Your Place in This (or Any) World

In chapter 8 of The Eye-Dancers, shortly after arriving in the variant town of Colbyville, Mitchell Brant looks around and takes stock of his new surroundings.  It is, to say the least, an unsettling experience . . .

“A red vehicle drove past, its chrome fenders sparkling in the sunshine.  Just like the cars he’d seen in the parking lot, this one looked odd, old-fashioned.  All of the cars did–parked along the roadside, tight against the curb.  And there was something about the town itself, too.  The flowing, curvy shape of the street lamps, the fancy script lettering on the store fronts, the phone booth across the street . . . Everything just looked dated, off, as if the axis of the universe had shifted a quarter-inch to the left.”

booth

 

It is ironic that Mitchell finds himself in such a situation, feeling like the proverbial stranger in a strange land, because that’s the same way he all-too-often feels at home.  About to enter the seventh grade, Mitchell has always envied the popular kids in his class.  He’s never been one of them.  But his feelings of isolation and awkwardness do not occur only on school property.  Even his own mother seems to think he’s a little strange.  In chapter 1, when his mom eyes him a certain way, the text reads  . . .

“Mitchell knew that look well.  It was the one that made him feel like a Martian, or a Venusian, who had crash-landed onto Earth.  Come to think of it, a lot of things made him feel that way.”

mars

 

Mitchell isn’t the only one in the story who harbors such feelings.  Joe Marma is self-conscious because he’s the shortest boy in his class.  On top of that, he has the perfect older brother, and he can never measure up, no matter how hard he tries.  He has an ever-present chip on his shoulder.

Ryan Swinton struggles with always wanting to please the people around him.  He has a hard time making decisions.  What if he chooses a course of action that others don’t want to pursue?  He compensates by making jokes, always feeling pressure to make people laugh.

From chapter 3 . . .

“There was nothing worse than delivering a punch line and having no one laugh.  But the flip side was also true.  Few things could match the high he felt when he told a joke and people cracked up.  It was the greatest.  Winning their approval.  Winning their favor.  It sometimes felt scary, how important that was to him.”

And Marc Kuslanski feels like a social outcast–he has no real friends, is an only child, and sometimes wonders if he ever really had a childhood to begin with.  He sees other kids his age playing ball and having fun, but he always seems to be left out, perpetually on the sidelines.

This is the character backdrop of The Eye-Dancers, and when these four boys eventually find themselves in a new and different world, their sense of alienation only increases.  They continually come across strange things–antique-looking cars, expressions and words they’ve never heard of, a lack of PCs and cell phones, just to name a few.  As if they didn’t already struggle enough to fit in on Earth, now they have to deal with this. 

placeinworld

 

I believe that the struggles of Mitchell, Joe, Ryan, and Marc mirror our own.  We all, at one point or another, have wanted to fit in–somewhere.  Almost everyone has experienced moments of feeling like a social outcast.  I know I have.

I still remember my first day of junior high.  New school.  Lockers.  Lots of new students from other area grade schools all coming together under one roof.  In an offer of support, one of my older brothers walked me in that day, taking me to my locker.  I had never used a locker in grade school.  It intimidated me.  It seemed a cold, alien thing, metallic, gray, impersonal.  For a moment, I thought I sensed it grinning at me, as if it knew a secret I wasn’t privy to.   “You’re gonna hate it here,” I imagined it saying.

My brother, then a college student, looked around at his old stomping grounds, smiling.  A teacher stopped, said hello, remembering him.  My brother introduced me.  I shook the teacher’s hand, wishing a hole would open up right there in the hallway.  I would jump in, feet first, hoping to escape into the basement, hiding behind the old pipes and furnace and whatever else lurked, unseen, in the corners.  Anyplace else would be better than where I was.

The thing is–as time went on, I adjusted to junior high, and it pushed me to become a better student.  I met new friends, learned new lessons.  I began to grow up.  When you’re twelve or thirteen, you are searching for your place in this world.  So many options exist, just beyond the horizon.  After junior high, there is high school, then perhaps college, a career.  It is an exciting yet overwhelming time.

