Fantasy Duo Macdonald and Doyle visit UConn

James D. Macdonald and Debra Doyle reads from recent work and discuss how they became writers and the process of collaborating on fiction, as well as answering student questions. (Jason Jiang/Daily Campus)

On Tuesday evening, the University of Connecticut was visited by two icons of the fantasy and science fiction world, James D. Macdonald and Debra Doyle. Together, MacDonald and Doyle have collaborated on over thirty novels together, ranging everywhere from movie novelizations such as “Mortal Kombat”, to their sci-fi, award-winning novel, “Knight’s Wyrd.”

Macdonald read their latest work, “One Night in Bavaria,” which was recently released as part of a collection of short stories titled “Conspiracy!” Doyle also read, taking an excerpt from their book to be released in 2017 called, “Emergency Magical Services: First Response” about an EMT stuck cleaning up after mystical beings such as elves and vampires. 

“I liked the second piece, that [Doyle] read,” Natalyia Kostenko, a student attending the reading said. She added that the readings may have affected her own writing down the road.

Macdonald and Doyle also shared personal stories from different stages of their lives together. Macdonald, a veteran of the Navy, showed his character with his equally colorful stories ranging from the torturous origins of his writings, to his suburban adventures in Panama. Debra, who earned her doctorate in Anglo-Saxon literature, proclaimed that she got her start in writing by attending “College, college, college. Lots of college.”

Both authors joked back and forth, poking fun at each other on topics such as how Macdonald would write bizarre pieces and Doyle would be relentless on him.

In regards to one aspect of a story that Doyle cut, MacDonald stated, “She loved the story, she just cut it!” To which Doyle sarcastically replied, “It’s a hard life I tell you. How I suffer.” 

Macdonald acknowledged that not everything he and Doyle write are in their names. He indicated that some of their work, mostly movie novelizations such as “Mortal Kombat” and “Midnight Justice,” a Spider Man novelization, were all under the name Martin Delrio, a pen name dubbed by their initials. 

Most importantly, Macdonald and Doyle talked about the struggles of being a writer. They discussed what went wrong and right in their careers, and the pressures of deadlines. Macdonald said the “Tom Swift” series he and Doyle collaborated on essentially “wrote itself.”

Other books, however, required a longer and more arduous writing process. While talking about the Spiderman novel “Midnight Justice,” James expressed his feelings on the meticulous process of approval run by Marvel.

“First thing we had to do is get the approved outline through Marvel creative services” MacDonald said, “We wound up with about a week to write it, and thats why if you take the first letter of every paragraph in chapter four it spells out, ‘This book would have been better if I had more than a week.’”


John Moreno is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at john.moreno@uconn.edu.