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The Eye-Dancers by Michael S. Fedison: Exclusive Interview with the Main Characters

eye_dancers_lowres3Ah, to be back in junior high school! The loneliness, the angst, the debilitating shyness, the budding teenage romance… Reading the Eye-Dancers was like a trip back in time for me as the four main characters struggled with growing up, each in their own way, in a strange and exciting setting.

I knew from the book’s description that the four boys are going to be whisked away to a fantasy world, and I was expecting something like Narnia, but actually it’s more like a subtly different parallel universe in which they must rescue a mysterious psychic girl. I’m always intrigued by weird psychic powers, parallel universes and alternative history, so I really enjoyed the ride!

I’ve had the chance to chat with all four of the main characters, Mitchell, Joe, Marc, and Ryan (author Michael S. Fedison chimes in too) and here is what they told me…

1. What are some of the things you like/dislike about this parallel universe you’re in?

Marc Kuslanski)  It’s fascinating, intellectually, seeing the differences in this world.  At first, it seemed like maybe we had traveled back in time.  But then–
Joe Marma)  Can it, Einstein!  Just can it, and seal the lid!  I had to listen to your stupid theories and crap for hundreds of pages in the book, I don’t need to hear any more now, got it?   As for me, I like the dog I met.  Duss.  Cool dog.
Mitchell Brant) [blushing] Well, if I’m being honest–not something I always am–I guess I would have to say meeting Heather’s the best thing, and it’s not even a close second.
Ryan Swinton)  Hmm.  I’m not sure!  I–
Joe) Oh, c’mon, Ryan.  Don’t always be so wishy-washy!
Ryan)  Well, then . . .  probably the best thing for me was, um, well, standing up to you, Joe.  You remember?  When we were in Tilly?  That really small town?  I hadn’t ever really done anything like that.  I needed to do that.
Joe)  Sorry I made you give an answer just now, bud.  But, yeah.  I never knew you had it in you.  I was impressed.
Ryan)  Oh, yeah, and the cars in the parallel universe are cool, too.
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2. If you ever escape from this weird parallel universe, would you ever want to come back here or to visit any other strange worlds?Mitchell)  Honestly, I’m not sure it matters.  ‘Cause if we do get back home, I know the guy who writes for us has plans for a sequel, so . . .
Me)  Careful, Mitchell!  I might just write you clean out of the sequel!
Mitchell)  Sorry, Mike.  I meant to say–Write on!  And yes!  I’d love to come back!
Me)  That’s better.

3. What is the scariest thing you’ve had to do in this adventure?

Joe)  Listen to Kuslanski talk, talk, talk!  Geez!  He’s wrong every freakin’ time!  And he just never quits.  He’s like a bad smell.
Marc)  [adjusting his glasses] Joe, I’m not always wrong.  In fact, I think I’m right approximately 99.97 percent of the time.
Ryan)  For me the scariest thing was cleanin’ Stu’s cabin.  That guy gave me the creeps.
Mitchell) Are you all forgetting the void?  What about going through the void?
Marc)  Exactly!  I aim to think about that more, figure out exactly what happened  . . .
Joe) [holding his head]  Here we go again . . .

 Questions for each individual:

1. Joe, you kind of had me worried about your aggressive tendencies. Have you ever practiced martial arts? Where did you learn to fight? 

Joe)  You know, I never did practice martial arts.  Never needed to, I guess.  I don’t know.  I’ve always just known what to do when the fists start flying.  It’s kind of like breathing for me.  It all just comes naturally.  Maybe it’s ’cause I’m so freakin’ short.  I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder.

2. Ryan, you’re the joker of the group. Do you have any other interests aside from making jokes?

Ryan)  Funny you should ask that, Sonya!  I was talking to Mike about that, telling him I wanted him to put my other big interest in the next book.  And he is!  I love magic, card tricks, performing . . .  Give me a deck of cards, and I’ll mesmerize you.  Not to brag or anything.  Just sayin’ . . .

3. To travel between worlds, you had to enter a weird tentacle-like thing. Marc, have you come up with any theories on what those “tentacles” were?

