Good morning everyone! I ma thrilled to have Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall here to talk about Blood & Whiskey, book two in their series about the Cowboy and the Vampire.
Hello Clark and Kathleen! I’m thrilled to have you here and thanks for being today’s “Pick”.
And we are thrilled to be picked.
Please share a little about yourselves, your works and what got you both into writing.
Blood and Whiskey is the second book in The Cowboy and the Vampire Thriller Series. We wrote the first book, The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Darkly Romantic Mystery, in 1999, long before the Twilight and True Blood frenzy. We were cautiously rebuilding our relationship after a cataclysmic break up and two-year separation and decided writing together might help us harness the creative insanity in our lives. At the time, Clark was a poet and was moving into fiction. Kathleen had been writing for science journals and was taking on fiction as well.
We wanted a storyline that brought together our shared interests — the modern west, spirituality, the philosophy behind good and evil — and came up with the concept for The Cowboy and the Vampire at a truck stop in central Oregon. We literally sketched out the plot on the back of one of those scallop-edged paper placemats in crayon.
The book was fairly successful by 1999 pre-social media standards, and had a loyal and growing cult following. Then we lost momentum, almost fatally. The renewed interest in vampires (thank you, Twilight and True Blood) prompted our publisher to re-release it in 2010 with a sexy new cover and a little editing nip/tuck. We counted our blessings and got busy on the sequel, Blood and Whiskey.
I loved the tie-in created in the beginning of this sequel, who thought up the idea about what happened to Rose?
Like most of our good ideas, we came up with that together. In this case, the Rose character was the result of a road trip from Portland, Ore., (our current home town) to Ashland and the Southern Oregon Book and Author Fair. It was a perfect winter day, clear and sunny, and we had the highway mostly to ourselves. After roughing out the plot for Blood and Whiskey, we came up with Rose and her misfortunes.
Rose is Lenny’s niece, an orphan who traded LonePine (population 438) for life in the big city. Things did not turn out well for her. She became homeless and started using heroin. She’s tough though, a true woman of the west — down but not out. Before she could rebound, she was kidnapped by vampires, dragged off to tiny Plush, Oregon, and imprisoned at a meat packing plant designed for horrific things.
When Lenny starts working with high powered machine guns and military grade it hints at a background in the military for him? Can you share a little about Lenny and his quirky character?
Lenny — Tucker’s best (only?) friend — was involved in top secret weapons research for the U.S. military. He has a brilliant mind when it comes to improvised weapons, and gadgets in general. In our first book, he helps Tucker come up with vampire-dispatching weapons when they learn the hard way that regular guns won’t do the trick. In Blood and Whiskey, he gets even more creative. He converts the engine in his car to run thousands of miles on one tank of gas, makes stake-launching zip guns powered by readi-whip aerosol canisters and uses made-from-scratch night vision goggles.
His military experiences, including exposure to some seriously hazardous chemicals, have warped his perceptions a little. He’s totally paranoid, in a good-natured way, and has yet to meet a conspiracy — from the JFK assassination to Roswell — that he doesn’t believe. That’s why he lives in a fortified bunker with his wife June, surrounded by weapons, ammo and dried food.
When they get nearly in over their heads then usually end up confronted by a vamps hunter/guard. Why do they always try convincing them it’s a bad idea to work with vamps?
It’s not so much that Tucker and Lenny are trying to convince humans to switch allegiances, they are just both truly perplexed about why anyone would help their own worst predator survive. To their way of thinking, it would be like sheep helping wolves. Our vampires die during the day — full biologic and neurologic shut down — and without humans watching over them, they would be completely vulnerable. Tucker and Lenny can’t fathom why anyone would help keep this nightmare for the human race alive.
Elita is almost always thinking of herself, was she like this as a human?
In general, all vampires are selfish. Due to their long lives, there’s really no evolutionary or social benefit to cooperate or work together for their long term survival. It’s every vampire for him or herself.
Elita in particular is smart, cunning, hypnotically beautiful and completely, joyously self-centered. She’s been alive for thousands of years and is stronger and more fierce than almost any other vampire. She’s from Reptile line, a race of vampires long-oppressed by the ruling Royals. Unlike the Royals, Reptiles are born into vampirism — actually, hatched — and reproduce easily. The Royals need blood saviors able to turn humans with the right genetic code to keep their line alive, and Lizzie may be the only one left.
Lenny turns against Tucker and avoids him for a long time due to the events in Portland, he eventually ends up helping Tucker. Why the change of heart? (not only because of Lenny’s wife I’m guessing).
Tucker and Lenny have been friends since fourth grade. Tucker’s dad taught Lenny how to shoot. In The Cowboy and the Vampire, when Tucker was in trouble, he turned to Lenny. In Blood and Whiskey, when Lenny is in trouble — when Rose is kidnapped — he turns to Tucker for help.
