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Novelist   Playwright   Screenwriter

Gary Blackwood



FICTION   Young Readers
   The Shakespeare Stealer
    Shakespeare's Scribe
               Shakespeare's Spy
The Year of the Hangman

ALA Best Books for Young Adults

ALA Notable

Smithsonian Notable Books

School Library Journal Best Books

ALA Best Books for Young Adults

Smithsonian Notable Books

ALA Best Books for Young Adults

School Library Journal  Best Books

Around the World in
100 Days

NYC Public Library 100 Titles for

         Reading and Sharing

Lamplighter Award

Smithsonian Notable Books

Kirkus Best Books for Teens

The Just-So Woman
Second Sight
NONFICTION   Young Readers
Wild Timothy
ALA Recommended for Reluctant Readers
The Great Race: The Amazing
Round-the-World Auto Race
of 1908
Mysterious Messages: A History
of Codes and Ciphers
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Bucket's List: A Charley Field
Victorian Mystery
Bucket's Brigade: A Charley Field Victorian Mystery
The Devil to Pay
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The Shakespeare Stealer series:

“Wry humor, cliffhanger chapter endings, and a plucky protagonist make this a fitting introduction to Shakespeare’s world.”                                                                                                                                                             Horn Book Magazine

“This is a fast-moving historical novel that introduces an important era with casual familiarity.”

                                                                                                                                                School Library Journal (starred review)

"Rich language and descriptions of places, along with many details of actions contribute to a setting that goes deeper than costumes and props to genuinely reach back into the reality of another place, another time.”                  Booklist

The Year of the Hangman:

“Packed with action, convincing historical speculation, and compelling portrayals of real-life and fictional characters, this page-turner will appeal to fans of both history and fantasy.”                          School Library Journal (starred  review)

Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers:

 “Readers with Something to Hide will come away . . . with not only some new tools, but a great appreciation of the central role codes and ciphers have played in wars and diplomacy through the years.”                        Kirkus Reviews

Second Sight:

“Blackwood draws almost exclusively upon historical people and events, sets them in the most vivid evocation of the time and place . . . and caps his mesmerizing thriller with a stunning twist."                       Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Present-tense narration keeps the action immediate, and the constant awareness that readers are watching fictional characters and historic events gleefully manipulated by a literary master keeps the audience alert to the possibility that this may not end as the textbooks indicate.”                                                              Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Around the World in 100 Days:

Blackwood retains what’s best from Around the World in 80 Days, by that forefather of steampunk, Jules Verne—the lighthearted humor, race against time, loyal friends and devious foes—while dropping the Eurocentrism; Harry’s mixed-race heritage and adventures in a world on the cusp of social upheaval provide a subtle contemporary subtext. The synthesis makes for a thrilling, thoroughly road-worthy joy ride.                                 Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Blackwood’s steampunkish romp has a touch of humor and a great deal of heart, which brings readers fully onboard as they feverishly turn pages in this race against the clock."                                                                       School Library Journal   



“A thrilling look at the 19th-century age of automata—‘a time of curiosity-seekers’—and the riveting story of a likable Philadelphia boy whose life of the mind helps him transcend his extraordinary, oft-cruel circumstances."                                                                                                                                                           Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The museum and curiosity show setting—as well as the cameo appearances by Edgar Allan Poe and P. T. Barnum—make this historical novel a delight."                                                                                                       VOYA (starred  review)                                 



I guess it’s a good thing I became a writer, because my grasp on reality has always been a bit tenuous.  There are a few things about myself, though, that I can say with some assurance are true.  I grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania and, for the first three years of my education, went to one of the last remaining one-room schools in the state. 


My mother once said that, even before I could read or write, I was telling stories; I can’t vouch for the truth of that.  I do know that I was drawn to books by some mysterious force that seemed to emanate from them; they were always my favorite birthday or Christmas gifts.  The only library available to me was a single set of shelves in that one-room school, but I devoured everything on them.  My favorites were the Doctor Dolittle books; I even engaged in a contest with a classmate to see who could finish the series first.  As I recall, I won, but he might tell it differently.

Around the age of 13, I started sending manuscripts (handwritten by my mom, whose penmanship was way better than mine) to magazines, and at 16 I got my first encouraging letter from an editor—the SF writer Frederik Pohl, who headed up Galaxy Magazine.  My fate was sealed.  Three years later, as a junior at Grove City College, I sold my first story, to a now defunct magazine called Twelve/Fifteen.


It seemed like an auspicious start, and I did indeed publish a few more stories; I also had a play produced.  But I really wanted to write novels.  And so I did—nine of them, in fact, before I finally hit pay dirt with Wild Timothy just as I was turning 41.  Not exactly an advanced age, but after nearly two decades of trying, it felt like it.  I sold two more novels for young readers in fairly short order, and then . . . nothing.  For a stretch of seven years, I concentrated my efforts mainly on magazine pieces and on teaching others how to write and not sell their stuff.  Meanwhile, I was sending the manuscript of The Shakespeare Stealer off to one publisher after another after another, ad nauseam.

Stealer finally did find a home, and its success brought my dying career back to life.  I’ve been at it hammer and tongs ever since and, though I really am getting on in years now, I don’t seem to be slowing down--at least as far as writing is concerned. Along the way, I actually managed to participate in real life, as well: I got married and helped raise three kids and moved about from one end of the States to the other before settling down on the beautiful North Shore of Nova Scotia, where I live as Earth-friendly an existence as possible, powered by solar panels.   I divide my time between directing (and occasionally acting in) plays for the local theatre company, hiking, kayaking, reading, watching old movies, enjoying the company of friends—and, of course, writing.    


