Victor Rodriguez is a Renaissance Man that has mastered several different fields, in several genres, without sacrificing quality.
Victor is a fellow Seattleite whom I first met when he reached out to me to read at the Noir at the Bar series I host and organize. He’s an amiable chap in person, but his nice guy exterior thinly disguises a busy, brilliant brain that’s almost diabolical, at least in terms of talent.
Now you can meet this very impressive literary/musical/theatrical maven:
You’ve been a talent manager and a scriptwriter for HBO. How do these credentials inform or influence your fiction?
Writing for HBO gave me practice crafting dialog and taught me about the job of scriptwriting. When you write for TV, you’re well-paid and -- unless you’re also the showrunner -- have almost zero control of the final work. Writing prose doesn’t pay much by comparison, though there is considerable emotional value in having “final cut” approval on everything you write.
My “day job” is working with Penka Kouneva, a brilliant composer who scores film, TV and video game projects. Managing her career grew out of my years in Hollywood as a music supervisor and agent, which grew out of my failing to be a great musician. I’m happy to report there are a wealth of great horror and crime fiction ideas to be mined from my experiences in the minefields of music production and studio politics. The story I wrote that is most beloved by my Hollywood friends (and enemies - and frenemies) is KILL FEE. It's about a composer who makes a Faustian deal, and it’s included in THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS anthology from Murder of Storytellers.
You are fluent in a variety of genres, including noir, horror and fantasy. Do you have creative preferences for any genre as both writer and reader?
My number one creative preference is to read. I have a particular love for modern horror, though I try to read everything I can regardless of genre; classics, current stuff that tastemakers or the public are excited about, genres with which I’m unfamiliar yet hope to be able to write someday. It’s thrilling to write the stories I would naturally love to read. To increase the chances of continued professional success, I think someone who writes owes it to themselves to try several genres. Remember the process of working on each, and revisit whatever pays the best, or offers the most rewarding experience.
As someone who has a professional background in several formats, what advice would you give to writers attempting to tackle the marketplace from several different angles, in separate mediums?
A healthy appreciation for any kind of art can motivate a person’s creativity. My client’s music is a constant source of inspiration for my writing. Composers use music to craft a narrative in a strikingly similar way that writers use words.
To create a multi-media presence, my advice is to become well-versed in every kind of media that excites you. Two-dimensional art goes hand-in-hand with writing the way music goes hand-in-hand with movies, TV and games. Look at Renaissance men like Clive Barker, who has spent a lifetime developing his writing *and* painting -- his prose has been re-imagined into graphic novel form, and his paintings have appeared in movies based on his fiction.
I’d also recommend asking yourself this: what it is about a particular medium that stimulates you? When you drill down into the base elements of an art form, you’re bound to find other avenues of expression that share the same features… or make better use of them.
What are your influences, literary or otherwise?
I love film and TV, and I'm thankful to be living in a golden age of media availability and quality. There’s not enough time in the day to watch it all, but I try! I post often about new releases and old favorites on my Twitter feed -- @dimestorecaesar -- and my website, vhrodriguez.wordpress.com.
Sci-Fi movies like Blade Runner and The Terminator inspired my story that appears in YEAR’S BEST TRANSHUMAN SF 2017 from Gehenna and Hinnom. I have some Gothic horror in the SEE THROUGH MY EYES ghost mystery anthology that was inspired by Poe’s THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER and Machen’s THE GREAT GOD PAN. I also have a story in HYPERION & THEIA VOLUME 1: SATURNALIA that was inspired by Robert E. Howard’s short fiction and the TOMB RAIDER video game series.
Video games aren’t only fun to play these days; they have incredibly sophisticated stories that are delivered to the gamer in innovative, non-linear ways. Have you ever seen the opening credit sequence from the TV series Game of Thrones? Play CIVILIZATION -- a game with no spoken dialog -- and tell me that wasn’t their inspiration. If you want to write a terrifying first-person horror perspective, do yourself a favor and go play the latest RESIDENT EVIL game.
I have great admiration for stories that scare me. My three favorite horror books are THE SHINING by Stephen King, SONG OF KALI by Dan Simmons, and A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay.
I also like stripped-down minimalist noir from Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy, and neo-noir from modern stylists like Megan Abbott, Christa Faust and Gabino Iglesias.
What’s next for you?
I have a dark fantasy novelette coming out in June through Fantasia Divinity, and I’ll be live reading another new work I'm quite excited about at Noir at the Bar (Seattle) later this year.
See you there, cheers!