eSpec Books interviews Danielle Ackley-McPhail

The Weird Wild West anthology from Espec Books rides into town in November looking like big trouble. Saddle up, pardner and discover strange, supernatural, otherworldly and downright weird adventures way out West from some of your favorite authors. Larry and I have a story in The Weird Wild West, so throughout November and December, we asked some of our author friends to prance their ponies over in this direction and share a few lines with us. Enjoy the blog posts—and then order the book please!

eSpec Books interviews Danielle Ackley-McPhail publisher of The Weird Wild West edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret McGraw.

What is your favorite western movie and why? You know, for me it isn’t a movie, though there are plenty of those that are really good. For me it was a TV show: Kung Fu, not only a western in the finest tradition, but thanks to the mystical aspects a bona fide Weird Wild Western! You had all the trademark elements of the frontier life, but also the unique flare of Shaolin mysticism and Asian culture. The fighting was a mix of kung fu and good old fashion gunfight/bar brawl, and the messages have stayed with me for a lifetime.

What does the wild frontier mean to you? The Wild West is a proving ground. An untamed land that tests a person’s soul and mines it to discover what they are made of, often when they don’t even know themselves. You either come out of the wild frontier strong or you come out broken…presuming you even come out alive.

Who would you say is your wild west role model and why? LOL…I think most people would say Calamity Jane 😉 I gets into trouble, but I also gets out again.

What is your favorite spec fic/western mash-up? You know, again I have to say Kung Fu. Between the grittiness of the old west and the mysticism of the Shaolin there were a lot of fantastic things in that series, not to mention a lot of worthwhile lessons. There’s definitely an element of camp to it, but the show stuck with me and brought me back week after week. It’s one of the few shows where the complete box set sits on my shelf.

Which Wild West archetype (Gambler, Outlaw, Saloon Girl, School Marm, Railroad Man, Pioneer, Cowboy, Lawman or Indian) would you chose to be and why? You know, I think I would have to be the prospector…mining literary gold every chance I get, seeing the potential in things and sometimes getting carried away in pursuing that dream. Yes, sometimes I’m worn out, sometimes I’m grungy, and sometimes that claim fizzles out instead of producing the mother lode, but there’s always a dream right behind that one.

Have you written/created anything else in a weird western vein? Please tell us about it. A while back I edited a collection called In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk. I knew I wanted some variety in the collection so I wrote a piece of my own that took place in the old west. On the Wings of an Angel was meant to be a piece about an early photographer literally stealing souls with his new-fangled camera. Instead it turned into a redemption story for an almost soiled-dove. I don’t want to say much more, because that would be telling, but it was a lot of fun to write and even more fun to read aloud.

What are some of your own works readers can look for? I write a wide range of things so there is quite a variety to check out. My novels are mostly urban fantasy. The Eternal Cycle Trilogy (Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, and Today’s Promise) is basically Irish elves in New York City fighting evil demigods…to start, anyway; The Bad-Ass Faerie Tale novels (The Halfling’s Court and The Redcaps’ Queen) are biker faeries taking on the forces of faerie land; and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn is a steampunk retelling of Ali Baba an the Forty Thieves. Everything else I’ve published is short fiction and there is way too much to go into here so best to check them out my site at

What projects of your own do you have coming up? Right now I’m writing a spin-off series to the Eternal Cycle trilogy. The first book is called Eternal Wanderings and it follows Kara O’Keefe as she seeks out her purpose in her now-immortal life. I’m also working on Daire’s Devils, a military science fiction novel, and Kantasi, an unconventional vampire novel.

How can readers find out more about you? A websearch on “Ackley-McPhail” turns up loads of stuff! Plus there is my website ( or most social media platforms.

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books and has started her own press, eSpec Books.

Her published works include five urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court: and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, and a young adult Steampunk novel, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo science fiction collection, A Legacy of Stars, 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.

She is a member of the Garden State Speculative Fiction 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 in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. To learn more visit,, or




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