Things get tense between them when vampires come to LonePine, but true friends come through for each other and they can get past a little undead apocalypse. And while Lenny’s wife certainly encouraged Lenny to settle their differences (probably because she knows Lenny needs at least one friend to keep the crazy in check), Lenny was almost motivated by the realization that Tucker and Lizzie had the best interests of the human race at heart.
Lizzie is starting to take her role as the new Queen more seriously after reading the texts provided by Lazarus and even those from Julius, she is very determined to change the way vamps and humans work.
Lizzie realizes that with the conflict between Royals and Reptiles coming to a head, the world is not a safe place for humans. She doesn’t want to be queen of the vampires, she doesn’t want to be a vampire at all; she just wants to live out a normal life with Tucker and raise their child. But that is not in the cards.
Tucker is realizing that he may not truly know Lizzie as well as he thinks, he begins to question their relationship after Portland. What event or thought brought him around?
After the horrors Tucker experienced at the meat packing plant in Plush, it become clear to him that vampires are so very different from humans. He loves Lizzie with all his heart, but he begins to truly sense what life with her will be like. First, she needs blood to live, fresh blood; her hunger is growing and she will have to kill people on a regular basis just to survive, and to nourish their unborn child. Second, as the handsome, scheming Russian vampire Rurik keeps reminding him, Lizzie may well live for centuries, even forever. Tucker has an expiration date. At best, he’s got another 30 or 40 years. He starts to worry that their differences might be larger than their love.
It was so interesting to watch how things unwound so fast in the back half of the story. Especially with Virote. Can you share a little about why that part turned out to be important in the story?
Virote is the human consort of Rurik, the powerful leader of the Russian vampire clan. Her family gave her to him to repay a debt. Virote is stunningly beautiful and resigned to her fate as a source of blood and sexual diversion to Rurik and anyone he decides to share her with. Much to Elita’s surprise, and to the surprise of everyone else, she develops feelings for Virote. Not quite love, but something close enough, something that causes her to resist her natural impulse to simply kill Virote in a blood-soaked orgy.
As the vampire clans congregate at the Vacation Inn to test Lizzie’s power to turn, Rurik offers Virote as the perfect subject. If Lizzie is successful, Virote will join the ranks of the undead and can take her place by Elita’s side. If Lizzie fails, the Royals will lay waste to LonePine and retreat to their respective countries to wait for the vampire end-of-days (or, more accurately, end-of-nights).
Did the plot and characters work out as you wanted or did they shape the book as you were writing?
Any character that has been well-developed exerts influence on the plot, but only because we are able to see the world through their eyes and understand their motivations and reactions to events. There were no surprises along the way for us as the writers, but hopefully there will be for readers.
This is the second book. Is there a potential for more about Lizzie, Tucker and the rest of their group?
Absolutely. We’re plotting out book three now, tentatively titled Undead Asylum. It’s going to be epic.
Lastly the fun questions:
Plotter or pantser?
Kathleen: Plotter, for sure. I don’t mind pantsing it within chapters, but we are diligent about keeping a strong plot to guide us.
Clark: Plotter. I haven’t been pantsed since high school.
Early Bird or Night Creature?
Kathleen: I’d like to be a night creature, but we’re usually so wiped out from our day jobs (communications), it’s all we can do to stay awake past ten.
Clark: Early bird. I seem to be at my most creative when I first wake up. I go to bed thinking about whatever I’m working on and then wake up with fresh insights. It’s a race to get them down on paper before the regular work day crushes the life out of them all.
Kathleen Are you more like Lizzie, Elita or Virote?
Kathleen: I’m more like Lizzie for sure. She thinks about the things I like to think about — religion and anarchy — and even though she’s overwhelmed most of the time, she puts on a brave face. Plus she’s got a cowboy in her life, like me.
Clark are you more like Tucker, Rurik or Lenny?
Clark: I’m not at all mysterious or charming, and I can barely change a tire, so I’ll go with Tucker. He’s uncomplicated and lucky to have a woman in his life who makes him better than he is on his own, like me.
White, Milk or Dark chocolate?
Kathleen: Dark. I’m a vegan, so dark is the only way to roll. And I love it a little too much sometimes.
Clark: Milk chocolate for sure. I’ve grown to appreciate dark chocolate (see above) but I still don’t think it is really “chocolate.”
Coffee Tea or other?
Kathleen: Coffee — preferably a soy latte with three shots.
Clark: Tea — preferably Scottish breakfast, with the nice, smoky peat flavor.
Music or quiet while working?
Kathleen: Quiet, but that’s usually impossible with Clark in the room.
Clark: Music all the time; headphones on when Kathleen requires it.
(Note: Some Girls is playing in the background this very second.)
Favorite place to sit and write?
Kathleen: in a window seat in a room overlooking the ocean; the Oregon coast is amazing and inspiring.
Clark: The couch. The streetcar. A bench in the park. Really anywhere.
Computer or good old pen and paper?
Kathleen: Computer; I recently got a MacAir and it’s never far from hand.