(Not the real Hamlet; just a spoof!)

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For Young Audiences

The Goose Girl
To avoid an arranged marriage, Princess Jorinda swaps identities with her scheming maid-in-waiting.  Based on the Grimm Bros. tale.  Winner of the Marilyn Hall Award.
The Shakespeare Stealer
In Elizabethan England, a young orphan who knows an early system of shorthand is hired to steal the script of Hamlet as it's performed at the Globe Theatre.  Adapted from the novel.
The Steadfast Plastic Soldier
An odd array of action figures are deserted by their owner, who has discovered video games.  Based  on the Hans Christian Andersen tale.
The Dancing Princesses

A poor shepherd poses as a prince, hoping to solve the riddle of how the princesses of Beloil wear out their slippers every night, despite being confined to their chambers.


For Adults

The Count of One

A burned-out hypnotherapist takes on a new patient who, when he's age-regressed, recalls a previous life as John Wilkes Booth.  Based on a true story.  Winner of Festival of Firsts, Carmel, CA.

Dark Horse
Missouri, 1837.  A slave girl is on trial for drowning her master's child, but is unable to testify in her own defense.  Winner of the Missouri Scriptworks and Ferndale Rep Playwriting Competitions.
In rural Arkansas, c. 1900, a dirt-poor couple take to murdering travelers in order to provide a better life for their daughter.  Winner of Dayton FutureFest.
Two Hours in a Madhouse: An Evening With the Notorious Nellie Bly
A one-woman show based on the life and writing of the pioneering reporter and world traveler.
Ethan Frome
A faithful but very theatrical adapation of the classic Edith Wharton novel.
My plays on New Play Exchange


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My IMDb Page
My Scripts on
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August 15, 2021
September 2, 2020

Things have been happening since my last post. Some of them were even good. I finished editing my new novel . . . and then copy edited it, and then went over the proofs, and, though there are still a few little errors that I hope readers who are not as picky as me will fail to notice, it's in pretty decent shape. It even has a dandy cover, thanks to the design department at Black Rose.

I also managed to talk several fellow authors into contributing enthusiastic blurbs--ever though, personally, I dislike seeing plaudits from fellow authors in the pages of a book; it just seems like mutual back-scratching and makes me not want to read the book. I take a bit more stock in  quotes from unbiased review sources (though they're often overblown, too, and leave me wondering "Did we read the same book?")

Although I just got my first (very laudatory) review for my new novel, which left me thinking, "Boy, what a perceptive reviewer!"

Having some minor success on the screenplay front, too. One of my scripts won Best Drama in a pretty prestigious competition, and I've had several requests to read other scripts of mine. Not holding my breath for anything to come of it, but it's nice to dream.  My goal is to become the oldest screenwriter to win an Oscar.  Preferably while I'm still alive. 

Geez, what a slacker.  It's been nearly a

year since I last posted anything--so long that I've basically forgotten how to do it.  Not that I was much good at it a year ago, either. I'm not exactly a tech wizard.  I'm more the Rincewind of tech wizzards (Terry Pratchett reference)


I'm going to have to put on my wizzard hat, though, because it's a brave new world out there in Book Land.  Well, new, anyway.  I'm the one who has to be brave in order to navigate it.  


After 30-odd (sometimes very odd) years of working with Big Pub, I just inked a contract for my newest novel with a small publisher that has a very limited editing staff and an even more limited marketing staff.  In other words, I'm largely responsible for  1) making sure the ms. is in decent shape, which means running it by a couple of beta readers and  2) soliciting rave reviews from fellow authors--something that really brings a shudder to my soul, partly because I abhor asking anyone for anything resembling help or advice, and partly because I just dislike the whole "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" concept.  As a reader, I'm far more impressed by reviews from major review sources than by testimonials from other authors.  Oh, yes, and 3) establishing a social media presence.  I also dislike self-promotion (aside from bragging to close friends about my latest project).  But clearly I'm going to have to bite the bullet and gird my loins and keep calm and carry on and whatever other cliches you can think of.  

I'm not even going to mention the C_____19 word.  Let's just pretend--for a few moments, anyway--that it doesn't exist.

It's been a trying year so far--as in,  I keep trying and trying to find an agent and/ or a publisher for my three much-ignored mss.: a middle reader novel, an all-ages novel, and an adult novel. 

Actually, I did have an agent--very briefly.  They sold one novel for me, only because it fit neatly into a particular category.  They didn't seem to know what to make of the rest of my work, so we parted ways.

For a time it looked as though I might hook up with another agent; they asked me to do some revisions of my all-ages book, which I did (even though--as I've said elsewhere--I abhor doing revisions, I had to admit that these improved the book considerably)  And then the agent found another calling or fell off the edge of the  earth, or something.  Well, I could hardly blame them, considering the sorry state publishing seems to be in (New York State--just kidding), and considering the fact that I myself went off in a whole new direction. 

But, even though I'm concentrating solely on screenplays now, I'm still plugging away with the three book projects.  After all, my best selling book, The Shakespeare Stealer, was turned down approximately 40 times before it found a home.

Never say die.  Especially when there's a pandemic going around.

April 27, 2022

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