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(all international & blog specific unless told otherwise, aka "U.S" only or "TW" aka Tour Wide)

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Day 2 of "The Cowboy and The Vampire" Weekend!

Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays are co-authors of The Cowboy and The Vampire and it's a pleasure to have them come by on Day 2 to talk about the book, the sequel and what you didn't know about Tucker and Lizzie before this! Also don't miss Day 1's the 5 Star Review and the hilarious Guest Blog "Cowboy or Vampire?" And remember to come back tomorrow, Sunday 4th, for the book Giveaway!

So let's begin!

Niina : Welcome to ”For The Love of Reading”, I’m so glad you agreed to stop by this weekend. Now, can you introduce yourself a little and tell how you came to write “The Cowboy and the Vampire” together?

Clark : Hi Niina, it’s a real pleasure to be back. Let us tell you a little bit about ourselves first and then we’ll share a how we came to write the book. I’ll start. I grew up mostly in Alaska, Scotland and Montana (my dad worked in the oilfield). We had a cattle ranch in Montana right at the base of some gorgeous mountains and I did all of the expected cowboy stuff — riding, roping, branding and stacking hay. I’ve been writing for years, poetry and fiction mostly, and I currently work in communications for a national financial services company.

Kathleen : Hi Niina. Thanks for having us; here’s my lightning bio. I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and my early career was in geology. Now I work in communications for a university. I’ve been writing — mostly articles about energy and science — for many years, and have been focused on fiction for the last ten years. But I still love volcanoes and my life goal is to visit every active volcano in the world by the time I die.

Now, here’s how we came up with The Cowboy and the Vampire: The book was inspired by our own romantic entanglement and we developed the idea as a test for our marriage (we passed!). We’d come close to making our relationship work but then took a painful break for two years. When we crashed back together, we decided if we could work well on a creative project, it was likely we could stay together romantically. We picked cowboys and Vampires because Clark grew up on a ranch and loved the environment and myths of West. Kathleen, while no one can prove she is a Vampire, was comfortable in urban settings and is fascinated by the neurology of religious beliefs, something that shaped our take on Vampires. We decided these two popular archetypes would allow us to move through the landscapes we both love, develop characters that resonated with our experiences, explore some big concepts — like good and evil — and the best part is they are all wrapped up in a narrative that mirrored our own “opposites attract” relationship.

Once we had got the idea hashed out, we had to come up with the plot. About 11 years ago, we sat in the smoking section a truck stop in Madras, Oregon, drinking bad coffee and sketched out the broad strokes on the back of a paper placemat in crayon.

Niina :  It’s always great to find out how a novel got started, thanks! Now what was the best part about writing ”The Cowboy and The Vampire?” And what chapter or scene is your favorite?

The best part about writing The Cowboy and the Vampire, and the best part about writing as a couple, is that we are able to spend so much time and creative energy together in this very intimate act. It’s definitely strengthened our relationship and adds a layer of authenticity to the romance, and the fights, between the main characters in our books. In fact, there’s a great scene in Blood and Whiskey, out in 2012, based entirely on a long-running fight we have about teeth flossing, of all things.

Clark : My favorite scene is in Chapter Four when Tucker and Lizzie go skinny dipping in Widow Woman Creek. The water is so cold, she jumps out and streaks naked past Dad who is just driving up. It’s a funny, sweet scene that sets the mood before dark, terrible things start to happen.

Kathleen : One of my favorite scenes is the mass turning in Chapter Two. It’s gross and bloody, but it captures the cruel, glittering urban life of the Vampires. Staged to awaken the power in Lizzie, the turning takes place in an art gallery and it is so horrible to witness it sends her careering back to Wyoming into the arms of Tucker.

Niina : Tell us a little about the process of your co-writing, what’s a must and what’s a no-no?

Writing together is definitely a challenge, but a good challenge. When we first started working on The Cowboy and the Vampire, we thought we could alternate chapters between the male and female leads but that only lasted about four chapters before we realized there was going to be so much back and forth, so much editing and rewriting, the idea of keeping separate voices wasn’t viable. So even though we alternated chapters, and brought our own unique experiences to each character, it quickly became a completely shared process. It mirrored the progression of our own relationship — we started out as two good writers and by the time the book was finished, we were one great couple. It was almost like magic, like alchemy, and we think that energy is clear in the book.

The best part about writing together is you have built-in support to stay motivated, and you can produce twice as much in the same amount of time.

Kathleen : A must for writing together is an enormous, some might say volcanic, amount of patience.  We both have big egos and don’t like having our words changed. We fight over commas, grammar and character motivation. In the end, the product is better. And we usually are too.

