Thursday, March 28, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Meet Allie McCormack

The Write Way Café welcomes Allie McCormack, a dedicated romance novelist with a lot of magic in her heart.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book?
     I’ve been writing all my life, since I was old enough to hold a pencil. But I didn’t think I could ever write a whole book, beginning to end, until I won a first-chapter contest back in 2000, and the prize was to have the winning manuscript (that was Truck Stop) read by a senior editor at a major publishing house. So I finished the book, and no one was more surprised than I was!

What was your path to getting Wishes in a Bottle written and published? What type of research did you do?

     I first sent out a lot of queries to literary agents, and wasn’t getting anywhere. Then I woke up one day and realized, I wanted to self publish. I think my mind was still stuck back in 2001 when I first started looking at writing as a career, and you pretty much had to be traditionally published if you wanted anyone to take you seriously. But the world, and publishing, has changed enormously since then, and I think now if a traditional publisher came along and made an offer (unlikely!), I’d have to give it a lot of thought, and they’d have to be offering me something tangible for me to accept.
     Research! I did TONS of research! First I did a lot of research on the Djinn, naturally. But Julian is not a Djinn per se, he’s a mage, or ceremonial magician (alchemist) who did a powerful spell that backfired and bound him to a Djinn vessel, forced to grant wishes. So I did loads of research on ceremonial magicians and alchemists, etc. Since Julian was from Genoa in the 14th Century, which was the landing spot for the Black Death coming east from the Black Sea, I wound up doing a lot of research on the plague and learned a LOT more than I wanted to know, I assure you. There are tons of plague historical documentaries on Youtube, and they can get pretty graphic.

Where did the idea for Wishes in a Bottle come from?
     Oh my gosh, that came right out of my sleep! There I was, half awake one morning, and there was this genie on a sandy beach, with the hot tropical sun burning down on him, in agony at being trapped for so long in bondage to the bottle…. I have NO idea where he came from, but I just went with it, and here we are!

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     Good question. No idea why I chose Manhattan, it just kind of… came to me, as so many of my ideas do. But once it did come to me, I liked the idea of NY, of Central Park, and the antique shop on a small side street. I love the thrumming energy of NYC and it just seemed to fit.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
      They are completely 150% imaginary. As far as reflecting some aspect of myself, not really, except that, to all intents and purposes, all my characters live inside my head so in that manner, perhaps, general, no, they’re not me, or aspects of myself.

Did you face any blocks while writing Wishes in a Bottle, and if so, how did you handle them?

     Oh gosh, yes! A HUGE one, in the secondary character Jacinth who showed up as Julian’s Djinn mentor. She was so cute and funny, so lively and charming, I had a hard time keeping her from taking over the story. In fact, she came into my head so strong that I finally gave up trying to write Wishes in a Bottle, and put it aside to write her story (the 2nd book in the series) first, because she just wouldn’t let go of my headspace!

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
     Yes, until I researched alchemy, I had no IDEA there really was such a thing as the Philosopher’s Stone, as in Harry Potter. I also didn’t know that although one of the main goals of alchemy was to change base metals to noble metals (which I knew), the *main* purpose is to discover the Philosopher’s Stone. Also there really WAS a Nicholas Flamel who was (reputedly) an alchemist (although this is disputed). I had no idea! The whole thing was absolutely fascinating.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about Italy, spells and magic? What is a Djinn?
      I learned that I really LOVE writing about the Djinn, and creating my own world for them; their history, the rules, the interactions between Djinn and humans, and so forth. Also magical world-building. I spent a lot of time going back to change things as regards the magic, or to clarify, as I figured out the rules of the magic as I went.
     A Djinn is the original Arabic word from which we get “genie” in English. They existed in pre-Islamic folklore, and the Qur’an mentions them in a number of places. They are magical beings who live in the mystical homeland of Qaf. According to the Qur’an, Angels were created of light, Djinn were created of fire, and Man was created of clay. While Angels were created to do the will of God, and as such are perfect beings, the Djinn, like Man, were created with Free Will; they can be good, or they can be bad. Having said this, the Qur’an then goes on to talk mostly about the bad Djinn. I don’t have bad Djinn in my books; my female Djinn Jacinth acknowledges their existence, but they simply don’t show up in my stories (or haven’t yet, at any rate, LOL).

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     Oh I looove my writing space! My home has a corner bay window in the dining room. Instead of a dining room, I made it my office. I have a huge corner desk setup, with my monitor in the center of the bay window. What’s more, the full moon rises right up the center of the bay window, directly above my monitor!

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     I’ve been a Lord of the Rings aficionado since I was about 11 years old, and still re-read the trilogy now and then. Childhood favorites like The Secret Garden, A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy are still favorites! Another favorite author is Georgette Heyer, who wrote Regency and historical English romances back in the 50s and 60s. I’m a Nora Roberts fan and my absolutely #1 favorite of hers is The Winning Hand, one of the MacGregor series.

What are you working on now?
     I’m in the process of polishing A Gift of Jacinth, the 2nd book in the Wishes & Dreams series, for publication on June 4th of this year.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
     No. I write romance, I live and breathe romance stories. I don’t ever want to write anything else!

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     That one is easy!! I’d ADORE to be a tour guide at Disneyland!! I could memorize thousands of facts and dates and trivia, and share my love of the park with guests!!! That would be SO cool! Of course, now I’d have to lead handicapped tours, but I could do that!

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     Procrastination, of course! It’s not usually so much writer’s block that’s my main problem. It’s just focusing. I also have to work around chronic pain issues and the associated depression, which doesn’t help, but it’s the writing that makes my life worthwhile!

by Allie McCormack
     Centuries ago in plague-struck Italy, Julian DiConti cast a powerful spell in desperation to have the magical power to be able to help his people who were dying in horrific conditions. The spell goes spectacularly awry, leaving Julian enslaved to a Djinn bottle, bound to grant three wishes to each Master of the bottle until the spell can be broken. More than anything, Julian longs for a normal life – for a home, and a family. After six hundred years, however, he has begun to despair of ever being freed from the spell.
     Enter Alessandra Taylor, a young woman who has followed her calling to help others, in the face of vociferous disapproval from her family, particularly her controlling father. Working at a shelter for battered women, she's thrilled to meet the reclusive Julian DiConti, whose collection of garments from third world countries has provided funding for shelters across the country. When Julian turns out to be a Djinn from the old bottle she found in her attic, she hears his story and empathizes with his despair. Although she's willing to free him, he can't tell her how. As time goes by, their initial attraction blossoms into a love that both realize is doomed. Once she has made her third wish, the magic of the bottle will whisk Julian away and out of her life forever... unless she can somehow figure out how to free him. But one by one, she's forced to use the precious wishes to help others.


About Allie:
     A former career medical transcriptionist and disabled Veteran, Allie McCormack is now writing from home full-time. Allie has traveled quite a bit and lived many places all over the U.S., and also a year in Cairo, Egypt as an exchange student, and a year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia under contract to a hospital there, plus a short stint with NATO while she was in the Army. As a single mom, she raised a wonderful daughter who's recently married and there are plans afoot for grandchildren. Allie now lives in the beautiful Sonora Desert in southern Arizona with her two rescue cats and writes full-time.
     Allie says: "A writer is who and what I am... a romance writer. I write what I know, and what I know is romance. Dozens of story lines and literally hundreds of characters live and breathe within the not-so-narrow confines of my imagination, and it is my joy and privilege to bring them to life, to share them with others by writing their stories."

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HiDee said...

Great interview! Thanks for joining us today, Allie!

Lynn said...

Your writing sounds magnificent. Good luck and thank you for being on our blog!