, I like people who like my work. No shame there. Thanks to Richard Vialet for taking the time and sharing about himself and what he’s learned with his craft. For fellow writers, up-and-comers and such, I believe we can learn a lot from other creative people (I learn all the time from musicians, athletes, artists, poets, other writers, film makers, etc.) So enjoy! And spread the word about the interview. You can check out Richard’s website here to see cool stills and video clips from projects he’s done

How much artistic leeway do you have with each project? Or does it vary a lot from director to director?

Richard Vialet: Yes, it definitely varies from director to director. I’ve worked with some directors who are very specific with the shots that they want from scene to scene, providing storyboards and other references, while others are less specific visually, and lean on me to craft the shots while they just work with actors. I try to adapt my working style to fit the style that the director prefers. Most directors give me carte blanche on lighting decisions though, with the occasional suggestions on set. But I never plan a look and approach without letting the director know my intentions first.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

Richard Vialet: Probably the most valuable lesson for me at this point in my career is to keep an open mind about every project and everyone you meet, and always treat everyone with respect. I might find a project that doesn’t sound very attractive at first, but by keeping an open mind, you might discover potential. For example, a project might not be paid very well, but the director may be an undiscovered talent and have a unique vision that could lead to great things down the road. So you never know who you’re meeting with. Another great lesson I’ve learned is to stay healthy. I’m still working on that! We work demanding hours that are taxing on the body, and I would love to be doing this job for as long as possible.

What’s a typical film project like? What steps do you have to take to do your job with as few hitches as possible?

Richard Vialet: On a typical film project, the crew is basically just trying the tell the story and support the director’s vision as much as possible. while also trying to predict any obstacles that might pop up on set and being prepared to tackle them.

The key to doing this is: Pre-production. Pre-production. Pre-production. There is a lot of money on the line, and unless you’re David Fincher, Steven Spielberg, or Chris Nolan, you almost never time to get shoot the movie you want to make. So scouting locations as much as possible, being familiar with the script, getting on the same page as the director and the other department heads, and having a clear idea of how I want to approach every scene, goes a long way to a successful shoot.

What are some of your favorite films?

Richard Vialet: 1) Casablanca – It’s a timeless, universally enjoyable, and nearly perfect story of romance and heroism, and explores the choice between striving for personal happiness and acting for something that’s bigger than yourself.
2) L.A. Confidential – It’s probably the best movie adaptation of a book, skillfully converting one of the densest crime novels ever into a 2-hour, 20-minute movie that is really entertaining and extremely well-made. It also has one of the best casts of any movie.
3) Se7en – The textbook movie for what a great psychological thriller can be. It has a creepy and original concept and script and has such a dark, oppressive mood, that after your finished and watch it again, you’re surprised by how little violence and graphic images there are. A feat of filmmaking.
4) Sunset Boulevard – It was amazing how modern Billy Wilder’s movies felt. And this one was his greatest. It’s one of the most scathing satire on Hollywood to date and I consider Gloria Swanson’s tightrope walk of a performance one of the best ever.
5) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – It’s pretty cool that this movie is still endlessly entertaining even though it was made in 1948. It’s an awesome adventure about how greed slowly corrupts and becomes a greater danger to the characters than bandits, wild animals, or the elements.
6) A Separation – Proof that great writing and acting is all you need. It’s interesting how this small Iranian family drama was ten times more riveting than most of the big-budget action movies I’ve seen.

Who inspires you?

Richard Vialet: My mother Eveth, cinematographers Rodrigo Prieto, Harris Savides, Greig Fraser, and Bradford Young, late photographer Gordon Parks, and directors Sidney Lumet and Steven Spielberg.

How did you get your start in the film industry?

Richard Vialet: I enrolled at Howard university in Washington D.C with the goal of becoming an actor and film director. But I fell in love with cinematography and decided to focus on that exclusively. I was then accepted into the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory as a cinematographer and after graduating from there, I’ve been working, doing what I love ever since!

