Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Danielle Ackley-McPhaill

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over sixteen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, the upcoming Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and New Blood.

She is a member of The Garden State Horror Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit,, or

Q: What do you write on? Computer, pad o' paper, battered Underwood? Give us a vivid picture.

Wow…it really depends on where I am. I grab every chance I can to write when I am in the middle of a project so I’ve written on my personal laptop, a previously finicky Gateway that had a backlighting short that made the screen go out on an all too regular basis, an ancient PalmPilot when I’ve gone back and forth to work, a lovely notebook—drattedly unlined—in a leather cover pressed with Celtic knotwork, and now my wonderful new Droid…which admittedly sees more game playing than writing at the moment, but only because I received it right as I was finishing the final pages of my new novel, Today’s Promise.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it influence what you write?

I almost always listen to music. Mostly Celtic instrumentals, or where they are singing in Irish, so that the content doesn’t distract me, but I’ve also been known to pull out the movie soundtracks when I need something with a really good sci fi or military theme. I don’t know about the music influencing me, exactly, but I do use it to get into a mindset. Not quite the same thing.

Q: Do you write in short bursts or carve out long periods of time to work? Is it a habit or a vice?

Wow…It depends. Above I mentioned I was working on Today’s Promise, the last book in my Eternal Cycle series. Through a moment of insanity I ended up with a five month writing window for that before it needed to be sent to press. I lost a month of that to illness and surgery. With only four months to write, revise, and then go through the formal edit process I was sweating it big time. At the very end I went 44 hours without a proper sleep and wrote about 12,000 words in that time. I finished the book in three months by dedicating every free moment obsessively to writing it. That’s not how I usually am, though. Mostly I’ll have a couple hours here and there when an idea comes to me, and more rarely I’ll write the day through to finish a short story. Of course, I’ve been known to go prolonged times without writing anything at all…

Q: What writer would you most want to read your work? What would you want to hear them say?

LOL…Well… I just gave my biker faerie novel, The Halfling’s Court, to Sherrilyn Kenyon…and I’m REALLY hoping what she says is that it doesn’t suck! [Ed. Fingers crossed!]

Q: On the days where the writing doesn't go so well, what other art or career do you fantasize about pursuing instead?

You know I’d like to be a chef, or a vagabond…though costumer or make-up artist would be really cool too…not like LancĂ´me. Like Face Off!

Q: What do you read? What do you re-read?

I read just about everything except for Horror and Manga. Mostly fantasy, urban fantasy, some sci fi. My guilty pleasure is romance, which I call my junkfood reading. Not because there is anything wrong with the quality of the writing, but because I can read them quickly, easily and enjoyable without too much having to keep things straight, like alien names and who is scheming against who.

Q: Where did the idea for your latest publication come from? Do you have a surefire way of sparking inspiration?

Most of my ideas come from the odd connections my mind makes when I’m in conversation with other people, mostly other writers. The Eternal Cycle series started as the story Yesterday’s Dreams. Originally it was only supposed to be a short story just for the heck of it. I’d never even considered it would become a novel or get published. I was in a chat room with other writers and one of them, my friend Bill Hicks, was talking about all the different jobs he’d had. One of them was a pawn broker. That triggered in my mind the idea of a pawnshop where an evil man claimed items that had an attachment to the owner’s soul. In the end it turned into a Celtic themed story where the pawnbroker was a good elf, still collecting soul-imbued items, but for the purpose of protecting them, not exploiting them. Yesterday’s Dreams was followed by Tomorrow’s Memories, and in May, concludes with Today’s Promise, and none of them would exist if not for talking with creative, like-minded people and letting my mind play with the possibilities.

From Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s novel Today’s Promise, Book Three in the Eternal Cycle Series, Dark Quest Books, May 2012:

The hall was weighted with oppressive silence. Hushed and packed, with no unnecessary movement. Every member of the elven race the world over had been summoned. No. Compelled. Kara had been swept along, driven to follow by an impulse deep within. Though not precisely included in the charge, her way had not been barred. More, she figured, because she’d gone unnoticed than for any other reason.

She made her way to where Maggie stood, careful to draw no attention to herself. Not that that was likely as the Sidhe all stood bound together by tension, every eye drawn to the Great Wall. More than architecture, more than art, that one wall represented the experiences of every Sidhe alive…and ever born. The intricate knotwork was more than decoration; in color and shape, it grew and changed as the Tuatha de Danaan did. This was the living history of their race. For Bran to be stricken from it for all time was testament to the severity of his offenses. Kara was floored by the grave nature of what she was about to witness. Silently, she took in the changes that had been made to the Hall.

On the dais in front of the wall Goibhniu’s massive throne was gone from its place. Where once it rested an enormous wrought-iron anvil stood ready; ancient, dark and unyielding, like the Smith that worked upon its surface. Kara’s eyes grew wide and beside her Maggie gasped. Goibhniu’s expression was completely neutral, as was his voice when he finally spoke.

“Two things the Daoine MaithĂ© honor above all else: kin an’ oath. To betray either is to be banned from the Land. To betray both is to be banished from all Lands. The Cursed One has added treachery beyond measure to his crime, betraying not one o’ us, but all o’ us. As ruler o’ this Land an’ first betrayed, I invoke the Unraveling.”

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