Corey McCullough is the author of several books including, The Fallen Teratology, A Knife in the Dark, and most recently, Rust on the Allegheny. I met Corey at 3 Rivers Con in Pittsburgh by chance, where I picked up my copy of A Knife in the Dark. I'm incredibly excited to share this interview--thank you, Corey!
Of the cons, festivals, and events you've attended and read at, do you have any memorable moments that impacted you as an author?
One of the coolest ones was getting involved in a book festival hosted by the local library in my hometown. It was the first of what they hope to make an annual event, and I was asked to take the stage and speak about reading and writing. Talk about stepping outside your comfort zone! I had never done ANYTHING like that before. Fortunately, it was an outdoor event on a sunny day, so I just kept my sunglasses on so no one could tell I was too nervous to make eye contact with the crowd.
On your site, you have three WIPs going. As an author, is this your preferred style of working? How do you balance multiple projects?
My ideal situation is to be in the writing phase of one project while in the editorial phase of another. I like being able to shift gears like that, and it helps me be more productive. But I also work as a freelance ghostwriter and copy editor, so at any given time, I’ve got multiple client projects going too (usually all in multiple phases of production), so you have to be flexible. And as much as I try to carve out daily time for personal projects, they sometimes have to take a backseat to the “day job.” (The real world can be annoying sometimes.)
Your impressive body of work spans multiple genres: The Fallen Teratology working in fantasy, A Knife in the Dark blending science-fiction with noir, and Rust on the Allegheny making a switch to historical fiction. What has your experience been with shifting genres? Was there any crossover in your style and approach to each form, or did you take on each differently?
I think the one thing that’s consistent across all types of fiction is that characters are more important than plot. From a marketing standpoint, genre-jumping is not usually the best practice for writers. Generally, it’s better to stick to a single niche because readers of your work in one genre may not necessarily be fans of your work in another. Up until recently, I’ve been purely a sci-fi/fantasy author. But then I got this idea for a historical fiction novel spanning multiple generations of a single family and their (dysfunctional) relationship with their Rust Belt hometown. The idea wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I just went for it. I’m glad I did because Rust has been my best-received book so far.
How do you feel the advent of digital/self-publishing has affected literature?
I do think it’s a good thing… It’s not for everybody, obviously. But for writers who have an entrepreneurial spirit in addition to their creative side, independent publishing is kind of the best of both worlds. Plus, there’s a lot to be said for retaining creative control of your own work. (That said, I am glad self-publishing didn’t exist when I was younger, because my ambition probably would have gotten the better of me, and I would have self-published some truly cringey fiction way before I was ready… I guess the jury’s still out on whether I’m not just doing the same thing as an adult. But, hey, what are you gonna do?)
At times, writing can be a solitary endeavor for many folks. How important is community to you?
I try to be intentional about maintaining relationships. You have to be. As cool as it might sound to be some reclusive novelist churning out stories, humans are social animals, and if you don’t cultivate that part of yourself, you’re more prone to depression and a whole host of other problems. We’re starting to see this on a mass scale with remote work becoming more common. Without the everyday social interactions that come built-in with conventional employment, everyone is at a higher risk of losing that sense of community. If you’re not careful, you can isolate yourself without meaning to.
When you're not writing, what are you up to?
Spending time with my wife and my three kids. I have two daughters and a son, and being their dad is my favorite thing I’ve ever done. I’m blessed to be able to spend so much time with them. Being a parent is the best thing in the world, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
If you’ve read this far, tell me about it on Instagram or Facebook, and I’ll send you the first book of my fantasy series for free.
Check out Corey's site or pick up one of his books here.
Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon.
If you're in need of a ghostwriter or copy editor, he's got you covered!
Photo credit to the author.