MacDonald, James D. 1954-
MACDONALD, James D. 1954-
(Nicholas Adams, a house pseudonym, Victor Appleton, a house pseudonym, Martin Delrio, Douglas Morgan, Robyn Tallis, a house pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Born 1954, in White Plains, NY; son of a chemical engineer and an artist; married Debra A. Doyle (a writer and teacher); children: four. Education: University of Rochester, received degree in medieval studies. Hobbies and other interests: Science fiction, cats, computers.
CAREER: Journalist and science fiction author. Volunteer with a local ambulance company. Military service: U.S. Navy, served fifteen-year tour of duty as both an enlisted man and an officer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mythopoetic Fantasy Award for children's literature, 1992, and New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age citation, 1993, both for Knight's Wyrd; Best Young Adult Science Fiction Award, Science Fiction Chronicle, 1997, for Groogleman.
NOVELS; "CIRCLE OF MAGIC" SERIES; WITH WIFE, DEBRA
School of Wizardry, Troll Books (Mahway, NJ), 1990.
Tournament and Tower, Troll Books (Mahway, NJ), 1990, reissued as Secret of the Tower, 2000.
City by the Sea, Troll Books (Mahway, NJ), 1990, reissued as The Wizard's Statue, 2000.
The Prince's Players, Troll Books (Mahway, NJ), 1990, reissued as Danger in the Palace, 2000.
The Prisoners of Bell Castle, Troll Books (Mahway, NJ), 1990.
The High King's Daughter, Troll Books (Mahway, NJ), 1990.
NOVELS; "MAGEWORLDS" SERIES; WITH DEBRA A. DOYLE
The Price of the Stars, Tor (New York, NY), 1992.
Starpilot's Grave, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.
By Honor Betray'd, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.
The Gathering Flame, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.
The Long Hunt, Tor (New York, NY), 1996.
The Stars Asunder, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.
A Working of Stars, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.
NOVELS; "BAD BLOOD" SERIES; WITH DEBRA A. DOYLE
Bad Blood, Berkley (New York, NY), 1993.
Hunter's Moon, Berkley (New York, NY), 1994.
Judgment Night, Berkley (New York, NY), 1995.
OTHER NOVELS; WITH DEBRA A. DOYLE
(Under house pseudonym Robyn Tallis) Night ofGhosts and Lightning ("Planet Builders" no. 2), Ivy, 1989.
(Under house pseudonym Robyn Tallis) Zero-SumGames ("Planet Builders" no. 5), Ivy, 1989.
Timecrime, Inc. (Robert Silverberg's "Time Tours" no. 3), Harper (New York, NY), 1991.
(Under house pseudonym Nicholas Adams) Pep Rally ("Horror High" no. 7), Harper (New York, NY), 1991.
(Under house pseudonym Victor Appleton) MonsterMachine ("Tom Swift" no. 5), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.
(Under house pseudonym Victor Appleton) AquatechWarriors ("Tom Swift" no. 6), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Night of the Living Rat (Daniel Pinkwater's "Melvinge of the Megaverse" no. 2), Ace (New York, NY), 1992.
Knight's Wyrd, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1992.
Groogleman, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1996.
Requiem for Boone (based on television series "Gene Roddenberry's Earth—Final Conflict"), Tor (New York, NY), 2000.
NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM MARTIN DELRIO
Mortal Kombat (movie novelization; adult and young adult versions), Tor (New York, NY), 1995.
Spider-Man Super-Thriller: Midnight Justice, Byron Preiss Multimedia/Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Spider-Man Super-Thriller: Global War, Byron Preiss Multimedia/Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Prince Valiant (movie novelization), Avon (New York, NY), 1997.
A Silence in the Heavens ("Mechwarrior Dark Age," no. 4), Roc (New York, NY), 2003.
Truth and Shadows ("Mechwarrior Dark Age," no. 5), Roc (New York, NY), 2003.
Service for the Dead ("Mechwarrior Dark Age," no. 6), Roc (New York, NY), 2003.
(Under pseudonym Douglas Morgan) Tiger Cruise (novel), Forge (New York, NY), 2001.
(Under pseudonym Douglas Morgan; editor and annotator) What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor: Unexpurgated Sea Chanties (nonfiction), Sword-smith (Pomfret, CT), 2002.
(Under pseudonym Martin Delrio) The Loch NessMonster (juvenile nonfiction), Rosen (New York, NY), 2002.
