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Debra Doyle (1952–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

(Nicholas Adams, a joint pseudonym, Victor Appleton, a joint pseudonym, Martin Delrio, a joint pseudonym, Douglas Morgan, a joint pseudonym, Robyn Tallis, a joint pseudonym)


Born 1952, in FL; Education: University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. (English literature); also educated in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas.


Agent—Valerie Smith, 1746 Rte, 44-55, Modena, NY 12548.


Writer. Computer-assisted Learning Center, teacher of fiction writing.

Honors Awards

Mythopoeic Society Aslan Award for young-adult literature, 1992, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, 1993, both for Knight's Wyrd; Best Young-Adult Science Fiction Award, Science Fiction Chronicle, 1997, for Groogleman.



(Under pseudonym Robyn Tallis) Night of Ghosts and Lightning ("Planet Builders" series), Ivy, 1989.

(Under pseudonym Robyn Tallis) Zero-Sum Games ("Planet Builders" series), Ivy, 1989.

(Under pseudonym Nicholas Adams) Pep Rally ("Horror High" series), Harper (New York, NY), 1991.

(Under pseudonym Victor Appleton) Monster Machine ("Tom Swift" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.

(Under pseudonym Victor Appleton) Aquatech Warriors ("Tom Swift" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Timecrime, Inc. ("Robert Silverberg's 'Time Tours'" series), Harper (New York, NY), 1991.

Night of the Living Rat ("Daniel Pinkwater's 'Melvinge of the Megaverse'" series), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Knight's Wyrd, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1992.

Groogleman, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1996.

Requiem for Boone (based on the television series Gene Roddenberry's Earth—Final Conflict), Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

(As Douglas Morgan) Tiger Cruise, Forge (New York, NY), 2001.

(As Douglas Morgan) What Do You with a Drunken Sailor? (nonfiction), Swordsmith, 2002.


School of Wizardry, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

Tournament and Tower, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

City by the Sea, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

The Prince's Players, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

The Prisoners of Bell Castle, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

The High King's Daughter, Troll (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

Several "Circle of Magic" books have been translated into Spanish.


The Price of the Stars, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Starpilot's Grave, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.

By Honor Betray'd, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

The Gathering Flame, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.

The Long Hunt, Tor (New York, NY) 1996.

The Stars Asunder, Tor (New York, NY) 1999.

A Working of Stars, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.


Bad Blood, Berkley (New York, NY), 1993.

Hunters' Moon, Berkley (New York, NY), 1994.

Judgment Night, Berkley (New York, NY), 1995.


Mortal Kombat (movie novelization), Tor (New York, NY), 1995.

Midnight Justice ("Spider-Man Super-Thriller" series), Byron Preiss (New York, NY), 1996.

Global War ("Spider-Man Super-Thriller" series), Byron Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Harold R. Foster's Prince Valiant (movie novelization), Avon (New York, NY), 1998.

The Loch Ness Monster (nonfiction), Rosen Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.

A Silence in the Heavens (novel; "MechWarrior: Dark Age" series), Roc (New York, NY), 2003.

Truth and Shadows (novel; "MechWarrior: Dark Age" series), Roc (New York, NY), 2003.

Service for the Dead (novel; "MechWarrior: Dark Age" series), Roc (New York, NY), 2003.


Contributor (with James D. Macdonald) of short stories to anthologies, including Werewolves, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin Greenberg, Harper Junior Books, 1988; Vampires, edited by Yolen and Greenberg, HarperCollins, 1991; Newer York, edited by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Roc, 1991; Alternate Kennedys, edited by Mike Resnick and Greenberg, Tor, 1992; Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters, edited by Coville, Scholastic, 1993; Swashbuckling Editor Stories, edited by John Betancourt, Wildside Press, 1993; Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts, edited by Coville, Scholastic, 1994; A Wizard's Dozen, edited by Michael Stearns, Harcourt, Brace, 1995; A Starfarer's Dozen, edited by Stearns, Harcourt, Brace, 1995; Witch Fantastic, edited by Mike Resnick and Greenberg, DAW Books, 1995; Camelot, edited by Yolen, Philomel, 1995; The Book of Kings, edited by Richard Gilliam and Greenberg, Roc, 1995; Tales of the Knights Templar, edited by Katherine Kurtz, Warner, 1995; Otherwere, edited by Laura Anne Gilman and Keith R.A. DeCandido, Berkley/Ace, 1996; A Nightmare's Dozen, edited by Stearns, Harcourt, Brace, 1996; Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers, edited by Coville, Scholastic, 1996; High-Tech Wars #2, edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr; On Crusade: More Tales of the Knights Templar, edited by Katherine Kurz, Warner, 1998; Not of Woman Born, edited by Constance Ash, Roc, 1999; The First Heroes: New Tales of the Bronze Age, edited by Harry Turtledove, Tor, 2004; Murder by Magic, edit by Rosemary Edghill, Warner, 2004; New Magics, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 2004; and Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Far Futures, edited by T.K.F. Weisskopf, Baen Books, 2005. Contributor to Timewalker comic-book series, Valiant Comics, 1995.


