Undoubtedly, one of the greatest – if not the greatest – thing about blogging is the wonderful people you encounter. Very early on in my blogging days, Michael Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers, popped up in my little blogger world, and we have been in contact ever since. It’s lovely to have such on-going support, especially when you are both in the same field of ‘work’, or what have you.
As mentioned, Michael is the author The Eye-Dancers:
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.
I have read The Eye-Dancers, and, quite simply, I love it. I really, truly do. It is such a wonderful story, and it focuses on themes not commonly found in many stories these day, which makes me love it even more! It is a story of fantasy and reality, of questions and answers, of friendship and growth. All that combined gives a brilliant piece of literature. This book is imaginative and original, and I would recommend it to anyone – the ‘growing up’ and friendship themes make it identifiable to all, but there is almost something subtly deeper running throughout it, and that makes it poignant and beautiful.
I read this waaay back last year, and I said to myself after I had finished it, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could interview Michael about his book. I’ll do just that.’ Anyone who has known me for any length of time is likely to know that I basically take about five thousand years to get around to doing anything. Think of a blue whale doing a three-point-turn. That is me. I am getting around to it – honest! – it just takes me a while. SO! Basically a year on from when I first read the book, I FINALLY interviewed Michael! Yaaaaaayy!
Below are my questions, and in fetching blue are Michael’s answers.
I have read on your blog that your inspiration for The Eye-Dancers was from a dream you had, whereby you saw this ‘ghost-girl’ with her haunting blue eyes! I wonder: when you had this dream, how did you feel? Did it freak you out? Did it intrigue you? Did your feelings inspire one of the main character’s reactions to her?
All of the above! 🙂 I definitely was scared. It was an extremely vivid dream. For a moment, just after waking up, I genuinely wondered if the “ghost girl” were still outside in the street, signalling for me to come out. But along with the fear, I felt excited, too. Once some of the initial shock wore off, I realized—I had to put this “ghost girl” into a story! I jotted down a few notes, describing how I felt during the dream, along with all the pertinent details—the intense blue of her eyes, the way they swirled and spun; the way the light from the street lamp passed straight through her, as if she were more spirit than flesh and blood; the sense that she had come for me, wanting to trap me somehow, force me to travel to some distant sphere, some existence far outside the boundaries of my everyday world. I didn’t want to forget. (As an aside, I later realized the notes were not necessary. I never forgot! Even now, so many years later, I can still recall that dream with clarity)
The opening sequence in The Eye-Dancers is actually a fair representation of my own dream experience. In that first scene, Mitchell Brant, one of the novel’s main characters, dreams of the “ghost girl.” She is outside, in the road, standing beneath the street lamp, just as she was in my own dream. And, just as it happened in my dream, the light passes through her, her blue, blue eyes spinning, expanding, drawing him in. His responses to her mirror my own. It was an easy scene to write—almost bleeding over into the realm of nonfiction!
How long did it take you to write The Eye-Dancers?
The first draft took nearly three years, and then another nine months of revising and rewriting!
Many writers draw on personal life experiences when they create scenes in their stories, or even when they create characters. Is this true for you and The Eye-Dancers? Were any of the characters, or character interactions, inspired by people you have known?
Definitely! The setting, for instance—western New York State—is where I grew up. And the four main characters—Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski—are all inspired by friends I knew (and still know!) growing up. The characters in the novel ultimately emerged as unique individuals, different in many ways from the real-life friends they are based on. But several “inside jokes” and idiosyncrasies from real life absolutely found their way into The Eye-Dancers!
While reading the book, I often felt as though there was a sober, deeper meaning flirting in the undertones. What was your ultimate aim when writing The Eye-Dancers? Did you want to convey any particular message or emotion?
That’s a great question. First and foremost, The Eye-Dancers is about growing up, coming-of-age, learning to appreciate the person you are, independent of expectations, peer pressure, and the insecurities so rampant in adolescence. It is also a story about friendship, the coming together of a group of boys on the cusp of being teenagers—they are very different from one another, and often get on each other’s nerves. But to survive the adventure, they must learn to work together. The people we bond with at an early age are special in our lives, and I hope The Eye-Dancers captures some of that magic.
But also, I have always been one to wonder, to ask questions about this “reality” we often talk about. Is reality so cut-and-dried, summed up by the things we see, touch, hear, feel? Is this life, here and now, all there is of our existence? Or is there something more? Is reality, perhaps, much more layered, much more complex, than we realize?
And, perhaps most of all, the sense of connection. We are all connected. People, places, events, histories, societies that seem, on the surface, so far away, a universe away, are, in actuality, closer to us than we ever dared to think.
One of the things I love most about The Eye-Dancers is its originality. You do not often come across stories these days which focus heavily on the friendship between four teenage boys still discovering who they really are! Was this intentional, or did the story write itself?
Both! The story wrote itself, as all stories do, but at the same time, when I set out to write The Eye-Dancers, I definitely wanted the friendship between the boys to be one of the main themes of the novel—an often troubled, stormy, and argumentative friendship! But they always have each other’s backs. I am nostalgic, I suppose. There is nothing like childhood, the sense of wonder we have at that early age. I wanted this novel to capture that—and the friendship between the main characters was certainly a part of that.
I perhaps shouldn’t ask this question, but do you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?
That is a tough one! 🙂 I like all of the characters—they each hold a special place for me. But if I had to choose just one, I would probably pick Mitchell Brant. Mitchell resonates for me on a deeply personal level; he shares many of the same traits I had at that age. And his love of collectible old comic books really puts him over the top for me!
If you are interested in The Eye-Dancers, check it out on:
Support a wonderful person and a fantastic writer! ^^