Lone Star Book Blog Tour: I Just Came Here to Dance by Susan Mary Malone


I Just Came Here to Dance
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



Some folks said I went crazy that summer. Well, it was an awful hot season—enough to drive a sane woman to drink. Texas scorchers get blamed for all sorts of bizarre behavior.

The rest of the world never knew heat like ours—spiking temperatures stirred into buckets of humidity and baked to a sultry beige. Makeup melted down women’s faces in globs, and meticulously curled hair sagged like Mama’s countless attempts at creating soufflé. Worse though, that coupling of heat and humidity caused Favonius to tease away the last life-saving atom of oxygen from right in front of one’s face. Our summers got immortalized in those cartoons depicting Hell—where caricatures wanted water real bad and the Devil dangled moist droplets inches from parted lips.

The concept of creating personal Hell on Earth hadn’t crossed my consciousness at that point, but I did believe a land caused its people to act a certain way. I learned that by noticing the differences in communities from Abilene to Omaha. The wide flat spaces of the western part of our state caused folks to be open and friendly, never knowing when they’d see other living humans again. When the land became more green and rolling as it moved east toward the towns, everyone grew more guarded. The meeting of those plains with the impenetrable Cross Timbers and scrubby bluffs around Sociable made people plain mean, I always thought. Too much changing terrain in one area. But whoever said, “People are people” sure hadn’t spent much time in Texas. We got the market cornered on lunatics.

So anyway, that the folks in the rest of the county said I’d gone nuts wasn’t notable. Outsiders never thought of going crazy as such an odd state for Sociable’s citizens. Really though, all I wanted to do was dance.

I’d never danced much. Oh, unless you counted all those teenage nights two-stepping in the cab of Marty’s pickup truck, parked somewhere after a rodeo. But that didn’t qualify as dancing. Least I never explained it thus to Mama, who’d be waiting up for me, white-faced and hands-clasped, asking did I commit any sin to pain the face of baby Jesus. I told her I didn’t drink or dance to the band. Which was technically true.

The problem with dancing, in our part of the world, was that we lived in what was called the Buckle of the Bible Belt. That belt cinched across the entire South, girding up Texas in its wake. The Baptists and Church of Christers pretty well owned our state, at least the rural parts. And while I grew up in a town of twenty-something thousand, those twenty-something thousand believed a body should do its drinking and dancing outside the city limits. Which about nineteen-something thousand of them regularly did . . .

In essence, had I chosen another place in America to lose my sanity I’d have gotten locked away. But as I said, I just wanted to dance, and no better spot existed on Earth for that than Sociable, Texas. In a way the folks from our town were right—I did go insane that summer. Right about the time I learned to whirl like a dervish.



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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September 26 – October 5, 2016


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