Back then. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life.  For a while, I wanted to be a marine biologist.  Then a private detective.  Then a teacher.  In the end, my love of writing won out, and I decided to pursue a career in the written word.  That, I eventually came to believe, was my place in this world.

For Mitchell Brant and Joe Marma and Ryan Swinton and Marc Kuslanski, they must also find their place in this world.  But before they can do that, they must first find their place, and themselves, in another, far-off world, a world where the axis of the universe may indeed seem shifted a quarter-inch to the left, but where, also, they will be forced to confront and overcome their insecurities and inner demons.

findyourself

 

The Eye-Dancers, at its core, is a story about growing up, discovery, and keeping the faith even in the midst of adversity.  While it tackles concepts of quantum physics and journeys to an alternate reality, it is, I hope, a story everyone can relate to.

After all, we all experienced that first day of junior high.  And if that wasn’t a trip to an alternate reality, I’m not sure what is . . .

universetilt

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

 

“One for the Angels” (Or, Win a Gift Card, Any Gift Card!)

In an early Season One episode of The Twilight Zone titled “One for the Angels,” sidewalk salesman Lou Bookman is confronted by Mr. Death.  Death tells the personable, well-liked pitchman that his time has come–he will die at midnight.  Bookman pleads with Death, asking him to postpone his demise until he makes his one last great pitch–“one for the angels,” he calls it.  While he’s made sales all his life, Bookman tells Death he’s never made that big splash, that monumental transaction.   He yearns for the opportunity.

lou2

 

Death grants him his request, but then Bookman tries to outsmart him.  He retires from the sales trade; therefore, the deal with Death is null and void.  If he’s no longer a pitchman, he can’t make that exciting sale he just waxed poetic about.  He will live on indefinitely.  Death has been defeated!

Not so fast.  It turns out that Death needs to take someone–if not Bookman, then someone else.  Mr. Death selects a little girl–a girl Bookman adores.  She lives in the same apartment building as he does, and the two have become friends.  That’s not unusual for Lou Bookman–children always seem to take a liking to him, and he to them.

loubookman

 

The girl is hit by a truck, and Bookman feels responsible.  He seeks out Mr. Death, pleads to make a deal with him to spare the girl’s life.  She is in a bed, lying comatose, barely holding on.  He asks to be taken in her place.  But Death refuses.  They had an arrangement.  Bookman broke it, and a new deal was struck.  Death will need to be in the girl’s room at the stroke of midnight to take her with him.

outsmartdeath

 

As midnight approaches, Bookman finds Mr. Death on the street and attempts to distract him, knowing that if  Death fails to show up in the girl’s room at midnight, she will live.  Bookman flies into a sales pitch, frantic, determined to succeed.  He shows Death everything he has to sell, and captivates him.  Mr. Death, overwhelmed, finally says, “Give me all you have!”    Midnight comes and goes.  Death has missed his appointed round.  The girl will live.

dealwithdeath2

 

Lou Bookman has done it–he has made his last great sales pitch–“one for the angels,” indeed.  Now Death will need to take him, as per the original agreement.  In saving the girl’s life, Bookman has sacrificed his own.

**********************************

The promotional pitch I am offering here cannot compare with the one made by Lou Bookman in The Twilight Zone fifty-four summers ago.  But I hope it will top a similar Eye-Dancers promo I ran back in April.

annemannequin

 

The concept is the same–during the promotional period, anyone who purchases The Eye-Dancers will have an opportunity to win a gift card.

But the specifics are different.  This promo, for one thing, will last longer–allowing for a possibly much higher gift-card amount to the winner.  Also, the current promo will not be strictly an Amazon affair, as the last one was . . .