I know you love to read, who are five of your favorite authors?

Richard Vialet:

1) Stephen King is truly a master storyteller who”s not only entertaining but knows how to skillfully use the art of the written word to tell engaging stories. And he’s constantly challenging himself and evolving. I think King should be included more in talks about the greatest modern American authors.

2) Dennis Lehane is one of our greatest crime writers. His books have a great balance of character development and plot and has yet to write a bad book in my opinion. Mystic River is one of my favorite novels, Gone, Baby Gone is the best detective novel I’ve read to date, and Shutter Island is a great atmospheric psychological thriller.

3) George Pelecanos’s urban morality tales and tragedies continue to touch me. He writes some of the most authentic dialogue and explorations of inner city life than most authors and always treats his characters with love and respect. I feel like I know the people in his books.

4) I recently started reading Junot Díaz and I love how reading his books feel like hanging with a buddy and hearing some good stories about young lovelorn guys and failed romance.

5) I’ve also just started reading Lawrence Block and his writing and crafting of plot seems so effortless. He makes it look so easy.

*Other favorites include the great Walter Mosley, David Goodis (the poet of depression and urban despair), Megan Abbott, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Robert McCammon, Scott B. Smith, Jake Vander Ark, and Chester Himes.

I’m sure you travel a lot, correct? Did you ever fall in love with a particular setting while filming?

Richard Vialet: I fall in love with at least some aspect of everywhere I’ve traveled; I just love to discover new places. But the Pacific coast of Costa Rica might be my favorite so far, and looked great on camera. I’ve also shot in the Redwood forests of Northern California and that was mind-blowing! I kept thinking about the Endor scenes in Return of the Jedi!

You’ve already been part of some great projects. What is something you’d like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?

Richard Vialet: Of course, every filmmaker is dying to get the next game-changing script. But yes, I’ve been fortunate to work on a wide variety of genres with their own individual challenges. But I would love to shoot a Western. A serious one, with classic themes and a great villain. I’m a huge Western movie fan. I think a musical would be tons of fun as well!

What are you working on now? Can you tell us a little about it?

Richard Vialet: I can’t talk lot about the specifics, but it’s a sequel to a popular revenge thriller remake. At first, I wasn’t excited about it because I’m not really a fan of the gory genre that the first movie belongs to. But after a director I’d worked with before signed on and I read the script, I realized that there was more of character and story in this sequel and I was excited about doing an installment that brought something new to the genre.

Thanks so much for taking time to answer questions, Richard!

Again, check out Richard’s website here!

Interview at Horror After Dark + Giveaway

Charlene just interviewed me over at Horror After Dark. It was fun, and she is a terrific lady. Swing by there, yeah? They’re also doing a giveaway, which is super easy to enter. Do so here.

I also received my author copies for A Beautiful Madness today! They’re gorgeous. Thanks so much to my beta readers (Shaun Ryan, Charlene Cocrane, and Chris McCaffrey), and a big thanks to the fine gents at my publisher (DarkFuse.)

ABM HC author copy front ABM HC author copy back ABM HC author copy interior ABM HC wo dust jacket

You can snag ABM in Kindle or Paperback here. If you’ve got a local bookstore, ask them to order too. They should have it on their shelves, I do declare!

Thanks to everybody who has already grabbed and reviewed it. :)

New Interview at Crime Fiction Lover

Michael Parker interviewed me for the fantastic Crime Fiction Lover. It was a blast and I was able to share some insider info on my first Crime novel A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS. Plus I talk about some of my heroes, like Tom Piccirilli, John D. MacDonald, Joe Lansdale, James Lee Burke, Dennis Lehane, John Connolly, and Lee Child.

Check out the interview here.

Feel free to leave a comment over there, and share the link.