The Apocalypse Door (novel), Tor (New York, NY), 2002.
Author and coauthor, with Debra A. Doyle, of short stories appearing in numerous anthologies, including Werewolves, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin Greenberg, Harper Junior Books, 1988; Vampires, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin Greenberg, HarperCollins, 1991; Newer York, edited by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Roc, 1991; Alternate Kennedys, edited by Mike Resnick and Martin Greenberg, Tor, 1992; Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters, edited by Bruce Coville, Scholastic, 1993; Swashbuckling Editor Stories, edited by John Betancourt, Wildside Press, 1993; Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts, edited by Bruce Coville, Scholastic, 1994; A Wizard's Dozen, edited by Michael Stearns, Harcourt, 1995; A Wayfarer's Dozen, edited by Michael Stearns, Harcourt, 1995; Witch Fantastic, edited by Mike Resnick and Martin Greenberg, DAW, 1995; Camelot, edited by Jane Yolen, Philomel, 1995; The Book of Kings, edited by Richard Gilliam and Martin Greenberg, Roc, 1995; Tales of the Knights Templar, edited by Katherine Kurtz, Warner, 1995; Otherwere, edited by Laura Ann Gilman and Keith R. A. DeCandido, Berkley/Ace, 1996; A Nightmare's Dozen, edited by Michael Stearns, Harcourt, 1996; and Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers, edited by Coville, Scholastic, 1996.
WORK IN PROGRESS: City of the Dreadful Night, a fantasy novel; "Mageworlds" volume no. 8; Mist and Snow, a Civil War fantasy.
SIDELIGHTS: In close collaboration with his wife, Debra A. Doyle, James D. Macdonald writes science fiction and fantasy for children, young adults, and adults. In an interview with Amazon.com, Macdonald related that he writes the first drafts of the stories and novels and that his wife works on the revisions. Macdonald said, "I have final say on the plot and characters, she has final say on the words and descriptions." He commented that the books of J. R. R. Tolkien have had an impact on his writing and said that he also enjoys reading the work of Robert Heinlein and Alexandre Dumas. Together, Macdonald and Doyle have written over twenty novels and innumerable short stories, primarily fantasy and science fiction for young adults.
Doyle and Macdonald's first series, "Circle of Magic," intended for an elementary and junior high school audience, consists of six novels chronicling the story of Randal and his adventures in fulfilling his destiny to become a wizard. School of Wizardry introduces twelve-year-old Randal, who is determined to become a wizard after a wayfaring wizard visits his home. Initially delighted to be admitted as an apprentice into the famous Schola Sorceriae (School of Wizardry), he soon realizes that before becoming a master wizard he must conquer many enemies, among them Lord Fess, who plans to destroy the school and gain supreme power through his evil spells.
Tournament and Tower, later published as Secret of the Tower, is the second installment in the "Circle of Magic" series. The novel opens with Randal being granted permission to graduate from the School of Wizardry with the provision that he refrain from using his magic until Balpesh, the master wizard, exonerates him for breaking his pledge not to use a weapon. In the meantime, Randal becomes a squire to his cousin Walter. In a tournament, Walter sustains serious injuries, but Randal, lacking his magical powers, cannot rescue Walter. Balpesh, who could rescue him, is himself in great peril. It is up to Randal to free the wizard, who can then save Walter and restore Randal's magical powers.
In City By the Sea (later published as The Wizard's Statue) Randal, now a fifteen-year-old journeyman wizard, embarks on one of his most hazardous undertakings when he accepts a statue from a dying stranger and promises to fulfill the man's deathbed wish that the statue be brought to Dagon, a soldier of fortune. Randal soon learns that the statue has magical powers of its own, and that Dagon is not the only person seeking the statue.
The series continues with The Prince's Players (later published as Danger in the Palace), which places Randal and his friend Lys on their way to visit Prince Vespian's palace. Here, Randal learns tricks of illusion from the court's master wizard, Petrucio. He thinks his new talent is to be used in royal stage productions; instead, he discovers that Petrucio has more diabolical plans for his new skills. A dangerous adversary seeks to conquer Prince Vespian's kingdom, drawing Randal and Lys into political intrigue.
