Check out this author spotlight for fantasy writer Cully Mack!
You can find all the links for where to find her furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out her books!
1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!
Hi and thank you for allowing me to join you. I’m Cully Mack author of the Voice that Thunders high fantasy series. I’m a fantasy lover and student of myth. So it’s not surprising that I ended up writing about both. When my characters aren’t invading my mind with unresolved conflicts, I enjoy waking my dog on Dartmoor which is a wonderful scenic place in the south of England.
2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 of these (or more!) and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!
Winter, spring, summer or autumn? Summer. The hotter the better!
Cat or dog? Dog. Cats are cute, but evil, mwahaha. Seriously though, dogs are loyal.
Tea or coffee? Tea. I’m from England.
Library or museums? This is a hard one. Before access to digital books, I’d have said library without hesitation, but now I’d pick Museum. I love everything ancient. I recently visited the Louvre and could have stayed there much longer.
Hunter or gatherer? Well, this depends on whether you mean me or my perfect hero. Hunters are the best, aren’t they?!
Plotter or pantser? Total pantser. I’m a discovery writer. I begin with a character and a central conflict. I tend to know certain plot point early on, for example, I knew Mirah needed to reach Hermonial because I wanted to write a character who was close to my antagonist.
My start point was her on the ship, so I began writing her journey and added conflict along the way. I love how characters grow and overcome the challenges they face. Being a discovery writer, my characters often surprise me and lead me into territory I wasn’t expecting to go.
I love plot twists! Most of the twists in my books (and there are some major ones!) come from writing myself into a hole and figuring out how to fix it. I never would imagined them otherwise. Some people might think this tactic is insane, but for me, it keeps my writing fresh. I remember my English Professor saying; I love how your writing is so unpredictable. How do you do it? I answered, it’s because I have no clue what’s going to happen until I write the words on the page. Urgh, I’m doing it now, as you can see one thing leads on to another…
Standalone or series? Series. I want to become lost in an awesome world and stay there forever.
Book or ebook? I always preferred books. I love the smell and predicting how much time I have left in this world by the amount of pages left to read. I need larger print now, so I switched to the dark side.
Hero or anti-hero? Hmmn…depends on context. I love conflicted characters, so this could go either way. My favourite anti-hero is Lorcan from Throne of Glass.
3. When you look for books to read, what trope or type of story will always catch your attention?
I was always a more traditional epic/high fantasy reader. I remember going into a bookshop and purchasing Feist’s Magician, GRR Martin’s Fire and Ice and Gemmel’s Legend. I had no idea about adult fantasy at the time. I read Feist until I ran out of his books, then switched to Rothfuss and Brent Weeks. I still read the more traditional fantasy and enjoyed John Gwynne’s Faithful and Fallen Series, but lately romantic subplots have caught my eye.
It was by accident that I came across S J Maas’s Throne of Glass in a charity shop. I bought it for 50p and was hooked. I love how romance is used to further develop characters, but for me, a book still needs a main plot. I prefer other worlds over urban because I love the unfamiliar. I like character driven novels the most.
4. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!
Funnily enough, I write epic/high fantasy with romantic subplots. I’m currently writing a book series featuring sibling protagonists, Mirah and Gabe, who become central characters along with a band of rebels fighting against immortals conquering their realm. It’s a pre-civilised world filled with monsters and magic influenced by Mesopotamian mythology. In some ways it’s similar to S J Maas because it has multiple character arcs with romantic subplots, but it doesn’t have fae (that is another project simmering in my mind). The first book in my series is called A Voice That Thunders.
I’m also writing a collection of short stories about women from legends, fairy tales and myth. I was going to call it The Siren, the Witch and the Mortal with a short story sub-heading. Sadly, the title was too long to fit on the cover. Maybe I’ll find a way around this someday.
5. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!
My most recent release is A Vow That Clashes. It’s book four in my series and runs concurrent to book three, A Fire That Whispers (which focuses on Mirah). In A Vow That Clashes Gabe and his allies; a hermit, a fire wielder and a cunning thief attempt to rescue a city of refugees from immortals, giants and chimeric beasts. Gabe has some hard choices to make! What I loved about this book was seeing things from Sojin’s and Neviah’s point of view as well. Both Gabe, Sojin and Neviah have all made personal vows. The novel explores not only their physical journeys as they separate to save the people, but their internal battles as they each grapple with keeping or breaking their vows.
It’s in print and Kindle Unlimited and you can find it here: viewbook.at/AVowThatClashes
6. What real-life inspiration do you draw from, and what are your primary fictional sources of inspiration (books, authors, films, music, etc.)? Name a few!
My primary sources are from myths from Mesopotamia (not exactly fiction). Most people have never heard of them. This is because, until around 150 years ago, the cuneiform tablets detailing their accounts was undecipherable. Mesopotamia is otherwise known as the birthplace of civilisation and its historical setting is in the ancient near east. Differing cultures lived in close proximity, so there is a blending of myths and traditions. I mainly draw from the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Semites and the Babylonians.
YA readers may have heard the term Nephilim from Cassandra Clare’s series or watching Supernatural among other popular sources. The majority of modern Nephilim depictions are drawn from Semite sources such as the Book of Enoch where they areportrayed in an urban setting and regarded as fallen angel/human hybrids. As interesting as this is, the Semite account is only one version of the mythos.
Mesopotamian texts differ on many topics. For example, creation epics, deity names and culture heroes. But they all agree on one thing… the gods came, slept with human women, and created giant hybrid offspring. Yes, those Titans, gods and beastly monsters from Greek, Roman and biblical myths were known to older civilizations! Some saw these gods in a positive light, others as negative. It makes for great conflict. I wanted to create a work more aligned with the earliest accounts of this mythos.
Outside of this, I take inspiration from people around me. For many years, I worked with people who were the most broken, those experiencing homelessness, isolation, trauma, and addictions. My characters tend to go down similar paths, and even though their journey darkens, in one form or another, it becomes a redemptive arc, finding themselves, who they truly are, kind of thing. I’m an advocate for nothing and no one can break me unless I give them the power to do it. So, yes, I test my characters to the point of shattering, and watch them rise from their brokenness into who they were meant to be.
Other than that, I find inspiration from great writing. I love poetic writing like Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, and the metaphorical like J Kristoff’s Nevernight. Often inspiration comes from other genres. I studied English Literature, so I’ve read a lot of classics. I love Virginia Woolf. Her one liners often made me pause and think. I’m a sucker for ancient epics like Homer’s Odysseus, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Elliot’s The Waste Land. I could go on and on…
7. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down!
I write from about 7.30am until 9pm with a break in between to walk my dog. For me, I have to immerse myself in the world to create anything productive. So I shut off everything else.
I begin with the first draft of my current writing project, for example, book 5 of my series, and when I tire, I move on to whatever work is still in the editing stages, usually the previous book or catching up on researching things I want to expand on in my book.
I relax a bit when the first draft is finished, when I only need to focus on redrafting and editing. Until writing the next book begins…
8. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to become an author, what would it be?
If you are writing a series, begin with a novella or prequel and use is as a giveaway to find and build your audience.
9. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!
Mailing list: https://mailchi.mp/793d49cc2771/cullymackemaillist
Book Amazon link for 1st book http://viewbook.at/AVoiceThatThunders
Amazon series link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089B1NGCH
Amazon author link: https://www.amazon.com/Cully-Mack/e/B07QBLXZLT