ABM Blog Tour Stop with Gef Fox (Interview + Giveaway)

ABM Tour badge by jen

All right, my upcoming release is back on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestseller List. Neat! Thanks to everybody who has pre-ordered!

Anyway, the wonderful chap Gef Fox interviewed me about my first Crime novel, A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS, over on his website. Check it out. Leave a comment there for a chance to win a paperback copy of the novel. Thanks to Gef for the interview!

Follow the Blog Tour + Giveaway links via this page.

Add it on Goodreads.

Preorder it here.

I’m expecting lots of great reviews since I’m awesome (and you’re awesome too. I only communicate with awesome people). The first couple that came in have said:

Fast paced and riveting… Delivers a mesmerizing, heart wrenching tale… Read more at Literary Mayhem

Once The Wolverine’s story unraveled, the book become scientifically impossible to put aside… Read more at Dangerous Dan’s Blog

…an exceptional novel… Read more at The Crime Scene

Thanks for all the support! I have lots of great things in store for the rest of the year and I’m happy you’re taking part in it. Go after what you want.

A Beautiful Madness novel cover

 

New Brian Hodge: Whom the Gods Would Destroy

whom_the_gods_would_destroy

Very excited to see Darkfuse release a new Brian Hodge novella! In my opinion Brian is one of the best writers out there. Dave Thomas does a great interview him for Darkfuse, and Brian created a soundtrack for the novella, which is neat as hell. I just snatched the novella from Amazon, and you should too!

Interview: Mercedes M. Yardley

M's pics

I’ve known Mercedes M. Yardley for a few years now, and count her among my true friends, and she’s simply someone who inspires me as a person as well as a writer. She’s got her own style and it’s both tragic and beautiful. The simple truth in the writing world is that only a select few writers will ever go far, but M is one of the select. She’s someone with whom you’ll probably relish her prose and the beauty and power of her stories, and at the same time envy her for said talent. She’s a good mother, a good woman, a good person. I admire her and once you give some of her work (say, Beautiful Sorrows) a chance, I think you’ll admire her too. 😀 So, on to the interview!

Lee: Beautiful Sorrows: What was your favorite part of the project? How has the collection been received? Why a collection before a novel? 

 

MMY: I loved every part of the project. All of it. Writing the stories, of course. Picking my favorites for the collection. I especially loved throwing out ideas for cover art and seeing what the artist, Yannick Bouchard, came up with. That was an amazing aspect.

 

Beautiful Sorrows is being received fairly well, I think. It’s getting some wonderful reviews and 5 star ratings, which delights me. But I’m an unknown and it’s my debut, so not a lot of people have heard about it. And a collection at that! We all know novels are much more popular. In fact, my first 1 star rating came because the reader said it was a collection instead of a “proper novel”.

 

I chose a collection first for a couple of reasons. I started out with short stories rather than novels, so I felt that I had some that were strong. Also, my agent is currently shopping a novel around, but he doesn’t represent short stories, so he let me go ahead and do a collection with the small press while he focused on my novels. It was really exciting that I was able to do that with his blessing. And lastly, I work for Shock Totem Publications, who started with a magazine and is branching out into books, chapbooks, etc. We’ve never done a collection. In fact, Beautiful Sorrows was our second book, so I was the guinea pig. We learned (and we’re still learning) what works and what doesn’t. So I did it to help Shock Totem, as well as ST helping me.

 beautiful_sorrows_-_mercedes_m-_yardley cover

Lee: Very cool! What, during your beautiful career so far, has truly surprised you?

 

MMY: I love that you call it a beautiful career! Thank you!

 

I’ve been surprised at the praise, I think. The wonderful, wonderful words that people have to say. That somebody would actually part with their hard-earned money to read something I’ve written. It means so much to me. I’ve been surprised at some of the people, I’ve met and they’re like, “I know your book.” They do?  Really? These are people I look up to! It’s astonishing.

 

Lee: It’s praise well-earned, M. Do you prefer short over long fiction, or vice-versa? Or are you equally comfortable and in thrall with both?

