Stories written in second person can be difficult to execute. Why did you decide to write this story in second person, and why do you think that point of view made the story successful?
The POV in “The Bleeding Maze” is admittedly pretty strange. It has sections with second person address, sections that are told from a first person plural perspective, and sections that are standard first person POV. I think what makes it work is that the binding factor that laces all these perspectives together—the maze and the experience of people who come in contact with it—is like a prism of mystery and horror. It’s the focus of the entire story, and any POV of the maze is simply a refraction of that mystery and horror. So what we’re seeing is this weird, potentially terrifying object from multiple perspectives, multiple angles. It’s like trying to solve a mystery based on multiple accounts, even your own.
You are currently a professor of literature and creative writing. Of the two, which do you prefer to teach, and why? Which do you think has the most impact on you as a writer?
I think this is an impossible question to answer. I love them both. But, if forced, I suppose I’d have to say I prefer teaching literature. I feel there’s more precision available in the interpretation of what literature means than in the discussion of how to create that depth. I can throw out maybe four or five potential interpretations of a scene in a story when teaching literature, but to tell a class how to write a scene that’s similar—well, that’s a complicated and often very personal blend of technique, style, and voice that almost eludes clear and exact instruction. As for impact, I’d say it’s evenly split. From literature instruction, I take a great many lessons about theme, meaning, perspective, and effect. From creative writing, I learn more and more about craft and technique. It’s a great balance.
In “The Bleeding Maze,” the experience is different for everyone who enters. What inspired the idea of that kind of experience?
In a word: life. No matter how similar you are to someone else in terms of background or personality or whatever metric you measure, your experience of existence will always be yours and yours alone. I wanted to create something that replicated that effect.
The Maze is expanding. Did you intend for that to be a metaphor for anything in particular?
Yes, but I’ll never give away what that metaphor is. Instead, I’ll leave it up to readers to decide what it seems to metaphorize.
For me, the most horrifying thing in this story is not what happens in the maze, but rather the idea that the maze seems to be alive and consuming everything around it. What terrifies you the most?
Losing the people I love and who love me, and ending up being totally, utterly alone in life.
Spread the word!