Friday, June 27, 2014

Blog Tour: Interview/Giveaway!! Rough Trails and Shallow Graves, by Hays & McFall

Please join me in  welcoming 
Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, authors of
Rough Trails and Shallow Graves,
A Night's Dream of Books!!

This tour is sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!


Maria: I will be addressing most of my questions to both of you, and maybe a couple to each of you individually. Of course, feel free to jump in and add details to each other's answers, if you like.

Now, how did you two first meet? Did you both know each was a writer at the time?

C & K: We met in an eco-vegetarian, perfume-free restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Kathleen had just moved to Portland with her (then) 3-year-old daughter. Clark had also just moved to Portland from Montana. Clark was the sous-chef, Kathleen was a waitress. While the attraction was instant and electric, we were both married (to different people) at the time, so we bonded  over poetry and chocolate mousse, short stories, Hungarian mushroom soup, book reviews, and rosemary chicken. We ate together during breaks and became friends. Kathleen was just getting her writing legs at that point, and Clark helped her along by sharing his work. According to Kathleen, Clark inspired her to take writing more seriously. According to Clark, Kathleen was already a better writer, and she inspired him to become a better writer. Romantically, we "took the high road", but that spark smoldered for several years until our circumstances changed.

Maria: What prompted you to start writing novels together?

C & K: When we finally unraveled our lives enough to fall in love, it was intense, overwhelming, and shattering. So much so, we couldn't stand the fire, and after six months, we broke up in a way that traumatized us both. A year passed with not a word spoken between us, and then a single postcard Kathleen sent to Clark when she was traveling in France got it going again: "Stephanie and I wish you were here. The French love cowboys. You would fit in really well. Love, Kathleen." Clark was waiting on her porch when she got back to Portland. And so we decided to test our love by writing a book together.

Maria: Kathleen, in what ways is your writing style different from Clark's?

Kathleen: I am more serious, and have a literary, experimental bent. My writing gods are the Russian masters, and I need my words to have an undercurrent of philosophical significance. I'm not very funny; well, at least not intentionally.

Maria: Clark, in what ways is your own writing style different from Kathleen's?

Clark: I am definitely more into humor and action and entertainment value. I draw from graphic novels, everything Louis L'Amour wrote, and early occult and metaphysical fiction. I think it's safe to say I aspire to write with literary intent, like Kathleen.

Maria: Could you give us some idea as to what your characters are up to in Rough Trails and Shallow Graves?

C & K: Tucker and Lizzie are grappling with the realities of sustaining a romantic relationship after life starts getting....complicated. Plus there are vampire politics, mercenary armies, and twisted scientific experiments.

Maria: In what ways would you say Tucker and Lizzie complement and balance each other?

C & K: Tucker and Lizzie are from vastly different worlds -- New York City versus tiny LonePine, human versus vampire, cerebral versus physical -- and they have a complicated but complementary yin-yang relationship. We like to think that they reflect the best part about our own relationship: matching neuroses. His insecurities are smoothed out by her strengths, and vice versa. Their rough edges fit together, and they make each other better in the process.

Maria: Are you planning to write more novels in this series?

C & K: Yes! We are working on book four of The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection. We've promised our readers that we will quickly resolve the "issue" that occurs between Tucker and Lizzie at the end of book three. Right now, we are seeking out a name for a new evil female character. Any ideas from your blog readers would be much appreciated.

Maria: Some PNR/UF readers say that the vampire romance is pretty much washed up, that there's nothing new you can write in this genre. I happen to disagree -- especially since you guys have come up with this unique combination of a cowboy and a vampire! Why do you think these readers are saying this, and what would you tell them?

C & K: Vampires are never going to die because they are undead, of course, and also because, as an archetype, they are able to contain and amplify the themes, fears, and cultural currents we project onto them -- sex, mortality, decadence, evil, death. We (Kathleen and Clark) joke that they are "literary tofu", soaking up whatever flavors authors choose to marinate them in; in our series, we use vampires to focus on politics, animal rights, human consciousness, and more. The market may be saturated, but that's only with one spectrum of vampires. There's always new territory to explore.

Maria: Do each of you have different techniques you use in writing dynamic, fascinating plots? If so, what are they, and how do you combine them?

C & K: We are meticulous plotters. Before we start a book, we sketch out the big strokes -- the conflict, the themes, the resolution -- usually on loud, argumentative walks in Forest Park. Once we get all that ironed out and start speaking to each other again, we plot out the specific chapters, also on boisterous walks (other hikers must hate to see us coming), then we sit down, open up our computers, and promptly toss it all out the window and dive in. We know where we want each chapter to start and end, and we trust each other, and our characters, enough to know we're going to make something magical in the process. Then comes the long, arduous task of editing and making hard choices about the direction of various plot twists. At least that arguing is usually confined to indoors.

