Saturday, March 14, 2009

Featured Author Interview: Danielle Ackley-McPhail!

Welcome to a special author interview, one of several that are appearing in celebration of Small Press Month! Today I'm visiting with Danielle Ackley-McPhail, who, incidentally, won an EPPIE last weekend for her anthology Bad-Ass Faeries 2. Congrats and welcome! And remember, readers, leaving a comment on today's post enters you into the drawing at the end of March for a great prize package~

So, Danielle, when did you first begin writing?

I have always written and even before I had the skills to write, I occupied myself with making up stories in my head. I think my serious story telling came out of my voracious reading habit. The first time my mother took me to a library she opened the door and said: "As many as you can carry." I've been reading ever since and in the reading I was becoming dissatisfied when the story ended...well, assuming it was a good story. I started continuing the story in my head when I went to bed at night...inserting myself into the plot, of course. It didn't make for a great night's sleep, but man, did it exercise my creativity. I've been going ever since. I think the only reason I don't have more book credits to my name is, then, I was too lazy to finish anything, and now, I haven't the time to dedicate the way I would like to. Still, I do manage quite a few short stories that have been published, and my second novel released in September 2008, so I do keep my hand in despite scheduling constraints.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

This is tough. My latest published title is Tomorrow's Memories, by Mundania Press ( and it is a sequel to my first novel, Yesterday's Dreams.

In both books I incorporate and expand on Irish mythology. Basically Kara O'Keefe, a young woman descended from the Celtic Elves, the Sidhe, must sacrifice her prized possession, an heirloom violin, to rescue her family from financial ruin. In doing so she ends up at a pawnshop in the Village (NYC) and comes to the attention of both a member of the Sidhe and an ancient evil god. She becomes the prize in an all-out battle. In Yesterday's Dreams they win the battle, but the war is not over, there are several casualties, including Kara's father, and they all travel to Ireland and Tir na nOg to heal those that have not perished. They find the Sidhe of Ireland under seige and Kara must face ultimate evil once more to save those she loves.

Now, the novel in progress is much, much different! This one, Blood Will Tell, is a new kind of vampire novel. I can't give details at this time, but there is only very superficial resemblance to the vampires of legend. Right now it is under consideration by an agent, so we are keeping things quiet to ensure the idea stays original.

I also edit or contribute to a lot of anthologies. Those I am most known for are Bad-Ass Faeries, and Breach the Hull. Both were finalists for the 2007 Dream Realm Award, and Breach the Hull actually won. Bad-Ass Faeries is self-explanatory, and Breach the Hull is a military science fiction anthology. Both are published by Marietta Publishing (
How do you go about developing your characters?

I can't really say I develop them. To be absolutely honest, I discover them. Any time I try and specifically sculpt one, it turns out like Mr. Bill...very stiff and crude. But those I discover and draw out from the creative mix and learn who they are? Those take over the book and make it their own. I have to figure out what their motives are and their personalities, but it really is like they already exist and I'm just getting to know them: what they look like, why they do what they do, who they know and what they do for fun. It all just comes out without any calculated effort on my part. It makes the story very organic, and also, at time, very frustrating but I can't dispute the life force you can feel in the story when this unfolds properly.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

Life? What life? I'm either working...or working...During the day I work for in publishing and all the other times I'm either writing books/stories or promoting them. If it wasn't for conventions I wouldn't get to have any fun. It's funny/scary, but my husband became an author just so he could spend time with me :)

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Hmmm...I have times I'm not inspired, but I don't like to think of them as writer's block because I'm quite capable of writing, I just don't have an idea. What I do then is read back over what I have already written. This way I find mistakes and polish what is there, keep what is going on fresh in my mind, and often end up with an idea of where to take things next, so I end up writing after all.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Reading...or making stuff...I am a costumer, and I sculpt costume horns for others. If there is a good movie out I'll even leave the house, though this is getting rarer and rarer. I hang out with my friends, but they are all genre fans's almost like research ;) Still fun.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

Characters don't always do what you tell them to! In fact, sometimes they die even if you had plans for them later! The nerve. I don't use an outline because I find that, for me, the book goes where it wants too and if I went to the trouble of an outline, it usually just wastes time I could have been writing. That's just for me, though...I know others find outlines useful, it just doesn't work for me.

Thanks so much for being here today (and congrats on your EPPIE win!!). Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

You can find out more about me at, and I can also be found on LiveJournal, MySpace, and FaceBook. I'd give the urls, but I always mess up retrieving them...Look for me, you'll find me. When I have the option, I always go by my full name.


Robin M. Buehler said...

Nice job on the interview; very interesting. Looking forward to reading the book when I have the time.

-- Robin M. Buehler

Mary Ricksen said...

Congratulations on your EPPIE win.

Writing itself is a full time job itself. Add homemaker, nanny, cook, laundress etc. as the shoe fits.
Great blog. Sod luck with the book!

Nece said...

Great interview! Can't wait to hear more about the new spin on vamps!

I clearly am behind and have a sequel to go buy. lol


Michael said...

Fun interview!
My wife has taken to writing to spend time with me too... scary is right!

Sarita Leone said...

Big congrats on your Eppie win! :)

Pauline B Jones said...

congrats on the eppie and all your great news and reviews! have your first book loaded on my kindle, looking forward to reading. cheers!

Mayra Calvani said...

Great interview, Danielle! And congrats on the EPPIE Award!

Danielle Ackley-McPhail said...

Thanks for reading, Everyone! I enjoyed doing the interview and was absolutely thrilled with the EPPIE! Hope you enjoyed what you read and feel free to look me up if you'd like to know more or keep up on future developments...and awards ;) I am on Facebook and Myspace under Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and on Live Journal under damcphail. Of course, when I have time to update, my website is good for info too ;)



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