Rough Trails and Shallow Graves
The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection
Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Western Romance
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Date of Publication: May 5, 2014
Number of pages: 358
Word Count: 82,900
Cover Artist: Aaron Perkins
Say goodbye to LonePine, Wyoming, a typical small town in the American west with typical small town problems — romantic intrigues, warm beer and vampires.
When Lizzie goes missing on their wedding night, Tucker is forced to team up with his bloodthirsty Russian nemesis to find answers. Crashing through cowboy country, the vampire spirit world and wrecked salmon canneries, they confront an evil more ancient than even the undead — human greed — twisting science into something terrible.
Can there be a happily-ever-after for a cowboy and vampire, or is their unusual love just a delusion? Time to cowboy up.
This is the third book in The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection.
Available at Amazon
Reviews of the first two books….
Introducing racial issues isn’t the only adjustment the authors have made to the vampire mythos, but it’s more than just the details that set this series apart. Rather, it’s the way the authors utilize those details to create meaningful conflicts and world-altering choices for the characters...the book is first and foremost a thriller, upping the ante in every chapter as bullets fly and relationships strain under the weight of old loyalties and new revelations…with strong writing, funny characters (no irony is lost on one vampiress who takes to sporting a “Future Farmers of America” jacket) and plenty of action, it’s hard to fault the authors for keeping the focus on a story this riveting. ~ Kirkus Reviews
As a vampire novel, The Cowboy and the Vampire is sure to satisfy Dracula fans’ expectations. However, this book has a little something extra to offer readers. A little something that harkens back to the days when man fought against the wild in the name of civilization. Hays and McFall have succeeded in mixing the Western genre tropes with the Gothic conventions to create a zany grey romance.
~ Writastic Thoughts from the Thinking Realm
One of the weirdest stories I have ever read. It’s right up there with Neil Gaiman’s man-swallowing woman parts and talking tents. Instead, here we have rocket-launching, womb-sucking, Bible-bending, non-pointy-toothed vampires. And love. And cowboys. Depending on what you are looking for, that might be a good thing. If I had to liken this book to a movie, it would either be to Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, or maybe more appropriately, Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk to Dawn.
~ The Avid Reader
The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance is one of the funniest and most engaging books I have read in a long time. Jam-packed with adventure, vampires, true love, and a cast of characters you will not soon forget, you find yourself turning the pages thinking, “What more could possibly happen to these two?” And then, you find out. I never imagined the melding of a contemporary western and a paranormal romance could ever be so seamless or so much fun.
~ Bitten by Books
A choice and very much recommended read, not to be missed. Relationships are tumultuous when they may only last a few decades, but when they last eternity, it can get more difficult. “Blood and Whiskey” is a novel of adventure, horror, and cowboys as a follow up to previous novel ‘The Cowboy and the Vampire’, as couple Tucker and Lizzie retreat to a tiny town to of LonePine, hoping to settle down, but the reality of the Vampires on their trail may make that an impossibility. A riveting read that explores many concepts on top of the intrigue of vampires in the lawless lands of the west, “Blood and Whiskey” is a choice and very much recommended read, not to be missed. ~ Midwest Book Review, Micah Andrew, Reviewer
If you’re looking for a combination of sex, blood and Western romance, pour yourself a shot of the good stuff and settle in for a wickedly good read.
~ Renee Struthers, Eastern Oregonian Newspaper
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
For us, being writers was never really a choice. There was a slow realization that writing was the only meaningful and worthwhile creative pursuit. We probably came to it at different times but definitely pre-high school. The more important milestone was realizing, as we started dating, that we could write together and more deeply entangle our romantic relationship. Or kill ourselves in the process.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
Probably when we got our first review copy of The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance from the publisher way back in 1999. Hard to put those feelings into words, and for writers, that’s kind of a big deal.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Our first book – The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance – was published in 1999 by Llewellyn, Inc. (known for their occult and metaphysical books). It almost happened too easily — they took a chance on us after we had only really sent a few inquiries out — and that caught us a little off-guard. We weren’t really prepared for a follow up, and weren’t ready for the troubles that followed pitching other projects, so in a weird way (putting all of the blame squarely on ourselves) it caused to lose momentum. It would be a decade before we really got back in the groove. We recently re-released it, and wrote two more in the series.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
We both work in communications by day — Kathleen at an academic health center and Clark at a Fortune 1000 financial services company — and even though they are both grueling jobs, we get to write a lot and stay focused on how words and messages influence people.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Our current book is The Cowboy and the Vampire: Rough Trails and Shallow Graves, the third book in the Cowboy and the Vampire Collection. It’s an opposites attract love story with plenty of paranormal chills, western action, humor and a new take on consciousness.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
We’re in the unique category of hybrid authors, traditionally published but now choosing to go the independent route. Our first book was published by Llewellyn, and then, thanks to the popularity of vampires, republished under their new imprint, Midnight Ink. When the rights reverted to us, we decided to take the plunge and start our own imprint, Pumpjack Press.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Given our day jobs, it takes us about a year to come up with a concept and write a book. And then months to edit and exorcise all the demonic typos that seem to find their way into the text.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Yes, to both! We have at least one more book in The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection, and we have a great new series ready to debut in the very near future.
