Monday, October 3, 2016

I JUST CAME HERE TO DANCE by Susan Mary Malone



Susan Mary Malone
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Date of Publication: September 15, 2016
Number of Pages: 340

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            Paula Anne Fairbanks understands all about the unexamined life. And she likes hers that way—until her world gets ripped smooth apart.
            Running from reality, Paula falls under the mythological yarns being spun on Diana Maclean's porch. Surely Paula's own choices aren't to blame for the summer of insanity she spends under the spells of Diana...who is, after all, known as the White Witch of Sociable, Texas.
            I JUST CAME HERE TO DANCE, a modern allegory, waltzes atop the line between the creative and the crazy, the sacred and the maligned. Through myths it weaves together the multi-layers of personal Self with that of the collective whole. And finally, Paula Anne and the townsfolk learn the simplest of truths: that the fire's ashes produce wisdom and courage, just as the stories say.


     "Malone's voice is one of the most charming I've read.  It brings the story and her characters to life.  I feel like I grew up with Paula right over the hill from the lively little town of Sociable, Texas."  --New York Times bestselling author M. Leighton

"Susan Mary Malone pens well-crafted characters that are so vivid you can picture them in an award winning movie or television series." --New York Times bestselling author Mary Honey B Morrison

". . . a magical story about love ripped apart, a life examined, and then healed.  To be read slowly, to savor as one would a tall cool glass of lemonade, on a hot afternoon, watching the world become new."  --Ginnie Siena Bivona, author of Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party, made into a Hallmark TV film, Bound by a Secret 


How has being a Texan influenced your writing?

Enormously!  Texas is its own unique world, even in today’s global one.  I was born here, and though I’ve lived other places, I always come home.  Not only do we have a rich culture of Texas letters, but the best of those reflect the very essence of what it means to be from this land.  Both the good and the not-so good.  But ah, the richness of a John Graves, or of course a McMurtry, or S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon (which is just the definitive history of our state).  When you read the Texas greats, their stories go straight to heart of who we are. 

Or as Paula Anne puts it in her own vernacular: “Whoever said, ‘People are people’ sure hadn’t spent much time in Texas.  We got the market cornered on lunatics.”  

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

All of it. Lol. But mostly, the myths and stories told on Diana’s porch.  I literally fell into them, much as Paula Anne does in the novel.  Many I knew, many I’d heard, and some were brand new to me as I, too, listened while Diana and the rest reenacted them of a hot summer evenin’.  Myths are the collective stories of our psyche, of what brings meaning to us individually and together, of what it means to be human, and how to navigate the treacherous passages.  

The further I went, the more I saw that the book was a myth within a myth, that it traversed a path of learning to hear and trust one’s instincts, as in “Vasilisa the Wise.”  Which is, of course, told on Diana’s porch and runs through the entire story . . . 

How does your book relate to your life path?

Stories, myths, the very essence of what makes us human, is my life path.  I love other people’s stories, and that’s what I write about as well.  And writing itself is my spiritual path.  I’m never so close to the divine as when I’m chasing characters through a story, finding out who they are and why they do what they do.  It’s my deepest form of prayer.   

And I learned along with Paula Anne to follow that quiet ever-present voice of the divine, whether you call it God or intuition or the doll in your pocket.  

What cultural value do you see in storytelling?

Ah, stories carry the keys to the Universe!  It’s when we come to know those we perceive as “different,” come to understand what makes them tick—whether we see the world as they do or not—that we gain not only empathy but compassion as well.  Viewing the world from a different perspective enriches us all.  

And we know that early reading is a huge indicator of educational performance in children as well.  In fact, in a recent New York Times article called “The Good News about Educational Inequality,” the two professors discuss the apparent paradox that even though economic inequality is worsening, the performance gap between high-income and low-income children is shrinking. The authors argue that this is due directly to parenting practices that help low-income children.  “What is changed is that low-income children are now getting more of what the political scientist Robert Putnam calls ‘Goodnight Moon’ time than they did in the 1990s.” 

Storytelling has been at the heart of us since primitive times.  We learn, we grow, through stories.  

What book do you wish you could have written?

A River Runs Through It.  Although I love so very many books, that novel is the most exquisite piece of writing I’ve ever seen.  Not one word out of place.  The thin novella speaks volumes of the human condition, of what it means to love, and of how we can love deeply those we never understand.  

Every time I read it (and do so, ever so often), it breaks my heart more profoundly.  

It is simply beautiful.    

What projects are you working on at the present?

Oh, I’m having so much fun!  I’m working on a novel set in a Texas vineyard and winery, and ah, what I’m learning!  Texas viticulture has gained enormous respect in recent years, and many of the wines are heavenly.  Although I know the land, know farming, I didn’t know wine-grape growing, so that’s been quite the education. Finicky indeed, these vines.  

And wine making is such an art.  

I’ve been blessed to have growers and vintners mentor me, one in particular whose renowned vineyard/winery is in the same county where my fictional one is set. 

This story too follows ancient myths, and centers on a life of passion rather than just existence.  Ah, the meaning of life!  


Texas native Susan Mary Malone has published two novels, co-authored four nonfiction books, and written many short stories. Her happiness is fiction, wine, and Labrador Retrievers, the latter of which she raises, trains, and shows. Literature is her love. In addition to writing, she edits; fifty-plus Malone-edited books have sold to traditional publishers, and one of them was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame film (while another is in production, set to be released in 2015). Her stories revolve around the passions and purpose, the myths and meaning of women’s lives. Which often involves wine. She does, however, try to keep the Labradors out of that.





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