Today, author Michael S. Fedison joins us on the character lounge with one of several protagonists from his new YA science fiction novel, The Eye-Dancers. Mitchell Brant is very real, vulnerable and on his way to becoming a stronger person.
Welcome to the Character Column, Michael. Would you like to tell us about your novel, its characters, and what makes Mitchell special to you?
The Eye-Dancers is a story I feel I was meant to write. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with science fiction, parallel worlds, and quantum physics, and have always enjoyed writing about adolescence, the friendships formed during that period of life, and the challenges of growing up. The Eye-Dancers explores all of these themes. Additionally, the four main characters in the novel are all inspired by friends I knew when I was a boy. These characters are very real to me, and I really enjoyed writing about them. But I feel that one of them—Mitchell Brant—stands out as the primary character in the novel. . . .
At the start of The Eye-Dancers, Mitchell—a soon-to-be seventh grader—would be quick to tell anyone who’d listen that he is a hero. But deep down, when being honest with himself, he’d more likely admit he falls far short of what he aspires to be. The thing with Mitchell is, he’s one of those perpetual storytellers—liars, to call a spade a spade. He can’t seem to help it. Maybe it’s because he’s not popular at school or that he becomes tongue-tied around girls. Whatever the reason, he is quick to invent stories about himself—such as how he ran the mile in four-and-a-half minutes last fall, or threw a baseball ninety-two-miles-per-hour last summer. Few people believe him anymore—but he just can’t stop himself. And when people do doubt the truth of his claims, he defends them with tenacity and passion.
Why defend a lie? As Mitchell points out himself in the opening chapter, he’s not necessarily defending a “lie” per se. He’s defending what he hopes to be someday, he’s reaching for the stars and trying so hard to grab onto his dreams. Can’t anyone understand?
Well, maybe a little girl with blue, spinning eyes can—the girl he dreams of three nights in a row. The girl who haunts his sleep. Who is she? What does she want with him? Mitchell must find out, and when he does, he must confront not only the truth about the girl, but also the truth about himself.
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.
Excerpt (Opening Scene from The Eye-Dancers)
Peering out his bedroom window, his eyes flattened into squinting slits, Mitchell Brant saw her.
“No,” he said. “It can’t be her. It can’t be.”
But it was. She had come again.
He looked away, at the night-shadows on the floor, at the sheets jumbled and strewn on his bed. Maybe she wasn’t really out there. Maybe it was just an illusion, some odd distortion of the light.
He looked out the window.
She was still there.
He felt the fine hairs at the nape of his neck stand up. Gooseflesh, cold against the stifling humidity filtering in through the open window, speckled his forearms.
The girl was standing under the streetlamp, looking straight in at him—the same way she had last night and the night before. She was just a child, probably no more than seven years old—his sister’s age. What was she doing out in the street, alone, well past midnight? Was she a runaway? And why had she come three nights in a row?
About the Author
Michael S. Fedison was born in Rochester, New York, and now lives with his wife, Sarah, and regal cat, Luke, in the green hills of central Vermont. Michael has been writing creatively for as long as he can remember, and has had short fiction published in several literary magazines, including Iconoclast and The Written Word. He works as a full-time technical writer and also is a freelance proofreader and copy editor.
Michael has been a lover of imaginative stories his entire life. He enjoys any story that takes you by the hand, lifts you up, and transports you to another place, a new and creative way of looking at the world around us.
Thanks so much for being a guest here, Michael. Wishing the best of success to you, Mitchell and The Eye-Dancers!
Michael S. Fedison is also on Twitter.