There’s a scene in “I Called Him Dancer” where the title character, who is homeless at the time, considers suicide by swallowing a handful of sleeping pills. He puts them in his mouth, then hesitates before swallowing. The bitter taste of the pills fills his mouth as he considers his fate: Will he end it or won’t he?
I liked the idea of this novel: Gifted dancer makes it to Broadway then falls from glory, ending up homeless and in the gutter of life. Former dance partner makes it to Broadway in search of gifted dancer. Can she help him rise again?
But I have to be honest: I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn’t. I cared just enough about the characters to wonder what happened to them, but if I hadn’t committed to reading the book for this blog tour, I wouldn’t have finished it.
I never really felt like I was part of the story. It was more like reading a report. And I found some of the circumstances and plot points unrealistic and hard to believe. I think the author, G. Edward Snipes, would have benefited from a few more editorial eyes on this piece of fiction and more time with the story. If books are like babies, I think this one was born prematurely.
That said, writing a novel is tough work, and I applaud Mr. Snipes for doing the work and believing enough in his story to publish it.
Read on for an interview with the author by Christian Speaker Services. He seems a likeable fellow with a quick wit. I’m sorry that didn’t transfer to the novel.
What made you write I CALLED HIM DANCER? Have you ever danced, taken lessons?
The only dance lesson I’ve received came when I was walking in the woods. A yellow cloud surrounded me and I began swatting yellow jackets like a break-dancer. Upon reflection, I don’t think I had the grace needed to make it big, so I quit after my first lesson. No more bees for me.
The inspiration for I Called Him Dancer came from a song performed by Tralena Walker and co-written by Tom Webster. I attended a meeting at the Atlanta Writers Club. Tralena and Tom were guest speakers. The topic was on how to write a story in lyrics for songs. Not my cup of Formosa Oolong, but at least it was entertaining. After performing the song, “Dancer,” either Tom or Tralena said, “We’ve been looking for someone who will turn the song into a novel. We think it would make a great story.”
Until those words were spoken, I was a passive observer. I looked up and words were swarming around me like those yellow jackets. They attacked my head while I lay screaming on the floor. Okay, maybe I didn’t scream – but my mind did. In an instant, the story unfolded in my mind and I knew this was something I was to write.
I knew nothing about dancing (other than what the bees taught me). Tom and Tralena gave me the lyrics and I started researching and writing. I have to admit that I worried about the dancing scenes, but I knew things took shape when people began asking how I became so knowledgeable about dance. I thought back to the bees and said, “It’s just something that hit me while walking in the woods.”
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
When I was a child, I got my first book. I flipped through the pages, then tore it apart. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s exactly what you do when editing a manuscript.
I hated writing when I was younger. I only did what I had to do, and sometimes not even that. Writers block was more like writers dementia. My mind didn’t return to me until after … hmm. What were we talking about?
In 1998, I became active in prison ministry. Many of the men I ministered to were eager to learn. Someone asked me if I had my studies or notes on paper. I agreed to write out the next study and then my writing career was born. The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t write. It was that I didn’t have something to say. Or didn’t realize I had something to say. Over time writing transformed from a task to a passion.
Is I Called Him Dancer your first fictional story?
My first fictional story was written in high school. It wasn’t supposed to be fiction, but hey, the best fiction looks like the real world, right? I’ll tell you the story.
In high school, I had a class that was dedicated to writing a 30 page research paper. I chose the topic, The Arms race between the US and Russia. It was the 1980s when the Cold War was still on everyone’s mind. We spent weeks in the library researching our topic. I say ‘we’ in the general sense. My research was sports and other useless browsing. At the halfway point, we had to turn in our research note cards. The teacher graded them and as she returned them, she said, “Some of you aren’t going to pass this class.” She paused in front of my desk as she said this, and then dropped my notecards on my desk. She continued, “You cannot write this paper with less than 70 research cards.”
I counted my cards. Seven. A very weak seven. This information must have shocked my brain, for I didn’t even think about this again until the teacher informed the class that the rough draft was due in the morning. “Holy cow! It’s due tomorrow?” I said.
After school, I visited a few friends, ate dinner, and watched TV. It was now nearly bedtime. No more goofing off. I sat down and began to write. The information flowed. I clearly needed more research sources, so I interviewed military experts born mere minutes ago. But hey, Colonial Imagination was still a source. I wrote thirty pages – somehow. And I got a good grade in the class. After all, no one had more expert sources than I did.
I should have known then that writing was in my future, but it would be more than two decades before I discovered a passion for writing.
Tell us a little about your book, I Called Him Dancer.
For a moment, Michael danced on top of the world, but one bad choice turned his life upside down. The once promising Broadway star now washes windows for tips and lives among the homeless. When his former dance partner recognizes him behind the fray of whiskers, shame drives him away from her. Angry at God and the world, the Dancer refuses to allow anyone into his life. When everything is stripped away, three things remain: faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love.
I Called Him Dancer is a story about how one woman’s enduring faith and unconditional love drives her to reach out to a homeless friend, who has given up on life.
Who is your favorite character in I Called Him Dancer?
The character that inspired me the most is Kenyon. Many readers have stated the same. He’s human, struggling to do what is right, and lives by a genuine faith. At times he wrestles between what he knows God wants him to do, and what he wants. Kenyon is down to earth, not preachy, yet his life has an impact on others.
In the story I tried to present Christianity in an honest light. Many who claim to be Christians show hypocrisy and drive others (like the Dancer) away from the faith. This is a real problem in the Christian culture. Kenyon shows what sincere faith looks like. He’s far from perfect, but his simple faith impacts those around him. Kenyon’s sincerity is something the Dancer can’t understand and it piques his curiosity.
What would you like your readers to take away from this novel?
I want people to look at the reality of how faith impacts the world around us. Hypocrisy is being pretentious about faith, and there is a difference between failure and hypocritical behavior. Christians shouldn’t feel dejected when they fail. It’s part of this life of reaching upward.
Also, we all know someone who appears hopeless and hostile toward God, but we don’t know what the Lord is doing behind the scenes. Ultimately, hope is what everyone should take away. Hope that readers are not alone in their struggles. Hope that our lives can make an impact – even with our imperfections. Finally, hope that the people we care about are never out of God’s reach.
How can readers get in touch with you?
You can flash a light on the clouds that says, ‘Free chicken fingers,’ and I’ll play Batman music and come running. Some people prefer the simpler route of connecting with me on Twitter @eddiesnipes. My Facebook username is eddiesnipes. It might seem like a strange coincidence, but my LinkedIn name is also eddiesnipes. Even more crazy is my website: http://www.eddiesnipes.com. On each of these, I just closed my eyes and typed out random keys. I might have peeked on a few letters. You can get the book through online bookstores or your local Christian bookstores.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services (www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com).
For a chance to win the book “I Called Him Dancer,” visit the Christian Speaker Services blog here.