In The Prisoners of Bell Castle, Randal confronts Lord Fess, his old enemy, when he and his friends agree to guard a boatload of gold needed as wages for Baron Ector's armies, who have put Fess's ancestral home, Bell Castle, under siege. When the gold disappears, Randal is implicated in the theft and must triumph over Lord Fess in order to prove his innocence and recover the gold. The final novel in the "Circle of Magic," series, The High King's Daughter follows Randal, Walter, and Lys as they journey into Elfland to rescue Diamante, the High King's daughter, and restore her to her rightful throne. In order to do so, they must enter a magical realm and confront Lord Hugo de la Corre, who has proclaimed himself High King in Diamante's absence.
Doyle and Macdonald's fantasy novel Knight's Wyrd won the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature in 1992 and was placed on the New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age list in 1993. Knight's Wyrd combines a realistic story of knighthood with the fantasy elements of magic, dragons, and wizards. Just as young Will Odosson is about to be knighted, the castle wizard predicts his wyrd (fate): Will is not destined to inherit his father's title and lands and will soon meet death. Although the wizard's prophecy comes to pass, it does not occur in the manner Will expects. A young man of strong character, Will becomes a knight despite his wyrd and leaves home seeking adventure. In the course of the novel, Will rescues Isobel, his betrothed, is double-crossed by his Duke, and becomes entangled in high magic. Indeed, he does meet death, but it is in the form of Lord Death, who observes Randal slay the ogre who cannot be killed. A Kirkus Reviews critic praised Knight's Wyrd's "strong sense of time, place, and code of honor." Horn Book reviewer Ann A. Flowers called it "a lively story," and a School Library Journal critic recommended it as "suspenseful," with a lively tempo.
In the next series, the spine-tingling "Bad Blood" trilogy, Macdonald and Doyle explore the kind of horror stories told around campfires after dark. Bad Blood, which takes its name from the series, begins with hair-raising tales shared around a campfire in the woods. But Valerie Sherwood and her friends never expected any of the stories to come true. After all, Jay's strange tale of moonlight and werewolves was just make believe. That night, however, they hear the beast prowling around the camp and they remember Jay's words: "By morning, you'll all be dead."
In Hunter's Moon, the sequel to Bad Blood, Valerie, now a werewolf, uses her power to protect her community from a group of vampires while trying to live a "normal" suburban life. But soon she suspects that werewolves are powerless against vampires and she must find a way to save her loved ones. In Judgment Night, the final installment, Valerie is haunted by her own nightmares and by the Wendigo, an ancient force that calls to her from the mountains and thrives on her fear.
The popular "Mageworlds" series, begun in 1992, focuses on the centuries-long conflict between the human Republic and the mysterious Mageworlds. In The Price of the Stars, the first in the series, Beka Rosselin-Metadi is tired of consistently hearing about her parents' heroic roles in the human galaxy's history. When her mother is murdered on the Senate floor, however, she finds new pride in her heritage and vows to bring the assassin to justice. Her father offers her Warhammer, his cherished ship, for her use in capturing the murderer. As the plot develops, Beka plans her own demise so that she can, with a different identity, conquer the dangerous enemies of the galaxy.
In Starpilot's Grave, Beka continues the search for the man who arranged her mother's assassination, but soon it is revealed that the Magelords have breached the Republic's stronghold. Beka, in searching for her mother's killer, infiltrates the Magezone and learns that the Republic is far more vulnerable than she ever imagined. The Magelords have triumphed over the Republic in the third of the series, By Honor Betray'd. Confronted with betrayal and surrounded by enemies, Beka strives to reclaim what she can from the wreckage of the Republic.
The Gathering Flame, fourth in the "Mageworlds" series, describes Beka's parents' contributions to the Republic's struggle against the Magelords. The novel chronicles attempts by the Magelords to ravage the galaxy, planet by planet. However, the Magelords must take on three individuals to succeed in their plans: Perada Rosselin, Domina of Entibor, Jos Metadi (a notorious privateer who prefers to battle Mage ships one-on-one), and Errec Ransome, who is acquainted with the customs of the Magelords but has confidences he will not reveal. When the Magelords attack Entibor, the three must work together.
In The Long Hunt, set in the era following the Second Magewar, Entibor faces attack by the Magelords. Meanwhile, on the planet Khesat, a crisis unfolds and all depends on Jens Metadi-Jessan D'Rosselin, unwilling heir to the throne. Warring factions and criminal guilds know that control of the heir means control of Khesat and the galaxy. But young Jens, eager for adventure, sets off with his cousin Faral to see the galaxy. However, in their travels they encounter more action than anticipated. Writing in Locus, Carolyn Cushman called the "Mageworlds" series "a space opera with unusual depth, and some wonderful characters I'm eager to see in further adventures."
