Tag Archives: When We Join Jesus in Hell

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!

Paperback release: WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL

My popular Crime/Horror/Noir novella is out in paperback! I’ve had a lot of fans ask about buying it in that format since its release, so I’m glad the time is finally here. Two of my heroes (Tom Piccirilli and Jack Ketchum) read it and also gave it blurbs, which is pretty awesome. Right now you can buy it here. It will be available in a few other channels in the next week!

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 “Hard as nails!” – Jack Ketchum, author of THE WOMAN

“Lee Thompson knows his horror-noir. He fuses both genres together in the turmoil of terror, tragedy, blood, guilt, and lost chances at redemption.”–Tom Piccirilli, author of THE LAST KIND WORDS

Home, he thinks, Where the heart bleeds freely.

A hell of a boxer, he earned the nickname ‘Fist’ back in the day. But during the past eight years, he’s transformed into somebody he no longer knows-a weak, pitiful, and passionless office drone.

Barely hanging onto the last thread of his self-respect, he returns home one night to discover Hell has truly crossed its threshold.

And Hell has lessons to teach him through what fragments remain.

Slivers of dark light.

Knowledge in blood.

Forgiveness, clarity and redemption in commitment.

On 3 Amazon Bestseller Lists

I just put my book WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL on Amazon yesterday, and I’m super excited to see it on THREE Amazon Bestseller Lists! (Click on the image below to see the close-up). Thanks to those who bought a copy and thanks to those who have helped spread the word! If you’d like to snatch one, you can grab a copy here: Buy me!

(The new version also includes my favorite short story: Beneath The Weeping Willow. )

On 3 Amazon Bestseller Lists

Sale until the New Year + Free novel

I’ve put my damn popular novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL on sale for 99 cents on Amazon. You can grab a copy and a few for your friends at that price until the new year. Thanks for making my life so special.

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I recently integrated a new newsletter system, too, and I’m working it out. For those who sign up to the new newsletter, I’m sending a FREE copy of my supernatural thriller EARTHLY THINGS. I have so many exciting things in the works for 2015, so stay in touch, yeah?

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If I don’t have another post between now and Christmas, I’m wishing a merry one to you all!

Ideas for Christmas Book Buys

Hey there you sexy pilgrims. I hope everybody is well. I’ve bought a bunch of books recently and figured, hell, why not do a suggestion post of some of my favorites old and new to help you with your merry holiday shopping list! Keep in mind that most of these are dark, heartbreaking tales, not feel-good reads, although there are a couple on the list that have moments of wonderful humor (like Grendel, Beautiful Sorrows, and Savage Season).

Darkfuse Book Club: It’s a hell of a deal! Top-notch writing from established writers on both sides of the pond, as well as up & comers like myself. They used to be Delirium Books and have since branched out into Dark Fiction of all styles, which I think is truly awesome. Got a hankering for Horror, Sci-fi, Mystery, Techno-Thriller, Noir, Coming-of-Age, etc., Darkfuse has you covered!

GRENDEL by John Gardner: Easily in my top-three of all-time favorites. Beautifully written, tragic and funny.

THE LAST KIND WORDS by Tom Piccirilli: Pic is a master of Noir. The sequel to his novel was released recently. Check them out!

WILLY by Robert Dunbar: A truly underrated author who, with this novel, captures some of my favorite things a great story can produce. This novel still sticks with me.

THE BLEEDING SEASON by Greg Gifune: Another underrated author. This novel is extremely atmospheric, as is all of Gifune’s work, and the story is a perfect example of why craft is so important.

THE RAPIST by Les Edgerton: This is one wicked read but don’t be scared by the title. It’s a terrific book!

THE DAMNED by John D. MacDonald: I heard of John D. MacDonald through John Connolly’s BOOKS TO DIE FOR… MacDonald quickly became my favorite of the old pulp crowd. He’s a master of characterization and most of his stories zip along. This one is brilliant in a very subtle way, kind of like WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson. He was one of Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s favorite authors too.

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen: Still one of my favorites, and the book is a thousand times better than the movie. Read it!

MORDRED, BASTARD SON by Douglas Clegg: Like EDGERTON’S The Rapist, this short novel will not set well with the PC crowd, but it’s brilliant and I think Clegg’s best.

BEAUTIFUL SORROWS by Mercedes M. Yardley: Mercede’s first short story collection. Dip your toes and imagination into an assortment of tales that are at once disturbing and humorous. This gal is a sweetheart and so incredibly talented.

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jack Ketchum: Ketchum’s novel pulls off that tough to do ‘I want to punch this protagonist in the face,’ thing. At it’s heart it demonstrates the damage done when we stand by and watch horrible things happen. Sadly, I think this is one of the truest novels there is.

SAVAGE SEASON by Joe Lansdale: The first Hap & Leonard novel and a great introduction to these two raw-boned characters. What a great series!

SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn: A short novel with a terrific punch!

THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott: Still my favorite of her novels. Haunting and fast-paced and has a perfect ending.

THE CYPRESS HOUSE by Michael Koryta: I met Michael at Bouchercon and he signed a book for me. Such a nice guy and terrific writer. In many ways he reminds me of a cross between two other favorites–Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane.

WHITE DOVES AT MORNING by James Lee Burke: Great novel!

CABAL by Clive Barker: This was one of the first Barker books I read and certain moments are still vivid in my memory. He’s such a talent at showing how our hunt for excitement and pleasure can transform us.

THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS by John Connolly: Still my favorite of Connolly’s!

THE HAUNTING OF HOOD CANAL by Jack Cady: Read it!

And for a shameless plug, add WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL by me. It’s my most popular release so far and a quick, powerful read that heroes like Tom Piccirilli and Jack Ketchum read and blurbed.

If you’re on Twitter, give me a follow. If you’re on Goodreads, friend me. And don’t forget to subscribe to my website newsletter since I have a lot of big news coming in 2014!

Happy holidays to all!

On the Bram Stoker Award’s Preliminary Ballot

Pleased to see my novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL on the Bram Stoker Preliminary Ballot for Superior Achievement in the Long Fiction category. 

I think the Final Ballot comes out Feb. 23rd. I don’t know if I’ll make the cut but I’m going to have a beer anyway. 

I’m really happy with how this novella has been received. A big thanks to my pre-readers Shaun, Kevin, Chris, and Charlene. And to my publisher Shane Staley and his crew. And to all the wonderful readers who make “going there” worth it. I get a lot of help. 

Nice to see a bunch of Delirium titles on there as well, and a few of my lady buddies *Waving at Sandy DeLuca and Mercedes Yardley!* who I hope win in their categories.

Here’s a link to the Stoker Award page: *Click Me and be great in bed*

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Review in Black Static

Very happy to see the latest review of WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL in the super awesome Black Static Magazine. Thanks to Peter Tennant for the read and time! Here’s a snippet of what he said:

With its central concept of a once violent man who has been domesticated, but is prompted by circumstances to get back in touch with his inner beast, this novella reminded me of nothing so much as the Cronenberg film A History of Violence, though in the touches of arch-weirdness that litter the text – Fist trundling the corpses of his loved ones around in a shopping trolley, talking to them and pet lizard Bianca, his conversation with an artist who works with bodies – there is also more than a hint of the Lynch of Blue Velvet… At the heart of the story are questions about the nature of violence and how far we go before crossing a line. Fist’s dilemma underlines the failure of both society and the justice system, leaving a man to do what a man has got to do, if I’m allowed a cliché or two. It’s a powerful and affecting story…

You can check out Black Static here

Also had a first recently when WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL got mentioned in another book’s review on HorrorTalk. Pretty neat. Here’s a snippet.

Not too long ago I was blown away by Lee Thompson’s When We Join Jesus in Hell. What fully impressed me was not just Thompson’s amazing skill, but the fact that I truly enjoyed a style of writing that I tend to avoid. Normally, I’m a meat a potatoes type of guy and don’t have a lot of a time for…I don’t know, “pretty” words? But Thompson didn’t care about likes, he just said read it and like it, which I did. I’m thinking J.R. Hamantaschen went to the same school as Thompson, because he pulled the same shit on me with his You Shall Never Know Security, a collection of his short stories.

Also answered interview questions for Shock Totem #6, which will be out soon with a story by me and others, including that sexy mothereffer Jack Ketchum. Looking forward to when that issue hits the stands (and ereaders). 

Not the Final Cover
Not the Final Cover

And if you’re of a mind, swing by to participate in the discussion on Horror Aficionados where I’m guest author for January! We’re having fun and you should too!

My Vampire Novel

My buddy Sandy DeLuca’s novel MANHATTAN GRIMOIRE is free on Amazon right now. Grab it while you can! She’s incredibly talented. 

And if you missed me interviewing Noir Master Les Edgerton go here to grow enlightened!

We’re also having a blast on the Goodread’s Group Horror Aficionados discussing my brutal novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL for the month of January. It’s a blast. Come join the party!

I hope everybody’s 2013 is off to an amazing start!

I’m working on the ending of GOSSAMER: A STORY of LOVE and TRAGEDY. I think it’s going to be the most unique story with vampires that you’ve ever read. It’s fun too because I get to tip my hat to Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker and Stephen King, all in different ways. The climax kills me. I can’t wait until I have it in shape enough to send to my readers. Probably by the end of next week. 

On a Few Year’s Best Lists

Very happy to see my heartbreaking novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL on a few Year’s Best Lists. Thanks to Peter, Brett, and Steve! 

 

On Horror Talk…

On Brett J. Talley’s List…

On Literary Mayhem…

 

Plus I’m the guest author over at Horror Aficionados, a Goodreads Group, for the month of January. Where they’re reading and discussing When We Join Jesus in Hell. It’s only the second day but it’s been very fun! Come join us!

January’s Guest Author and an Upcoming Interview

I’ll be the guest author for the month of January at the Horror Aficionado’s group on Goodreads! They’ll be reading and discussing my heartbreaking novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL. I’m very excited to participate and look forward to answering a bunch of questions. Thanks to Jason and Tressa for the invite! Come join us! 

This novella has been turning heads. And it should. It’s wickedly subtle (not). 

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Grab a copy for Christmas and join the party! 

If we’re not friends on Goodreads, send me an invite, punk. 

And to keep up with all the whirlwind that is my writing career sign up for my newsletter off to the right there. 

Oh, I’ll also have a deliciously decadent interview in Shock Totem #6 as well! I love that crew! Make sure you check it out. 

Not the Final Cover
Not the Final Cover

Thanks for everybody’s support! Merry Christmas or whatever it is your celebrating!