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Michael A Stackpole – free writers workshop and new novels

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Michael A. Stackpole by Heather HillMichael A. Stackpole will be putting on a free writing workshop “How to Write a Knockout Novel” at 2 pm this Saturday, December 4th at the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. He also has a new novel out, At the Queen’s Command, and will be signing copies after the workshop.

Michael A. Stackpole is a New York Times Best Selling author, an award-winning novelist, an award-winning editor, an award-winning game designer, an award-winning computer game designer, an award-winning comics writer, an award-winning podcaster, and an award-winning screenwriter.

For the workshop, Stackpole indicates that
the class will run about an hour. I break down the keys to turning out a knockout novel into ten areas. I’ll include a lot of practical advice and techniques, and just identifying these problem areas will let writers identify their weaknesses so they can concentrate on fixes. I’ll cover everything from marketing practicalities (Knowing your Market) to which areas really pull readers through a book emotionally.

I think the class will be great for folks planning to write their first novel in the new year; and for those who are coming out of Nanowrimo with a novel they want to complete and try to sell next year.

At the Queen's CommandOn his new novel, At the Queen’s Command, from Night Shade Books, he really likes the cover and had this to say about it and the book on his blog:

This cover is great. I just love it to death. It’s a gorgeous cover and it has that, “Say what?” factor going for it.

I mean, it’s clearly an American historical novel.

And then you spot the dragon.

Even folks who muddled through high school history—barely avoiding being bored to death—will be pretty sure there were no dragons in the American Revolution. (Technically this is the French and Indian War, or Seven Years War, depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on.) And, trust me, this version of the French and Indian War won’t bore you to death.

It’s really kind of funny but it takes seeing a cover to make a book real. Earlier today I shipped a copy of the manuscript off to my father. It was just a pile of pages. But seeing the cover means it’s a book—whether you read it in paper or bytes. With a cover wrapped around it, the book can take up shelf space (or megabytes). It becomes something tangible when, prior to that, it was simply mind-movies shared with those who read the script.

This cover really captures the nature of the book, both because of the historical analogs and the themes I get to play with. I could have written a straight alternate history but, as I did with Eyes of Silver, I chose to change place names and significantly alter some historical aspects. This wasn’t because I couldn’t do, or didn’t want to do, the research. My degree is in history, I love the American Colonial period and to make the changes I made, I had to do the research anyway. Kind of like breaking a bone to set it again, I had to break history to rebuild it.

I did this for two reasons. First, I really didn’t want readers going into the book trying to figure out who is whom. While there might be a character who eventually assumes a very George Washington type position, no characters are modeled on George Washington. The fact is, history calls for someone in that position, so that position will be filled. I opted out of using direct analogs and modeling characters on historical figures because in changing the world, I also changed some of the dynamics which made those individuals who they are.

Second, I really wanted to mess around with aspects of history to sharpen the contrast on certain issues. For example, Tharyngia is the France analog (the name taken from Lotharingia, which was once a nation that had a lot of French territory as part of it). I chose to have Tharyngia’s revolution before the American Revolution. I also framed their revolution as a secular and scientific one, overthrowing a king who had ruled by divine right. This establishes a meritocracy governed by the Laureates—not quite a Randian paradise, but definitely an irreligious state.

I’m really happy with the book. It has all the stuff in it that a book should: action, adventure, discovery, politics, romance, humor, suspense, magick, military exploits and glimpses into a world we might, save for the vibration of some string out there, be living in.

Michael has had a number of New York Times Bestelling novels from the Star Wars universe and his original fantasy novels have done well. The most recent series is The Age of Discovery and starts with The Secret Atlas.   He’s also recently released in ebook format two other previously unreleased novels, In Hero Years, I’m Dead, a Super Hero Noir novel, and Tricknomancy, a novel length story collecting a series of short fiction about Patrick “Trick” Malloy, a magick using ex-cop who got busted off the force on trumped up bribery charges.  You can preview At the Queen’s Command and In Hero Years … I’m Dead on his website at .

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About the author

Lee Whiteside

Lee Whiteside

Lee Whiteside has been writing about science fiction and fantasy in various forms online since before the WWW existed. His website,, keeps track of genre TV shows. He also is quite involved with organized fandom, having chaired CopperCons (16 & 23), LepreCons (28 & upcoming 36), The 2006 Nebula Awards, and the first North American Discworld Convention. And he runs the official Connie Willis Website at