Maria: What books and writers do each of you most admire, and why?

C & K: For Kathleen, it's Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. For Clark, it's Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond. There's an unexpected connection there. Check out Jared Diamond to discover it.

Maria: What do you think makes readers who enjoy PNR/UF romances different from those who don't?

C & K: We are dreamers who are never satisfied with the constraints of reality. Readers in the PNR/UF genre want/demand/require a world that is richer, bigger, more complex and more mysterious than the world we live in. We're not satisfied with ordinary, and that makes us dreamers powered by imagination.

Maria: When and where do each of you find it most comfortable to write? Any differences?

C & K: We both work in communications, and we both have worked as freelancers, so we are able to turn it on just about anywhere, as long as there is a deadline involved (and we are very good about self-imposed deadlines). In a perfect world, the most comfortable place to write, for Kathleen, would be in a big bay window overlooking the ocean on the Oregon coast, in the fall, with a fire in the fireplace and a glass of wine. For Clark, it would be in a cabin overlooking a mountain lake with a winter storm sweeping in, and a fire in the fireplace. And a glass of whiskey.

Maria: What project(s) are you currently working on? Will you continue to collaborate, as well as perhaps start writing books individually?

C & K: We are starting book four in The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection, and we are excited to kick off a new mystery/thriller series set in Portland. As for individual projects, we always have stuff cooking, but we will always collaborate on  everything. At this point, we so completely rely on the other person to provide edits, feedback, and guidance, even a grocery list is practically a collaboration!                    

Interviewer's Note

 I'd like to thank Clark Hays
and Kathleen McFall
for a most informative and
entertaining interview!

Rough Trails and Shallow Graves
(The Cowboy and the Vampire #3)
Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall
Trade Paperback, 360 pages
Pumpjack Press, May 5, 2014
Humor, Paranormal Romance, 
Urban Fantasy

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.

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

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 an eternity, it can get more difficult. “Blood and Whiskey” is a novel of adventure, horror, and cowboys as a follow-up to the previous novel ‘The Cowboy and the Vampire’, as couple Tucker and Lizzie retreat to the tiny town 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

Amazon US/Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository

 About the Authors

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.

For the complete tour schedule, 
just click on the tour button below!!



  1. Huh...this one sounds different. Cowboys and vampires? It sounds thrilling. Would need to look it up.

    Great questions you asked there, Maria! I really like how these two came together to rekindle their relationship through writing. It really shows how words can change people.

    1. Hi, Vonnie!

      Yeah, it sure is! I've never heard of such a combination!

      Thanks for the compliment on my questions!! I always try to make my interviews as interesting as possible. And I agree -- it's really great how these two people came together through writing! Sure sounds like a nice plot for a romantic movie!

      Thanks for the visit and the fabulous comment!! : )

  2. I really liked the interview. The part where Clark and Kathleen reunited after a year apart is actually very romantic and touching.

    This book sounds like it has the potential to be fantastic. The mix of elements as described in the blurb sounds so different and so much fun.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Thanks for the compliment, for both me and the authors!! As I commented to Vonnie above, that part of the story sure sounds like a romantic movie!

      From the reviews I've read, this book is a hilarious, crazy mix of unusual elements, and should be a lot of fun to read. Actually, it's the third one in the series. I do have the first one, but haven't read it yet.

      Thanks for the fabulous comment!! : )

  3. Replies
    1. Hi, Karin! Thank you!! And thanks as well on behalf of the authors!! : )

  4. The title alone grabbed my attention. This is one I am gonna have to pick up very soon!

    1. Hi, there!

      Yes, I can see how that title caught your attention, since there's a cowboy in it! The reviews of the first two books are great, so you've got to start with them!

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! : )

  5. Maria, thanks for the great interview and the opportunity to share our story and some information about our books. As your readers have noted, the power of the creative process to bring us back together romantically AND professionally was pretty profound. We think that comes through in our books and in the love story between our main characters who also have an "opposites attract" relationship.

    1. Hi, guys!

      You're very welcome!! I greatly enjoyed your answers, which were very interesting, as well as entertaining!! And the story of how the creative process brought you two together, as a romantic couple and as writers, is pretty darn AWESOME!! As I commented to Brian above, I think your real-life romance would make a GREAT movie! And I agree -- it's pretty profound, too.

      I also think it fascinating that Tucker' and Lizzie's relationship mirrors your own. That's very intriguing, as well.

      I have the first novel in The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection, but have yet to read it. I'm going to bump it up on my TBR!

      Thank you so much for your answers, and for dropping by to leave such a nice comment!! : )


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