INTERVIEW: Drew Hayes, Author of UNDEATH AND TAXES by Ryan Hill


Drew Hayes is a dirty bastard. Wait. That's a lie. He's actually really nice, and from what I've noticed, his hygiene is up to snuff. So he's not literally a dirty bastard. Figuratively, however, that's another story all-together.

See, Drew is one of those rare folk who get to call writing stories their career. My brain even grumbled "dirty bastard" as I typed that last sentence. Regardless, Drew is a great guy and is back with Undeath and Taxes, the follow-up to his ridiculously fun The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, The Vampire Accountant. 

To celebrate the occasion, Drew subjected himself to the rigorous and potentially soul-crushing grind that is... a Q&A with Ryan.


Where does Undeath and Taxes pick up? How much time has passed since the original? 

It’s been a few months. They are successfully out of Holiday Alley (Halloween to New Year) where the first one took place.

Why a Fred sequel? What made you want to return to this world? Where are Fred, Krystal, and Albert now?

The why is easy, I had fun the first time and had some ideas for where I wanted things to go. That’s pretty much all it takes for a sequel, though the fact that it was so well received doesn’t hurt either. As for where they are, more or less still in the same places. Not much has changed, save for Fred expanding both his business and his specialization by becoming a Certified Public Parahuman Accountant.

You have an awfully unique/awesome release day ritual. Care to share it?

Sure! I start the day with a $5 bottle of champagne (because I do well enough to pay the bills, but I ain’t on the Times Bestseller List or anything). Then I hop onto social media and answer questions pretty much all day. Of course, I know the part you’re really asking about is the fact that I have a shot every time I get a 5-star review on launch day. It’s my way of celebrating, and cheers-ing the speed/beta readers who liked the book enough to hop on and get things started on a positive note. Luckily, not many people can get through a book on launch day, which is probably why this tradition hasn’t killed me yet.

How similar is your writing style to your release day ritual? I'd imagine they're almost one and the same.

Like my mother told me when I tried to enter the workforce with an English degree, “You’re in for some disappointment.” Shockingly enough, I actually very rarely drink when I’m working. Hemingway might have been able to write drunk and edit sober, but he’s also a legend for a reason. For me, it’s hard to get into the zone when I’m buzzed, so I tend to only write when sober. This is also why the great bulk of my work gets done in the morning, freeing me up for beers at lunch.

With the title Undeath and Taxes, I'd imagine there's a bit more accounting in the sequel. Is there? Did you study accounting? Did you just Google accounting for dummies for Fred? WHAT IS YOUR FASCINATION WITH ACCOUNTING, MAN????

I never studied accounting, although I did work for a stock brokerage at one point, so I know a fair bit about investments and types of retirement accounts. As for why it keeps sticking around, well, it’s what Fred is great at. He might be a cowardly vampire with severe fear of confrontation, but he is one hell of an accountant.

The first Fred had a very episodic, serialized format where it told one big story, but it was almost like a TV show where you could pick it up at the start of any episode and know what was going on. Is Undeath like that?

Yes indeed, it’s another five novellas that combine to form one whole story. I’m not sure I’d ever use this method for any other book I write, but for some reason it just seems to fit well with Fred. A sole plot with a sprawling lead-up would demand an action-packed, high-paced conclusion. With the smaller stories, I can have smaller pay-offs, or sometimes show there was no real threat in the first place, and it works because there hasn’t been as much build-up.

Time for a little vamp on vamp, mano e mano action. How would Fred fare in a Kumite style tournament against these other vampires? Also, if you weren't aware, Kumite is an underground fighting tournament that was popularized in the 1988 Jean-Claude Van Damme classic Bloodsport. Also, if you didn't know that, shame on you and a pox on your house.

Fred vs Literary Dracula

Fred helps Dracula register his castle as a historic landmark, shows him how to use it as a proper deduction on his taxes, and saves the older vampire a ton of money. They are cool.

Fred vs Gary Oldman Dracula

Same as Lit. Dracula. Money is money.

Fred vs the entire Cullen clan and whiny Taylor Lautner from Twilight

Fred calls Krystal to let her know there’s a bunch of dipshits having supernatural fights out in the open. Two days later, there are nothing but smoking husks and we’re all saved from getting dragged to any more movies.

Ryan note: Oh, if this were actually the case

Fred vs Jim Carrey in Once Bitten

Fred gets Jim Carrey clear of the older vampire who is feeding on him, ideally into rehab. Then he finds the woman doing the feeding and helps her find a nice psychologist to deal with these “virgin-hunting” issues that have plagued her for so long.

Ryan note: I see what you did there Drew, and I like it. For more "virgin-hunting," check out my AWARD-WINNING novel THE BOOK OF BART. #shamelessplug

Fred vs Salma Hayek in From Dusk Till Dawn

Yeah… if Fred sets foot in that world, he’s pretty much dead. But like, permanently, this time.

Fred vs Eric Northman from True Blood

Fred offers to do freelance accounting at a sharp discount, which as a business man Eric can’t turn down. Fred then telecommutes as often as possible, steering clear of all the fucking, staking, and general chaos of that world. Also he makes sure to send a nice bottle of scotch for Christmas, just like with all his high-end clients.

Fred vs vampire Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie)

Movie world, that’s a tough one. Probably get killed in the background of a scene unceremoniously. Now if it were the TV show, I think we could make a strong case for Fred becoming the first vampire Watcher.

In haiku format, tell everyone why they need to go out and buy Undeath and Taxes. Also, do you care what people do with your books after they've been purchased? What if someone bought one of your books and just pooped on it? This can be for paperback or e-book.

Despite what you think
Paperwork can save the day
Although fangs help too

I would heartily recommend against using an e-book to wipe, as those Kindles are bulky, hard, and do not flush worth a damn.

About Undeath & Taxes:

After discovering just how filled with magic, intrigue, and adventure the parahuman world of being an Undead American can be, Fredrick Frankford Fletcher did exactly what was expected--he became a certified parahuman accountant. Myths and legends, as it turns out, are not so great at taking appropriate deductions and keeping their receipts, and Fred is more than happy to return to a life others view as woefully dull, expanding his accounting business to cater to various monsters and their respective financial needs. 

Said monsters are, unfortunately, still spectacular at pulling Fred into trouble, though. And despite merely wanting to stick with simple paperwork, Fred once again finds he is going to have to deal with enchanted weaponry, government agents, possessed houses, and one enigmatic dragon’s interest. In the parahuman world, any business can turn deadly, even one as mundane as accounting.

Buy Undeath & Taxes Today!

Author Bio:

Drew Hayes is an aspiring author from Texas who has written several books and found the gumption to publish a few (so far). He graduated from Texas Tech with a B.A. in English, because evidently he’s not familiar with what the term “employable” means. Drew has been called one of the most profound, prolific, and talented authors of his generation, but a table full of drunks will say almost anything when offered a round of free shots. Drew feels kind of like a D-bag writing about himself in the third person like this. He does appreciate that you’re still reading, though.

Drew would like to sit down and have a beer with you. Or a cocktail. He’s not here to judge your preferences. Drew is terrible at being serious, and has no real idea what a snippet biography is meant to convey anyway. Drew thinks you are awesome just the way you are. That part, he meant. Drew is off to go high-five random people, because who doesn’t love a good high-five? No one, that’s who.

See Drew talk about himself in first person on his website and twitter.