 

MMY: I love words. Words words words. Long and short fiction both have their place. I adore short fiction because I can explore twenty different ideas in the same amount of time that a novel explores one idea. I adore that freedom. But long fiction gives me the ability to really crawl inside the souls of my characters in a deliciously fulfilling way. I love reading and writing both.

 

Lee: Neat. Tell us about your typical writing day…

 

MMY: Oh my. My ideal writing day would include hours of solitude by a river, in an office with a door that closes. My writing day is the opposite of that.

 

I boot up the computer around 5:30 AM when my kids get up. I scramble with them for a while. Baths, dressed, teeth brushed. I try to write for 15 minutes or so before checking my email. The second I look at my email I’m distracted for two hours.

 

I leave the computer up all day. I’ll read slush for Shock Totem. I’ll write a few words.  I’ll remember I have an interview to do or a contract to sign or review to write, so I’ll work on that. I think about my project. Or more accurately, I think about the project lined up after the one I’m working on now. Then I stare at the screen of my current project.

 

It’s a lot of communication, and a lot of things having to do with the business side of it. I can do these things while getting my child toast, or having my hair brushed and styled (and I use the word “styled” very loosely) by my five-year-old, or with my two-year-old on my lap, begging for Mickey Mouse. Actually having a block of time to quietly concentrate? It doesn’t really happen. I write in starts and spurts all throughout the day.

 

Lee: Ha! Cute on the “styled and Mickey Mouse.” Another one of my heroes, Tom Piccirilli, works in a similar manner, with short, intense bursts. Do you ever find the idea frightening of what it’d be like to have too much time? 

 

MMY:  I was just discussing this concept with another writer a few days ago. We were discussing how being busy and day jobs and all of this forces us to be productive with our writing time because there isn’t another option. But I would love to have too much time. It’s a dream of mine. It isn’t frightening at all. I’m sure there would be lovely ways to fill it. I’d also like to win the lottery, as well, if only to prove that money wouldn’t change me. 😉

 

Lee: What do you want to achieve both personally and professionally?

 

MMY: Funny you should ask that. I’ve been wondering that myself, trying to define what my concept of personal success is.

 

I want to write for all of my life. I know that. I want to always expand and find new challenges. The same goes for my personal life, as well. I want to make sure that my family is always happy, that my kiddos always know that they come first and work, no matter how fulfilling, comes second. If I could marry these things seamlessly, that would be ideal.

 

Lee: That’s wonderful. I hope you find a way to marry them seamlessly. Who are your biggest influences? Have you ever read a book that changed your life? 

 

MMY: My biggest influences…let’s see. I read a lot of Erma Bombeck growing up. I think she let me know that it was all right to be a woman and speak your mind, but with humor and in a kind way. She was never mean. I have two distinct writing styles, and the humor and swagger comes from her, I think. The more ethereal voice…it was something I developed when I got out of my own way. I’ve been told that it’s reminiscent to Neil Gaiman or Kelly Link, but I wasn’t familiar with their work while discovering this voice. I stopped conforming to what I thought I was “supposed” to write, and just let myself…say.  Say what I wanted to say, in the way I wanted to say it.

 

There is a book that changed my writing, which changed my life, in a sense. It’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude.  I didn’t enjoy the book particularly, per se, but it deeply influenced how I allowed myself to write. I wrote one of my very favorite essays about it *here*.  

 M 2

Lee: Oh, I’ve gotta read One Hundred Years of Solitude, now! And that is a great essay, M! Discovering that we don’t have to approach storytelling in the exact same fashion as everybody else is definitely a huge release! What do you have in the works now?

 

MMY: Ha! A little bit of everything!

