The author interview: Fighting, writing and weird westerns

 

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You write in a relatively unknown genre you call Western Gothic. What is it? 

Western Gothic is a style of fiction that transplants the moody, death-obsessed themes of classic gothic fiction (think Castle of Otranto or, of course, Dracula) to the wide open, inspiring vistas of the modern west (Riders of the Purple Sage or All the Pretty Horses). Western Gothic exists in the negative space between dark and light. Gothic fiction uses the darkness–the creepy atmosphere, curious, obsessive behavior and morbid thoughts–to focus on the light, providing the perfect backdrop to illuminate the best in people: the desire to overcome death, to hope and to love.Westerns, ironically, use the light to set off the dark, weaving stories of good men pushed to the limits by the cruelty and avarice of others (usually tyrannical land owners) or the blind apathy of nature. Western Gothic lives in the borderlands between the two worlds, a forever twilight of gray nights and last sunsets. To put it in contemporary terms, it’s Longmire meets Preacher.

We suspect we may have unintentionally invented the genre with The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection, a series of four books set in the modern rural west and featuring sexy, brooding vampires bent on world domination. Since the first book’s publication in 1999, we’re happy to see a few others trying out the genre.

How is this genre different from “Weird West?” 

Weird Westerns transplant occult elements to the Old West–the genre has existed for decades, and is most often associated with the golden age of pulp paperbacks. Weird Westerns reached their apogee (in our opinion) with the cool and spooky Jonah Hex comics of the 70s. Western Steampunk is a more recent energetic offspring and heir to the crown.

Why specifically did you choose to write about cowboys and vampires?  

The draw for us, as writers, was the many angles offered in these two archetypes,allowing us to dig down into the bedrock of an “opposites attract”romantic storyline. Tucker is a hard-luck cowboy from tiny LonePine, Wyoming,just trying to scrape together enough cash to keep himself in whiskey and keep his overly sensitive dog Rex in kibble. Read the rest of this entry »

Cold, cold (undead) heart: A classic country play list for the collection

JonesIt’s just past midnight in the middle of nowhere. A battered old blue pickup truck is parked haphazardly, abandoned, by the side of a deserted highway. The engine is running and the driver’s door is thrown open. The headlights are on but fading fast, barely able to light up the barbed wire fence and the sagebrush beyond. Just beyond that, where the night seems even darker, something moves in the shadows. Inside the empty truck, the radio is blaring. The song, crackling with static: Hank Williams, “Your Cheating Heart.”

The soundtrack to true terror is classic country. Only classic country from the 1950s and 1960s has the raw, heartbroken emotion of bone-deep despair that makes the blood run cold. The people of LonePine, Wyoming, like in most small towns in the slowly dying American West, know about heartbreak and economic despair. And ever since the undead showed up, they know about terror too. That’s probably why every pickup truck radio, every jukebox in every saloon, and every portable radio is belting out classic country while the rest of the world has moved on. Read the rest of this entry »

Margin notes: Writing with a romantic partner

sketch3Ever heard a writer say, “I’m my own worst critic.” Clearly, they don’t write with a romantic partner.

We’ve been writing together for almost two decades now, dating back to a fateful meeting in a Madras, Oregon, truckstop after our fiery relationship exploded and collapsed in on itself. After a two-year forced separation to let the jagged edges of our hearts heal, we met in neutral territory and decided to give it another go, only this time with some ground rules: a shared focus on creative writing. It was the only strategy we could come up with that gave us a fighting chance to harness and refocus some of the destructive energy that burned us down. >>go on reading this one

The Last Sunset: Longmire meets Preacher!

The reviews for The Last Sunset are rolling in….

“A rollicking ride, passionate, powerfully compelling.”

“The stakes are higher than ever in the latest chapter of this outstandingly entertaining series.”The_Last-Sunset-Hays-and-McFall-Cover

“A finale that will leave you covered in blood and begging for more.”

“A terrific, original piece of vampire lore. It’s never a dull moment in Lone Pine, sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes it’s downright heart-wrenching. This final volume is no exception.”

“This is a fantastic and slightly off-beat series and I’m sad this is the last one and we’re saying goodbye to these guys.”

“Longmire meets Preacher!”

“These two authors nail every detail about ranch life, horses, and probably Vampires, perfectly.”

From the back cover:

Take one long, last look at LonePine, Wyoming, population 438. It’s been two years since the vampires quit the quirky little town and things are mostly back to normal — broken dreams and never enough whiskey. But that’s about to go to hell.

Hold on tight for a midnight showdown when a psychotic religious order takes the entire town hostage — including Tucker’s long-lost brother — to lure Lizzie from her frozen exile in Russia. The mad monks know Lizzie’s murder will strand the ruling vampire elite in a disembodied afterlife so the cult can impose their twisted beliefs on the living and undead alike. It’s a rip-roarin’ stampede as a cowboy and a vampire try to round up the shattered pieces of their unusual romance.

With the fate of the world on the line yet again, can Tucker and Lizzie put aside their broken hearts to face one last sunset together?

Slap leather or reach for the sky.

Click here to buy The Last Sunset

“Thrilling, outstandingly entertaining, it will get your heart jumping like a pickup truck on an old county road!”

PRAISE FOR THE LAST SUNSET

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All good things must, eventually, come to an end — including vampires. Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall have penned the fourth and last book in The Cowboy and the Vampire series. “The Last Sunset” brings a close to the tale of Lizzie, Tucker and the rest of the gang with a finale that will leave you covered in blood and begging for more. It’s sexy, it’s funny, it’s scary, and it will get your heart jumping like a pickup truck on an old county road. Read the full review

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373027_119063748131102_529320004_n“Bullet-riddled and blood-soaked, this installment smartly weaves a narrative between the threads left loose at the end of the last book, while sprinting through its action-propelled plot. The writing team of Hays and McFall keeps getting better and better. As the tension builds, the estranged lovers will have to work together to protect the ones they love and find a way to prevent the Guild from sacrificing the world in the name of its ancient god. But Tucker is a proud man, and Lizzie still believes her decision to desert him was for the best. At times graphically violent, provocatively sensual, and even existential, this novel maintains the series’ reputation as a thrilling page-turner that will satiate its readers’ desire for compelling action conveyed through a saga of undying love. The stakes are higher than ever in the latest chapter of this outstandingly entertaining vampire series.” Read the full review from Kirkus

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“A terrific, original piece of vampire lore, and unlike a lot of the books I read and love in the genre, it manages to be full of blood and violence, while never losing its essential heart. The characters — even the secondary ones — are all so rich and multi-layered, it’s hard not to get involved with them and care about their fates. Even Rex the dog has a distinct personality that makes him an essential member of the ensemble. I’ve kept up with Tucker, Lizzie, their friends, enemies, and frenemies over the years. The journey has been a twisted tale, rocketing up and crashing down, jolting with adrenaline and lust, sobbing and chuckling, and looking over your shoulder, frightened of what might be hiding in the shadows. This final installment doesn’t disappoint.” Read the full review from Bloodthirsty Muses

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A rollicking ride, passionate, powerfully compelling. As blood flows and bullets fly, immortality and love are put to the test. Fans of Westerns, Gothics, romance and thrillers alike will find a gripping story line that’s unpredictable and hard to put down. Hays and McFall do such a fine job of integrating setting, characters, and past events into the bigger finale’s picture that even those with no prior familiarity with the series will find it easy to become thoroughly engrossed in this last episode. – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Buy The Last Sunset
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