Together with her husband, writer James D. Macdonald, Debra Doyle has become known for such award-winning science fiction as Knight's Wyrd as well as for the long-running sci-fi/fantasy series "Mageworld," which features the novels The Price of the Stars, The Long Hunt, and A Working of Stars. Dedicated to their craft, the couple produced six young-adult fantasy nov-One of many novels Doyle has written in collaboration with her husband, this work finds Arekhon traveling home to repair relations with his brother, only to discover ongoing preparations for galactic war. (Cover illustration by Romas.)els for their "Circle of Magic" series during 1990 alone, and they have published under a variety of pseudonyms as well as their own names. Praising the continuing work of what he dubbed "the prolific Doyle-Macdonald collaboration," Booklist reviewer Roland Green praised the "Mageworld" novel A Working of Stars as part of a series that comprises "imaginative, intelligent, fast-paced space opera, in the positive sense of the term."

Raised in Florida, Doyle eventually earned her doctorate in Old English literature at the University of Pennsylvania. While living and studying in Philadelphia, she met her future husband, who was then serving in the U.S. Navy, where he rose in rank from enlisted man to officer during a fifteen-year career. During Macdonald's military career, the couple traveled to Virginia, California, and Panama, eventually settling to raise their four children in a nineteenth-century Victorian house in New Hampshire.

Macdonald once described the unique working arrangement he and Doyle have devised to aid their effective collaboration, telling SATA: "Years ago, before we started writing together, Doyle and I noticed that we had some characteristic weaknesses. Doyle's prose style is very good, but her plotting is straight-line predictable. I do pretty decent plots, but my prose is deepest purple. So we got together, and now I plot while Doyle proses. My outlines … are about eighty percent of the length of the eventual finished work. They read like someone telling about a movie. Fast, slangy, self-referential, with the characters and backgrounds lightly sketched in. Doyle takes this and fleshes it out, adding additional dialog, fuller descriptions, transition scenes, and so on. Then I take her output, add missing parts, trim and move other scenes, and otherwise mess with the structure. By the time we're done, usually a fourth or fifth draft, we're handing individual sheets of paper back and forth between us, scribbling, drawing arrows, and coming to some kind of consensus. We don't argue about things: Doyle has the final say on words, I have the final say on plot."

Using this back-and-forth arrangement, the couple have produced dozens of stories and novels for adults, young adults, and children during their long career. Sometimes using pseudonyms such as Douglas Morgan, Robyn Tallis, or Martin Delrio, they have contributed to fantasy and science-fiction novel series, produced novelizations of films, television series, computer games, and comic books, and authored books within series created by other writers, namely Robert Silverberg and Daniel Pinkwater.

The "Circle of Magic" chronicles the story of Randal, who hopes to become a wizard. In School of Wizardry twelve-year-old Randal becomes an apprentice into the famous Schola Sorceriae (School of Wizardry), but must conquer numerous enemies on his way to becoming a master wizard. Tournament and Tower Randal graduates but, prohibited from using his magic powers, becomes a squire to his cousin Walter. When Walter sustains life-threatening injuries during a tournament, Randal must work to retain his magic power to help his friend. In City by the Sea Randal makes a promise to a dying man that sends him on a quest, while in The Prince's Players Randal and friend encounter a master wizard with diabolical plans. The High King's Daughter finishes up the series, as Randal and his friends journey into Elfland to rescue Diamante, the High King's daughter, and restore her to her rightful throne.

Like the "Circle of Magic" books, many of Doyle and Macdonald's other books appeal to teen readers. Noteworthy among their fiction works are two young-adult novels that the couple wrote as solo projects unconnected to any series. Knight's Wyrd, published in 1992, is a knights-in-armor fantasy involving magic, while Groogleman focuses on a teen living in a quasi-medieval future culture that develops in a post-apocalypse Earth. In Knight's Wyrd young Will Odosson must find his wyrd—his fate. When he discovers that his destiny is doom, Will journeys bravely to meet it, with complex and adventurous results. The New York Public Library listed this novel as one of its Books for the Teen Age in 1993, and the novel also won a Mythopoeic fantasy award. A Kirkus Reviews critic commended Knight's Wyrd for its "strong sense of time, place, and code of honor," while Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Jennifer A. Long asserted: "Strong main characters and a smoothly written plot make this a hard book to put down."