Clark : A no no is becoming enchanted with your own words and stubbornly holding on to scenes that simply don’t add to the story.

Niina : What character, away from the main couple, became your favorite?

Kathleen : I like Elita, a very powerful, sexy and evil Vampire. She has been alive for thousands of years and is used to getting her way. Lizzie comes along and messes everything up for her, but she remains fierce and completely in control.

Clark : I’m a big fan of Lenny, Tucker’s friend — a survivalist, improvised weapons expert and conspiracy theorist. He is convinced the government is up to no good and, once he finds out about the shadowy world of Vampires, is eager to help Tucker come up with some weapons suitable to take them down.

Niina : What would a normal day be like for Tucker and Liz?

Kathleen : Before she became a Vampire, a typical day for Lizzie would be to wake up late, have a cup of coffee and a cigarette and then get to work writing — she was a journalist. Now a normal day would be spent dead and in a coffin, hopefully with Tucker watching over her. It’s at night when things really heat up for her.

Clark : A typical day for Tucker would be waking up with the sunrise, maybe going to town for breakfast with Rex, his overly-sensitive dog, then spending the day working — patching broken fence, stacking hay, or riding up into the mountains to check on his cattle. After Lizzie came along, a typical day might involve trying to catch up on his sleep after spending the night with her.

Niina : “Blood and Whiskey”, the sequel, is coming out early 2012, which way are you going with it? Any little secret you can spill?

Blood and Whiskey picks up where The Cowboy and the Vampire left off. We don’t want to provide any spoilers, but suffice it to say their romance is challenged in a number of ways — some typical and others unimagined and pretty horrifying. Part of the book focuses on what happens in the Vampire world when it becomes clear they have limited options to turn humans into new Vampires to keep their bloodlines alive. It all hinges on Lizzie, of course, so a contingent of very powerful Vampires descends on the tiny town of LonePine, Wyoming, to sort matters out. To complicate things, the Reptilian Vampires would be quite happy to see the entire Royal line die out and killing Lizzie would speed that up. There are also some very evil Vampire cowboys who show up with a deadly grudge to settle.

Niina : There is a good amount of critique from the vampires about the values of humans going down, did you purposefully want to have that in the book? If so why?

One of the things we tried to do was give Vampires a moral imperative to feed only on evil humans. That’s their biblical coda, and while some followed that, the evil Julius made it clear that as the world of humans turned crueler and more debauched, Vampires were justified in feeding on anyone they chose. Humans, to his way of thinking, were all lesser beings incapable of anything other than wicked behavior. We pick up this thread more directly in Blood and Whiskey as Lizzie has to grapple with the implications of taking her first human life to survive.

Niina : What did the characters end up looking like in your head? Anyone you’d compare them to? (for example: Liz looks somewhat  like Sophia Bush in my mind).

We purposefully leave the descriptions a little vague so people can fill them in as they see fit. Sophia Bush would be a great choice for Lizzie though, but she would have to dye her hair. We go back and forth on who could play them in the movie version. We’ve always sort of seen Tucker as a younger version of Viggo Mortensen or possibly Ryan Reynolds. Lizzie could be played by Blake Lively (mostly because of her awesome hair) or even Anne Hathaway. As for Elita, a traditional casting might be Megan Fox, but we also think Maggie Q could rock the role. Perhaps your readers could give us some suggestions?

Niina : Tell us something about your book that we wouldn’t know just by reading the blurb?

Kathleen : That we have created a new slant on Vampires that mixes evolutionary biology (our Vampires don’t have fangs and they are literally dead — corpses ¬— when the sun comes up) with religious belief. They have their own bible, their own dark morality and the same misgivings and misinterpretations as humans. It retains the classical evilness established by Bram Stoker and those who came before him, but brings the myth into the modern age.

Clark : That our book if really funny. Especially the relationship between Tucker and his Dad, and between Tucker and his long-suffering canine companion Rex. Who would have thought Vampires and cowboys could be funny?

Niina : Can you tell us three fun/quirky things about Tucker and Liz that we didn't learn from the book?

Clark : Tucker is completely at a loss in big cities, overwhelmed by the number of people. Not scared, just a little befuddled. Chocolate gives him migraines, but he still eats it sometimes. He once accidentally shot himself in the leg as a teenager but didn’t tell anyone.

Kathleen : Lizzie speaks French, but not as well as she thinks she does. She hates Muppets. She also hates intermissions.

Niina : LOL! Let’s get bit more personal now, what would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Kathleen : I talk to myself while I write. And not quietly either. I sound out the conversations with alarming enthusiasm.  It’s as if I am in a bubble and no one is around me. At work at my university, they all think I am a little crazy.

