Author writes book he always sought
By Eric Blaisdell
STAFF WRITER | May 07,2013
MONTPELIER — The story Adam McCullough was searching for was not out there, so he decided to write it himself.
McCullough, of Montpelier, published a book last month titled “The Cost of Haven.” It’s a fantasy set in medieval times, centering on a knight who gets fired from his job and the adventures that follow.
The novel, which McCullough plans to be the first in a three-part series, is partly autobiographical. McCullough said he started writing the book after he had been fired from a job working with youth at risk two years ago. He said there was a disagreement about how he should do his job.
“It was cathartic for me, because in the book I’m able to have the characters that fire me get shot by arrows,” he said, laughing.
McCullough said it was challenging to write some parts of the story. In one scene, the fired knight has to give back his warhorse. McCullough said the horse represents the class he worked with at his job. Putting into words how much he cared about them and the loss he felt was difficult, he said.
Other parts of the book also draw on parts of McCullough’s life, as he said the dragons are based on his dog and the way the friends interact with each other resembles how he interacts with many of his own friends.
McCullough said he has been a fantasy novel reader since he was a child, and his father would read him “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” as bedtime stories. McCullough said he could tell that his father really enjoyed reading him the stories.
“My dad passed a lot of that passion to me,” he said, adding that he has been enamored of the fantasy genre ever since.
But something was missing.
“As a fantasy fan, when I go to the bookstore and I’m looking for a fantasy novel to buy, this (book) is what I was really looking for the whole time. It just wasn’t written yet,” he said.
McCullough also played Dungeons and Dragons, a role-playing board game. Playing the game helped him develop his storytelling ability, as he said he would always play the “Dungeon Master” — the player who controls what takes place in the game.
McCullough wrote the book under the pen name F.F. McCulligan. He said he chose that name because it falls in line with the long tradition of fantasy writers using initials, such as George R.R. Martin, who wrote “Game of Thrones,” and J.R.R. Tolkien. McCullough said his F.F. stands for “firefighter,” because he is a Montpelier firefighter. McCullough said he also chose a pen name because he doesn’t care for his own name.
“When I meet other people named Adam I feel bad for them because it’s such a dumb name,” he said.
McCullough has no formal training in writing or English, having earned a bachelor’s in conservation ecology from Sterling College. But he said he has always had a knack for spelling and grammar, and that writing has always come easy for him.
“There is nothing like a blank page to me. I see a blank page, I have a pen in my hand and it’s a really exciting vision for me. Anything can happen. I can create whatever I want,” he said.
McCullough said writing is the one thing he can do all day and not get bored.
“A lot of people think of writing a book as a long, boring process, but to me it’s not boring at all. It’s really exciting,” he said. “Sometimes I just ... type for hours.”
“The Cost of Haven” can be found at Bear Pond Books and Rivendell Books in Montpelier, as well as most book retailers online and as an ebook.