 

I just finished a story titled “A Love Not Meant to Outlast the Butterflies”.  It’s a magical realism piece about soul mates turned tragic. I have a magazine in mind for it, so we’ll see how that goes.  I’m also working on a novella titled Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love.  It’s sort of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde tale, in a way. I want to see how far I can push it. I’m also putting notes together for my new novel, which has to do with a very charming and independent kitchen witch. It’s going to be dark and very emotional. I’m moving on to that as soon as I finish with Apocalyptic Montessa.

           

I’m also turning Beautiful Sorrows into an audiobook, which is fun and very exciting! I’m reading it myself, so it’s fulfilling a little bit of a dream for me. I like the idea of adults telling other adults stories. “I’ll read you a story, my darling. Now listen.”

 

I have two other stories coming out in a wonderful audio collection with several friends. That releases this month or next, I think. And I’m in the Tales of Jack the Ripper anthology that’s coming out next month. I’m extremely thrilled about that one.

 

And I’m working on learning screenwriting, too. I have something to adapt. So I’m trying a little bit of everything, and seeing if I like the taste. This goes back to what I want to achieve personally and professionally. I want to be happy and busy.

 

I also learned to knit last week, so I’ve been making scarves like a madwoman. And I’m learning the ukulele. And we adopted two Russian dwarf hamsters this week. So life is good. Happiness is a tiny little rodent in a pink plastic hamster ball.

 

Lee: God, you are one busy lady. I can’t wait to hear the new stories have been finished and purchased! I loved your post on the production of the audiobook for Beautiful Sorrows. Having listened to audio interviews and talking to you on the phone, I think your voice will add so much character to the reading of the stories. Do you think you’ll ever end up narrating anyone else’s work?

 

MMY: You’re so nice, Lee! I’ve always wanted to do audiobooks.  And I love when authors read their own work, because there’s such an intimacy to it. That said, we both know I have a rather small voice. It works for the whimsy that I write, but I don’t know if I could ever narrate, say, a thriller and have it sound all right. It would sound like any other nine-year-old girl reading aloud. It might be disconcerting. But I’d love to try. Reading aloud is one of my favorite things. And I adore being read to.

 Shock Totem issue_04

Lee: Let’s talk a moment about Shock Totem, which along with Black Static, is arguably the coolest, bravest, and most visionary genre magazine. What role(s) do you fill there? Does Ken Wood really have a third nipple?

 

MMY: The best thing about Shock Totem is that everybody does a little bit of everything.  I read slush and vote for stories. I contribute content for the magazine and the site in the form of reviews, interviews, and articles. I’m learning more about promotion and marketing, and I’ll be taking that area over, a little more. Everybody pitches in pretty whole-heartedly. It’s an awesome place to be.

 

And you don’t want to know some of the things I know about Ken. You really don’t.

 

Lee: Cool, and yes I do want to know what you know about Ken. He’s an enigma! What do you honestly think of all this ‘networking’? Are you comfortable with it? Is it really that important? 

 

MMY:Then we’ll get together for lunch sometime and discuss Ken. He’s a good guy. One of the best. He can take a ribbing as good as he gives. He’s family.

 

Mmm, networking. It’s a mixed bag.

 

On one hand, I truly feel like it’s necessary. You can write the greatest book in the world, but if nobody ever reads it, it will never sell. I wish it could be all about the work. I wish all of our time could be spent writing and not divided into social media/networking/whatever.

 

And I abhor the very concept of networking. The people that don’t understand it, and think that it’s all about making superficial connections in order to get ahead. When somebody comes up to “network” with you, it’s obvious. I’ve absolutely been tossed aside when a Bigger, Better Deal walked into the room. There’s that insincerity, and I hate that.

 

But I do value the friendships. That’s what I personally think networking is, or at least should be. Making friendships, seeing what another person likes, and keeping an eye out for that person. If I see a call for steampunk, I send it to Matt Betts, for instance. And that’s how I scored an invite to the Jack the Ripper antho, actually. My friend, Mason,  received an invitation, emailed the editor and said, “Hey, I have a friend named Mercedes who is actually pretty good with serial killers. Could she possibly…?” and so I was invited to submit as well. It’s nice to have somebody looking out for you. It’s fantastic to look out for other people. It makes everything more interesting and friendly.