Clark : It’s not very interesting, but I write by hand, preferably on an oversized sketch pad with a gel ink pen, and then transcribe it all later.

Niina : What makes you feel like you are reading or have read a truly amazing book?

Kathleen : When I miss the characters after I’m done, I know it was a great book. Like the Icelandic thrillers by Arnaldur Indridason.

Clark : When I would rather go to bed early and read than stay up and write, I know I’m reading something good. I just finished The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and couldn’t wait to read more.

Niina : Would you rather meet real vampires or real werewolves? Clark, you answered this the last time I interviewed you for Red Winter so you get a free pass if you want one. ;)

Clark : I’ll stick with real werewolves.

Kathleen : Based on some of the Vampire characters we’ve created, I’d probably pick Vampires. They are sexy (sorry Clark), powerful and highly intelligent. They have been around for thousands of years and knew, and influenced, all the great thinkers and artists. I would trade some good conversation for a little blood loss.

Niina : Good point, Kathleen! Can you share with us the three books nearest to you?

Clark : Porius by John Cowper Powys; Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain by Kathleen Taylor; and The Egyptian by Mika Waltari (which you sent to us and I’m looking forward to reading!).

Kathleen :  Hmm, closest to my heart or closest to my night stand or next up in my Kindle? Closest to my heart, it’s Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. To my nightstand, it’s an Advanced Readers Copy of Thirst by Gelasimov that I need to review, and ready to go in my Kindle is the latest Walt Longmire mystery by Craig Johnson.

Niina : What about Tucker and Liz makes you go, “oh don’t do that!”?

Clark : Sometimes, Tucker should think before he acts. Especially when it comes to Vampires, he has a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. That gets him into trouble.

Kathleen : After Lizzie is turned, she’s consumed with guilt and wondering if she should just leave him for his own good. He’s the same way, wondering if she would be better off without a human dragging her down. What they need to realize is that it’s the challenges that can make love stronger. They both need to just relax into their relationship a little.

Niina : Now before this interview gets out of hand becomes a novella, here are some Quick Fire Questions before we wrap up here:
(again Clark you get a free pass on this as you’ve endured this before)

Clark : I LOVE it when she has to work and I don’t.

Kathleen : Bring it!

Cats or dogs?  Cats. They are good to sleep with.
Beach or forest? Beach. The waves make me feel like the world is being renewed each time they crash. Night or day?  Night, even though I tend to fall asleep pretty early. I like to dream.
UF (Urban Fantasy) or PNR (Paranormal Romance)?  PNR.
Bad boys or good cops? Good cops with a bad boy tendencies.
Brunettes or Blonds? Blonds who dye their hair brunette.
Vampires or werewolves? Vampires.
Romance or erotica? A 60/40 combination.
Mystery or Thriller? Thriller.
Men:  Alpha-male or submissive? Alpha male, for sure. Like a wolf. Or a cowboy.
Male POV or female POV (Point Of View)? Depends on the writer. Some female POVs are awful, but some are great. Same thing for male.
Pick-up or Mini-van? Bicycle.
Beer or Wine? Wine. I only drink beer when I am super thirsty.
Coffee or tea? Green tea; the powdered kind.
Pizza or Restaurant? Pizza without cheese.
Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?  Dark chocolate. I’m a vegan.
Cake or Donuts? I like to watch how other people eat donuts but I don’t eat either (the vegan thing). 
TV or DVD? I love to watch short silly ancient shows on TV, especially sitcoms like MASH and the Flying Nun and Three’s Company.
Golden Girls or Family Ties? Family Ties. I shy away from becoming old too soon.
Movies: Romantic comedies or Action/Adventure? Romantics movies (not necessarily comedies)
Rocks or flowers? Rocks. I love rocks, and volcanoes.  And crystals. I like flowers too, but you made me choose!
Times New Roman or Courier? Courier.
Crayons or markers? Markers. I like to create elaborate large intricate doodles with colored markers. Some of them are as big as a wall.
Pens or pencils?  Depends on the color.
Kids or pets? Both. I have a lovely daughter, Stephanie, and I’ve had some wonderful pets as well. They need to all get along.

Niina : Thanks a bunch for stopping by, it was fun! Come back anytime you want to.

 You can find Kathleen and Clark by:

Read my 5 STAR Review of The Cowboy and The Vampire.
 Part of Day 1 of The Cowboy and The Vampire Weekend!

 Read the authors' Guest Blog "Cowboy or Vampire?" A field guide to help you quickly spot the difference between Cowboys and Vampires...
Part of Day 1 of The Cowboy and The Vampire Weekend!

And you definitely don't want to miss Day 3, the Signed copy of "The Cowboy and The Vampire" Giveaway tomorrow, Sunday 4th!

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