Bonnie and Clyde: Radioactive—Press Kit
For Immediate Release
May 6, 2019
BONNIE AND CLYDE DIED 85 YEARS AGO ON MAY 23, 1934—OR DID THEY?
Unique alt-history series tackles serious questions about today’s economic landscape inside a revisionist espionage-thriller about Bonnie and Clyde
Portland, Oregon—Bonnie and Clyde consistently capture the American imagination across time, demographics and politics—the outlaw lovers have transcended reality to become symbols able to reflect the latest cultural currents.
Now, a critically-acclaimed speculative fiction series expands their myth to cast the duo as reluctant defenders of the working class during the Great Depression and beyond.
Pumpjack Press announces that the third (and final) novel of a three-book series about the outlaw lovers—Bonnie and Clyde: Radioactive—will be released May 23, 2019, the 85th anniversary of the outlaws’ deaths.
The tale imagines Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow didn’t die in the bullet-riddled car in 1934. Instead, they were saved at the last minute by a shadowy government agent who needs their “special skills” to protect American democracy from the corrupting power of greed.
The story shuttles between the 1930s and 40s, when Bonnie and Clyde are forced to take on a variety of bad actors bent on subverting American ideals, and the 1980s when an elderly and newly-widowed Bonnie teams up with a down-on-his-luck investigative reporter from a newspaper in Lubbock, Texas, to finally share her true story.
The series also wrestles with the emotionally-charged issue of atonement, as Bonnie and Clyde confront the consequences of their criminal actions when they were on the run, and wonder if they can ever balance the scales by doing good.
In the latest installment, Radioactive, a decade has passed since the infamous outlaw lovers were spared their gruesome deaths and forced into a covert life. Now seasoned spies, they’re embedded in the Manhattan Project at Hanford, near Richland, Washington, as bar owners and petty crooks, trying to sort out who would sell out the USA to its enemies.
In advance praise for Bonnie and Clyde: Radioactive, Kirkus Reviews writes: “Another winner in this highly entertaining series; Bonnie and Clyde come off as a wisecracking, low-rent version of Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man but underlying all the shenanigans is a serious consideration of the nature of patriotism in America.”
Bonnie and Clyde: Radioactive
ISBN: 978-0-9974113-5-5; 332 pages; $15.95; Distributed by Ingram Content Group
Authors Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall have written seven novels together. Honors include inclusion on Kirkus Reviews Best books of 2014 list, a 2017 IPPY Medal from Independent Publishers of America, an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize nomination.
Five questions for Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
Why do Bonnie and Clyde have such a hold on the American imagination?
Americans love outlaws, especially when they stand up to authority. And, why wouldn’t we? Our national origin story is about standing up to unjust authority. Think of the Boston tea party when Americans tossed British tea into the harbor, a criminal act of defiance against the monarchy. Bonnie and Clyde, in their early days at least, fit this narrative—they were imprisoned by poverty yet thumbed their noses (and guns) at the banks and robber barons of the Great Depression. Plus, they were hopelessly, tragically in love and willing to go down together. Bonnie and Clyde have been elevated to a timeless symbol of America itself—an anti-authoritarian, we’ll-do-it-our-way, gun-slinging Romeo and Juliet. Although, this symbolism conveniently ignores, for the most part, the fact that they were thieves and murderers.
What gave you the idea to make Bonnie and Clyde spies?
The historical accounts of their days on the run as bank-robbers demonstrated a set of “skills” that would serve them, or anyone, exceptionally well in a covert capacity—they were cunning, creative, fearless, had absolute trust and faith in each other, and were willing to use violence when it suited their needs. Equally important, their criminal history made them expendable. As their handler, Sal, says in Resurrection Road, the first book in the series, “You don’t use good dogs to guard a junkyard. You use the meanest dogs you can get a collar around.”
Bonnie and Clyde are historically-documented killers. Do your books glorify crime?
No, not at all. In fact, the books wrestle with the implications of their crimes. Bonnie and Clyde are forced into a situation where their actions serve the common good. As time passes in the series, they mature and are exposed to different people and situations and begin to comprehend in a meaningful way the impacts of their crimes. In the books, Bonnie and Clyde are proxies to explore the thorny issues of atonement and forgiveness—questions we as a society also wrestle with in terms of how we design our justice system.
What makes Bonnie and Clyde relevant today?
The 1930s were characterized by unprecedented income and wealth inequality, homelessness, and poverty. Sound familiar? We see a role today for storytelling to remind readers that during the 1930s and beyond, the government reined in the more destructive aspects of capitalism with innovative policies and worker protections. We want to inspire people across the political, cultural and economic spectrum to think creatively together to solve our current challenges. And to do it before hopelessness leads to violence and more wasted potential.
Are parts of the story grounded in history (other than Bonnie and Clyde surviving)?
Yes, all three plots are anchored in little-known events from that era.
In the first book, Resurrection Road, the outlaws race to save President Franklin D. Roosevelt from an assassin trying to scuttle the New Deal—a tale inspired by the real-life attempt that anarchist Giuseppe Zangara made on FDR in 1933. The president survived, obviously, but the mayor of Chicago died.
In Dam Nation, the second book, Bonnie and Clyde are dispatched to save Hoover Dam—a 1935 federally-funded New Deal project that put thousands of people back to work—from unknown forces trying derail the construction. The plot has roots in historical facts about shady aspects of the dam’s erection that were kept under wraps for years.
In book three, Radioactive, set in 1945, the duo is deep undercover at the Hanford site (in Richland, Washington, part of The Manhattan Project), trying to protect atomic secrets from Russian and Nazi nationals during World War II. The book mirrors the actual spying our wartime enemies undertook on American soil in eastern Washington during this pivotal time.
SIX THINGS ABOUT BONNIE AND CLYDE YOU PROBABLY DON’T KNOW
Bonnie and Clyde had tattoos for other lovers.
Before she met Clyde, Bonnie dreamed of becoming a movie star—and we have the glamour shots to prove it.
Bonnie was married at the time of her death, but not to Clyde.
Bonnie was a poet and kept a journal while they were on the run.
Bonne and Clyde both walked with limps but for different reasons.
Bonnie and Clyde inadvertently kidnapped the man who would later become their undertaker.
Note to editors and reporters:
Text and images in this release may be used without restriction, as well as edited for space or audience.