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This and That
J.T. McDaniel Official Website
With the publication of Bacalao in July 2004, J.T. McDaniel solidly established himself as one of the best maritime authors in recent years. Critic Barbara Buhrer called Bacalao "…the best World War II submarine novel since Edward L. Beach's Run Silent, Run Deep," and predicted the book would become "…a classic of submarine [literature]." Best selling author Homer Hickam (October Sky, The Keeper's Son), calls Bacalao "…an impressive and exciting novel," and declares McDaniel "…a terrific writer who has created a classic of wartime adventure."
Meanwhile, former submariners have hailed the new novel as "the most technically accurate submarine story ever." Perhaps not surprising, as McDaniel is also the creator and webmaster of FleetSubmarine.com, and an internationally recognized authority on the American fleet type submarine.
McDaniel's first novel, With Honour in Battle, was more speculative. Set aboard an experimental U-boat in the final months of World War II, With Honour in Battle was a critically acclaimed exploration of the officers and men of U-2317. "They knew the war was lost," McDaniel said, "but they still continued to fight. Their sense of duty kept them at it, but didn't keep them from wondering if it was all a waste. Was what they were doing really useful? Or were they just sinking ships and, in the process, killing other sailors to no good purpose?
"The truth is, any war involves a certain moral dilemma. Most soldiers and sailors aren't really fighting for a grand cause. They're fighting to preserve their own lives, and to keep the enemy away from their families. The military is perhaps the only career where you train for years in the hope that you'll never have to put your training to practical use. No sane man really wants to kill anyone, but you do it because your government, your leaders, tell you it's important. Most military training is intended to teach the soldier how to overcome his natural revulsion at taking another human life long enough to carry out his mission."
In fact, McDaniel received most of his formal training as a writer courtesy of the United States Army. He enlisted in 1967, went through basic training at Fort Knox, and was then sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana to attend the Defense Information School. The ten-week course at DINFOS was writing intensive, with nearly as many classroom hours in Applied Journalism as a student receives in a four-year college journalism course.
"Newspaper journalism, which was the emphasis in that school, is a wonderful background for a novelist," McDaniel says. "You learn to structure your stories. You learn what's important, what will capture the reader's attention. The only real negative is that it also trains you to keep everything short. Sometimes too short. I keep starting novels and ending up with lengthy short stories.
"Still, any formal training helps. Hemingway was a newspaper reporter, remember. So was Ian Fleming. And, if you learn nothing else, working on a newspaper teaches you how to spell. I did my stint as a reporter and editor in the pre-computer era. The only spell checkers we had were the ones in our heads."
McDaniel started writing when he was barely in his teens, pounding out his first "novel" on his mother's old Royal manual. "It wasn't very good," he remembers. "The thing was a spy story, with some truly awful love scenes, and Hitler's illegitimate kid as the villain. I'd been reading Ian Fleming, and that was the result. Fortunately, no one was dumb enough to publish it."
Despite serving in the Army in Viet Nam in 1968-69, McDaniel now writes primarily naval fiction. Both of his published novels have been set aboard submarines. He is also General Editor for the American Submarine War Patrol Report series, now being published by Riverdale Books. "General Editor means chief typist, mostly," he says. "The reports are on microfiche and I spend a lot of time copying them into the computer to be set up in type. The editing is mostly fixing a few spelling errors and adding footnotes."
He adds, "I think I might have made a good submariner. The main reason I joined the Army instead of the Navy was a combination of the fact that the Army guaranteed you'd attend the school of your choice, and the fact that I was a lousy swimmer. Back then I was 6′ 4″ and weighed about 160 pounds. I didn't float.
"But I'd been fascinated by subs ever since our grade school class visited the old U.S.S. Gar (SS206) back in the 1950s. She was being used as a Reserve Pierside Trainer in Cleveland at that time, and the tour was conducted by guys who had put in their time in subs during World War II. Gar is gone now, sold for scrap and replaced by U.S.S. Cod. Cod is also retired now, preserved as a museum. Bacalao was launched with a book signing at Cod last July ."
Not all of the buttons on the left side of this page go to material on this site, though it's all connected to McDaniel in some way. FleetSubmarine.com is his hobby/obsession. Though it still has a long way to go, the plan is to make it the most comprehensive Internet resource on the subject of American submarines in World War II. NavalAventure.com is a bookstore McDaniel put together, digging through Amazon's collection to assemble a nice selection of mostly military books and novels.
15 November 2013: My play, Coming Out, has been nominated for Best Original Play in the 2013 BroadwayWorld.com awards for the Columbus, Ohio region. Also nominated for this show was Jim LeVally, who played Rev. James Anderson, for Best Actor in a Play. Martha Kathryn Smith, who play Jim's wife, was nominated for Best Young Actress, though the nomination was for a different show. Voting continues through December. The entire play may be viewed online at the website, ComingOutThePlay.com, for a limited time. Go watch it, then vote for it.
29 September 2013: Tomorrow begins the final week of rehearsals for Coming Out at The Abbey Theater of Dublin, leading up to a combination preview and dress rehearsal on Thursday, 3 October, and our opening night on Friday, 4 October. After that we'll run for two more weekends, with performances at 8:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as matinees at 3:00 pm on Saturdays.
6 July 2013: In order to raise enough money to do Coming Out properly, and to make a professional video of the play, we've started a fund raising campaign on Indiegogo.com. This is a popular crowd funding site, which comes rather highly recommended by George Takei, who has used it for his own projects. We're trying to raise $25,000, as the video is going to be expensive, and given a reasonably successful run at the Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ohio, we want to take the play to an off-Broadway (or even better, Broadway) theater in New York next year, so if there's any money left over it will provide a start on that project. There are lots of neat premiums being offered to contributors, ranging from a listing in the program, to above the title credit as a producer on the advertising, programs, and video, along with special souvenirs. Anyone contributing $100 or more will get a copy of the DVD. We've also created a twitter account (@ComingOutThPlay). The misspelling is intentional—Twitter only gives you 16 characters for the handle, so one letter had to go. There is also now a YouTube channel, ComingOutThePlay, but there's nothing uploaded yet.