Groogleman takes place in some unspecified future that follows the technological collapse of civilization as we know it. Young hero Dan Henchard possesses weller's blood, an inherited immunity to the plague that is claiming the lives of many. A stranger named Joshua eventually joins Dan at his farm, and the two, along with another "weller," Leezie, travel to a nearby village to help plague victims in need of assistance. Upon arrival they find that the area has been terrorized by the mysterious grooglemen, and these creatures ultimately kidnap Based on a television series, this novel delves into the past of William Boone, whose position as confident to the alien Taelons during their takeover of Earth covers his true role as a leader of the human Resistance. (Cover illustration by Cliff Nielson.)Leezie. Joshua claims to know which way the grooglemen have traveled, and he leads Dan on a arduous search to recover his friend. Reviewing the novel for School Library Journal, Susan L. Rogers called it a "successful" example of its genre, explaining that "Dan and Joshua quickly become sympathetic and interesting characters on a desperate journey through a foreboding landscape." Janice M. Del Negro, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, admired Doyle and Macdonald's ability to convey the sensory qualities of the setting and dubbed Dan "a believable adolescent in a grimly dangerous situation." Commending the way in which the authors created a vivid, convincing alternate culture in Groogleman, Del Negro stated that "This intriguing novel suggests more than it reveals and could provoke some thoughtful group discussion."

Doyle and Macdonald's popular "Mageworld" series, begun in 1992 with The Price of the Stars, focuses on a centuries-long conflict between the Republic, with its human population, and the mysterious Mageworld. Shocked by the murder of her famous mother, Beka Rosselin-Metadi gains strength from her family's strong legacy of courage and leadership. After she vows to bring the assassin to justice, Beka takes command of her father's starship, Warhammer, and, adopting a new identity, begins her conquest of the dangerous enemies of the galaxy. Her search continues through out other novels in the series, including Starpilot's Grave, which reveals the threat posed by the Magelords as they breach the Republic's stronghold. While the Magelords leave the Republic floundering in By Honor Betray'd, Beka rebuilds what she can from the wreckage of her world.

Beka's parents' contributions to the battle against the Magelords is the focus of The Gathering Flame, which takes readers back in time to the growing battle between the kingdoms on both sides of the interstellar void called the Sundering. Drawing readers further back in time, Doyle and Macdonald present another "prequel" with The Stars Asunder, which focuses on the origins of the war between rival mages five centuries before Beka's birth, as the competition between two apprentice mages, Garrod, and Rekhe, is sparked after their shared universe and Mage Circle is fractured and each finds himself a leader of a competing world. The history of these competing cultures continues in A Working of Stars, as the fragmented Mage Circle shows signs of being reformed through the efforts of its strong-willed mage Arekhon to complete the unfinished cycle known as the Great Working, which will rejoin Mageworld and the Republic. Writing in Locus, Carolyn Cushman called the "Mageworld" series "a space opera with unusual depth, and some wonderful characters." While noting that the series is difficult to penetrate due to the lengthy names and long cast of characters, Bookloons online contributor Wesley Williamson praised the "Mageworld" sequence during a review of A Working of Stars, writing that Doyle and Macdonald "have an interesting and exciting tale to tell and the tell it very well indeed."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Analog Science Fiction and Fact, February, 1999, Tom Easton, review of The Stars Asunder, p. 132; October, 2002, Tom Easton, review of A Working of Stars, p. 311.

Booklist, November 15, 1992, pp. 589-590; August, 2000, Roland Green, review of Requiem for Boone, p. 2124; April 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of A Working of Stars, p. 1387.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1993, pp. 173-174; December, 1996, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Groogleman, p. 132.

Horn Book, January-February, 1993, review of Knight's Wyrd, pp. 89-90; March-April, 1996, p. 202.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1992, review of Knight's Wyrd, p. 1253; March 1, 2002, review of A Working of Stars, p. 297.

Library Journal, June 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of The Stars Asunder, p. 112; April 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of A Working of Stars, p. 127.

Locus, August, 1995.

Publishers Weekly, May 31, 2000, review of The Stars Asunder, p. 72; August 7, 2000, review of Requiem for Boone, p. 80; March 11, 2002, review of A Working of Stars, p. 56.

Realms of Fantasy, April, 1997, review of Groogleman.

School Library Journal, November, 1992, p. 90; December, 1996, Susan L. Rogers, review of Groogleman, pp. 120, 122; April 2002, Paul M. Kienlen, review of School of Wizardry, p. 63; November, 2002, review of A Working of Stars, p. 194.

Science Fiction Chronicle, April-May, 1997, review of Groogleman.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1993, Jennifer A. Long, review of Knight's Wyrd, p. 102; June, 2001, review of Requiem of Boone, p. 132.


BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (October 20, 2005), Wesley Williamson, review of A Working of Stars.

Doyle and Macdonald Home Page, http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald (October 20, 2005).

SFSite, http://www.sfsite.com/ (October 20, 2005), Rich Horton, review of The Stars Asunder.

Additional topics

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