The sixth installment in the series, The Stars Asunder, is a prequel set some 500 years before previous volumes, examining the beginnings of the Magewars. The novel focuses on the Mageworlds rather than the Republic, and specifically on Arekhon, a young mage from a prominent family. When Arekhon is drawn into a Mage-Circle determined to breach the legendary Gap Between that separates the Galaxy, he finds romance, danger, and betrayal. A Publishers Weekly writer noted that readers didn't have to be familiar with the series to enjoy The Stars Asunder, and added that with its combination of "magic, space opera and time travel, the plot offers some surprises, though less suspense and action than expected."
The next novel in the series, 2002's A Working of Stars, continues Arekhon's story as he is compelled to return home to complete the work of his broken Mage-Circle and span the Gap Between. A Publishers Weekly critic observed that the changing locations and relationships were sometimes confusing, but added that Macdonald and Doyle "manage a bright note of genuine human warmth in the chilly reaches of outer space, as well as offering plenty of action in this rapid-fire blend of sorcery and SF." Booklist critic Roland Green similarly noted that the novel emphasizes action more than character, but stated that "this is imaginative, intelligent, fast-paced space opera, in the positive sense of the term."
Macdonald has also written or cowritten several standalone works, including Groogleman, which a critic for Science Fiction Chronicle declared "the best young adult science fiction" of 1996. In this fantasy novel, the plot centers around thirteen-year-old Dan Henchard, a student healer who must save his teacher Leezie, a natural healer, from her abductor. Dan, believing the kidnapper is the Groogleman, travels to the Dead Lands in his search for Leezie, knowing that failure means certain death for him. Along the way he receives help from a hunter named Joshua and in the process learns much about himself. Selections from "historical documents" introduce each chapter and provide clues to the secret purpose of the Grooglemen. A reviewer for Realm of Fantasy magazine wrote that Groogleman is "filled with adventure and action—a must read," and a Science Fiction Chronicle writer praised it as "an old fashioned post-collapse adventure."
Macdonald's 2002 novel The Apocalypse Door is based on a short story he and Doyle wrote for Katherine Kurtz's anthology Tales of the Knights Templar. Hero Peter Crossman is not a medieval knight, however, but a modern-day member of the religious fighting order that was supposedly disbanded over 600 years ago. Crossman is an agent for the secretive Knights Templar, assigned to investigate the disappearance of a United Nations peacekeeping team. The task leads him and his partner Maggie, a nun and trained assassin, to a supernatural plot to open a gate to Hell. A Kirkus Reviews writer enjoyed the humor of this "breezy spy spoof," describing it as "cloak-and-dagger meets robe-and-Psalter with jokes and swagger, all just for fun." Calling Crossman a "refreshingly original hero," a Publishers Weekly critic observed that "though other novels have blended mysticism, mystery and fantasy, few have done it as smartly or succinctly as this one."
In an interview with Amazon.com, Macdonald explained that he attempts to write every day but said that it "can be an hour or it can be ten hours, depending on how things are going." Reflecting that he served fifteen years in the U.S. Navy as both an enlisted man and an officer before becoming a full-time writer, he advised would-be writers to "go out and have a life to write about, then write and keep writing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of AWorking of Stars, p. 1387.
Horn Book, January-February, 1993, Ann A. Flowers, review of Knight's Wyrd, pp. 89-90; March-April, 1996, p. 202.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1992, review of Knight'sWyrd; October 1, 2002, review of The Apocalypse Door, p. 1434.
Publishers Weekly, May 31, 1999, review of The StarsAsunder, p. 72; March 11, 2002, review of A Working of Stars, p. 56; October 14, 2002, review of The Apocalypse Door, p. 68.
Realms of Fantasy, April, 1997, review of Groogleman.
School Library Journal, December, 1996, Susan L. Rogers, review of Groogleman, pp. 120-121.
Science Fiction Chronicle, April-May, 1997, review of Groogleman.
Amazon.com,http://www.amazon.com/ (December 11, 1998), interview with Macdonald.
Doyle and Macdonald—About Our Books,http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/ (February 16, 2004).
Eternal Night, http://www.eternalnight.co.uk/chronicle/ (February 16, 2004), interview with Macdonald.*
"MacDonald, James D. 1954-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/macdonald-james-d-1954
"MacDonald, James D. 1954-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Retrieved January 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/macdonald-james-d-1954
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