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Author Interview: Jack Cullen

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Jack Cullen, author of Lock's Galactic Mess (Lock Ferguson vs. the Aliens, Book One).

FQ: I honestly cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading Lock’s Galactic Mess. It was so much fun. I saw your bio at the end of the story and read that you have been an attorney and a police captain. With that background, I am wondering what changed and activated the writing “bug” in you?

CULLEN: I’ve always been a voracious reader, especially in Urban Fantasy and Sci Fi. Being a lawyer and a police officer involves more writing than most would think. Legal briefs and police incident reports contain narratives. Each narrative tells what happen in a way that is similar to short stories. Writing them over the years turned out to be good practice. I finally pulled the trigger at the urging and advice of an author friend of mine. My first novel, Runes of Steel, which is also Book 1 of the Recollections of A Rune Knight series features a police officer named Mike Brennan who possesses rune magic, so I didn’t stray too far from the whole cop thing.

My first series had very little in the way of romance because the main character had been married for years. My wife challenged me to go outside my comfort zone and put some romance in Lock’s Galactic Mess. But me, being me, I had to do it with humor. It wound up being a little more risqué than I’m used to.

FQ: I am always very curious about where authors get their storylines. This story is so full of humor, and the plot is just amazing. Where did the idea come from?

CULLEN: I was working on a true crime novel featuring some very grisly murders and needed a brain cleanser, so I wanted to write something that was fun and didn’t take itself too seriously, and I wanted to play with UFO tropes for a while now. I have a camp up in a rural part of New Hampshire and there are a lot of small towns there that I used as the basis of Town, NH. The main character in my first series is very competent, experienced and smart. I wanted to play with a character far from that and I liked the idea of a geeky outcast in a small town where everybody knows you. I came up with the broad strokes and the rest came out in the writing.

FQ: It is so exciting to know that this is not the end of Lock’s adventures. Can you give us a glimpse into the series and what is going to happen next?

Author Jack Cullen

CULLEN: Lock’s Galactic Mess played with the trope of flying saucers and little grey men. Another alien trope is that of the Reptilians who are supposed to live underground and secretly control the government. Lock’s Earthy Maintenance is going to have it’s own very unique twist on that.

FQ: Are your characters based on anyone you know or complete figments of your incredible imagination?

CULLEN: None of my characters are based on anyone. I did name a minor character in the book after Miguel, my former partner, though the character is nothing like him. He had wanted to be an alien but was happy how it turned out.

FQ: I so enjoyed all of the pop culture references in the book. What made you write it this way? Was there a lot of extra research involved to come up with all of them?

CULLEN: As a typical Gen X, I grew up watching a lot of great movies in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It allowed me to cherry pick a lot of great quotes and references. The only research needed was to make sure I was getting the quotes right.

FQ: I always end up with a favorite character in the stories that I read. In this case, I will admit that I find Stella to be one of the most wonderful characters that I have ever read. Was she perhaps based on a college roommate of yours? She’s so real that I can’t believe she is completely made up. And, along the same lines, do you have a particular favorite in the book and why?

CULLEN: I put myself through college and law school while working as a cop, so no college roommate for me. Though I did meet my wife there.

Stella isn’t based on anyone. I didn’t so much invent her as I did channel her. She pretty much wrote her own lines. Stella is a very fun character to write about and is rapidly becoming a fan favorite. She is who she is, and she owns it.

That’s a tough one. Asking me to pick a favorite character is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Stella and Tavish were so fun to write. Jeopardy was another great character. A natural investigator that wasn’t afraid to go after what she wants.

FQ: I know that you have also written another series, Recollections of a Rune Knight. This is one that I have not read but certainly will make a point to now. Can you give readers a glimpse into the background of that series?

CULLEN: It’s an urban fantasy series set in the city of Llewellyn, Massachusetts. The city sits at a nexus point of ley lines and is one of the places where magical creatures and spell casters hide out in between Ages of Magic. The first book, Runes of Steel, features a former cop who comes back to assist after a magical terrorist attack.

FQ: When you start writing a story do you already know exactly what is going to happen or do you make it up as you go along? I guess I am asking what your process is from beginning to end.

CULLEN: I spend a lot of time crafting the characters, the overall plot, and the pivotal moments in my head. The rest comes after I start writing. After the first draft, I then go back and thread in hints and easter eggs.

FQ: When you actually have time to read yourself what genres/authors do you enjoy the most?

CULLEN: For Sci Fi, Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage series and Duchy of Terra series are fantastic. I’m currently reading The Last Hunter series by Terry Mixon and JN Chaney. For superhero books, Drew Hayes Super Powered and Villian’s Code are sooo good! For Urban Fantasy/Horror, I have to recommend False Icons by Rick Gualtieri and R.E Carr.

FQ: I see that you are a partner at Wicked Creative LLC. Would you tell our readers a little about that organization?

CULLEN: Wicked Creative LLC publishes the Wicked anthologies for the New England Horror Writers. The latest, Wicked Sick, came out in 2023. I actually just stepped back from Wicked Creative because of my schedule, but still remain a member of NEHW. It’s a great organization that helps current and aspiring horror writers in the New England area improve their craft.

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