Marc) [his glasses falling down the bridge of his nose]  This has kept me up nights!  It really has.  I can’t say for sure–yet.  But to the best of my knowledge, they represent some sort of interdimensional space-time warp.  They are wormholes, bridging dimensions–in this case, bridging universes.  They may be related to black holes.  I will get back to you on this!  Believe me, I’m gonna spend a lot of my spare time thinking this over.

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4. Mitchell, you’re quite the comic book reader. What is it about the Fantastic Four that appeals to you?

Mitchell)  Well, I’ve personally met the actors who played the FF in the movies, and . . . [tilting his head, listening to something]  What’s that?  Oh.  Okay.  I was just told I should be 100% truthful with this answer.
Um . . . I just like their adventures.  Their stories take you to, well, kind of funny, since I did the same thing–but they sometimes take you to parallel worlds, and different dimensions.  They’re really imaginative.  And I like the characters, too.  They bicker a lot, but they’re like family,  When the chips are down, they’re all in.
Now, about the actors I met . . .

Hope you enjoyed the interview!

To purchase The Eye-Dancers…

on Amazon, please click here.

at Barnes and Noble, please click here.

at Smashwords, please click here.

at Kobo, please click here.

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Healing Spells of the Rainforest Shamans

rainforest-shamansWriting my time travel novel Dryad required a all sorts of research from watching YouTube videos to reading scholarly books. The story spans from modern day Los Angeles to 17th century Colombia. I researched such diverse topics as Greek mythology, Amazon trees and wildlife, Jesuit missions and French corsairs.

But the subject I found most interesting was the shaman practices of the Tukano tribes. Rainforest Shamans by renowned anthropologist Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff  describes in detail the practices of tribes such as the Tukano who live in the rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela.

I don’t like to include too much “did you know” material in my novels because it feels forced and takes away from the plot. So there were many facts about these rainforest tribes that didn’t make it into Dryad. Luckily, I have this blog so you can find out about some stuff that I included and didn’t include in the novel.

Hunting and Health

Hunting is a big part of the Tukano lifestyle, but it is also connected with shamanic theories of illness and health. The Tukano believe that some illnesses are a result of animals taking revenge on the hunters.

A shaman will ask a patient about his hunting experience in trying to figure out the cause of an illness. I portray this process in an excerpt from Dryad:

The wizened old face crinkled in puzzlement as he looked at his patient. He asked a question in his language, which Father Montoya translated as, “Tell him about your hunting experience.”

“Umm… we didn’t hunt on our journey,” Rodney said, “We already had food supplies with us.”

“He means in general,” Father Montoya said, “He needs to know this in order to find out whether an animal spirit is trying to take revenge on you. How has your hunting been?”

“Is this how he usually interviews patients?” Rodney asked.

“Yes.”

“I don’t know,” Rodney shrugged, “I’ve never done any hunting in my life. Only surfing.”

As it often happens when researching a novel, the research material blends serendipitously with the plot and even the theme of my novel. Dryad has an obvious environmental theme, and I was amazed to find out the extent to which awareness of environmental interconnection is woven into Tukano mythology.

Hunting is seen as taking away the sun’s energy, which is present in all beings. In order to keep this energy in balance, certain rules have to be followed.

One interesting set of rules I read about though I didn’t include in the novel is that hunting is also connected with sexuality and dreams. There are certain rules that require the hunter to abstain from sexual contact for several days before a hunt. Even if the hunter happens to have a dream of a sexual nature, then he cannot hunt for a certain period of time.

On one hand, there is a mythological explanation for this, as sex and food are considered closely linked. On the other hand, there are also practical and environmental considerations. By introducing all of these stringent rules, the shamans ensure that the hunters don’t kill a great number of animals, thereby preserving the limited number of creatures available on the territory of their tribe.

mountain-tapirAnother fascinating chapter is devoted to an interview with a hunter regarding tapir avoidance.  Tapir meat is eaten more rarely than other meat due to the spiritual qualities associated with these creatures.

“The [tapirs] are people, like us. They have their houses, their tapir houses.” The hunter said that by this he meant the supernatural abodes in hills and rock formations in the deep forest, where all game animals in spirit form are said to dwell under the care of the Master of Animals.

Needless to say, I had to use this mystical quality of tapirs in the novel. I won’t give away the story, but let’s just say that I made the tapirs seem very creepy!

After watching this video, you may agree that there’s something creepy about tapirs….