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Author Mike McPhail

Mike McPhail

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Author Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

"In the Dying Light"

08-10-07: interviews author Danielle Ackley-McPhail, contributor to the upcoming military science fiction anthology "Breach the Hull".

MilSciFi: “Welcome. What was your inspiration for your story, In the Dying Light?”

Ackley-McPhail: “Originally, this was supposed to be a Mythos story. Cthuthlu in space. I was driving back from Balticon one year with my husband, Mike McPhail, and our friend CJ Henderson, and as it was a long drive, you can imagine the topics we came up with. CJ challenged me to write a Mythos sci fi/romance...I know...WHAT a combination. Anyway, as I work best under challenge, I went at it full force. It took a while and there were a lot of different versions before I reached the end, but with CJ's inspiration and Mike's technical policing, I completed my first full length science fiction story. True, by the time I reached the final version it was less a Mythos story and more of a science thriller. Basically, an officer on a transport vessel retrieves a bit of space flotsam that turns out to be an ancient artifact. And after that...things get REAL interesting. But if you want to know more, you'll have to read the story, because I know I hate it when people give the plot away.”

MilSciFi: “Do you have any future plans for stories set in the same universe?”

Ackley-McPhail: “I was toying with the idea of perhaps a prequel, based on some of what happens in the story. This would focus mainly around characters that are mentioned, but don't appear "on stage" in this one, with the possible exception of Yakata, the main character. But in the prequel she would be a secondary character. Hard to say if I'll ever get it done, there are so many projects bouncing around in my head.

MilSciFi: “What other upcoming works are on the horizon for you?”

Ackley-McPhail: “Well, projects that are awaiting release are, Sails and Sorcery (The Fantasist Enterprises), The Fantasy Writer's Guide: The Author's Grimoire (Dragon Moon Press), and my second novel, Tomorrow's Memories (Mundania Press). All of those are in the can and just waiting for publication in the Fall. As for things I am still writing. I have a couple of military sci fi stories underway, the first is Building Blocks, which I hope to submit to the upcoming anthology Barbarians at the Jump Gate, the second is Falling Stars, which is tentatively slated for So It Begins, the sequel to Breach the Hull, and in the beginning stages I have a military science fiction novel I'm working on with my husband Mike. It is called Progenesis and it is set in the universe he has created for his gaming series, The Archives Martial Role Playing Game. Mike has already written several stories in this same universe; Chimera, which appears in the anthology No Longer Dreams (Lite Circle Books) and Wayward Child, which appears in Breach the Hull. We are very excited about Progenesis. You could say that it's the story that started it all, even though it's barely begun.”

MilSciFi: “What advice would you give the aspiring military science fiction writer?"

Ackley-McPhail: “Find a REALLY good technical consultant...unless, of course, you have technical training on your own. I have been a fan for a long time, and read and watch a lot of sci fi, so I am able to babble right along with the best of them, but Mike keeps me to pausible babble. If what I am writing is something that has a basis in real technology or at the very least established theory, he feeds me whatever details I need to flesh it out, if what I am coming up with hasn't even been proposed, let alone researched, then he helps me to make sure it doesn't sound like a bunch of bunk. And that is just the technical bits...since we are talking military sci fi, you need someone to keep you straight on the military protocol and procedure. Fortunate for me, Mike can handle both! And finally...don't focus completely on the firefight and technical gadgetry, make sure your characters are as fully developed as the weapons they are using or the universe you are using as a backdrop. Characterization tends to be the first thing neglected, if anything is. At least that is what I have found in a lot of sci fi that is out there...not all of it, but enough for me to advise against new writers following that trend.”

MilSciFi: “Who is your single-most influence in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?”

Ackley-McPhail: “My husband Mike; he keeps me honest and helps me to shine by providing all the technical data I need to produce really sharp, accurate sci fi. I never even would have thought of trying my hand at the genre if it weren't for his initiating me in military sf through role playing his game.”

MilSciFi: “Do you write under any other names?”

Ackley-McPhail: “Not yet...but we will see. I am actually toying with the idea of trying to publish some children's stories and then I would write under another name just because Danielle Ackley-McPhail would be a cruel mouthful for a three-year-old.”

Danielle Ackley-McPhail's website is:

Breach the Hull, is published by Marietta Publishing:



Copyright ©2007 Mike McPhail, All Rights Reserved.


The views contained in this interview are those of the author, and
do not necessarily represent the views of