eSpec Books interviews Danielle Ackley-McPhail, co-editor and contributor to After Punk: Steampowered Tales of the Afterlife, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer, funding now on Kickstarter.

eSB: What can you tell us about the story you have written (or plan to write) for After Punk?

DAM: Last year my best friend sent me a photograph of a bunch of statuettes he saw when on vacation with his family at Disney. There was a wide array of Disney characters, but there were also some random poses. One was a steampunk girl made out in sugar skull makeup with a crow on her shoulder. She had goggles on her head (of course 😉 and the crow had a mechanical collar and augmented eyes. Immediately my creative brain sat up and began pounding on my skull. Why? What is the story behind that figure? Ohh! We could have SO much fun telling that story… In that moment, the concept of After Punk: Steampowered Tales of the Afterlife was born and I knew I would be writing that crow-girl’s story. Eventually he sent me the statue as well 🙂

I don’t want to tell you too much. Let there be some surprises, but I will tell you that our steampunk girl’s name is Aleta Angelina Fabricio, the crow is Beltran and our tale has to do with the disappearance and assumed death of Aleta’s father, and her efforts to prove he is not dead. I’ll be playing with the connection of crows between life and afterlife and exploring the traditions surrounding Dios de la Muerte, or Day of the Dead.

eSB: Does you story introduce new characters, or are they old friends you revisit often…to torment mercilessly?

DAM: This is a brand new cast of characters for me. Currently I expect this to be a stand-alone story, but who know? My characters do have a habit of coming back…

eSB: What traditions or beliefs were you raised on regarding death or the afterlife? Did that influence your story at all?

DAM: Well, my life is a study in unconventional. I was raised by a Catholic mother, but I was sent to Protestant Sunday School…well, because they had a bus that came to pick me up. Ultimately I ended up a Methodist by choice. My mother, however, believes in astrology and reincarnation and such, so I grew up with a mixed bag of afterlife beliefs in my household. The most profound way this affected me was in making me open to possibilities and an exposure to different belief systems. I don’t necessarily believe in those things myself, but my muse believes in the potential of things to become story fodder.

eSB: Describe your ideal vision of the afterlife.

DAM: The absence of all things negative. No suffering, no hatred, no conflict. Oh…and no calories, but all the yummy things 😉 All that we love and infinite time for all the things we wanted to do that we could never get to here on earth.

eSB: The coffin or the pyre, which one for you and why?

DAM: Pyre. We’ve left enough junk on and in this planet without adding my empty husk to the pile. Besides…just in case zombies are a thing, no one wants me shambling around. Talk about scary!

eSB: What are some of your own works readers can look for?

DAM: I have quite an extensive list, but those currently available are my urban fantasy novel, Yesterday’s Dreams (Irish Elves in New York City fighting evil demigods) and my biker faerie novel, The Halfling’s Court (King of the Road versus the King of Underhill,) plus four short story collections: A Legacy of Stars (science fiction), Transcendence (urban fantasy), Consigned to the Sea (nautical fantasy), and Between Darkness and Light (mixed genre). I also have a shared anthology with Mike McPhail called The Die is Cast, a series of military science fiction stories set in the Alliance Archive universe.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you? 

DAM: My website is

Danielle Ackley-McPhailAward-winning author and editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books (

Her published works include six novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, and Transcendence, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Dragon’s Lure, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

She is a member of Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three extremely spoiled cats.




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