KirkusProud! Pumpjack Press is pleased to announce that The Cowboy and the Vampire: Rough Trails and Shallow Graves by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall has been named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014. Here’s an excerpt of the Kirkus review of the third book in this Gothic western series:

“With pulse-pounding action, ongoing intrigue over the fate of vampire-kind, and the tumultuous struggles of Tucker and Lizzie’s love story, Hays and McFall once again deliver a thoroughly entertaining novel for readers to sink their teeth into.”

Check out the full review from Kirkus and purchase the book here.

Authors Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall shared their “third annual cool stuff we read (and recommend) in 2014 list.” Check out sixteen great books. 

Authors preamble: Requirements for this list: great prose and good storytelling for both fiction and non-fiction, and — when the last page is turned ­— something within us should be changed: an opinion, an understanding, a geographic point of view, a cultural appreciation, or if it’s really good, a revelation. These listed books — presented in no particular order — leap over one or all of these criteria. We don’t worry about when they were published, only that either Kathleen or the Cowboy read the book in 2014. We offer thanks (with a little wide-eyed envy, at least on Kathleen’s part, the Cowboy never gets jealous) to these sixteen writers.

Back to Back back to back
Julia Franck, Grove Press
Sister and brother Ella and Thomas are innocent, young and happy children when post-World War II’s newly borne East Germany begins its descent into isolation, paranoia and institutionalized cronyism. Even as a translation from the German, a nearly perfect and wrenching book. Not to be missed.

The Other Alexander
Margarita Liberaki, Noonday
A thrift store special, Clark purchased this book, published in 1959, solely because of the blurb on the front cover from Albert Camus: “I am deeply moved by this book. It is true poetry.”Turns out, a war with one’s self is indeed mesmerizing and poetic. Thank you, Monsieur Camus, for the tip.

liminovLimonov: The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia
Emmanuel Carrère, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Truth is stranger than fiction. Through the lens of a single life story, an alternative everyman perspective on Russian history and culture, and a piercing glimpse into the country’s proud, contrarian, artistic soul.

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison
Piper Kerman, Spiegel & Grau/Random House
Talk about a lesson-learned. Even with its uneven writing and unpredictable layering of anecdotes, this book still manages to sneak up on you. The prose is average, and that’s okay, because that’s not where the power rests. Kerman shines a light where it is so needed: the cumulative generational effect on women and children — and ultimately on society — of the misguided war-on-drugs. Take note: the book is deeper than the cool Netflix series, and the real Piper is an impressive advocate.

Read the full list at http://www.cowboyandvampire.com or click here.

Day 50! Check out the 50 artworks focused on the cowboy and vampire theme here. The enormity of talent, oh yes, tons of it. With this last commissioned image from “dougmcclain” working from Canada, Clark and Kathleen have finished up the “global art attack” and now have nothing left to keep them from turning their full attention to writing Book 4 in The Cowboy and Vampire Collection. Finally! Indeed, this 50th image captures their current mindset: Bouncing into the blue sky of the western landscape, where words will hopefully flow, Rex in tow (woof!). Back soon…

Day 50

A fifty-day global art attack on our books The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection! Getting close to the end…a wild ride. Check out day 42: A commissioned poster advertising the sage wisdom of the Ask-A-Cowboy column written by author Clark Hays. Get the background, artist handles and locations, and see all the 50 gigs here. #50daysofFiverr. 

Ask a cowboy

cover sketches1Writing the Range: Top Ten Cowboys Cowboys in Literature gives a perspective from authors Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall on what makes a successful cowboy-themed book. The authors blog about it over on their site but we’ve reposted it here too…

Cowboys are enjoying a surge of popularity, particularly in the land of romance. Right now, an explosion of popular books on Amazon feature six-pack ab-adorned cowboys with steely blue (or green) eyes, staring out from the covers seductively and with promise. They all look vaguely related, too.

While these romances are flying off the e-shelves, it’s made us think a lot about the cowboy icon. Why is this myth so persistent? Especially when, by and large, moody, gym-going cowboys without shirts never really existed? And we should know. One of us is a true-blue cowboy, albeit lately lapsed due to love, and he never looked – or acted – anything like these romantic heroes. The other one of us is a born and bred city girl (and the cause of the cowboy lapse), a doe-eyed slightly-lost-in-the frontier just shy of pretty type usually cast as the romantic heroine in the ab-adorned books.

