Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Interview: Engelia McCullough

Engelia McCullough is a currently unpublished writer with a B.A. English Literature and an M.S. HR Management under her belt. She has been mentioned in various publications such as The Examiner and The Howard County Times. You can visit her site HERE and follow her on twitter: @EngeliaM

Me: Tell us a little about yourself.
Engelia: I was raised in Howard County the youngest and only girl in the family. I was always into anything creative as well as sports. Writing is my therapy and just like a book, it allows me to escape and get a breather from the world.

Me: Have you always wanted to write - when did it all start? 

Engelia: I’ve always liked to write. It started when I was five. Often my stories come to me when I’m about to fall asleep or when I’m sleeping. So, there are times its hard for me to get up in the morning for work (smile).

Me: What are your current WiPs (works in progress)?  

Engelia: It’s funny. I started writing this book and was about 150 pages in. I decided to send the first 36 pages to a reviewer. Just to get a feel for if the book would read the way I wanted it to. It didn’t. The reviewer totally destroyed the draft. However, like they say, there is no such thing as a bad review. So, I took what I could from the review and held onto the positive like a life jacket. The reviewer stated that I had strong and catchy dialogue so I kept that and basically started the book all over again.

I know have a manuscript with the same characters just a re-focused plot and what was to be the original manuscript is now sitting in my folder as the follow up to the new book. When I got the review back, the first thought I had was of Ernest Hemingway. He said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Please excuse my language but this is very true.

I digress (laugh). To answer your question, I am now working on a manuscript for a book titled “The Truth Finder.” Here’s a little synopsis:

They call her the truth finder. 
There isn’t a crime that cold case detective Sarah Markes can’t solve. It’s the beginning of the holiday season and Sarah has just solved one of the biggest child murder cases in Howard County history. With that behind her, she's ready to enjoy the rest of the holiday season. Until Yolanda Spencer, a longtime friend of her father’s, walks into the police station asking for her help. 
Determined to keep any ties to her father, infamous and federally imprisoned financier Douglas Markes, out of her life Sarah refuses to help Yolanda. This is despite objections from her partner, veteran detective Sam McDonough.  
As the New Year begins, Sarah is excited about the future. Until the sudden death of her mother, Anna, makes her realize that life is too short to hold on to the past. Deciding to help Yolanda, Sarah musters every ounce of her training and personal conviction to find enough hard evidence to convince the District Attorney to reopen a ten year old closed case and bring an unsuspecting murderer to justice before her personal feelings jeopardize the case.   
Me: You've written some short stories. Tell us more about them. 
Engelia: My short stories have no rhyme or reason to them but tend to be a reflection of my mood at the time. My favorite thus far is titled “The Woman in Room One.” It’s about Marie. She is a woman trapped in the past. This story follows her as a patient in a mental institution and her unwavering commitment to the idea that one day she will go home. Even if it has been two decades since she’s left the property.
I love this story because it is about many of us who despite all the signs just can’t let go to that one ideal dream, thought or want. We can obsess over something and allow it to drive us into our own personal hell or as we call it nowadays, depression. I’m guilty of it that is for sure. We have to learn to let go. Live in the moment and then move on to the next one.  

Me: Why do you write? 
Engelia: I don’t know. It’s just something I have to do. When I started writing again, I made an agreement with myself that I would continue to do it even if no one liked what I wrote. That I was not going to get down on myself about the lack of support.

I mean, we are all a little bit narcissistic, right? Anyone in the creative or entertainment field is. We love the spotlight and the recognition. It means that everything we’ve thought about ourselves up to that point was right. We’re creative geniuses! Now, whether you are an introvert or extrovert is another story. It doesn’t change that we are that “thing.” It just changes how we exhibit that behavior.

For instance, I have an actor friend who is a total extrovert. A day does not go by where this person does not post their latest accomplishments to Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else they can find space. It’s sickening really despite the love I have for this person. On the other hand, I have a friend who is a painter. To meet this person you would not know this as this person does not talk about it. But if you go to that person’s house, there is a whole room solely dedicated to the awards, certificates, prizes, upcoming banquets, etc. that this person has received.

Now, some people may disagree with me and that is fine. I have totally based this on my own personal observations and experiences. I’m no Freud.

Me: What does your writing space look like? Is there music, coffee, food? 
Engelia: It’s one of my bedrooms that I turned into an office. I think it’s pretty boring but it works. I have my desk from Target with my laptop, pens, pencils and a television right by a window. I like writing with the television on. I am totally addicted to crime and mystery reality shows such as 48 hours, Snapped, etc.

My ideal writing space would be all whites and creams overlooking a beach in the Caribbean. There would be a walk out patio that met the sand. Margaritas would be the drink of the day every day.

Me: Any advice for fellow writers? 
Engelia: Seek out criticism. Take what you can use from a critique and toss the rest. Also, don’t take it personally. Everyone has an audience. You just need to find yours. It’s very important to edit, edit and edit some more. Just don’t do it to the point where you never turn that manuscript into a book and take it to the publisher.

Quick fire questions: 

Me: Summer or winter? 
Engelia: Summer all the way. I am not a fan of the cold which is why Miami is my go to always. I lived in Miami at one point and I miss it like crazy.
Me: Fork or Spoon? 
Engelia: Hands?
Me: Vampire or Werewolf? 
Engelia: Vampire
Me: Fast food or a home-cooked meal? 
Engelia: What’s a home cooked meal?



  1. Thank you, Zoe for the interview. As an unpublished writer, I was very excited about the opportunity. I can't wait until I can send you an ARC of the finished project. Thanks!

    1. You're very welcome, Engelia. It was a pleasure working with you. :-)

      That would be awesome, can't wait!


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