Author Interview: Annabelle McCormack
Annabelle McCormack writes historical women’s fiction with epic settings, adventure, and romance.
Her debut, Windswept, a novel about a British WWI nurse in the Middle East caught in a dangerous web of intrigue and romance, was published September 2021.
With so much fiction about the Great War centering around the Western Front, one of the things I really enjoy about McCormack's books are how they approach the conflict from a different setting - Egypt and what we know refer to as the Middle East. It's a refreshing change-of-pace, and her main character, Ginger, is a force to be reckoned with.
Book Two, Sands of Sirocco, was released earlier this week. I can't wait to read it to find out what happens next!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing stories for fun long before I realized I wanted to share them with others. Then in high school my classmates saw me carting around my journals that I scribbled in during class (yes, during, haha) and begged me to read my stories. They loved them and that’s where I first started with the idea that maybe other people would enjoy reading my writing.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Not counting stories I wrote as a kid, the first real book I dedicated myself to writing was an epic fantasy novel I began in seventh grade. I was twelve but I continued working on it for three years and it spanned many hand-written journals worth of material. (Which I still have!)
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have a wide range of interests and hobbies. Most of the time, I don’t end up being able to fit in a lot of them because I’m a homeschooling mom of five, but I enjoy painting and art, reading (of course), hiking, gardening, and baking (and pretty much all the art forms). I’m also a photographer, so my camera is always on my counter.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
There are two things that I think go a long way to improve: writing (and writing and writing) and forming the very thickest skin possible so that you can be truly open to feedback. The most valuable thing I learned in my writing program as a graduate student was how to accept criticism and see it as being not only from a place where others wanted to help, but that it really wasn’t personal—that others could see things I couldn’t because their vision wasn’t as myopic. Allowing myself to hear their feedback and use it to improve my manuscript was huge and continues to be.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think there’s a fine line to doing this. Readers want what they want. There’s absolutely no point in trying to reinvent the wheel here. On the other hand, I love being able to give readers original perspectives. So, for example, my WWI historical books are set in a place and location that is unusual for the genre—Egypt/Palestine—but that ends up feeling familiar, too.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I truly believe that the emotional craft of fiction is the most important. I’m a bit of an empath, so I can’t speak for writers who aren’t, but I do think that writers tend to feel things differently than others. Sometimes it becomes a crutch, other times it can almost become a vice. But we writers are a strange group of people in some ways, aren’t we? How can you portray the depth of the human experience without the ability to feel deeply? I’m not sure that you can.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Having a career as an author is an entirely different proposition to writing and publishing a book. They aren’t the same beast and shouldn’t be treated as such. Also, it’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint to get that author career.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Developmental editing. Developmental editing. And more developmental editing. (I’ve paid for several editors with different books.) A well-chosen developmental editor is invaluable.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success to me is a combination of two things:
Having readers for my books.
Making people feel something.
If I can accomplish those two things, the rest isn’t quite so huge to me.
What’s the best way to market your books?
As an indie author, it’s a combination of writing in series and ads, for me. Both have been amazing ways to promote myself as a writer. At the same time, I really believe strongly in building book buzz on social media, which also requires writing the most professional, best book you can!
What do you have coming next?
I just published the sequel to my WWI historical fiction, Sands of Sirocco. The third book in the series is in the works and will be published in 2023 in September. But before that, I have a contemporary small town romance series (Brandywood) debuting, starting with All This Time (October 2022) and I’ll Carry You (December 2022). At the heart of everything I write is romance and heartfelt emotions, as well as family drama—so I can’t wait to share all of these!
Thanks so much to Annabelle for joining us! Stay connected with her by subscribing to her newsletter, or following her social media on:
*Author Headshot Photo Credit: Katie Merkle, Merkle Photography