Between today (July 11) and August 22, if you buy The Eye-Dancers, wherever it is sold, please notify me–either with a comment on this website, or via email at michaelf424@gmail.com.  I will keep track of  each person who buys the book during this time frame and then, on August 23, the day after the promotion ends, I will randomly select one winner.  The selected person will be awarded a gift card–to anywhere!  If you’d like an Amazon gift card, by all means . . .  Or B & N.  Or even something non-book-related.  Pizza Hut, perhaps?  Your favorite department store?  The choice will be yours!

giftcard

 

The amount of the gift card will be based on the number of overall purchases of The Eye-Dancers during the promotional time period.  For each purchase, $2.00 will be earmarked toward the gift card.  So, for example, if there are thirty purchases during the promotion, the gift card would be for $60 (30 purchases x $2.00 per purchase).  The gift card amount, in other words, will be determined by you!  The more purchases, the higher the amount on the gift card.

I’ll draw the winner’s name on Thursday, August 23, and will immediately send an email notifying them of the good news.  And please just remember that if you do purchase The Eye-Dancers during the designated period to make sure and contact me so I can enter your name into the gift-card contest.

The Eye-Dancers is available for purchase at the following online retail locations . . .

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Eye-Dancers-ebook/dp/B00A8TUS8M

B & N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-eye-dancers-michael-s-fedison/1113839272?ean=2940015770261

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255348

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/books/The-Eye-Dancers/nKFZETbWWkyzV2QkaJWOjg

This promo may not quite be “one for the angels,” but I hope you’ll take part!

oneforfinal

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Eye-Dancers Amazon Gift Card Opportunity, a Twitter Announcement, and . . . Mannequins?

In the first-season Twilight Zone episode “The After Hours,” Marsha White, a customer at a large department store, asks where she can find the store’s selection of gold thimbles.

marshawhite

 

She is told the ninth floor, and she is escorted there by the elevator man.  Once dropped off, a saleswoman approaches her–an odd person who makes Marsha uncomfortable.

saleswomanafterhours

 

Stranger still, there is only one item for sale on the entire ninth floor–the exact gold thimble Marsha is shopping for.  She purchases the item, unaware that this transaction is not the end, but rather the beginning of a spooky, unnerving, and ultimately self-revealing adventure.

anneafterhours

 

By episode’s end, Marsha realizes she is a mannequin–one of the many on display throughout the store.  Each month, a new mannequin is “awakened,” and able to experience life as a person.  But at the end of the thirty days, they must return and let the next mannequin in line have their chance.  Marsha, drunk on life, as it were, had suppressed the knowledge that she was a mannequin.  The peculiar dealings in the department store serve as a reminder, and eventually show her that her time is up.  She must return to her inanimate existence.

annemannequin

 

Now, what does all this have to do with The Eye-Dancers Amazon gift-card promotion that begins today?  I’m not sure!  Except to say, this promotion is very straightforward, and I promise, no one will be turned into a mannequin upon its completion.

For anyone who is thinking of purchasing The Eye-Dancers, the next three weeks offer an intriguing opportunity.  Beginning today, April 2, and ending Sunday, April 21, anyone who purchases The Eye-Dancers on Amazon will be eligible to win an Amazon gift card.  Here is how it works . . .

Between April 2 and April 21, if you buy The Eye-Dancers on Amazon, please notify me–either with a comment on this website, or via email at michaelf424@gmail.com.  I will write down the name of  each person who buys the book during this time frame on a small slip of paper, fold the paper, and place it in a jar.  Then, on April 22, the day after the promotion ends, I will randomly select one of the names from the jar.  The selected person will be awarded the Amazon gift card.

amazongift

The amount of the gift card will be based on the number of Amazon purchases of The Eye-Dancers during the promotional time period.  For each purchase, $1.50 will be earmarked toward the gift card.  So, for example, if there are twenty purchases during the promotion, the gift card would be $30 (20 purchases x $1.50 per purchase).  The gift card amount, in other words, will be determined by you!  The more purchases, the higher the amount on the gift card.

I’ll draw the winner’s name on Monday, April 22, and will email the good news to the winner, and immediately award them the gift card.

Hopefully you’ll take part!  Please remember, this only applies to Amazon purchases.  And if you do buy The Eye-Dancers during the designated period, please make sure to contact me so I can enter your name into the gift-card contest.