Clark: I like writing better on paper, but these days I can’t write as fast as the thoughts tumble out so, grudgingly, computer.
Pick your poison (alcoholic drink of choice when going out)
Kathleen: Martini (Medoyeff vodka), very dry, with olives.
Clark: Whiskey, light rocks. Usually Maker’s.
Thanks for stopping in Clark and Kathleen, it was great to be able to pick your mind and talk about Lizzie and Tucker.
Blood and Whiskey
A Cowboy and Vampire Thriller
by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
Publication date: May 1, 2012
Fiction, Trade Paperback (362 pages) $14.95;
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012902814
Wanted: Lizzie Vaughan, Dead or Alive
Relationships are always hard, but for a broke cowboy and a newly turned Vampire, true love may be lethal.
After barely surviving an undead apocalypse in The Cowboy and the Vampire, Tucker and Lizzie hightail it back to quirky LonePine, Wyoming (population 438), to start a family. But she’s got a growing thirst for blood and he’s realizing that mortality ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when your girlfriend may live forever. With a scheming Vampire nation hot on their boot heels and a price on her head, how far will Lizzie and Tucker go to protect their unlikely love?
Blending evolution, religion and an overly sensitive cow dog named Rex, Blood and Whiskey drags the Vampire myth into the modern west, delivering double-barreled action, heart-pounding passion and wicked humor.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR BLOOD AND WHISKEY
“Riveting, existentialist underpinnings give it depth, the book is a thriller, upping the ante in every chapter, as bullets fly and relationships strain under the weight of old loyalties and new revelations …”
“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.”
“Those who missed out on the first book will really have to hang on if they want to follow what’s happening, but it’s worth it for this tale of love and blood in the modern West.”
About Clark and Kathleen
Clark Hays grew up in Montana in the shadow of the Tobacco Root Mountains. In addition to his fiction work, he is a cowboy, a published poet and occasional food critic. Recently, he was nominated for Pushcart Prize for short fiction and not so recently for a Rhysling award for poetry. Clark brings a deep knowledge about the modern west, weaponry, country music and existentialism to his writing.
Kathleen McFall grew up in the heart of Washington, D.C. She worked as a petroleum geologist and, later, as a journalist, and has published hundreds of articles about scientific research, energy and natural resources. An interest in the overlap of science and mysticism are an essential aspect of her fiction writing. She received an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship for fiction writing.
In this continuation of the tale of Lizzie and Tucker we start off with an introduction to Rose, Lenny's niece. Rose is living out in Portland, but living live the hard way...on the streets or safe houses. When Lenny gets a call from a scared and frightened Rose and she gets cut off Lenny suspects the worse and is determined to find her. He seeks out Tucker to go with him to find and bring Rose home to LonePine.
Tucker is trying to have some quite time in LonePine with Lizzie while she still refuses to give into her bloodlust and drink straight from a human. She wants Tucker to help, but with their baby still on the way he doesn't want to leave her unprotected. SO in comes dear old Dad and the Elita to keep her safe at all hours.
Tucker and Lenny head to Portland and find out that Rose is missing from her usual safe house. They seek out others who may have seen her and find out things are much graver then they thought. She's being "farmed" by Vamps. They set out to find the place holding her captive and find out that MANY "missing people" are being farmed. They take care of the "farm" and unfortunately their trouble is just starting.
Back in LonePine a mysterious group of Vampires shows up with a demand to see the new queen and determine her worth. Their leader Rurik, seems to have ulterior motives to wanting to see LIzzie and Elita can sense this, but after some talk and assurance that LonePine is a safe-ground she agrees. Rurik meets with her and Lizzie can't quite shake the feeling that there is a connection between them. HOwever, Lizzie is soon getting sicker and she succumbs to her hunger with the help of Rurik.
Lizzie has been made aware that she may be a rare Vampire indeed, with Lazarus and Julius dead, she ay be the last with the power to turn a full human (Adamite) into a vampire. They decide the council must be called in and she prove her worth to take her place. Things begin to escalate from here.
When the council arrives they can clearly tell Lizzie is only a fledgling vampire, what could she possibly know aboiut their world and governing it. In order for them to see her as credible they want her to turn an Adamite into a Vampire. This sickens Lizzie, but she can understand their position and agrees. Rurik's lover readily volunteers to be the one to be turned and happily does so. So, does Lizzie have the power to turn or will the Royal vampire line end with her and the Reptile vampires be set to take over and throw the human vampire balance into a blood bath? You have GOt to read t find out how things turn out. I can tell you it wasn't how I expected at all!
I really loved reading this sequel to the story. Clark Hays and Kathleen have given the old west a new twist in modern times. I was intrigued as Lizzie and Tucker got to truly see their vulnerable sides and meet some very powerful and socially elite vampires. There was plenty of action, some romance and a world of vampire politics told in the points of view of Lizzie and Tucker. This story only help me love the wild west more as it mixes with modern times and the world of vampires. Another very strong 4 of 5 stars to Blood & Whiskey.