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J.T. McDaniel Official Site


The new science fiction novel Returning marks J.T. McDaniel’s own return to full-length works after several years of writing short stories, essays, and plays. It also marks the end of more than 40 years of development, during which the story slowly grew and evolved from the germ of an idea into the fascinating novel that burst onto the literary scene on 3 June 2017.

Joyce Faulkner, the award-winning author of Vala’s Bed, Windshift, In the Shadow of Suribachi, and USERNAME, declared: Returning is part fantasy, part science techie, part political drama—and great storytelling. It begins with a diverse crew preparing to leave their home planet of Barzak in a very special starship named Warrior. Most of the action, however, takes place 86,000 years later when they return home for a visit. Exotic, well-written, and captivating. I didn’t expect to love Returning quite so much. It made me laugh and it made me think. Isn’t that the point of literature?”

Jeff Edwards, the best-selling author of Sea of Shadows and Steel Wind Rising, had this to say about Returning: “A brilliant twist on the classic first contact scenario. Imagine the kind of pulse-pounding adventure you’d expect from a Jack Campbell novel, wrapped around an incredibly clever idea. J.T. McDaniel has created that rarest of all things: a thought-provoking novel that’s also pure page-turning fun.”

Returning revisits the Gehunite civilization McDaniel first created in the mid-70s. This was originally a swords & sorcery culture, but later developed into a technological civilization. Examples of both may be found in McDaniel’s short story collection, Blackout & Other Stories.

“The germ of this novel dates back to the mid-70s,” McDaniel explains. “The basic story was there, the starship, a mission involving thousands of years in deep space, but a lot of the details were very different. The original story was contemporary, not set a century in the future. The religious right in those days was still more concerned with the IRS wanting to remove tax exemptions from segregated private schools than with trying to take over the country. Star Trek type transporters still sounded like something that might be possible. Warrior used a variation on a warp drive that allowed faster-than-light travel, instead of the final jump drive technology that allows travel at the speed of light, but not faster. Other than the mere existence of the Gehunite civilization, which is obviously unlikely in real life, the final version of the story is a bit more plausible from a physics viewpoint.”

McDaniel received most of his formal training as a writer courtesy of the United States Army. He enlisted in 1967, taking basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then going to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, at that time the home of the Defense Information School (DINFOS). The ten-week course at DINFOS was writing intensive, with nearly as many classroom hours in Applied Journalism as the average 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 with short stories.

“Still, any formal training helps. Hemingway was a newspaper reporter, remember. So was Ian Fleming. 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 then were the ones in our heads.”

Besides writing, McDaniel worked in broadcasting for a number of years, mostly at radio stations in Florida. A recent outgrowth of his old broadcasting career has been working on spoken word albums of poetry and selections from classical theatre, and narrating audiobooks.

HAMLET: Speeches and Soliloquies
Speeches and soliloquies, by Character:
Claudius: “Though yet of Hamlet,” “’Tis sweet and commendable,” “O, my offence is rank.”
Hamlet: “O, that this too, too solid flesh,” “Now I am alone,” “To be, or not to be,” “How all occasions do inform against me,” “Alas, poor Yorick,” “Give me your pardon,” “I am dead, Horatio.”
Laertes: “For Hamlet and the trifling of his favour.”
Polonius: “Yet here, Laertes!”
First Player: “The rugged Phyrrus,”
Ghost: “I am thy father’s spirit,” (full scene).
Available from: iTunes Store, Apple Music, Amazon MP3, Spotify.

What’s New?

9 July 2017: Finished recording Stewart Giles’ sixth DS Jason Smith book, Selene, a couple days ago. I’ll be starting on the seventh, Horsemen, this afternoon. Horsemen is the final book in the series (so far), and I’ll have recorded the audio versions of six of them. I’m also doing some site updates, now that I’ve recovered things from the crash. This includes re-adding the pictures to the Gato model page, which somehow managed to disappear a while back.