The link to The Eye-Dancers on Amazon is:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Eye-Dancers-ebook/dp/B00A8TUS8M

Hopefully, also, the details of this promotion are not as confusing, tricky, or scary as the shopping experience Marsha White endured in “The After Hours”!

A final note:  I have joined the Twitter world!  Please follow me at https://twitter.com/msfedison27.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Author Interview–Shannon A. Thompson

I started The Eye-Dancers website in late summer 2012.  Shortly after that, Shannon A. Thompson started her website, shannonathompson,com.  I remember it well because, at the time, I was not really sure where to go with The Eye-Dancers site, what kinds of things to post, and, really, how to go about blogging in general.  I had never attempted anything quite like this before.  When Shannon created her site, she came across mine and Liked a couple of the earliest posts on the site, and became one of the very first followers of The Eye-Dancers blog.  It is an honor and a privilege now to have the opportunity to interview her on The Eye-Dancers site.

I cannot recommend Shannon’s website highly enough.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.  It is full of all manner of engaging information, from reviews to anecdotes, from writing tips to encouraging and inspirational posts.  Shannon has had one novel published already–November Snow–and is about to publish another, Minutes Before Sunset.  In the interview that follows, I ask her about her writing, her novels, her number-one piece of advice for new writers, and her plans for the future.

So, without further delay, I hope you enjoy the interview . . .

1. Please tell us a little bit about your website.

My website is used to communicate with fellow writers, readers, and/or fans. My publications are available for purchasing, and I have the latest news on there, but I mainly use it as a blog—to give writing tips, publishing tips, book reviews, movie reviews, and just little bits about my life. My hope is to inspire others to follow their dreams and even support them while following my own.

2. You have a new Young Adult novel coming out soon—Minutes Before Sunset.  Tell us a little bit about that.  Can you give us a brief synopsis of the novel?

I can! My small synopsis is on my website:

“Minutes Before Sunset is a paranormal romance darkened by a hidden war between shades and lights. Told from two perspectives, one boy will discover the key to his kind’s survival, even if it means sacrificing the one he loves.”

But I have a longer one that I’m about to release 😀

3. When will Minutes Before Sunset be released?  Where will it be sold?

I’m hoping it will be ready to go by the end of April/beginning of May. I will announce that as soon as I know for sure, because I don’t want to announce it then have to change it. It will only be sold on NOOK or Kindle. I am currently working on a novel with a publisher, but I wanted to release Minutes Before Sunset myself to show another side of my work—other than the poetry and my novel that was published.

4. This isn’t your first novel.  You also wrote November Snow, which was published in 2007, when you were sixteen.  I think a lot of people would be impressed that you published a novel at such a young age.  What can you tell us about November Snow?

November Snow is my baby. It’s actually the second novel I attempted to write, but it was the first one I ever completed. I was fifteen when I finished it, and I started it at thirteen. It took a long time, but it means so much to me, because I wrote it as I was dealing with my mother’s death in 2003. What a lot of my readers today don’t know is that I took it off the market for a long time. From 2008 to 2012, it wasn’t available. I did this on purpose, because I was graduating from high school and adjusting to college life. I couldn’t manage it at seventeen—I was too busy figuring out HOW to manage, but now that I have, it’s back, and I’m excited to watch it grow again!

5. Six years have passed between the publication of your first novel and the release of Minutes Before Sunset.  Would you say that you have changed at all as a writer during that time?  If so, in what ways?

Oh my gosh, yes! I have changed so much. Other than being a more responsible individual, I have learned a lot of writing techniques I didn’t understand when I was sixteen. For instance, in November Snow I wrote from two perspectives—Daniel and Serena—but their voices didn’t seem much different; only the events did. Now, at twenty-one, I’ve written other novels by two perspectives, and I worked on their overall voices being different. When I was sixteen, I used adverbs a lot; now I know that’s not a great thing to do. I did a lot of “telling” with my “showing,” but I’ve learned to cut my “telling” out. Honestly, I could go on forever. As a writer, I’m constantly changing, and I think that’s the most exciting part about being a writer—discovering yourself as you discover your world.

