Cullen and Cobb and Me

Cullen and Cobb Blog Post

Cullen and Cobb and Me

Posted on October 24 by David A. Poulsen in Mystery
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I’m sure the question that mystery writers are most often asked is:  How much like you is your main character? I’m betting Gail Bowen has heard it dozens, maybe hundreds of times about her wonderful Joanne Kilbourne, that Ian Rankin gets it all the time with respect to Rebus, and that Bill Deverell is often asked how similar he is to the brilliantly created Arthur Beauchamp; in fact, it was one of the questions I posed to him during a recent interview.

And I, too, am often asked how much of Adam Cullen, the first-person narrator in the Cullen and Cobb Mysteries, is me. In fact, a number of my readers who have heard me read from the novels, and even some who haven’t but know me, say they hear my voice in their heads as they read.

I’d like to be able to say that there is none of me in Cullen and vice versa, that he is entirely separate from me in every way. But I’d be lying. The truth is, there are similarities — both of us love baseball, in fact, we each had our dreams of baseball immortality shattered by rotator cuff injuries; we earn at least part of our living from writing; we share a passion for Canadian music and musicians (though he knows a great deal more about the subject than I do); and both of us are crazy about Calgary, newspapers, Caesar’s Steak House, and coffee. A reader once asked me: Does anyone actually drink that much coffee? My answer to her was Cullen, Cobb, and me. Cullen lives in a neighborhood called Bridgeland, not far from the Calgary Zoo and Langevin School. I grew up in Bridgeland, spent countless hours at the Zoo, and attended Langevin School. We both have an aversion to violence, are worried about global warming, and start most of our days with Calvin and Hobbes. And we probably think alike about certain fundamental aspects of the world in which we live, like politics — he’s a lefty; I’m a lefty. I’m not sure if I’m as far in that direction as he is, but it’s a point that resulted in both of us receiving unpleasant threats from those with rather different views.  This happened for Cullen during the unfolding of the story in Dead Air, the second book in the series, and for me after the book’s publication.

But there are differences, too. For starters, Cullen is younger, bigger, probably braver, and definitely smarter than I am.  Cullen is a city guy whoknows nothing about horses and drives a Honda Accord whereas I’m a country boy whoraises running bred quarter horses and, like Cobb, drives a Jeep Cherokee … oh, and a pickup truck.

The truth is I think there are many writers who, like me, live at least a little vicariously through the characters they create. So yes, there is certainly a little of me in Adam Cullen. Hell, there are times when I think it would be cool to be Adam Cullen. Perhaps because he’s younger, bigger, braver, and smarter. Oh, and his books seem to be doing better than mine. But I think what is more important is the relationship we have. Truth is, I like the guy. I’d love to have coffee with him sometime, maybe talk some baseball, a little Tragically Hip … we’d likely get into politics and maybe even chat a little about the latest Cullen and Cobb investigation.

Recently, I was asked, Do you think Adam Cullen would like you? What a delightful question. I’m not sure I know the answer. I hope so, but I can’t say for sure.

Maybe if I bought the coffee …



David A. Poulsen

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
David A. Poulsen photo

David A. Poulsen

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, football coach, and — most of all — a writer. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the first three books in the Cullen and Cobb Mystery series. He lives on a ranch in the Alberta foothills near Calgary.