20 June 2017: Had a major computer crash that managed to not only knock out my PC, but somehow damaged the backup drive while trying to fix itself. Among other issues, that means rebuilding this website from an older saved version. This had no effect on the published site itself, but does create a bit of a problem with the file used to create it.

3 April 2017: Returning is released for sale in Kindle and trade paperback editions at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and all the other Amazon sites. Rather hoping for some good responses from the UK site, considering how much of the action takes place there. (Note that the Kindle edition is available on all Amazon sites, but the paperback is only on some of them.)

4 March 2017: We’ve announced a release date of 3 April 2017 for the paperback and Kindle editions of Returning. Also added an article about the book. You can pre-order the Kindle edition at Amazon.com and it will be delivered to your device on the release date.

1 March 2017: Audible released Eric Robert Morse’s Indy 500 novel, Ricky Wills It, with me narrating. This is a little unusual, as it’s only the second audiobook I’ve done using an American accent.

25 January 2017: Audible has just released Mark Barnard’s The Jerry Carnaby Collection, narrated by me. This includes two novellas, The Man with the Electric Voice, and The Vulture Murders, featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Jerry Carnaby. Be sure to check it out.

23 January 2017: Started an Indiegogo campaign for my forthcoming novel, Returning. There’s still a bit of writing left on this one, but I expect it to be out around the middle of the year. Check out what it’s all about on the page on this site, here (includes links to some excerpts), and, of course, take a look at the campaign on Indiegogo. Cool perks, and you can be a part of an important work.

8 January 2017: In rehearsal for The Taming of the Shrew at the Columbus Civic Theatre. I’ll be playing the role of Vincentio, the father of Bianca’s young swain, Lucentio. One of those small but fun roles where there’s a good bit of silliness involved.

16 October 2016: Rehearsing the role of Captain Southard in the Arena Fair Theatre production of Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, opening Veterans’ Day weekend in Delaware, Ohio.

7 October 2016: The third audiobook in Stewart Giles’ Detective Sergeant Jason Smith series, Ladybird, is now available at Audible.com. I’m having a great deal of fun narrating these quirky British detective thrillers, and am currently working on the fourth in the series, Occam’s Razor, which should be available before the end of the year.

30 September 2016: In Cleveland shooting a public service spot. Lots of coffee drinking (faked, I still don’t like the stuff), and a good bit of walking around downtown in the rain. The rain wasn’t planned, it was just what we got, so the director just decided to make the best of it.

10 September 2016: On location for a film role. More on this later.

31 July 2016: Now available on Audible.com, Gary D. Rhodes’ and William M. Kaffenberger’s No Traveler Returns: The Lost Years of Bela Lugosi, once again narrated by me. This book chronicles Lugosi’s work from 1946 through about 1951.

21 July 2016: Available now on Audible.com, the second book in Stewart Giles’ DS Jason Smith series, Boomerang. In this follow-up to Smith, the York Police detective sergeant is faced with a vicious serial killer whose crimes all point to events in Smith’s past. I’m currently recording Ladybird, the third installment in the Smith series, and it will be along shortly.

8 July 2016: Had an early script/production meeting for A Bit of Shakespeare today. Ever wonder how a community theatre decides which of Shakespeare’s many plays to include in their upcoming season? This feature length film probably won’t enlighten you very much, but it should be entertaining watching these people try. The film’s website is live as of today, though there isn’t much there yet.

6 July 2016: Currently appearing as the father in a Cash Explosion spot. The video is on the show’s Facebook page.

20 May 2016: Took some new pictures. First time a headshot has shown me with hair in a very long time. And, yes, it’s my hair. I paid for it, so it’s mine, even if it used to be somebody else’s when it was actually growing. That’s the wig I’ll be wearing as Curt, in case you were wondering what this is all about.