6. On your website, you often provide tips and advice to writers, which is a wonderful feature.  But . . . if you could give one piece of advice, and one only, to a new or aspiring writer, what would that be?

Write with passion; succeed with self-discipline. This is my motto, and it keeps my writing moving every day.

7. You will graduate from the University of Kansas with a BA in English this spring.  What are your plans after that?

Unfortunately, after my roommate died, I had to cut down my hours this semester to cope, so I’m graduating in December now. But, ultimately, I feel like this was the right thing for me to do. My plans after school is work—but I have to admit that I have no plans beyond that. I’ve been very busy with Minutes Before Sunset, and, since I have another nine months, it gives me more time to search for jobs.

*************************

“At sixteen years old, Shannon A. Thompson became the published author of November Snow. At twenty-one, she was featured in Poems: a collection of works by twelve young Kansas poets. She’s lived in five states and moved over fifteen times, which she uses as inspiration for writing. Shannon dedicates all of her published works to lost loved ones, and she encourages everyone to find their passion.”

In addition to her website, you can find Shannon on Twitter  and on Facebook.

Thanks so much to Shannon for doing this interview, and thank you to everyone for reading!

–Mike

 

 

Facebook Feedback

These are exciting days in The Eye-Dancers universe (or, considering the locales in the story, maybe I should say multiverse)!

multiverse

The Eye-Dancers has been available for purchase for a couple of months, and a sequel is now in the works.  I plan to begin writing it within the next week or two, and am looking forward to delving back in to the characters’ worlds, and starting a new adventure.

A couple of months ago, I created the Eye-Dancers Facebook page.  But, quite honestly, other than writing a few announcement-style posts early on, that site has remained mostly dormant.  I’d like that to change, and would love to hear your thoughts.

What kinds of things do you like to see on a Facebook fan page?  My aim is for the Eye-Dancer Facebook page to be its own unique place–a fun and interactive site, worthy to be “Liked”!  Thanks to everyone who has visited and Liked the page so far!  And thanks for your patience over these past few weeks while the site has just kind of sat there, without being updated with fresh content.  It’s time to change that.  And your feedback would be most appreciated.

It’s interesting to think of the “old days” before the Internet and the ability to interact so readily with so many people.  Back then, as an author, you could receive postal mail and hear from readers that way (assuming you even had a wide enough audience for this to happen).  But by and large, you existed in something of a bubble.  You wrote what you wrote, hoped people would enjoy it, but rarely received very much feedback from readers, and then you moved on to your next project.  Whereas in 2013, we can all exchange ideas, give each other feedback, and carry on engaging conversations.  It’s a new world, really, and an exciting one.

I’m grateful to be a part of it, and as always I thank you so much for reading!

–Mike

Many Years Before The Hunger Games . . .

Mitchell Brant (like me) is a big fan of The Fantastic Four.  It’s his favorite comic book, and he tries his best to collect as many of the old original copies as he can.  In chapter one of The Eye-Dancers, we see him pull out a copy of Fantastic Four number 99.  I’d like to think he also owns four remarkable issues from 1969–numbers 90–93.  These four issues together form one story arc, a continuing saga that, in many ways, foreshadows Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games four decades later.

Did Suzanne Collins ever read Fantastic Four # 90–93?  Chances are very high she did not.  But the premise behind both stories is similar.  Amazingly so.

In Fantastic Four number 90 (September 1969), The Thing is captured by a Skrull slave hunter.

FF90

In the Marvel Comics universe, the Skrulls are an alien race with shape-shifting abilities  from the Andromeda galaxy.  They first appeared way back in Fantastic Four number 2 (January 1962), so by ’69, readers were very familiar with them.  In number 90, this particular Skrull fools The Thing into believing he’s Mr. Fantastic, the FF’s leader, and then renders him unconscious with a nerve ray.  He plans to make The Thing a slave and transport him to the Skrull galaxy to battle in something called The Great Games.

