Can I just say that Ryan makes minotaurs cool and brings them to life? His short story which will appear in the New Myths anthology puts a whole new spin on these mythical creatures. I caught up with Ryan to talk about his short as well as his views on mythology.
Your story is 1100 BGW. Tell us what it’s about and why you chose that title.
1100 BGW is about the rise of the Emperor, a figurehead who blends religion, spirituality, and respect for life into his own unique style of governance. Although he was trained to be a monk, his personal philosophy is coloured by his violent upbringing. His story is shown through the eyes of the story’s protagonist, Amurtag, a lowly farmer who does not believe in the mythology of her people. I chose the title to be in line with my other works, allowing the reader to understand where in time the story takes place in Illuma’s (my fictional world) history. My stories and books all start out with a prologue and Chapter 1 title that reflect the current date, so readers can quickly settle in to the timeline.
What myth or concept did you build on?
The concept of a present and meddling god, akin to ancient Greek mythologies. Also in line with Greek mythology, I used the concept of the Minotaur. However, instead of a lone figure stalking a labyrinth, this story involves the Minotaur as a race of beings who struggle to survive on the shores of Magur Bay. At this particular moment in history, they are a simple agrarian and sea-faring society, but the Emperor has great plans for his people.
In your opinion, why do we enjoy mythology and sharing such stories?
I think mythology links us back to our own history, to a simpler time when people didn’t understand much of the world around them. If you look at Greek philosophy, it’s filled with stories of gods and storms because they were a sea-faring nation. In a world where one storm could bring devastation to your people, it is easy to think that some angry, invisible force brings ill-will to you and yours. After all, most people try to find reasons for events in life. Without an obvious source, ancient minds generated fearful images to fill the gaps.
Do you have a favorite myth? If so, what is it?
It’s hard to point to just one, but certainly among the top is the Biblical creation myth in Genesis. I can’t help but wonder how it actually came about. I try to picture the moment when people started wondering, “Where did all this come from?” People went from simple hunter-gatherers to something more when they started to speculate on the nature of existence. What brought about the idea of God? Why did he create the world? Logically, it doesn’t make sense to have a perfect being who creates anything.
After all, if he existed before creation, what could have led him to bother creating, if he’s perfect? Wouldn’t he have been perfect before creation, and thus not required the things he created? It’s related to the idea of the “unmoved mover.” If God created us, who created God, and so on. It’s a question that applies to science as well: what set off the Big Bang? If there was a cosmic egg, why did it explode? Was there something outside of it that set it off? Did something destabilize inside it? If so, where did it come from? What made it? There are so many questions that we just don’t know the answers to at this point, and I think no matter what mindset you use, the story of creation is the most fascinating.
Are there any current projects you’re working on that we should be aware of?
I have three projects I’m working on right now. A Wizard’s Gambit is the sequel to my first epic fantasy novel, A Noble’s Quest. It raises the stakes from the first book, opening the characters’ eyes to a larger world fraught with danger. They’re forced to grow and introspect on their desires and fears. The second book is nearly twice as long as the first, and it’s quite a bit darker. I see the first book as an introduction to the characters and setting, and the second as their first true series of tests. There are a lot of growing pains, successes, and failures along the way. It’s currently undergoing second reading with my editor. Demon Invasion is a novella that examines how the antagonist from A Wizard’s Gambit came to be an important figure in the enemy state.
From his humble beginnings to his eventual leadership role, it’s a story that starts and ends with action, but there’s a lot of learning and big ideas thrown in there too. I have also started work on the first draft for A Hero’s Birth, the final book in the Empire’s Foundation trilogy. It starts out very dark, with the characters dealing with the most terrible experiences in their young lives. Through the pain and sorrow, their youthful optimism is replaced by a hardened courage, and finally they are ready to become the stuff of legends. Each character comes into their own in a unique way, and although they each take their own path, when they reunite it leads to one hell of an adventure.And where do you hang out online?
Finally, I have a writing diary online where I discuss what’s going on. I usually try to post once a week, if something interesting happens. It also has links to my published works: http://ryantoxorants.blogspot.ca/
Once my first trilogy is finished, I plan to start up a proper website.