Tread carefully, today presents us with this fantastic guest post by J.M. McDermott!
Traveling through most major cities outside the East Coast on foot is a terrible idea. I lived in Fort Worth for a while and I tried to walk and ride a bike as much as I could, but it meant dressing in long jeans and a denim jacket even in high summer for the brambles and trickling weeds. There aren’t safe paths for foot traffic since everyone drives. Pedestrians are dangerous. They must be vagrants and criminals and folks that don’t belong.
We have forgotten what hills and valleys mean, mostly. Living in hills used to mean climbing them all day, every day. Living in mountains was a physical act, not just a view. The material reality of 40,000 years of human history isn’t lost completely for us, who ride the top of human slavery by any other name in this world of ours, but that is a topic for another day. I was watching a fantasy film too much, observing the way we imagine a more interesting world, with goblins and kings and a labyrinth of stone. The film was Henson’s Labyrinth. I have seen it so many times, I could play it scene-by-scene, line-by-line in my memory. But, materiality of things: If I set foot in such a place, I would die long before I ever found the goblin city.
Heroic heroes are actually very dull. Childhood is heroic and someone will win top of the class, a trophy, a race and a game. Adulthood is the realm of confusion, mixed blessings, failure, the long, slow decline. My book is more interested in the muddle and confusion of living, because my only hope in the maze is to find other survivors there, form tribes, hold what place we can against the monsters that are always around the next curve in the stones.
Maze is a book of survivors, lost but hanging on together. Most of them are human enough.
There is a material reality that is hard to imagine when every night we sleep on a full stomach in an air conditioned room. Imagine walking off into the dark where all doors and windows are closed against you, and every turn in the path is a mystery and a menace. Life is a maze, and we fight for our place in the known spaces, with what magic spells we muster to hold dominion where we stand.
About the author: J.M. McDermott is the author of Last Dragon, Disintegration Visions, The Dogsland Trilogy, and Women and Monsters. He holds an MFA from the Stonecoast Program from the University of Southern Maine. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.