Author Interview: F.F. McCulligan

First I want to do a tiny self-promotion and announce that the ARCs (advanced reader copies) of my soon to be published novel Journey to Landaran are now available!  I would love to send out copies in your choice of e-format for feedback. Look for a full cover reveal coming in a couple weeks, courtesy of .

And second, it’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another of my indie author interviews! This week I have F.F. McCulligan, fantasy writer out with his first book. You can find more about him on Goodreads here:


1. What led to your writing a fantasy novel?

I think when you make a mixture of (1)plenty of solitude, (2) a staggering life
experience and (3) too much time on your hands, you usually wind up with a
fantasy novel, don’t you? I did. Maybe it’s not as common of a problem as I
thought… My whole life led to me writing my book, though. The bedtime stories
I had growing up, the influences of my brother and my childhood friends, my
experiences in the wilderness and at college, my time spent teaching youths and
most of all getting fired from a job ultimately led to me writing this
sentence: “The worst part about living in Darkwell was the smoke.” It
turned out to be the first sentence of a 452 page manuscript which two and a
half years later I published as The
Cost of Haven: Book 1 of The Great Cities.
I was unemployed, devastated
about losing my job, and had a lot of tumultuous thoughts, one of the
healthiest ways to work through it was to write.

2. The description of the book sounds like sword and sorcery. Would you
categorize the book this way?

Yes and no. I would categorize it more as just Sword. One critique I often have
of fantasy is that the prevalence of magic leads to plot holes and
inconsistencies. For example, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is
trained extensively and at great expense to Voldemort to be able to win the
tri-wizard tournament only so that when he touches the cup at the end of the
labyrinth he will be transported to the graveyard where Voldemort and the Death
Eaters plan to kill him. If Voldemort can turn an object into a portkey and
teleport Harry against his will by having him touch it, why not make his
doorknob into a portkey and skip the whole tournament debacle? So I take issue
with sorcery, especially when it lacks any apparent limitations. Another
critique of overpowered magic is that it has the potential to de-emphasize the
importance of the human spirit, sacrifice, friendship and physical prowess. If
there is a magical solution to every problem, then why send in the swordsman?
This is problematic in a book about a swordsman.

3. Tell me the juicy details about your first book.

The Cost of Haven is fast-paced and gritty, in a world of bleak desperation
where humanity is at the brink of collapse.


Deagan Wingrat: “I’ve bled on his majesty’s
battlefields. I’ve slept out in his majesty’s rain.”

Deagan is a battle-hardened knight from the squalid city of Darkwell who is
unbelted and disgraced. That which he used to fight for: his honor and his oath
are lost, so he must question his entire life as he learns to stand under a new
banner: one of love, friendship, and revenge.

Kellen Wayfield:“Well I don’t know how to do
this, Rory, it’s just that… it seems the old well has dried up so to

Kellen is a miscreant and a former thief with hints of a background in piracy,
but his friendship with Deagan and Rory is utterly pure. Due to the encroaching
forces of evil, Kellen’s merchant caravans have become very limited in where
they can travel and he goes out of business. When opportunity knocks, Kellen
does not hesitate to profit from it as he swindles and complains his way
through a dangerous adventure to save a neighboring city.

Rory, Kellen’s Butler:
“No you don’t
understand!” he took a step forward. “I am a butler.”

Rory is devoted to his identity and lifestyle as a butler even though his
constant physical training has given him the physique of a spartan warrior. He
is humble and modest and devoted to serving Kellen, even though his master’s
coffers are empty and he will no longer be paid. Rory has to dig deep to find
that he is more than a mere serving man, he is a hero.

Royal Guard Androth:
Androth’s black mask
turned to stare into the other man’s face… the muscles under that armor were
poised to draw a weapon and kill him.

Androth is a mysterious black armored knight, a master of arms, and sworn to
silence. The Royal Guards of Haven are secretive and deadly. Read the book to
find out what lies behind the black mask…

DEATH WORLD: the death world is a crucial element to the story. In this world,
death is not the ending, and events taking place in the death world during the
climax of the story greatly effect its outcome.

DRAGONS: My dragons are intelligent and can breathe fire. They come in many
colors and sizes, but are mostly four legged, two winged, long necked,
crocodile headed lizards. There are dragon riders, but there are only a few of
them left. Dragons are not all powerful or invincible. They are well armored
and hard to beat for sure, but they have no magic or godlike powers. They are
similar to wolves in social structure and they have their own language which is
all but incomprehensible to humans while they can understand human speech quite
well. They need to be trained like horses or dogs and they form strong bonds with
their riders. In Cost of Haven, we don’t meet any wild dragon packs… but they
may be out there.

SARCOPHS: The undead are called sarcophs by the learned, Dead Men by the
masses, and Rotters by those who have faced them in battle. They are risen corpses
that have various levels of mobility and prowess depending on the state of the
corpse when it rose. They do eat human flesh. If you come back as a sarcoph, it
is game over for you in the death world. No second chances at an afterlife.

4. Who is your favorite writer and why?

This is a weird question because I would assume every single person would say
J.R.R. Tolkien.

5. What are you working on next?

I’m writing the sequel to the Cost of Haven of course! I hope to get it out
there sometime next year.

6. What efforts have you made to get reviews of notice for your book?

One of my main efforts has been just simply writing in public with a little
sign next to me and a few copies of my book for sale. Here is a link to my blog post about it
called Street Writer.

7. What was your greatest challenge?

After writing the book, I had no idea what to do next.

8. What advice do you have for other writers?

Writing a book is an artistic venture, but publishing a book is a business
venture. Don’t publish something you don’t love or don’t believe in.

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