 

I hate networking to network. It’s shallow and feels like being used. But I love strong friendships. That’s a different beast, entirely. A beautiful one.

 

Lee: I like your attitude. You’re the best, along with those other three people I always claim are the best! Thanks so much for taking time to share your heart with everyone! *Hugs*

 

MMY: Thank you, Lee! You know I’m a huge fan of Lee Thompson the writer as well and Lee Thompson the person. You’re one of the good ones. Have a wonderful day, my friend!

Lee: Likewise! Thanks again, M! And thanks to anybody who gives M’s work a try or shares the interview! You can find Mercede’s website, and all the other places she stalks, *here*. Carpe diem.

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Interviewed by Blu Gilliand for Horror World

As antisocial as I tend to be, I enjoy being interviewed a lot, possibly because I live inside my own head too much. I’m happy to share my latest interview on Horror World. Blu Gilliand also interviewed me last year on his own website, October Country. I think he might love Ray Bradbury, and who can blame him? Something Wicked This Way Comes was one of the books that made me want to write. So a big thank you to Blu for thinking of me for the May interview. I’m wishing him mucho success with his own writing career, and tipping back a drink to those who read and share this interview.

You might not agree with me on everything, which is okay, just don’t expect me to agree with everything you have to say. (I’ve read some disturbing bashing that some trolls did on an author who didn’t do anything wrong and that pisses me off.)

Anyway, I have exciting news that I can’t share yet. Wishing you all self-awareness, which leads to a type of peace and happiness that very little else can provide! 

A fun interview and news on a pen name

shocktotem6 final cover

Happy to see the Kindle edition of Shock Totem #6 is out. Paperback will be following shortly and as soon as I get my copies I’ll mail copies to winners of the recent giveaway. This issue is special because it has an interview with me and I’m an egotistical asshole. So check it out!

Also happy to hear that the first novel I’ve written as Thomas Morgan (THE LESSER PEOPLE) is, or will be soon, out for perusal to publishers via that fantastic cat and super agent Chip MacGregor. The Lesser People is probably my favorite novel so far. I like the real-life novels because I get to pour so much of my life and the lives of people I love and hate into the stories. I also talked to Chip on the phone about the next two Thomas Morgan novels (A Savage Autumn, and Broken Boy Soldiers). It was a lot of fun to run the opening ideas, and what each novel will be about, by him.  As soon as I finish this novel I’m working on now I’ll hit A Savage Autumn while I do the research I need for Broken Boy Soldiers. Fun times. Meanwhile I’m excited that he’s pitching The Lesser People to publishers. Thanks Chip!

I also got to talk about THE LESSER PEOPLE in that Shock Totem #6 interview so if you want an inside scoop, go snag a copy.

This past week I’ve submitted the novel GOSSAMER: A STORY OF LOVE AND TRAGEDY to Darkfuse. It was fun to write and I think the whole point of it (and I should know since I wrote it) is to make mothers think of their daughters and to make daughters think of their mothers. Everything boils down to relationships with ourselves and those in our lives. Usually when I read book that I think sucks it’s because there is barely any journey at all for the characters. It’s all flash and no substance. I might be a little pretentious to think that a story should matter at least on one level, and if so, I’m pretentious.

Speaking of that which I’ve been reading…

Here are some of the best novels I’ve read the past week or two:

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

A Morning for Flamingos by James Lee Burke

Just Like That by Les Edgerton

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta.

And now I’m hard at work on the first novel I’ll write as Julian Vaughn, roughly 20,000 words into it. I’m setting it where I grew up, which dredges up a lot of memories I’d rather forget, but hey, it’s good for the fiction. I’m eager to make this novel remarkable.

What good things are happening in your life?