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Authors of science-fiction, fantasy give writing advice at Co-op

By Zarrin Ahmed
On February 19, 2013

  • James D. MacDonald, left, and Debra Doyle came to the UConn Co-op to discuss their latest book, ‘Lincoln’s Sword,’ as well as general writing advice, with attendees and students. TOBY ZHAO/The Daily Campus


Masters of science fiction and fantasy Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald, who write both as a team and individually, shared funny stories and imparted advice to students at a book talk in the Co-op Tuesday. 

With their latest book, "Lincoln's Sword," on display at a table set in front of rows of chairs, the authors ran a bit late to the talk, allowing students from English classes to gather and discuss their books. The two live in New Hampshire with four children, three cats and a number of computers. Though they have published books individually, the couple also pair up to write fiction together. Doyle hold a PhD in medieval literature and has taught at the college level while MacDonald was an officer in the Navy and a journalist before turning to writing full time. 

MacDonald began by reading a short story that he had never read out loud, before let alone published, treating the audience to the first reading of the first draft of the story. "This is an - as of yet - unsold short story," MacDonald said. 

"Brand new," Doyle added. 

It revolved around music and "the impossible chord." After MacDonald finished the reading, he gave the draft away to a student. Doyle then read an excerpt from "According to the Rule," which was centered heavily on sailing and ships; it drew on MacDonald's experiences in the navy. The couple shared personal stories about funny situations in a discussion section afterwards.

"Send it out till hell won't have it," MacDonald said in advising students about getting their stories out to publishers or editors. He encouraged writers to keep trying until they got it right, while Doyle told the audience that trusting readers and their feedback is critical in writing.

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