8 June 2013: Uploaded a new website, ComingOutThePlay.com. I wrote the play, and will be playing the father in it, along with co-directing. The show will premier at the Abbey Theater of Dublin, in Dublin, Ohio, the first three weekends in October. The title notwithstanding, only two of the nine characters are gay; the play is much more about the reactions of one character's family. Of particular interest is his older brother, a Dallas megachurch pastor and televangelist, whose opinion of his brother's announcement falls somewhere between Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps. There's a lot of yelling. I play a happily married college professor with a pregnant secretary. There are serious themes examined, but I think there's plenty of opportunity for humor, too.
10 March 2013: Matinee. Theatre was sold out last night and this afternoon. Run will continue at 8:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 3:00 pm on Sunday, through March 24. If you're in the Columbus, Ohio area, you should see this. We're all wonderful.
1 March 2013: Opening night for To Kill a Mockinbird at the Little Theatre Off Broadway in Grove City, OH. I'm playing Judge Taylor in this production. One of those roles where you don't say a lot, but what you do say is fairly critical to the plot. Curiously, this has reminded me that I seem to be one of those rare people who can shave off a nearly all white beard and somehow end up looking older! That's just not right. Nice turnout for the opening.
3 June 2012: Started rehearsals for Into the Woods at Arena Fair Theater in Delaware, Ohio. I'll be playing the Narrator. Performances scheduled for the first weekend in August, if you happen to be in the area on those dates. This will be the first time I've done a show in slightly over three decades.
10 April 2012: Added a link to my YouTube Channel to the sidebar. As of now there are five, three where I'm just being myself, and two of them reading stories in character. Watch them all, link them all, make me famous.
20 February 2012: Another new video of J.T. McDaniel has been posted to YouTube, this time reading his classic set of Men's Rules for Relationships. This humorous piece is also to be found in his latest book, This and That.
10 December 2011: This and That has been added to the Amazon Kindle Owners' Lending Library. This allows any Kindle owners who are also Amazon Prime members to borrow the book without charge. You can borrow one book each month. I was always a little skeptical about paying the $79.99 a year for the Prime subscription, but after getting a one-month free trial when I bought my Kindle Fire, I have no doubt I'll take the full year when the trial runs out. So far I've saved more than the subscription cost just watching free movies and TV shows.
9 December 2011: Did some housekeeping on this site today. As they've now all been published in This and That, I've removed all of the short stories. Never fear, I plan to write more, so there will be new stuff posted in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, you really should consider clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar and following @auth_JTMcDaniel on Twitter. The "auth" is either "authentic" or "author," take your pick. Seems that someone was already using my name when I signed up last year.
30 November 2011: Doing a little tweeting lately. Who says old guys can't learn new stuff. (Not that anyone is actually following yet.)
13 November 2011: Finished proofing the print edition of This and That and sent the corrections to the publisher. Print availability is predicted for sometime next week. A few corrections also applied to the Kindle edition, and those should be live by Tuesday. Also today, the old discussion forums section was formally retired, with the links removed and the files taken down from the server.
28 October 2011: The Kindle edition of This and That is live at Amazon.com. The print edition, all 400 pages of it, should be available in early November. Probably make a good Christmas gift for someone with a well-developed sense of irony. Fundamentalists should probably stop reading on page 299.
11 November 2009: Giving in to the trend at last, a blog has been added. There are no plans to make this in any way political, so probably it will just appeal to fans and the morbidly curious.
10 November 2009: J.T. is just finishing up the editing on the Riverdale Vampire Collection, which will be available in print, and in electronic form for the Amazon Kindle and ePub format at Barnes & Noble and, probably, for the Sony Reader. This volume includes three classic stories, John Polidori's The Vampyre, J. Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla, and Honoré de Balzac's The Succubus, as well as modern stories from Jacob Thomson, The Predator, Castle Grosshelm, and two chapters excerpted from The Alukam. J.T. wrote the Introduction and did the annotation, as well as putting everything together.
15 Nov 08: Editing another classic reprint, this time William Bligh's A Voyage to the South Sea, which tells the story of the Bounty's voyage to Tahiti, events there, and the mutiny and epic small boat voyage to Timor that followed. A late 2008 or early 2009 release is anticipated. Some progress is also being made on a short story collection.
7 Nov 08: Riverdale Books and Riverdale Electronic Books, Inc., have released a new edition of Robert Southey's The Life of Horatio, Lord Nelson, in trade paperback and Amazon Kindle. J.T. was the editor for this edition, providing an Introduction and some 95 explanatory notes.
8 Dec 06: J.T. has been building Revell's huge (1:72 scale) model of a Gato class submarine. Progress and pictures are to be found on this page.
19 May 06: A new interview with J.T. McDaniel, conducted by author Jacob Thomson, was added.
30 Dec 05: The Riverdale Short Story Annual 2005 is available for sale, with this website updated accordingly.
2 Dec 05:Completed editing the latest volume in the American Submarine War Patrol Reports series for Riverdale Books. J.T. will also have a couple of short stories featured in the Riverdale Short Story Annual 2005, due out later this month.
7 Feb 05: Book Review Section added. In addition to writing books, J.T. McDaniel reads a lot of them, and frequently forms an opinion, which he'll be offering here.
6 Feb 05: A New Interview with J.T. McDaniel was added.
1 Feb 05: Homepage updated. Some general tweaks to various pages.
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