Michael Petracca is an American novelist, Lecturer Emeritus and former Acting Co-Director of the Writing Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Petracca's two novels, Doctor Syntax and Captain Zzyzx, published by Capra Press, feature Harmon Nails III as a protagonist. In Doctor Syntax (set in the Los Angeles area), Nails is a graduate student struggling to finish his dissertation. In Captain Zzyzx (set in the fictional "Fiesta City", in Southern California), Nails has rejected academia and plays in a rhythm and blues band while searching for love. To develop the characters for these books, the author draws upon history as a semi-professional poker player  and jazz / zydeco  / rhythm and blues guitarist, photographer for Skateboarder Magazine [not in citation given] and multi-divorced half-Italian half-Jewish Gaviota[disambiguation needed] Buzzard[disambiguation needed] Club [not in citation given] troubadour (2006). In recent years Petracca’s writing has focused on popular culture criticism  [not in citation given] and creative nonfiction, the latter relating volunteers’ contributions in the areas of habitat conservation   and hospice care. Petracca is the son of Hollywood screenplay and television writer Joseph Petracca.
- Doctor Syntax (1989)
- Captain Zzyzx (1992)
- The Graceful Lie: A Method for Making Fiction (1999)
- Academic Communities/Disciplinary Conventions (with Bonnie Beedles) (2001)
- Reading Popular Culture (with Madeleine Sorapure) (2012)
- Common Culture: Reading and Writing About American Popular Culture (with Madeleine Sorapure) (1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2013)