Author Interview: Cully Mack

Tell us something about your book.

A Voice That Thunders is the first book in the thrilling epic fantasy Voice that Thunder series. Siblings, Mirah and Gabe, along with a band of rebels are fighting against immortals conquering their realm. The world and mythology is influenced by Mesopotamian myths. Think epic battles with Immortals and beasts of all kinds, throw in elemental magic, huge plot twists, intense romance, portals and unique worlds, and an ever-growing number of characters trying to save their world.

If you love character-driven fantasy, you’ll love my books. I warn you now; I don’t go easy on them. In places, it’s dark (but not grimdark). People love! People die! People make sacrifices! The battles are intense, blending weapons, magic and intelligence. The monsters are unique. Ever heard of Dactyrs or Dagani?

I’m a discovery writer, so the plot twists in unexpected ways. You’ll find romance and broken hearts (sorry).  I’ve been told many times that my writing is very visual and how reading my books is like watching a movie. I’ll let you be the judge of that…

Who is the ideal reader for your book?

Readers who enjoy mature YA and adult fantasy books with romantic subplots which don’t stray into smut. Themes in my series include coming of age and first love, which appeals to a YA audience. However, there are dark themes (conflict, violence) which might be too graphic for younger readers. Readers who enjoy multiple character pov and plot arcs similar to S. J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series will love my books.

Share the best critique/review of your book.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ A Great Romantic Fantasy

A Voice That Thunders is what I would describe as a romantic fantasy. Not romantic in the sense of romance, although there is plenty of that, but romantic in the classic way; great heroes, good guy wins, young love.
The author builds a fun take on a new world with gods, monsters, and several forms of magic. As an author myself I appreciate that she moves the story quickly, and reveals enough about the world to keep you curious, but doesn’t overload you.
The book primarily follows Mirah, a girl who finds herself taken from her home as a tithe to a powerful god. She finds herself a wielder of powerful magic and torn between new love and loyalty to family.
I recommend this book to anyone that likes romance, fantasy, and magic. It is a fun quick read. If anything, I wish the author would have extended the story line. It could have been double the length and still held my interest. The series continues on to A Scream That Shatters (Book 2), and I’m looking forward to reading the whole series.

What inspired you to write it?

I have always read, but never considered writing until after attending a beginner’s writing course in 2012. My mind exploded with ideas. I had created a character called Ammo. He never left my head. You could say I’d got the buzz.

Not knowing how to write or structure a story, I returned to University to study English Literature and Creative Writing. As a mature student, I had a blast. I stayed on and completed my Master’s in Creative Writing.

Ammo is now a character in my books. Maybe you have heard of him? If you have, keep quiet or it will go to his head. Regardless, he will always have a special place in my heart. Even though he is a rogue!

What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

Never give up. Dare to believe. Hold on to your dreams. You have a destiny, it’s your job to find it.

Share an excerpt from your book.

This is a scene from A Voice That Thunders. Mirah meets an immortal who has set himself up as a god.

Seated on the throne was Nate’s stepfather.

He appeared of human likeness, but he was not human. In the light emanating from him, he had a man’s face and a flicker of something else, something feline.

Mirah could hear gasps coming from those nearby, but she couldn’t take her eyes off him. He rose and golden feathered wings spread out above him. He seemed to expand, rising taller than even the giants. The brilliance of a fiery furnace flared in his eyes, and his outstretched arms gleamed like polished bronze. He was the most terrifying and the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

No one dared to move. He smiled a warm, knowing smile and lowered himself back onto his throne. The light dissipated around him, his wings now folded, unseen. If it were not for his eyes, Mirah would have thought him just a man.

His voice broke like the ocean waves.

‘I came through the clouds like a whirling storm and held back the powers of chaos. While Anu slept, I alone defeated the raging ones. I am Bel Shade—Lord of the mountain. I am Sahar—Day Star, Son of Dawn. My name is,’ he paused, waiting for effect before, ‘Shemyaza,’ flowed like rushing water from his lips.

