This novel picked up on a robust Western thread of Warren's writing that began with her first novel, The Last Centennial, which Dial Press published in 1971.
She began writing The Fancy Dancer shortly after The Last Centenial was finished. It was the second novel that she did for William Morrow, under the editorship of James Landis. She finished it in 1975, and the novel was published the following spring.
While this novel didn't make it to the New York Times bestseller list, it proved to be enormously popular across the country, and stayed on the B. Dalton bestseller list for many months. At that time, the B. Dalton list was regarded as "the real list" because it was based on cash-register sales in chain stores across the country. As The Fancy Dancer had been, Bantam Books put out this book in a mass-market edition. It went through six prints for Bantam.
When Bantam finally let the paperback license go in the 1980s, Penguin/Plume acquired it, and brought the book out in a trade paperback edition. Gay Men's Press also published it in a UK edition.
Wildcat Press published the current trade paperback edition in 1996. The cover, with its priest's rosary incorporating a double-male alchemy symbol, was thought to be "sacrilegious" by some.
The Fancy Dancer has never yet been translated into a foreign language, nor has it won any literary prizes. But the incoming fan letters, over many years, tell of its importance to people concerned about the searing religious questions of being gay. Bishops, brothers, priests, nuns and lay people have all written the author. The book can be found on university reading lists, and is used by some gay and gay-friendly ministers in therapy.
Currently there is serious interest in The Fancy Dancer film rights