Today I have the authors Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall for a interview. They are currently on a book tour for their latest release: Blood and Whiskey.
Why did you decide to write a novel?
Our first book, The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Darkly Romantic Mystery, was a test for marriage. We’d just gotten back together two years after a fiery break up. During those two years, we realized: 1) we couldn’t live without each other, and 2) living with each other was going to be tough if we couldn’t harness some of the creative insanity that plagues us both. We had both been writing creatively, and morosely — in typical writerly fashion — for years, so it made perfect sense to join forces.
Literally, the first time we saw each other after the break up was at a truckstop in Madras, Oregon, where we made a vow to write a novel together to test out the possibility of a long-term relationship. The challenge was bringing together our shared interests — philosophy, the west, spirituality — and styles (action, humor, politics and literary fiction). We brainstormed through endless pots of truckstop coffee and cigarettes (it was a long time ago) and sketched out the rough plot for Cowboy and Vampire on the back of a paper placemat in crayon. This was in 1999, long before iPads.
The test was a success. We’ve only gotten better at working together and Blood and Whiskey, our latest book, digs deeper into life in the modern west, excavates a unique spiritual element — The Meta (more about that below) — and cranks the romance up a notch. Plus there are cowboys and vampires.
What do you think makes your book stand out in today’s market?
We wrote the entire first draft in blood and only by the light of a full moon. As you can imagine, that took awhile.
The other (okay, the real) thing that makes Blood and Whiskey stand out is the way we crash together two iconic characters — cowboys and vampires — in a fun and entertaining way, but not at all campy. We all have deeply held notions of cowboys and the undead, so right off the (vampire) bat, readers bring their own emotional connections to the characters and we use that familiarity to more deeply explore concepts of good and evil, morality and a “couldn’t be more opposite” attracts passionate relationship.
We also introduce new elements for our vampires such as The Meta, a shared external consciousness where their “souls” and their sense of self go when they die at dawn. It’s the source of all animate life, even for the undead, and it’s the place humans who have near death experiences go, temporarily, through the tunnel and into the bright light, before they are resuscitated.
But it’s not all serious. Blood and Whiskey stands out because it packs a lot of fun, horror, action and romance into a one book built on a foundation of literary fiction. Plus there are cowboys and vampires. It’s the perfect summer read.
Do you have any must-haves while you are writing?
Kathleen: Vodka, and quiet.
Clark: Whiskey, and music.
What kind of books do you read in your spare time? Do you read the same genre that you write?
Kathleen: I read almost exclusively fiction, and voraciously — especially now that we finally entered the Kindle world. I stay away from all contemporary vampire fiction because with so many talented people working in this genre, I don’t want their creative insights to influence our work. We joke about the literary tofu effect: picking up the flavors of other ingredients. Check out my Goodreads page for some of the books I’ve read recently.
Clark: I read almost exclusively nonfiction. It makes for a good balance in our writing. I tend to read about things that interest me, things I can learn from; I’m currently reading a book about oysters because I realized I don’t know how they reproduce. I also read books that help me with our writing. I read a great book about the Siberian tiger during Blood and Whiskey to help me get inside the mind of a big predator. Find me on Goodreads to see my reviews of other books.
Can you tell us anything about what you are currently working on?
We are plotting out book three in The Cowboy and Vampire Thriller Series. It’s tentatively called Undead Asylum. And we’re working on a paranormal detective series.
What is one novel book that you would recommend?
Kathleen: Crime and Punishment, by Dostoyevsky
Clark: Les Miserables, by Hugo.
A curiosity you would like to share.
Kathleen: I once had a near Near Death Experience which probably shaped my interest in spirituality. Read about it here.
Clark: When I was in high school, I shot myself in the leg accidentally. Even more terrifying, I bled all over a sky blue tux. Read about it here.
Kathleen: Writing creatively full time.
Clark: The ability to travel to more interesting places where we can stay inside and write, but hopefully with a better view.
Kathleen: A world without books.
Clark: A world without Kathleen.
Kathleen: I want to change mine.
Kathleen: Can’t do it, it changes daily.
Clark: The Unquiet Grave by Cyril Connolly
Kathleen: I don’t really listen to music, so whatever Clark has on in the background.
Clark: I’m liking Heartless Bastards these days.
Kathleen: The Internet is a large experiment in anarchy.
Clark: Not tonight dear, I’m on deadline (it’s on a mug at the Newseum in DC)
Blood and Whiskey
A Cowboy and Vampire Thriller
by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
Publication date: May 1, 2012
Fiction, Trade Paperback (362 pages) $14.95; e-book $4.99
ISBN: 978-0-9838200-1-7; Library of Congress Control Number: 2012902814
Wanted: Lizzie Vaughan, Dead or Alive
Relationships are always hard, but for a broke cowboy and a newly turned Vampire, true love may be lethal.
After barely surviving an undead apocalypse in The Cowboy and the Vampire, Tucker and Lizzie hightail it back to quirky LonePine, Wyoming (population 438), to start a family. But she’s got a growing thirst for blood and he’s realizing that mortality ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when your girlfriend may live forever. With a scheming Vampire nation hot on their boot heels and a price on her head, how far will Lizzie and Tucker go to protect their unlikely love?
Blending evolution, religion and an overly sensitive cow dog named Rex, Blood and Whiskey drags the Vampire myth into the modern west, delivering double-barreled action, heart-pounding passion and wicked humor.
Clark Hays grew up in Montana in the shadow of the Tobacco Root Mountains. In addition to his fiction work, he is a cowboy, a published poet and occasional food critic. Recently, he was nominated for Pushcart Prize for short fiction and not so recently for a Rhysling award for poetry. Clark brings a deep knowledge about the modern west, weaponry, country music and existentialism to his writing.
Kathleen McFall grew up in the heart of Washington, D.C. She worked as a petroleum geologist and, later, as a journalist, and has published hundreds of articles about scientific research, energy and natural resources. An interest in the overlap of science and mysticism are an essential aspect of her fiction writing. She received an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship for fiction writing.
About the books
Blood and Whiskey (Pumpjack Press, May 2012), by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays, is the second book in the Cowboy and Vampire Thriller Series. It’s a wickedly funny tale of love, loyalty and sacrifice in the modern west.
About the authors
Stuff Clark likes: sagebrush, the American West, clouds, whiskey and graphic novels. Stuff he hates: running quarterbacks, drivers who don’t use turn signals and the sound of flip-flops.
Stuff Kathleen likes: Russian literature, anarchy, martinis, lava and the ocean. Stuff she hates: intermissions, Halloween corn mazes and high-speed vehicular sandwiches. And the Muppets.
Find out more about The Cowboy and the Vampire Thriller Series: