Friday, September 16, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway - Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays - The Cowboy and the Vampire

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know all About You…
Or “How we came to love Vampires”

Cowboys are easy. I know where your mind went on that, but that’s not what we meant. 

What we meant was that Clark, one-half of The Cowboy and the Vampire, is a genuine, duct-tape loving, cowboy-hat-wearing, knife-wielding, horse-riding, hates-the-phone, aw-shucks Cowboy. (He’s also a vegetarian, a poet and an awesome if reluctant dancer, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) From the perspective of our writing, this life-story meant that we were happily and easily able to meet that sage advice of “write-what-you-know.” Know your cowboy character? Check. 

But Vampires? 

We’ve written on this blog tour elsewhere about how we came to match a cowboy with a Vampire in this opposites-attract love story. In a nutshell, it was modeled after our own romance. Clark, the cowboy, felt like his life’s blood was being sucked out of him by Kathleen, the, um, well not Vampire, but what she represented as the “city-girl.”

As writers, we decided to embrace our cultures-clashing situation and just run with it. If we could make it as co-novelists, marriage would be easy, right? 

But first, the need to understand real Vampires. That took some serious research. Off we went. To our local libraries. To rare book rooms. To Wikipedia (of course) and Vampire parties. We ate lots of popcorn while we watched tons of movies, from Nosferatu all the way up to 30 Days of Night. Academic lectures. Halloween dress-up. Art shows (maybe Edward Munch and Blinky Palermo were Vampires?). Even once to the U.S. Library of Congress where we rummaged through dusty book stacks with almost religious fervor (contact us if you need any source material!).

What did we uncover? 

It’s so MUCH bigger than Dracula. Dracula is a tiny blip on a centuries-old collection of myths, historical anecdotes, suppositions and wishful lies about the undead. 

Vampirism is an anti-religion. Vampirism is humanity’s attempt to explain away evil and human tragedy. If you can’t understand why your baby died in the bubonic plague, chalk it up to Vampirism. Want to have mad sex in the Victorian era without being caught? Accuse a Vampire of ravaging you (rather than naming your hot uncle). You’re a bad farmer, the entire crop is failing and your family will not make it through the winter? Blame it on dead grandpa. Damn, lo and behold when you open his coffin, there’s scratch marks on the wood because he must be undead and poisoning the crops at night (or maybe, he was buried alive and trying desperately to claw his way out…so sad, but that happened a lot). 

And then there’s Lazarus, raised from the dead by Jesus just to hang out, not really for any other identified purpose. That act really got us thinking ... where did Vampires come from? They’ve been around forever, literally, but why was there no creation story? 

That seemed an egregious oversight in Vampire lore. We decided to change it. And while we were at it, why not throw in a new angle from evolutionary biology? 

Our Vampires don’t have fangs, but they are stronger than humans and harder to kill. At dawn, they die completely and are reborn when the sun goes down. That means they have near death experiences every morning and have a shared, external consciousness. 

There are two distinct Vampire lines: the Messianic line, a caste of nobles dating back to the early days of Christianity, and the less refined Reptilian line. The Messianic Vampire bloodline is genetically dormant — humans who carry it must be “turned” by Vampires with a unique power. The Messianic Vampires are guided by a biblical coda requiring them to feed only on evil humans and thus help contain and eliminate evil in the world. They are, by default, the Illuminati. The Reptilians, by contrast, reproduce the old fashioned way and have no biblical moral constraints. Dating back to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, they feed on whomever they wish, whenever they wish and live in a glorious world of immediately-satiated desires.

We pit this new Vampire nation an myth against the familiar myths of our cowboy. 

Like we said, it’s a love story. From a slightly different, undead and terrifying angle. 

About the authors:
Kathleen McFall was born and raised in the heart of Washington, DC, and her experiences there, from protests and riots to hanging out in the corridors of the Supreme Court (located next to the family church, she skipped church a lot) and wandering around the Capitol, filled her sense of place with history and granite. A geologist by training, she excelled in scientific and non-fiction writing, translating complex scientific papers into engaging articles. Those skills are now focused on paranormal fiction. An avid reader, she spends every spare moment working with Clark Hays on their next book Blood and Whiskey.

Clark Hays was born in Texas and grew up in Scotland and then Montana where he was raised on a working ranch doing all the expected cowboy things — riding, roping, hunting, branding cattle and writing poetry. The openness of the landscape and the solitude (the nearest neighbor was five miles away, the nearest town – 2,500 people – was 30 miles away) provided a constant source of inspiration, very little distractions and a chance to really be alone with his thoughts. In this solitude, he found his calling — writing — early. He’s currently working on Blood and Whiskey with Kathleen McFall. 

Follow us on Twitter: @cowboyvamp

And check out the novella Red Winter, by Clark Hays, edited by Kathleen McFall, released exclusively as an e-book in August. What happens when the first Vampire makes it to the Old West in 1890? 

About the book:

The Cowboy and the Vampire
By Clark Hayes and Kathleen McFall
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK Release Date: October 8, 2010
ISBN-10: 0738721611
ISBN-13: 978-0738721613
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?
Deliciously dark.”—BOOKLIST

Book trailer on youtube:

Giveaway Details:
Giveaways include 
1 signed first edition of the original publication from 1999 
and 5 signed copies of the current paperback edition 
Open to US Shipping

Winners will be chosen from all of those who enter via the form,
leave comments at tour stops for bonus entries you can also enter 
at each tour stop.


  1. Oh, it looks like I posted my comments on the review portion of the blog - sorry!

    What an interesting post. I'm looking forward to reading The Cowboy and The Vampire in order to understand your new vampire. I can't remember if I've asked this question before - sorry, if I have. Is it safe to assume that, even though the vampires die every day, they retain all their memories?



  2. Hi Karen. Great question. It's one of the things we're developing more fully in Blood and Whiskey, the sequel to The Cowboy and Vampire. Since our Vampires die, fully, every dawn, their brains actually cease functioning. Evolution has given them a unique, shared consciousness that their "self" bleeds into at sunrise. It's contained there, swirling about in the Vampire Cloud, without conscious thought, until the sun goes down and their self, their identity, their memories, come flooding back in as they arise undead. We're having a lot of fun building that theory and hope you'll check out Blood and Whiskey to let us know what you think.