28 April 2016: Cast as Curt in Out of the Box Community Theatre’s forthcoming production of Tom Dudzick’s backstage comedy Don’t Talk to the Actors. Performances at Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church, 2930 W. Broad Street, Columbus, OH, at 8:00 PM  on Friday and Saturday, June 3-4 and 10-11, and 3:00 PM matinees on Sundays, June 5 and 12. Tickets and other information at Out of the Box Community Theatre.  

19 April 2016: Released for sale today at Audible.com, Stewart Giles’ crime thriller, Smith: A DS Jason Smith Thriller. I had a blast narrating this one. Giles is a great crime writer, and Detective Sergeant Smith is a complex, fascinating character. He’s also based in York, not London, which is a little different. I’m in the process of recording the sequel now.

Also just released, the audiobook version of my one-act play collection, The Sixth Victim & Other Plays. For this one I was joined by Ashton Brammer, Mic O’Halloran, Harold Yarborough, Colton Weiss, Judy Parker, LeVanu Wu, Jack Shultz, and Ann O’Halloran. The audiobook contains produced versions of: The Sixth Victim, To Kill a King, Burying Dad, It’s the Computer’s Fault, and Sunday Afternoon. Settings range from 1888 London, to contemporary central Ohio, to the Danish court shortly before Hamlet’s father was murdered.

14 March 2016: Now on sale at Audible.com, William M. Kaffenberger Jr’s and Gary D Rhodes’ Bela Lugosi in Person, narrated by me. To purchase, click here, or use the sidebar link. I really had a good time doing this one, which concentrates on Lugosi’s many personal appearances during his long career.

29 February 2016: My latest audiobook narration job, Go Entertain’s The History of the Royal Navy, is now available at Audible.com. To purchase, click here, or use the sidebar link.

10 February 2016: The newest audiobook I’ve narrated, Reasons NOT to Buy a Sugar Glider, by Diamond Nester, is released at Audible.com. To purchase, click here, or on the sidebar link. Despite the title, this little book is strongly positive about sugar glider ownership.

5 February 2016: The Battle of Britain and the Heroes of the Skies, which I narrated for Go Entertain, became available today at Audible.com. To purchase, click here, or on the link in the sidebar.

14 January 2016: My new book, Shakespearean Performance: A Beginner’s Guide, is now available as an audiobook at Audible.com. I wrote and narrated this guide, which is published by C.E.B. Pubs. Click here, or on the link in the sidebar to purchase from Audible.

26 December 2015: Well into rehearsals for The Comedy of Errors at Columbus Civic Theater. The show opens January 7, 2016. I’ll be playing the Duke.

24 December 2015: The print version of The Sixth Victim & Other Plays has been published, and is now available at Amazon.com and other online booksellers.

28 October 2015: The audiobook edition of Bacalao, narrated by Dennis St. John, is now available from Amazon.com and Audible.com. It should also be available in the iBook store shortly, if it isn’t alrea

9 October 2015: The first week of rehearsals for Jeff Daniels’ Escanaba in da Moonlight are completed. I’ll be playing Jimmer, which after all those stuffy Englishmen should be a lot of fun. I don’t get to play perpetually plastered backwoods UFO abductees all that often.

24 July 2015: Hamlet: Speeches and Soliloquies, my new spoken word album, was released for sale. Initially available on the iTunes and Amazon MP3 stores, it is also being released to most other online retailers for download. I’ve started working on another spoken word album of Edgar Alan Poe’s poetry, which should be available later this summer. The Hamlet album has me doing speeches and soliloquies by six different characters,

30 April 2015: Hamlet prep continues. I’ve been uploading some pictures to iStockPhoto.com, with a half dozen available for licensing so far. I may add a Photographs page to this site and put up some stuff for anyone who wants prints.

12 April 2015: I’ve been officially retired for just over a month now. Odd feeling. I don’t think I’m actually working any less. There are books to edit, websites to update, and I still need to finish learning Act 5 of Hamlet. Fun, fun, fun!

