Omnimystery News is delighted to welcome Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall as our guest bloggers. The writing duo's first "darkly romantic" mystery is The Cowboy and the Vampire (Midnight Ink, October 2010 Trade Paperback, 978-0-7387-2161-3).
Today, Clark and Kathleen discuss "writing off into the sunset together" (and a top ten list of why cowboys should not fall in love with the undead).
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Photo provided courtesy of
Clark Hays and
Kathleen McFall; Photo credit Ted Miller Jr.
We met while slogging away in a militantly vegetarian restaurant in Portland, Ore. Clark, recently expatriated from a Montana cattle ranch, worked as a line cook while Kathleen — arriving after a cross-country trek from the urban east — was a waitress. The moment we laid eyes on each other, the proverbial sparks flew. But we were both married to other people at the time and locked the attraction away, leaving it to smolder beneath the surface.
Years later we met again by chance and this time, both having been through nasty divorces, rekindled the embers into a blaze. We fell in love fast, furiously and passionately, but — cautious about commitment — thought a pre-marriage test-drive might be in order. Both writers, we decided to try and write a book together figuring if could make it through that without killing each other, we could make it through anything.
Our first (and so far, only) book – The Cowboy and the Vampire, a Darkly Romantic Mystery – was published in 1999, well after the erotic vampire craze started by Anne Rice and well before the sparkly vampire craze started by Twilight. Somehow, we managed to be both ahead of and behind our time!
Still, it sold well. We took it as a sign and got married. We continued to write, but mostly on separate projects, eventually losing our publishing momentum. To our pleasant surprise, our publisher (Midnight Ink) brought out the book again in October 2010 — and bam, we’re back from the dead. We tightened it up a little and they sexed up the cover, a lot, which seems to have upped sales. (You read it here first, folks: sex sells.)
So how do two people write a story together? That old cliché about writing what you know falls flat when you’re writing about vampires, but Clark definitely was dialed in on the western thing. We researched the vampire myth, reading everything we could get our hands on and watching some great (and some not so great) movies — immersing ourselves in the world of the undead. And once we had a pretty good understanding, we turned it all on its pointy ears — reimagining the myth in a brand new way. In our world, vampires are a chosen people motivated by a deep religious like fervor, with an unholy scripture — and lineage — dating back to the Garden of Eden. And like human religion, vampire religion is open to interpretation. Some of the vampires believe their unholy scriptures charge them with destroying evil while others interpret it as a charge to “be evil.” And of course, humans are caught right in the middle.
So what is the book about? Authors come fully equipped with a pocket full of pitches always at the ready to describe their work. The Cowboy and the Vampire is:
• Bram Stoker meets Louis L’Amour
• “He’s a little bit country, she’s a little bit undead”
• Dracula meets Tombstone
• The clash of the iconic titans: Cowboys (good) vs. Vampires (evil)
• (insert your own play on fangs and boots)
But at its heart, the book is really just a love story between opposites, capturing the weirdness and wonder, the intrigue and drama of our own romantic entanglement … only ours had less dripping blood and fewer six shooters.
When we got together for good, there was a huge cultural divide to bridge (not too much common ground between Whitehall, Mont., and Washington, DC). We did it through writing. Seems to have worked so far; we’re going on 11 years now and it’s a work in progress, just like the sequel, Blood and Whiskey. But oh, the fights we have about ridiculous things, like whether “em dashes” are too phallic or semicolons too sensual (yes, that’s a real fight).
The publishing magic for us clearly seems to be tied to writing together. Together, we must make one awesome storyteller. Check out The Cowboy and the Vampire, visit our website (www.cowboyandvampire.com) and our Facebook page for lots of fun stuff.
Speaking about fun stuff, and in recognition of the humor running through the book, we’d like offer our list of why cowboys should not fall in love with vampires. On February 10, we will be back again for another guest appearance and we’ll be looking at the other side of the equation — why vampires should fall in love cowboys. Valentine’s Day is a few weeks away and it seemed like a good time to discuss the romantic side of writing together.
Top ten reasons a Cowboy should not fall in love with a Vampire:
1. Hard to make a living when your cattle is constantly anemic.
2. Say goodbye to most cowboy activities (rodeos don’t tend to be at night).
3. Also say goodbye to morning sex, unless you are into “that” kind of sex (and if you are, eewww).
4. Cold, cold feet — seriously cold; dead, in fact.
5. She’s a better shot — vampires have great eyesight.
6. She can out drink you — alcohol doesn’t really have any effect.
7. You may have to occasionally rob a Red Cross for snacks.
8. Camping trips lasting more than one night are BYOC (Bring Your Own Coffin).
9. Casual acquaintances tend to vanish.
10. You can’t ever share a sunrise together … which also happens to be what our Tucker, our cowboy, is pondering right on the first few pages of the book. Check it out here.
(And also check out this recent article about us by Jeff Baker of The Oregonian: “The Cowboy and the Vampire get new blood.”)
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About The Cowboy and the Vampire: 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.
Who will be left standing when the sun rises?
The Cowboy and the Vampire is available in Trade Paperback and popular eBook formats, including Kindle Edition and NookBook.