The Maze: Art Imitates Life
As a writer, I've always heard that I should write what I know. I've also heard that it is important to create realistic, three-dimensional characters that are true to life. Are such things even possible when writing a novel about a strange maze filled with traps and the minotaur who lives there, feasting on the sins of the lost? Certainly, that was my goal when writing The Maze. I created my protagonist, Jamie Burroughs, with the intent of appealing to a broad reach of people, and it was easy enough to create an everyman that most could identify with based on a very specific set of struggles that most readers could relate to. But what about the minotaur that torments Jamie in the dark hallways of the labyrinth? Could I successfully integrate any of myself into a half-man, half-bull creature that dines on transgression? Strangely enough, I think I did.
At its core, The Maze is a story about a man who is forced to examine all of his shortcomings in a strange labyrinth. The minotaur's function in The Maze is to serve as a sort of mirror for those flaws, revealing each one to Jamie in gruesome detail and forcing him to face the consequences of his sins. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of events in The Maze aren't true to life given their fantastical nature so I couldn't draw from personal experience when crafting the tale. Yet, when imagining the dichotomy between man and beast, I thought about Jamie and the minotaur as two sides of the same coin, light and dark. Jamie makes mistake after mistake in his life and the minotaur is the consequence for those shortcomings. Cause and effect. The minotaur is the negative effect for every transgression Jamie has ever committed, and he spends most of the novel suffering for all of the pain he caused. In a sense, the minotaur is Jamie's conscience that has awakened and become something horrible that will make certain he pays for all of the bad things he has done over the course of his life. Jamie gets his comeuppance through the minotaur's torments.
So how did I interject a little bit of myself into the minotaur? Simple. I imagined the kind of creature that would be necessary to make me pay for all of my own personal flaws and shortcomings. I envisioned what kind of beast would be my dark side if personified. I also tried to imagine something that would be terrifying. Far too often, it is difficult to see the consequences for our actions even though often times those consequences are horrible. I wanted to create the living, breathing embodiment of cause and effect and show that no misdeed goes unpunished. If I were trapped inside a maze, this is the kind of monster I would expect to show up and sort through the failings of my own life.
Was I successful in writing what I know and creating a three-dimensional character in the process? Ultimately, that will be for the reader to decide. Given the challenges in writing The Maze it's a good thing I didn't decide to write a story about a death angel visiting a small town….oh wait…that's the one I'm writing now. Should be fun to see how I'll project some of myself onto the death angel from the Book of Exodus!
A near death experience transports Jamie Burroughs into The Maze, a realm built by angels and demons and filled with traps and riddles for those haunted by their mistakes.
For Jamie, The Maze becomes a terrifying journey through a world of darkness where his soul and the lives of those he loves hangs in the balance. With his family in danger and his soul in peril, Jamie is forced to reevaluate the kind of man he truly is as he struggles to escape The Maze before it’s too late.
Jason Brannon is the author of The Maze and The Tears of Nero. His fiction features flawed characters trapped in impossible situations that test and try their faith. He currently lives in Amory, MS.
The maze was complex and mysterious, and like snowflakes, no two mazes were identical. Each labyrinth was built from the blueprint of a man's life and tailored to fit his soul. Sins and virtues alike were included in the architecture. Yet, in this case, the transgressions were far more plentiful.
The cobblestone steps lay covered in thick tangles of thorny vines. The air stank of decay and decadence; the hallways were encrusted with black ice and sin. Angels roamed the hallways with hammers and chisels, feverishly writing on the walls. Some carved instructions for the tortured soul who would soon find himself trapped inside. Others planted clues for his escape. Demons skulked in the darker places and searched for hiding places to deploy traps. Others sharpened weapons.
Only two outcomes awaited the man who would soon be imprisoned within the walls of the maze. The angels hoped for redemption. The demons hoped for death.
Men had stumbled in the darkness of the maze before and given up their souls willingly in order to escape. Others solved the puzzles within, realized the true potential of this place, and became new creatures. Transformation was the key to freedom from this particular prison. However, some never figured that out and stumbled in darkness forever.
Asterion had a special role to play. Inside these twisting, turning passageways, he was the law. Neither angel nor demon had a stronghold here. The decision to escape the maze or wander in darkness belonged entirely to the lost soul. The choice couldn't be forced. The demons, however, always looked for an advantage. Often times they cheated, going outside the maze to find a way to gain the upper hand. The moment the minotaur heard flute song, he knew what they had done.
They had called for reinforcements, and The Piper had finally arrived.
Asterion watched as imps hefted pickaxes, pushed carts filled with rock, raised new walls, set snares, and consulted the blueprint for the labyrinth to make sure all of the appropriate sins would be included in the architecture. Conviction or destruction of the heart depended on that more than anything else. As they worked, Asterion heard them snickering to themselves. The demons thought they were clever calling in The Piper. What the demons didn't realize was that the angels snickered too. Prayers were being offered up by the faithful, and their prayers were being heard.
The war had begun.
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