FF91

What are The Great Games?  They take place on the Skrull world of Kral.  There, each year, participants  are captured and brought in from worlds throughout the galaxies and forced to battle to the death in The Great Games.  Once captured by the Skrulls, they relinquish all rights and are known only as  “slaves.”

There are odds, bets, favorites and underdogs.  The Games are the biggest entertainment spectacle of the year, televised and watched by nearly everyone.  Two “slaves” are hand-picked before each contest and then forced to enter the arena, before a sellout crowd.  They must battle to the death–only the death of one ensures victory for the other.  Weapons are provided, tossed onto the arena floor, between the combatants, who then scratch and claw and fight for their use.

If a “slave” chooses not to fight, not to kill, the Skrulls have a device called the Sonic Disrupter, which they then direct at the resister’s home planet.  The Disrupter fires a ray, forcing the planet out of its orbit, destined to fall into the sun.  In this way, the combatants are forced to kill their opponent.  It’s either kill in the arena, or have their own home world destroyed.  FF92

Of course, eventually, the rest of The Fantastic Four realize what’s happened, and through the often corny magic of 1960s-era comic books, they come to The Thing’s rescue.  They even help to dismantle the Sonic Disrupter and put an end to the Great Games.

FF93

Obviously, in The Hunger Games, the tributes were children, not super-powered natives of other planets captured by a Skrull slave hunter.  But the similarities are striking.  The televised/entertainment spectacle of a society watching and relishing combatants fighting to the death, forced into the act by an oppressive, powerful government.  The preparations beforehand, building the Games up to be the event of the year.  The contest itself, with the fighters provided weapons to help them finish the job.

The differences between Fantastic Four # 90-93 and The Hunger Games are many and profound.  The Hunger Games, being a novel and featuring rich and multi-layered characters, is a far more in-depth work.  But the basic themes from these Fantastic Four issues resonate and penetrate through the veil of forty years.  The basic concept is clearly a winner, and it captivates audiences.

Comic books are often trivialized and thought of as disposable entertainment, and many of them are.  But there is a richness of ideas, concepts, fantasy, and wonder to be found in the pages of the classic FFs from the 1960s.  Before Panem and Katniss, Peeta and Rue and District 12, there was The Thing, battling in The Great Games of the Skrull world of Kral.

Just ask Mitchell Brant.  He’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

Thanks so much, as always, for reading!

–Mike

The Next Big Thing

One of the really nice things about starting The Eye-Dancers blog has been the interaction I’ve had with fellow bloggers.  As a part of that, I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in The Next Big Thing.  Many thanks to Maddie Cochere for her invitation.  Please take a look at Maddie’s website–she is doing great things!

The Next Big Thing is a lot of fun and it offers writers a chance to pass the baton, as it were, from week to week.  It’s a wonderful opportunity, and again, I am thrilled to be a part of it.  There are a series of questions to be answered–the same for everyone who takes part in The Next Big Thing.

1. What is the working title of your book?

The Eye-Dancers

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

On the surface, this is a simple question, but really, “where did you get your idea” questions are never altogether straightforward–at least not for me!  I am of the belief that writers don’t “get” ideas so much as ideas come to them.  This particular idea came to me first a long time ago–when I was a teenager (longer ago than I care to admit)!  I had a dream.  In the dream, I was looking out through the front window, into the street.  And there, beneath the street light, was a little girl, seven, maybe eight years old.  She was partially transparent–like a ghost, a spirit, not of this earth.  She had the bluest eyes I had ever seen, and she gestured for me to come outside with her.  (To anyone who has read Chapter One of The Eye-Dancers, this scene will be strikingly familiar!)  I woke up from that dream, and for years couldn’t figure out what to do with it.  The image of the “ghost girl” remained locked away, in an “ideas-vault,” and I wondered if it would ever be opened.  Then, just a few years ago, I had the same dream!  But this time, upon waking up, the basic idea of The Eye-Dancers took shape.  That’s how ideas so often happen. They come to you, unasked for, unplanned.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

 I would call it young adult sci-fi/fantasy–though it is not hard-core sci-fi, nor is it high fantasy.  It’s a young adult story with sci-fi and fantasy elements, and, it’s my hope, an imaginative plot that will take readers on a wild ride.


