September 1, 2011

Author Interview & Giveaways: Clark Hays, Kathleen McFall

Recently I've had the pleasure of imersing myself in a new kind of urban fantasy and paranormal: comediac.

The genres are more known for there dark humor and gruesome tales, but everyonce in a while it's nice to talk a walk on the lighter side of things. For me The Cowboy and the Vampire was a nice slice. As it seems to combine romance, comedy, western, a little horro, and mystery.

So today I'm happy to get to interview the authors of The Cowboy and the Vampire, Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall

BW:  In your own words introduce yourself.
Hello, I'm Kathleen McFall, co-author of The Cowboy and the Vampire. I was born and raised in Washington, DC, where I was able to hang out in the corridors of the Supreme Court, wander the Capitol and visit the Smithsonian whenever I wanted. Career version 1.0 was as a geologist where I learned to keep my eyes on the ground and fell in love with volcanoes. Career version 2.0 is in communications and creative writing, including paranormal fiction. I read ridiculous amounts of books when I can, but currently spend every spare minute working with Clark on our next book — Blood and Whiskey.

Hi, I’m Clark Hays, co-author of The Cowboy and the Vampire. I was born in Texas, grew up in Scotland and then Montana on a working ranch. I did all the expected cowboy things — riding, roping, hunting and branding cattle — and the openness of the landscape instilled in me a love of clouds. I still spend most of my time looking up. I found my calling — writing — early and spent many years working in restaurants so I could focus on developing my writing skills. Currently, I work in communications and spend all of my spare time and energy working with Kathleen on Blood and Whiskey, the sequel to our first book.

BW:  First off I have to ask if any particular cowboy inspired the leading man Tucker? Especially that “cowboy drawl?”

KM & CH:  While it’s tempting to say Tucker is based on Clark (and Clark would certainly like for everyone to believe that), he’s really more of an alloy of all the various tough, fair-minded, good-hearted western men we’ve met and/or grown up with — either based on direct experience (for Clark) or through movies and reading (for Kathleen). We wanted to create a leading man who had the character traits forged from life in the new west, but who still had plenty of faults (like his commitment-phobia) and quirks (like his duct-taped boots). But in order for Lizzie, a smart and sophisticated woman to fall for him convincingly, he also had to be brave, reliable and trustworthy with her heart. It was the perfect combination to go up against the salacious and hedonistic nature of our Vampires.

At heart, the book is a love story between Tucker and Lizzie, but it his relationship with Rex — his sensitive and long-suffering cow dog — that really captures the essence of Tucker. Here is an excerpt after Lizzie is taken by the Vampires and Tucker is left for dead:
It was Rex that saved me. The creek must have carried me down a ways and might’ve kept me there until I was drowned or frozen or both. I come to with the sunrise on a little washout, Rex curled up on top of me trying to keep me warm, and mostly failing on account of he was so cold himself and shivering so hard I could feel his bones rattling into me. What I meant to say was thanks for saving my life, but what come out was, “Fer Chrissakes, you’re gonna shake me to death,” and I pushed him off. Judging by the tracks in the wet sand, he’d tugged me up out of the water and it hadn’t been easy. He licked at my face, happy I was alive and at the probability he would get a warm place to sleep and something to eat soon.
BW:  Is Tucker your idea of the “perfect” cowboy, or is there another cowboy that trumps him?

KM & CH:  The blueprint for the perfect cowboy was lost sometime after Gene Autry was born, but Tucker is probably pretty close. It would be hard to trump his sense of humor, loyalty and strength. One of our favorite movie cowboys comes close: Tom Selleck in Quigley Down Under. Tom’s cowboy was self-reliant and good to the core. We also liked Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall because he was brooding and angry. Tucker is a combination of those two, with just a dash of Will Rogers thrown in because Rogers was whiplash smart, funny and a great writer.

BW:  How did you end up deciding on The Cowboy and the Vampire as the name for this book? Were there few other titles you were fonder of?

KM & CH:  We wanted something simple yet evocative to immediately let readers know they are in for a wild ride. A tension is set between the two iconic figures in just five words. There was some discussion with the publisher about changing it, but despite some heroic brainstorming sessions at a conference room in St. Paul, Minnesota, with some very creative folks, we couldn’t come up with anything better.

These days when we’re at book signings and other events, fans and new readers talk about the title. It’s hard not to pick the book up, although occasionally we hear, “Oh, I just don’t like Vampires,” which can be excused because they do tend to eat people. Very rarely, we hear “Oh, I just don’t like Cowboys.” But when we do hear that, there’s really not much else to do with that except feel a little sorry for them.

We’re currently working on the sequel, Blood and Whiskey, and pondering how to handle the title. Should it be The Cowboy and the Vampire: Blood and Whiskey or just Blood and Whiskey? Suggestions?

BW:  The Cowboy and the Vampire is a comedic mixture of paranormal, western, romance, and a dash of horror. Did you intend for it to be such a fun mixture of genres, or was that just something that happened as you wrote it?

KM & CH:  It was absolutely intentional. Part of the “opposites attract” nature of our own relationship is that we bring such different perspectives to the process. Kathleen really has almost no sense of humor (it may have been surgically removed when she was little —just joking!) and Clark has what could be charitably described as an abundance of (bad) humor (not joking). At first, we feared they might cancel each other out but luckily that didn’t happen. Kathleen’s dark side amplified the humor and, given the bloody spectacle of a mass turning in a Manhattan art gallery, vice versa.

BW:  When you're in a writing jam, is there a particular author you look to for inspiration? One that makes you ask, "What would ‘insert author's name here’ do?"

