PUMPJACK PRESS NEWS RELEASE
What if Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow had survived?
Eighty-four years ago, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot in an ambush bringing their murderous bank-robbing spree to a violent end.
Or were they?
What if Bonnie and Clyde had survived?
Given a different set of circumstances, could the outlaws have become patriots?
Bonnie and Clyde lived during the height of the Great Depression, a time in American history with millions of unemployed people, foreclosed farms and wide-scale poverty with soup lines on every corner.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt stepped in with new policies to turn the situation around for workers. These government policies, collectively called the New Deal, were not without their critics.
When Bonnie and Clyde took off on their robbery spree, many Americans—frustrated by endless poverty and hard times—lived vicariously through them, celebrating the outlaws for sticking it to the banks. But the country turned against the outlaws as the body count began to climb. A vigilante posse shot them down on a rural Louisiana road in 1934. At least 167 bullets pierced their car.
The authors use this difficult period in American history as a springboard for their tale imagining Bonnie and Clyde were spared from death and forced into government service as covert agents defending the interests of the working class.
“There’s a long literary tradition of bad guys using their ill-gotten skills for the common good and who better to do that than Bonnie and Clyde?” asked co-author Kathleen McFall.
The story begins in 1984 when a journalist gets a tip to meet an old woman at a Texas cemetery. Turns out, it’s 75-year old Bonnie Parker. Incredulous, the reporter begins to investigate, and realizes he may have stumbled into the scoop-of-the-century.
The plot cuts back and forth between his unexpectedly risky investigation (someone wants to keep the truth buried) and the daring 1930s exploits of Bonnie and Clyde as they covertly fight to save the New Deal policies.
“We didn’t start out to write about income inequality, capitalist flaws or the essential role of government in mitigating these issues—we wrote a fun book about two young lovers thrown into a historical whodunit that would test their devotion,” said co-author Clark Hays. “But it turns out that the cult figures of Bonnie and Clyde are a good indirect proxy to reflect on these contemporary topics.”
“Hays and McFall make their Depression-era tale timely with reflections on wealthy fat cats and a rigged economic system that still ring true. More than that, the story is an exciting ride, with tight corners, narrow escapes and real romantic heat between Bonnie and Clyde,” wrote Kirkus Reviews, a national publication.
“It’s a fascinating creative exercise to imagine what might have happened to Bonnie and Clyde if they lived to a ripe old age, after 50 years of trying to atone for the tragic mistakes of their youth,” Hays said.
Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road (ISBN: 978-0997411331) and Bonnie and Clyde: Dam Nation (ISBN: 978-0997411362) are available everywhere. The authors are now writing a third book in the series.
An interview with husband-and-wife writing team Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
What’s compelling about Bonnie and Clyde? The endurance of their appeal is about bucking a system that seemed designed to crush them. They were wildly in love and dirt poor yet boldly (and at times cruelly and selfishly) rejected a life of what likely would have been grueling, low-wage jobs with little chance of getting ahead. Don’t we all sometimes dream about throwing it all away and going on the run? The groundbreaking 1967 Beatty-Dunaway film cemented the myth.
In your research, what did you learn about Bonnie and Clyde that surprised you? We were surprised at their youth: twenty-four and twenty-five when they were killed. We were surprised that Bonnie wanted to be a movie star. We were surprised to learn that they were not very skillful criminals, and that they botched a fair number of jobs. And that Clyde’s first crime was failing to return a rental car on time.
Are the plots of your series grounded in history? Yes, absolutely. In Book 1, we leverage a real-life but little-known (at least to us) assassination attempt on FDR when he was president-elect by Giuseppe Zangara, a man with presumed anarchist leanings. Zangara missed FDR, but killed Anton Cermak, mayor of Chicago and injured a number of bystanders. In Book 2, suspicious aspects of the construction of Hoover Dam are the focus, which in reality, ended up taking decades to fix behind the scenes after it opened in 1935.
What’s it like writing with your spouse? It’s like riding on a go-cart on the back of an alligator, which is to say, a bumpy ride! We fight a lot and often about ridiculous things, like the alleged overuse of commas or the hair color of a villain. But we keep each other on our toes. The first book we wrote together was a test for marriage. We figured if we could write a novel together we could stay married. So far, we’ve passed, but it’s touch and go when we get into the final editing phase with all the passive aggressive red-lining.
Bonnie and Clyde were notorious criminals. Is the series letting them off the hook for their crimes? It is a fictional account of their lives but we are sensitive to this point. In the books, Bonnie and Clyde evolve and repent, and actively try to make up for the suffering caused by their actions. The stories explore the topic of atonement.
Who do you like better: Bonnie or Clyde? Impossible to choose! They each have strong and weak points. What’s interesting to consider is individually neither likely would have become legends. The love that connected them so fiercely was—and still is—a core part of their appeal.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story? Mostly, we hope readers put this book down a little breathless from the high-octane action, sexy romance, and gripping entertainment. We also hope the story might cause a deeper reflection about the aspects of capitalism that can run amok and the essential counterbalancing role of government in mitigating the damaging outcomes. A story set in the 1930s provides good examples of policies that were designed to strike this balance. We hope the story might inspire readers to demand similar policies to address the inequality and dysfunction of our current economy.
Where can our readers find the Bonnie and Clyde series? Everywhere. Online retailers, bookstores and libraries. If you don’t see it at your favorite spot, ask for the books to be ordered.
What can you tell us about the publishing label Pumpjack Press? We are an Oregon-based small indie press and we are open for submissions, including (especially) from debut authors! We established the press because we want to help aspiring authors publish their stories. Check out www.pumpjackpress.com for information about how to submit.
A native of Texas, Clark Hays was raised on a ranch in Montana and spent his formative years branding cows, riding horses and writing. Kathleen McFall was born and raised in the heart of Washington, D.C. She worked as a petroleum geologist before transitioning to writing. They live in Oregon.
Clark and Kathleen have written six novels together and been recognized with numerous honors including Kirkus Reviews Best books of 2014, a 2017 IPPY Medal, an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship and a Pushkin Prize nomination.
Contact: Kathleen McFall