4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Is it okay to skip a question?  I have such clear, distinct images of the characters in The Eye-Dancers, I honestly cannot think of any actors to play the parts.  Of course, if the day ever came when a decision on such matters had to be made, I’d consider that a wonderful “problem” to have!

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

A one-sentence synopsis is very hard to come up with!  But if I had to, it would go something like this . . .

Four seventh-graders are transported to a strange world, and the only one who can help them find their way back home is the mysterious little girl with the swirling, hypnotic blue eyes.

6. What is the longer synopsis of your book?

 I will go ahead and use the blurb I have up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble . . .

Seventh-grader Mitchell Brant and three of his classmates inexplicably wake up at the back edge of a softball field to the sounds of a game, the cheering of the crowd. None of them remembers coming here. And as they soon learn, “here” is like no place they’ve ever seen. Cars resemble antiques from the 1950s. There are no cell phones, no PCs. Even the spelling of words is slightly off.

A compulsive liar, constantly telling fantastic stories to garner attention and approval, Mitchell can only wish this were just one more of his tall tales. But it isn’t. It’s all too real. Together, as they confront unexpected and life-threatening dangers, Mitchell and his friends must overcome their bickering and insecurities to learn what happened, where they are, and how to get back home.

The answers can be found only in the mysterious little girl with the blue, hypnotic eyes. The one they had each dreamed of three nights in a row before arriving here. She is their only hope. And, as they eventually discover, they are her only hope.

And time is running out.

7. Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

 It is an indie e-book (self-published).

8. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

 The first draft took about two and a half years. 

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

 Another question that, on the surface, seems simple, but which is really quite complex.  First and foremost, my experiences growing up in Rochester, New York, the friends I shared, the adventures we had, the ideas and speculations we discussed–just kids having fun and wondering.  Imagining.  Those experiences are still very much alive in me, and they were the primary motivating factor when I wrote The Eye-Dancers

But also, I have always been the kind of person to ask, “What is the meaning of it all?  What, in its essence, is the ‘reality’ we all speak of?  Are things perhaps not quite what they seem?  Are they more layered?  Are there other realities, other truths, which we know no part of?”  The Eye-Dancers is a composite of all those questions and (hopefully) more.  It is the story of young friendship, overcoming obstacles, learning to believe in yourself, and keeping the faith.

In the end, it’s the characters in The Eye-Dancers who kept me dialed in, who kept me focused even on the days when the writing was hard and the creative process an uphill climb.  In a nutshell, the book was inspired by the child in all of us, the part of us that wonders why things are as they are, and that is eager to discover new and exciting frontiers.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think (hope!) that there are various elements to The Eye-Dancers, enough disparate qualities to attract readers from across the spectrum.  If you enjoy character-driven fiction, I hope you give The Eye-Dancers a look, because it is the characters–their problems, their overcoming of adversity, their self-discovery and need to confront their own insecurities–who lie at the heart of the story.  If you enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, there are “ghost girls” and dreams and parallel universes, quantum physics and world-building and possibilities of time travel.  If you like mainstream fiction, there are many subplots and character-driven moments that, with hope, will cause you to care about and root for the boys in their quest to get back home.

And, it’s my earnest hope . . . if you simply like an interesting, imaginative story, then you will you enjoy The Eye-Dancers.

Once again, I am very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to participate in The Next Big Thing.  It was a lot of fun answering these questions.  And it’s also a privilege to pass the baton on to two other remarkable authors.

Jennifer Paetsch at her site, JenniferPaetsch.com, and Sheri Bessi at her site, The Other Side of Ugly, will answer these same questions next week!  Please join them for the next installment of The Next Big Thing . . .

–Mike

 

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