Yet, King said, you can't write off the facts because of the opinions of the reporters. He began his own research, digging into the archives at the Culture Center and all of the firsthand material he could find.
From the start, King said he knew he wanted to simultaneously do a documentary. He approached Wild Eyes Productions, with whom he had worked in the past, and asked them to join him.
When King and the film crew arrived in Mingo County to begin filming a rough cut, the locals were none too welcoming. King, who had his daughter with him, and the crew, were shot at as they explored the rugged terrain.
He was not scared off. Instead, he found all he needed was to make connections. After meeting several locals and earning their trust, King was able to navigate through the families' lore was by way of introduction.
"Once they trust you, then you are in. Then everyone will take care of you; look after you, particularly when you are not from there. They really wanted to take care of me. I felt really welcome after they got to know me."
To repay their kindness and helpfulness, he chose Chief Logan State Park earlier this month to kick off his book tour for "The Feud."
When King initially approached History channel producers, they showed interest in his book but did not want another documentary. Instead, they asked for a reality show. King agreed because he hoped the attention focused on the show and on the families would have a long-term positive effect.
"For the people and for the families, who more and more are proud of their heritage, this is an American story. There was violence in the feud, but that is not what it is all about. It is about these people who are fiercely independent and who were self-reliant and who stood up for themselves. That brought them into conflict, but that is part of our story. It is who we are."
Whether the two families can agree on enough to create joint distillery is still in question, but King thinks the white lightning they could produce "will be a classy product that speaks of quality. Why do you go to the Hatfields and McCoys? Because they're experts."
But King said, the real question is, "Can they get it out of the holler? Can they agree on enough stuff to produce a product?"
That is the reality of reality television.
Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopk...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.