Willy Vlautin (born 1967) is an American author and the lead singer and songwriter of Portland, Oregon band Richmond Fontaine. Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, he has released nine studio albums since the late nineties with his band while he has written four novels: The Motel Life, Northline, Lean on Pete, and The Free.Published in the US, several European and Asian countries, Vlautin's first book, The Motel Life was well received. It was an editor's choice in the New York Times Book Review and named one of the top 25 books of the year by the Washington Post. His second, Northline was also critically hailed, and Vlautin was declared an important new American literary realist. Famed writer George Pelecanos stated that Northline was his favorite book of the decade. The first edition of this novel came with an original instrumental soundtrack performed by Vlautin and longtime bandmate Paul Brainard.Vlautin's third novel, Lean on Pete, is the story of a 15-year-old boy who works and lives on a rundown race track in Portland, Oregon and befriends a failed race horse named Lean on Pete. The novel won two Oregon Book Awards: the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and the Peoples Choice Award.As a novelist, Vlautin has cited writers such as John Steinbeck, Raymond Carver, Barry Gifford, and William Kennedy as influences. HIs writing is highly evocative of the American West; all three of his novels being set in and around Oregon, Nevada and New Mexico. His books explore the circumstances and relationships of people near the bottom of America's social and economic spectrum, itinerant, and often ailed by alcohol addiction.