28 January 2015: In rehearsal for the role of Solicitor John Mayhew in Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution at the Little Theatre Off Broadway in Grove City, Ohio. Good role, but I fear the second act will present a particular challenge. Mr Mayhew spends the entire second act sitting in a chair in the courtroom and never says a word. I sometimes have enough trouble staying awake when I have dialogue. This is the sixth show I’ve done at LTOB, and I’ve played an Englishman (well, once, a crazy Scottish wizard) in five of them.

2 January 2015: Come this June, I will be appearing as Claudius in the CPC Theatrical production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Abbey Theater of Dublin (Ohio). I’m too old to be Hamlet (and arguably not quite old enough to be Polonius), but, honestly, playing the bad guy is generally a lot more fun. Not to mention, while he may get slightly stabbed at the end, Claudius doesn’t have to learn all that complicated fight choreography required of Hamlet and Laertes. Learning all those lines is enough for me. I’ll leave the (very real) swords to the younger guys.

15 February 2014: Will be appearing in Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Little Theatre Off Broadway in Grove City, OH in April/May. I’ll be playing the Mayor in the Finland number, walk on as Sir Not Appearing in This Show, and then return later as Tim the Enchanter, which will undoubtedly be the most fun. If they’re smart, they’ll figure out a way to keep my feet as stationary as possible. No one wants to see me dance (presuming anyone would ever call it that).

15 November 2013: My recently produced play, Coming Out: A Dark Comedy in Two Acts, has been nominated for Best Original Play in the BroadwayWorld.com Columbus Awards. Also nominated from this show was Jim LeVally, who played Rev. James Anderson, for Best Actor in a Play. Martha Kathryn Smith, who played Jim’s wife, was nominated for Best Young Actress for a different show. Voting continues through December 31. The entire play is currently available for viewing on line at the play’s website, ComingOutThePlay.com, and on YouTube.

29 September 2013: Tomorrow begins the final week of rehearsals for Coming Out: A Dark Comedy in Two Acts, at The Abbey Theater of Dublin, leading up to a combination dress rehearsal and preview on Thursday, October 3, and our opening night on Friday, October 4. After the opening we’ll run two more weekends, with performances as 8:00 pm on Fridays, and a 3:00 pm matinee and 8:00 pm evening performance on Saturdays.

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’s family than the character’s own sexual identity. Of particular interest is his elder brother, a Dallas mega-church pastor and televangelist, whose opinion of his brother’s announcement falls somewhere between what you’d expect from Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps, and perhaps leans more than a little in Fred’s direction. There’s a lot of yelling and some rude language. I play a happily married college professor (with a pregnant secretary). There are some very serious themes examined here, but I think there’s plenty of opportunity for humor, too.

1 March 2013: Opening night for To Kill a Mockingbird at the Little Theatre Off Broadway, in Grove City, Ohio. I’m playing Judge Taylor in this production. That’s one of those roles where you don’t say a lot, but what you do say is fairly critical. Curiously, this show has reminded me that I seem to be one of those rare men who can shave off a white beard and somehow end up looking older! That’s just not right! Nice turnout for the opening. (Later: In fact, other than opening night, the entire run sold out.)

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. I haven’t sung in public for a while, so this should be interesting.

17 February 2012: I’ve posted a video of me reading my short story, A Patient Man, to my YouTube channel, TheJTMcDaniel.

30 November 2011: Doing a little tweeting lately. Who says old guys can’t learn new stuff? Not that anyone is actually following yet.

Edgar Allan Poe: Ten Poems and The Cask of Amontillado
Contains these poems:
The Raven
Anabel Lee
El Dorado / A Sonnet: Science
The Bells
The Conqueror Worm
Fairy Land
The Coliseum
And the short story, The Cask of Amontillado
Available from: iTunes Store, Apple Music, Amazon MP3, Spotify