Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guest post with Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays

Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour:  Sept. 4 – 29th , 2012

“Writing Together, and Other Full Contact Sports” 

When a husband and wife team up to write, it can be a no-holds-barred, bare knuckle cage match ... just the way we like it. We have been writing together for 15 years — with the scars to prove it — and can say without hesitation that it’s not for the faint of heart. Writing with a lover takes unwavering focus, deep trust, grim determination and a willingness to push beyond your limits to reach a shared goal. It’s a lot like a team sport, only with less athletic tape. 

Our book, The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance, was first published in 1999 — the first “win” for the home team of McFall and Hays. When we ripped open the manila envelope and saw the proof copy and smelled that new book smell, we knew all the hard work and long nights and fights and tears (mostly from Clark) were totally worth it. We spent the next decade perfecting our techniques (translation: overcoming the various obstacles, including inertia, we kept throwing in our own way). The Cowboy and the Vampire was reissued in 2010. And then we seriously (finally, and long overdue) stepped up our game to write the next book in the series, Blood and Whiskey. Published in May 2011, we got that same “cross-the-finish-line” rush when the advanced reading copies arrived by mail.
We don’t have any championship rings yet (like, say, J. K. Rowling), but we’re not rookies either. We’ve learned a lot about sustaining the magic, mystery and madness necessary to reach peak performance in the often-bruising world of paired writing. 

What to expect: writing together is a lot like …Ultimate fighting: At least it can feel that way. Working together on such an overly-intimate and highly-creative project can lead to a lot of arguments — like, “we need a referee and instant replay” kind of arguments — especially when we are knee-deep in editing mode. We fight about important thematic issues and also about tiny topics, like overuse of semi-colons. Bringing together two very different world views into one seamless final product, especially for two people who are aggressively confident, can lead to a few below the belt shots. But when the final bell rings, we know that we’re better writers by working together. So maybe it’s more like…

Doubles tennis: Serving up great writing requires a deep and abiding trust and respect for your partner. You have to know they will always be there for you when you can’t quite reach the next level, and that no matter what, they will not let you down. Even if one of us feels like hanging back on the baseline, the other can charge the net. It’s love/love, advantage, Hays/McFall, but since there really is no opponent, maybe it’s more like…

Synchronized swimming: Yep, that’s it. The secret to writing together is to rein in the natural impulse to race ahead alone and instead find a routine that allows us to stay in perfect synch. Boxing may be more dramatic, but treading water while matching each other requires the exact skills needed to co-author. 

Training regime

To write like a pro, you have to train like a pro. We start off with extended sets of … reading. Reading great fiction (or nonfiction) keeps the mind limber and ready to produce good work. We fall asleep every night reading something. It sounds like a tougher training regime than it actually is, but we’re always tired and fall asleep fast. We thought about starting a reading journal to keep track of progress, but realized it would just be depressing in its brevity. 

As for actual writing, we like to stay loose, stay hydrated and keep that pen moving. Or keyboard clacking. We write something every day, and have strict schedules when we’re working on a project. Right now, we’re working on book three in The Cowboy and Vampire Thriller Series, tentatively titled Undead Asylum. That means working every night during the week, and twice as much on weekends. Just pace yourself or risk one of those career-ending writer injuries like a dislocated muse.  

A note about performance enhancing substances

Our industry is filled with stories of people who use illicit substances to improve performance and we are totally those people. Here’s what we normally use:
  • Coffee — and lots of it.
  • Cocktails — very important to take the edge off after a full day of writing; a martini for Kathleen and a Sazerac for Clark … or three.
  • Sleep — when all else fails, a good night’s sleep can work wonders for the creative mind.
  • Exhaustion — conversely, studies have shown that humans are the most creative when exhausted; something about the brain naturally taking short cuts to solve problems and make connections to preserve energy. Creativity springs from being tired and we are ALWAYS tired.
That’s just a fraction of what we’ve learned along the way, but we don’t want to give too much away. There will probably never be an Olympic event related to writing together but if there is, team McFall and Hays is looking for gold.

To learn more about the books, or connect with us, you can find us at:
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.

Buy links:

Indie Bound:

1 comment:

CowboyandVampire said...

Thanks for letting us stop by and talk about what it's really like writing together. We wonder what sports vampires would b especially good at. Probably bike racing, what with all the blood doping. They'd probably shy away from archery though...!