Ever since we met, we’ve been debating these questions: What is a real cowboy and are there any characters in books that capture that essence? The answers don’t come from romances, although they are fun to read. The first thing we agreed to agree on – in order to answer the two questions – was cowboy history. Read the rest of this entry »

A review by author Erin Cole

The third installment of The Cowboy and the Vampire, Rough Trails and Shallow Graves, is dark road through love and sacrifice. The duo nature of this story rings throughout, in the hope and struggles that Lizzie and Tucker face, the evils of man vs. monster, and the quirky adventures of contrasting characters such as Elita and Lenny teaming up to save THE DAY, makes for a very fulfilling and enjoyable read. McFall and Hays know a thing or two about the harmonic nature of dark comedy and western gothic, and they share that magic in many surprising twists and turns in this book. Unlike books one and two, book three takes the reader towards a conclusion no one expected, a conclusion that after all Lizzie and Tucker managed to suffer through, was inevitable and leaves the reader pleading for more. Five stars! It’s that good.  Read the full review>>

Read more reviews of The Cowboy and Vampire Collection

Stage-Curtains-Red-3What’s behind the curtain? Rap, video, puppetry, poetry, performance art, faux-newscasts and cartoons (lots of cartoons) from artists working in LA, the Philippines, Indonesia, London and beyond.

Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall have used their limited marketing budget in an interesting way. They’ve bet it all on 50 talented (and a few eccentric) artists who work under the Fiverr gig model, and asked them to focus their creative juices on The Cowboy and the Vampire. The results? You’ll be blown away. And they’re also running a #50daysofFiver contest too, tracking retweets, facebook shares and Instagram likes for entry into a drawing at day 50 for a $50 gift certificate at the vendor.

50 days starting October 1. Check it out a www.cowboyandvampire.com.

“I am beginning to see a Tarantino movie with this series. The strength of this series is in the characters and witty dialogue…” (We agree!)

A Very Unusual Romance (Book 1): Five stars There is a very unusual twist on the origins of vampires and humans. It is a unique story. The characters are complex and unpredictable. The authors did an excellent job of writing this novel. Even though this is a dark tale, it is funny. It is much more than the standard vampire story.

Blood and Whiskey (Book 2): Four stars The best part of this series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. In between sharing their day’s activities, characters may need to save the world, but, the attitude is hey, ‘you’ve got your problems, I’ve got mine.’ Love conquers all, or at least is the best hope at solving intractable species’ differences. Book 2 is as delightful as the first in this series as The Cowboy and the Vampire continue their romance and plan for world harmony.

Rough Trails and Shallow Graves (Book 3): Five stars This third installment in The Cowboy and the Vampire series is the best yet by far. Deviating from the usual chaos that tends to surround Lizzie, Tucker, and their cast of characters, we’re given a deeper story with a bit more tooth to it. You’re smacked in the face with tough decisions and heartache throughout the entire novel, but it only makes you pull for the characters more. Despite the darker and more serious tone of Rough Trails and Shallow Graves, you are treated to lots of laughter along the way. Elita’s usual brand of dry humor is laced throughout as well as the more in-your-face version brought along on Lenny’s heels. As nutty and over-the-top as Lenny can be, he’s long been one of my favorite characters in this series. In addition, you learn more about where the vampires go when they die during the day and I found that to be absolutely fascinating.

Read more reviews here.

Advance notice: Blood and Whiskey will be on a special sale starting Sept 24. 

cowboy11The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection is consistently called out for its authenticity in describing the modern west and cowboy culture. That’s not a surprise, given that author Clark Hays grew up on a ranch in Montana. It’s true, cowboys do have a different way of thinking about the world, and readers are responding, wanting a taste of their own cowboy wisdom. Check out the Ask-a-Cowboy column over at the author’s website.  The questions are, unsurprisingly, mostly about love in all its forms from first glance to what to do about two-timng bulls, with an occasional culinary inquiry thrown in. Enjoy!

Authors Clark and Kathleen sat down recently with Willenator’s World for an interview. Turned out to be one of their favorites. Here’s the opener and the link follows.

Earlier this year, I saw a book with a title that I could not pass up: The Cowboy and the Vampire. Reading that one book introduced me to a new series of books that I’ve read and enjoyed. I’ve written reviews for all three books on my blog, and it the series has become one of my favorite reads this year. I recently asked the authors, Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, some questions about their books. They provided some great information, and I’m happy to share those answers with you!

What’s it like working on a book together? Do you have specific roles during the process, or is it a team process from start to finish?

The creative process is weird and intense under the best of circumstances, requiring an unholy blend of vulnerability and confidence. The chaos is amplified about a thousand times when it also requires you to open up to your romantic partner, put your trust in them and still maintain the personal confidence needed to commit anything worthy to paper.

Check out the full interview here.