At the mention of his name, the giants, Nate, and everyone else in the chamber bowed their heads. Mirah and the others quickly followed, if only to capture a moment of quick relief before Shemyaza continued.

‘It is I alone who brought mankind out of confusion. I offer to you the mysteries of my heavenly kingdom. I extend my mercy and offer you peace. My oath will not be broken.’

His eyes scanned over them, purifying any doubts simmering beneath the surface. She couldn’t deny a god sat before them.

‘Welcome to my kingdom.’ Shemyaza said, before turning towards the giants. ‘Tonight, we celebrate the gift of the tithes.’

The giants let out a ruckus of cheers, raising their arms and shoving into each other’s shoulders in a similar way to how Gabe messed around with his friends Eran and Tam.

As Mirah and the others were led away, she didn’t feel as though Shemyaza delivered her out of confusion. She’d just been sent deeper into a world which was not her own. Even Neviah was speechless.

Did you dare to believe that your book will be published when you started writing?

I never thought about publishing while writing. I was too focussed on finishing the book to consider the next stage.

How many times were you rejected?

I sent out three queries before deciding to self publish.

Was the process of looking for an agent/publisher discouraging?

I didn’t find the process of looking for an agent discouraging. The Internet has great resources, and it’s easy to find agents. However, I began reading horror stories of authors being dropped by publishers mid-series. It was more important for me to make sure my series was completed than signing my rights way. I decided to self publish and stopped querying. I did hear back from one of the agents I’d queried, who gave me great feedback.

How long did you write the first draft? And how long did the editing and re-editing take?

Overall, it took about a year to write the first draft and another several months of redrafts and editing.

Can you share your writing rituals/habits/process?

I’m a discovery writer. I begin with a character and a conflict. I tend to know certain plot points, 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 surprise me, leading me into territory I wasn’t expecting to go.

I love plot twists! Most of my twists come from writing my characters into a hole and then figuring out how to fix it. There are quite a few big twists in my books, which my mind would never have imagined if I’d sat down and tried to think it up. Some people might think this tactic is insane, but for me, it keeps my writing fresh. 

I remember my English Professor saying how my writing is unpredictable. Truth is, I have no clue what’s going to happen until I write the words on the page.  

Who was your first literary crush?

I never read books with crush worthy characters until later in life. I always read fantasy, but it was more the traditional kind without romance. I guess, I read Throne of Glass by S. J. Maas in 2016/17, making Chaol was my first crush. How naive was I? Haha.

Did you imagine yourself as an author in your teens?

No. I thought being an author was only for ‘professional’ writers. I grew up wanting to be a librarian (didn’t happen). 

What was the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

I have always loved reading. My first love was Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. I must have been around five on my first reading. The enchanted worlds and the awesome food blew my mind.

Did a book ever make you cry? (Which one?)

I’m not really a crier. There are books which make me pause and take a breather. This usually happens when I suspect a character I love might die. Hawke From Blood and Ash being the last one.

Which literary character did you want to take to bed as an 18-year-old?

Lorcan from Empire of Storms will always be my first love. What can I say, I’m a sucker for an underdog with a touch of broody, a tad of dominance, and the temperament of an alpha.

Do you sing under the shower? Or to your plants?

No. Never! I can’t sing, and I’m not tone deaf either. I do a lot of my thinking in the shower and often solve plot issues I’ve been struggling with.

Do you like to cook? What is your specialty?

I don’t enjoy cooking. In fact, I’d rather build a brick wall…

Do you have a pet?

My best buddy is Leo. He’s a German Short-haired Pointer. An absolute, lovable, full-energy dog, until I pick up a book, then he slumbers on the couch. I trained him well J

What is the most romantic thing you ever did?

Written romantic arcs in my books. I’m not guaranteeing every one has a HEA, but those who do are pretty amazing.

What is the most romantic thing someone did for you?

Waking me in the middle of the night to sing a song they’d written for me.

Do you believe in love?

Yes! The unconditional, nothing will separate us, climb any mountain, battle any foe kind.

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