What genre would you place your books into?
Western Gothic. The books are anchored in the modern west but have all the paranormal, occult and metaphysical elements of Gothic fiction. Plus they are funny.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
We wanted to create a world that exists in the tension between two such well-known icons that immediately call to mind opposites: good and evil, noble and decayed, dark and light. It seemed the best way to capture the romance between our lovers from such different worlds.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
We are both fans of Elita, the super sexy, super tough vampire who is grudgingly drawn into the western world to protect Lizzie (the main character). She is super bad ass and completely irreverent. We also like Lenny, the best friend of Tucker (the other main character). Lenny is a survivalist, militia member and super paranoid conspiracy theorist. He helps Tucker come up with vampire-dispatching weapons and provides some comic relief. And, of course, there’s Rex — a fan favorite. Rex is Tucker’s long-suffering cowdog. He has some of the best scenes in all the books.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
Individually, we’ve been writing since before dirt was invented. Together, we’ve been writing for about 15 years, and writing well for about ten years.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
The only routine we really have is to fight off exhaustion after work so we can write whenever we have a spare moment. Our schedules are nuts, so we have to be very diligent about carving out time to write. It requires carefully plotting out each book, lots of caffeine and plenty of wine to take the edge off the caffeine.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Absolutely! We read every review, multiple times. Obviously, we love the good ones, when our writing resonates with readers. But we also read the bad ones when reviewers really spend the time to share their thoughts. If they are willing to spend the time, we are eager to learn from them. The short, mean ones we just read once and then do a little hex to send some dark magic back at them. Kidding. Sort of.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Writing coaches will tell you to come up with the title first so it can focus your work, and that’s good advice, but working a series is a little different. We know where we want the characters to go, and we know the themes we want to explore and we even know the major plot elements, so we had plenty of time to come up with the perfect titles.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
A thousand different ways — dreams, historical research, arguments, steal them from people we know, or name them after friends (for characters we like) or enemies (for characters we plan on killing off).
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
We are obsessive compulsive control freaks when it comes to writing. We have everything plotted out in advance.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
This is going to sound pretentious, but sometimes our characters take us in new directions as the plot unfolds. But that really gets back to the previous question. We know our characters inside and out so while they may surprise us in terms of the plot we had in mind, it’s only because we did the work on the front end to make them real and almost capable of independent action. Like ghosts. Or some sort of creepy self-aware computer.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
There’s not much of a moral (other than love is stronger than death) but certainly a central theme that we explore related to the nature of human consciousness. We are both interested in near death experiences, so we pursued this theme intentionally. Our vampires die, completely, every dawn, and that allows us to explore a theory of consciousness we call the Meta. The upshot is that there is an external, shared consciousness that contains all life. It’s like this giant energy field and it’s where our “self” goes when we die, where our self exists before and after life, so our vampires visit it daily and have this sort of cosmic vantage point that only the most spiritually advanced humans, and those who have almost died, possess.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
We split the difference on this one. Kathleen reads a lot of ebooks (mostly fiction); Clark reads a lot of print (mostly nonfiction). (Note: connect with us on Goodreads; we love learning what other people are reading.)
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
Our favorite books are usually the ones we’re currently reading. But we both recently read, and greatly enjoyed, Goat Mountain. It was like a little two-person book club.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Generally speaking, we like books better than movies, and most of the books we read don’t end up on the big screen. Of course, we think OUR books would make great movies. Cowboy and vampires — who wouldn’t love that? And they are written very cinematically, with lots of sweeping western landscapes, steamy sex and epic battles. As for the worst transfer, it was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (yes, it was from a graphic novel, but seriously, it was horrible).
Your favorite food is?
Your favorite singer/group is?
Hmm, Kathleen isn’t really that into music. Clark is really liking Sharon Van Etten; all of her albums are great, but her new one, Are We There?, is tremendous. He’s also really liking Valerie June and her debut album Pushin’ a Stone.
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
Clark picks Kathleen McFall and Victor Hugo.
Between the two of them, Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall have worked in writing jobs ranging from cowboy-poet to energy journalist to restaurant reviewer to university press officer. After they met, their writing career took center stage when they wrote the first book in The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection as a test for marriage. They passed. Clark and Kathleen now live in Portland, Oregon.