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With the publication of Bacalao in July 2004, J.T. McDaniel solidly established himself as one of the premier 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 (Rocket Boys, The Keeper’s Son, Torpedo Junction) 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 Bacalao as “…the most technically accurate submarine story ever.” Perhaps not surprising, as McDaniel was also the creator and original (but not current) webmaster of FleetSubmarine.com, as well as 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-
“The truth is, any war involves a certain moral dilemma. Most soldiers and sailor 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, 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-
“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 lengthy 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-
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 remember. “The thing was a spy story, with some truly awful love scenes, a number of impractical gadgets, and Hitler’s bastard son as the villain. I’d been reading Ian Fleming, and that was the result. Fortunately, no one was silly enough to publish the thing.”
Despite serving in the Army in Viet Nam and Japan from 1968 to 1970, McDaniel found himself concentrating on naval fiction. His first two published novels were set aboard submarines. He was also general editor for the American Submarine War Patrol Reports series, published by Riverdale Books. “General editor meant chief typist, mostly,” he says. “The reports were on microfiche and I spent a lot of time copying them into the computer to be set in type. The editing was mostly fixing spelling errors and adding a lot of 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 be able to attend the school of your choice, and the little detail that I was a lousy swimmer. Back then I was 6’ 4” and weighed about 160 pounds. I didn’t float.”
“Still, I’d been fascinated by subs ever since our grade school class visited the old U.S.S. Gar (SS-
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 (or, once, a manic Scottish wizard) in five of them.
14 January 2015: CPC Theatrical announced today that they will be giving away 16 free tickets for each performance of Hamlet. The reserved seats are in the last two rows of the Abbey Theater auditorium, but there really aren’t any “bad” seats in that theater. There’s a two ticket per order maximum, and tickets have to be ordered online at CPCTheatrical.com/tickets, HamletDublin2015.com/tickets, or through Eventbrite. The latter doesn’t appear to be searchable for the show yet, however, and probably won’t be until tickets go on sale starting at 6:00 PM on February 1, 2015.
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.
2 March 2014: Added a Facebook “like” button for this site. It’s new, so don’t be too shocked if the count isn’t very high yet. It took a couple years to get the number one Google ranking, and I expect it will take a while to get the “like” count up to a respectable number.
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).
January 2014: Working on a new one-
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.
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 fundraising 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 show to an off-
8 June 2013: Uploaded a new website, ComingOutThePlay.com. I wrote the play, and will be playing the father in it, along with co-
10 March 2013: Matinee today. The theater was sold out last night and this afternoon. The run will continue at 8:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, through March 24. If you’re in the Columbus, Ohio area you should see this. We’re wonderful.
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 to the plot. Curiously, this show has reminded me that I seem to be one of those rare men 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. I haven’t sung in public in quite a while, so this should be interesting.
10 April 2012: Added a link to my YouTube channel in the [navigation bar]. As of now there are five videos, three where I’m just being myself, and two of them reading stories in character. Watch them all, link to them, make me famous.
20 February 2012: Another new video has been posted to YouTube. In this I’m reading my classic novelty piece, Men’s Rules for Relationships. This humorous piece is also found in my latest book, This and That.
17 February 2012: I’ve posted a great video of me reading my short story A Patient Man to my YouTube channel. The story can be found in my latest book, This and That.
10 December 2011: This and That has been added to the 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 per month. I was always a little skeptical about paying the $79,99 a year Prime subscription charge, but after getting a one-
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 the short stories. Never fear, I plan to write more. Meanwhile, you really should consider clicking on the tab on the navigation bar and following @auth_JTMcDaniel on Twitter. The “auth” is either “authentic,” “authorized,” or “author,” take your pick. Seems that someone was already using my name when I signed up.
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 were also applied to the Kindle edition, and those should be live by Tuesday. Also today, the old discussion forums sections was formally retired, with the links removed and the files taken down from the server. It just became too much trouble dealing with the spam.
|Coming Out the Play Website|
|USS Barb (SS-220)|
|USS Cod (SS-224)|
|USS Wahoo (SS-238)|
|USS Tang (SS-306)|
|USS Argonaut (SM-1 & SS-475)|
|Run Silent, Run Deep|
|Submarines at War|
|The PaxAm Solution|
|Sea of Shadows|
|Shrek, The Musical|
|The Phantom of the Opera|
|Love Never Dies|
|May 2006 Interview|
|Jan 2014 Interview|
|How a Submarine Dives|
|How a Periscope Works|
|Asdic, Sonar & Detection Gear|
|The Walter Turbine|
|The Typ XXVI U-boat|
|American Fleet Submarines|
|1:72 Gato Model|