Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mike Hayes, The Younger Days

AUTHOR: Mike Hays
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
MuseItUp Bookstore
Amazon Link

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
A relative told me of a family legend handed down from an old uncle, who grew up in the late 1800’s on a southwest Missouri farm. According to the story, the infamous outlaws Cole and Jim Younger spent the night in their barn while on the run from Pinkerton detectives after the James-Younger gang robbed a bank.  

I began to see things from a young boy’s POV and a story began to fall in place.  The Younger brothers would be outlaw heroes of the boy main character while his parent’s would lead a life completely against anything to do with rebels or outlaws. The story started to walk, but it was still a short story at best.

Through a Bible verse about redemption and forgiveness, Jeremiah 31:34, the story took off. A whole back story began to grow of a secret past shared between the parents and the outlaws. A past intertwined with the atrocities of the Border War battle for “Bloody” Kansas with it's gangs of ruffians, Quantrill’s Raiders from Missouri and Doc Jennison’s Redlegs from Kansas. And from the POV of the young boy, who knows nothing of this hidden past, it set up a very solid framework to build an interesting surprise visit by his heroes, the Youngers. With this setup in place, the ideas really began to flow and my novel was born.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Part-time. I write early in the morning, scribble notes during the day at work then write blog posts and marketing during the evening.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always been able to write, I don’t know when that switched to actually being a writer.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope readers learn a little something new and are entertained by the story.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I prefer to write middle grade/tween from a boy point of view because that is the way I see the world.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
For me, it is finding the time to write and work on all the promising ideas I have. When I have a good idea, I’ll write a summary and save the file in my google drive while it incubates inside my head.

What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I read four books on the Younger Brothers, Cole Younger’s autobiography, several books and first person accounts of the Border War and quite a bit of research on the weapons of the period.

What about your book makes it special?
I think it provides a look into life during a dark period in US history at the western border of the US Civil War that is only touched upon in history curriculums.

What is your marketing plan?
Promote regularly on social media, blog posts and interviews. I also try to approach as many reviewers as possible about reviewing my book.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I blog about life and coaching at my site,
I post writing/promo information at
Facebook Author Page -
Twitter: @coachhays64

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Write the story in your head and write everyday. Read, read and read.

What’s in the future for you?
Keep putting the words down one at a time and see where it takes me.

Brief  Synopsis
The tension in post Civil War Missouri builds to a boiling point between 11-year old Boy Smyth and his mild mannered, devout father over the father's embarrassing lack of support for Boy’s Border War heroes, the outlaw Cole Younger and the notorious Border War phantom William "The Butcher" Bryant.
The family farm is visited by Cole Younger and his injured brother, Jim, of the infamous James-Younger gang, on the run after a train robbery in Iowa.  Much to his surprise, Boy discovers the Younger brothers are childhood friends of his Ma and Pa. Cole has come to their farm searching for the aid of Boy’s mother to nurse Jim’s gunshot wound.  As the Youngers rest and heal, Boy learns about his family’s past and begins to understand why Pa is the way he is.
After the Youngers leave for their Texas hideout, a new band of visitors arrive at the farm intent on violent revenge.  Everything the family built becomes threatened by the strangers, forcing Pa to make the decision to unleash a long hidden identity in order to save his family.


Again, the leader spoke. “Last time. With your son’s life in the balance, do you confess to being the notorious murdering scoundrel, Butcher Bryant?”
Pa looked at me again. He bowed his head, not in defeat but rather in prayer. After a few moments, he again raised his eyes to meet mine. “Son, I am sorry you have to hear this. But you must remember I will always love you and your ma.” He sat up tall and proud in the saddle, and said to the leader, “Sir, I am indeed…”
A shotgun blast broke the tension, and everyone jumped. Sophie started forward but settled as she felt the tension from Pa’s noose. Ma strode out of the barn. She cracked open the double barrel shotgun, kicked out the spent shell with her index finger, grabbed a new shell from her dress pocket and reloaded. She snapped the gun back together and aimed it right at the leader’s chest. Ma walked within ten feet of him. “Let them go and get out of here.”
She turned to me being held by the bearded man. “You okay, son?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I answered.
“You,” she said to the scraggly man. “Untie that noose and get my husband down from there.”
The scraggly man looked to his leader, who nodded for him to do it.
“What are you going to do, shoot us all?” mocked the leader.
“No. Just you,” Ma answered.
The leader took a step toward Ma. “You ain’t got the nerve, lady.”
Another step… “Shooting people at this close of range.”
Another step… “Especially with a shotgun…”
One more step closer… “Ain’t a very pretty sight or a very easy thing to do.”
Ma toughened her resolve, but the man took one slow step after another toward her. She leaned her weight into the shouldered shotgun, ready to pull the trigger.
“Don’t, Mary,” yelled Pa. “It’s not worth it!”
The leader stopped in his tracks about two steps from the barrel of the shotgun, which began to tremble in Ma’s hands.
“They’ll lynch you for sure, Bill.” Ma said. “God forbid I stand around and watch them without a fight.”
She turned her head toward Pa. With her attention momentarily down, the leader sprang forward. He grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and pushed it toward the night sky. Ma pulled the trigger. Confusion broke. The bearded man, with me still trapped in the crook of his arm, backed up until he was within arms reach of Sophie. The scraggly man sprang into action and grabbed Ma’s arms from behind. The leader jerked the shotgun from her grasp. He held the shotgun by the barrel, and with an evil grin on his face, he stared at Pa. Then, the leader, apparently in full control of the situation again, made the most horrific mistake of his life. He wound up and swung the shotgun by the barrel in an arc upward toward Ma. The stock caught Ma across the side of the face. She immediately went limp and crumpled to the dirt.


  1. This was a great interview! The Younger Days sounds really interesting and I would definitely like to learn more about Mike Hays. I enjoyed hearing about how the story was inspired and think the premise is very unique. Thanks for sharing this! ~ Jess

  2. My husband is 66 and the Youngers and James are still fascinating to him. Best success, Mike.

  3. Oh, what a cliffhanger.

    Very nice interview. I enjoy historical fiction, and The Yonger Days sounds like a good one.

    Congratulations and good luck with your book.