KM: What would John le Carré do? He never fails to combine exquisite writing with page-turning stories.

CH: What would Victor Hugo do? I consider him one of the finest storytellers of all time (I still get a little misty eyed at the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame) but if I get stuck, I’m probably most likely to just ask Kathleen for help.

BW:  Were there any parts that were particularly hard to write?

KM & CH:  The Cowboy and the Vampire came to us pretty quickly. We had a good idea of where we wanted to go with it and the characters refused to be quieted for long. Sure, there were rough patches that required extra work and a lot of back and forth, but we are both prolific word-generators and we feed on a competitive, creative energy that gets rolling between us. It took about a year, from concept to finished manuscript. Blood and Whiskey is taking us a little longer because of the demands of our day jobs; we wrote a strong first draft in about six months. Now we’re deeply involved in editing. And the blog tour, of course.

BW:  When was it that the allure of vampires first captured your imagination?

KM & CH:  Clark still remembers a movie (the title long forgotten) that aired when he was little (maybe 8?) and living in Scotland. There were Vampires, and there was nudity, a combination that seared his young brain forever. Kathleen came into the Vampire world from the other side, pursuing an interest in religious motivations and what it means to be human that opened her creative energies to the myth of the undead.

BW:  For you personally, not your characters, between a vampire love interest and a werewolf love interest which do you prefer? (What team are you on? Team Vampire or Team Werewolf.)

KM & CH:  Team Vampire, no question. We love dogs, so let’s just get that out in the open, but we never feel even the slightest romantic attraction to them. When they hump our legs, for example, we tend to make them stop. Also, fleas — enough said. Vampires, while they may look at us, salivating, as prey, they know a thing or two about pleasure and desire. Creatures that revel in hedonistic abandon and live, errr, un-live, to take pleasure from others don’t mind sharing a bit as well. Our Vampires, in particular, trigger all sorts of passionate feelings in humans even as they drain their blood. That’s why so many humans are willing to let themselves be parasitized — blood loss is a small price to play for earth-rattling orgasms.
BW:  Go wild! Let us know something funny about you, share something that's on your mind, or anything else that's important about your books.

KM & CH:  We spend a lot of time thinking about, and writing about, paranormal occurrences, but we don’t typically expect to experience them first hand. On a recent trip to southern Oregon to visit Plush, a tiny, tiny town in one of the most beautiful and remote parts of the state where sunstones are mined, we stayed at a hot springs “resort.” It had once been a sanitarium a hundred years earlier, an odd location since the nearest town was hundreds of miles of away across an endless expanse of sagebrush. The facilities hadn’t been renovated since its glory days and the pool was tepid, sulfurous and filled with algae. A rubber hose gurgled in the spring water and heavy plastic fluttered in the frames of empty windows surrounding the pool. The rooms were tiny and hot and when we turned on the lights there were about thousands of hungry mosquitoes as big as sparrows perched on walls speckled with the blood of their ancestors. We went on a killing spree with wet towels. We finally killed most of them and, with no television reception, settled down to try and get some sleep. Just about the time we dozed off, the people upstairs began clomping around. Clark banged on the wall and they quieted down. Back to sleep, but pretty soon they were at it again. It was a long night of listening to them thumping around upstairs so we weren’t very happy, or rested, when we woke up the next morning. Then we noticed something alarming. There was no top floor!

BW:  You two crack me up!  Thanks for such a wonderful interview.


Reporter Lizzie Vaughan doesn’t realize it, but she has 2,000 years of royal Vampiric blood coursing through her veins. Neither she nor Tucker, her cowboy lover, has any idea that Julius, the leader of the undead, has a diabolical plan to reign over darkness for all eternity—with Lizzie at his side.

Lizzie battles for her life—and her soul—as she and Tucker find themselves caught up in a vampire war, pursued by hordes of Julius’ maniacal, bloodthirsty followers.

Giveaway rules:

Giveaways include 1 signed first edition of the original publication from 1999 and 5signed copies of the current paperback edition Open to US Shipping.
  1. Open to US only.
  2. Please leave a comment below (you also get bonus entries by stopping at other tour stops.)
  3. Click the link below to enter the contest.
Enter to win The Cowboy and The Vampire


Sherry said...

I think this will be a wonderful book to read. I'm having lots of fun following the book tour.

sstrode at scrtc dot com

Shera (Book Whispers) said...

It really is a fun book!

Karen C said...

I loved this interview; great questions and answers. I'm having fun following the blog tour, too.

Questions: Kathleen, have you traveled abroad? Is there a favorite place you've been or want to visit? Clark, how long did you live in Scotland? Did you like it? Would you return?

Karen C


Krystal said...

I would love to read this book, love the title!

CowboyandVampire said...

Thanks Sherry! Glad you are enjoying it. We are too!

CowboyandVampire said...

Thanks Shera. That really means a lot. And thanks for letting us hijack your awesome site for a day.

CowboyandVampire said...

Hi Karen. We most recently got back from Santorini. Before that, our favorite trip was to Iceland. It's awesome, and the people are soooo nice. Kathleen still counts that as her "dream return" destination (Clark too). Clark lived in Scotland for about 7 years when he was young, and still remembers the granite buildings, a haunted castle and church that ostensibly had the Devil's hoofprint stamped into the stone inside the front door. He as never returned as an adult which has nothing to do with those pants-wettingly scary experiences.

CowboyandVampire said...

Thanks Krystal. We did some of our best work on the title, but there's even better work in the book!

Barbara said...

Great interview...would love to win/read the book! Love the cover!

CowboyandVampire said...

Thanks Barbara!