Author of Many Worlds Comes to Ours


On September 19, 2013, for the first time in Riverbend history, an author visited Riverbend. D. J. MacHale came to the school for a forty-minute presentation on his career as a writer. Thanks to the sponsorship of Jabberwocky Children Books & Toys, located on 810 Caroline Street in Downtown Fredericksburg, MacHale was able to personally introduce his new book Sylo. MacHale, author of the popular Pendragon series, has also written for Nickelodeon and Disney. His HBO series Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective earned him a CableAce nomination for writing. Other popular titles include Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Tower of Terror, and Flight 29 Down. During Bear Block, MacHale discussed his beginnings as a writer: never one to enjoy writing when he was young, MacHale discovered his passion for writing when he was in eighth grade and had to do a project about algae. Instead of writing a paper about the microbiological life forms, MacHale requested permission to write a script; this, he says, was his true introduction to writing.

MacHale likes to surprise readers. Sylo, the first installment in his new trilogy, is a science fiction thriller. Originally titled Pemberwick Run, the Sylo story details the journey of Tucker Pierce, a boy living in a town called Pemberwick Island, Maine. A secret branch from the U.S. Navy, called SYLO, invades the island after it is hit by a lethal virus, causing the town to be quarantined. Jonathan Licata, Junior at Riverbend, said he was interested in science fiction because “reality is stretched” and the genre is taken “from the imagination.” He, like many students in the audience, found MacHale inspiring. Kevin Hatfield, also a Junior, has read Pendragon and looks forward to reading the Sylo trilogy.

MacHale said, “I’m not a writer, I’m a rewriter.” His drafts are a continuous series of revisions to create a natural progression within the narrative, and he encourages aspiring young writers to “write what you know.” MacHale said his characters are different pieces of himself: Bobby Penn is his humorous side, and Tucker is a “total slacker.”

His wife, Evangeline, is the first reader to critique his drafts. His editor looks at the big picture, rather than spelling and grammar mistakes. After his editor examines the copy, the draft is forwarded to a copy-editor, then a proofreader.

D.J. MacHale’s favorite part of being a writer is a combination of the feeling of coming up with a new idea, finishing a first draft, and hearing people say “I loved your book.” Students across Riverbend can draw inspiration from MacHale’s perseverance, resolve, and humorous outlook on life.