MINOTAUR by J.A. Rock
Published by Riptide Publishing
Cover Art by Imaliea
Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and I’m touring the internet with my new release, MINOTAUR, a queer fantasy/horror reimagining of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. And there’s a giveaway involved! I’m giving one reader a chance to win Lost in a Jigsaw, the puzzle that nearly destroyed my sanity a few years ago (but provided hours of fun, I swear), as well as a $15 Riptide voucher.
Thanks so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me here today, and to everyone following the tour. Here’s today’s look at MINOTAUR.
The Legend of the Minotaur
There are many versions of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. The basic story is that King Minos of Crete’s wife, Queen Pasiphae, was cursed by Poseidon to fall in love with a bull. She slept with the bull and gave birth to a monster that was half-man, half-bull, which King Minos then had shut up in a labyrinth so complicated, no one could get out of it alive.
Every year, seven Athenian men and seven Athenian women were sent to the labyrinth as tributes to keep the Minotaur satisfied. Theseus eventually decided to go into the labyrinth as one of the tributes and kill the Minotaur. To ensure he could find his way out, Princess Ariadne, Minos’s daughter, gave Theseus a ball of thread, so that he could tie one end to the labyrinth’s door and follow the thread back to the entrance.
I didn’t actually know the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur terribly well when I started Minotaur. My mom had a book of Greek myths she read to me from when I was a kid, and I liked the story of the labyrinth because I was obsessed with mazes. Loving mazes is a thing. I reacquainted myself with the legend by reading it over a couple of times before I started writing, but I wasn’t looking to do a blow-by-blow retelling of the myth. Nor was I looking to do anything specific and agenda-driven, like “a feminist retelling of the Minotaur story.”
What I did want to do was explore themes of heroism, sacrifice, self-discovery, and what makes a monster. Minotaur takes place in an unspecified time based very loosely on the 1930s, and centers on an angry orphan, Thera, whose fascination with a legendary beast comes in part from the wickedness she perceives in herself. Years before Thera was born, a young woman gave birth to a baby she couldn’t care for, and the baby grew into the Minotaur, a half-woman, half-bull who terrorized the town of Rock Hill before she was trapped in a labyrinth. Now the town feeds her tributes in the form of orphans and criminals in order to keep her satisfied in her prison.
There are characters in Minotaur who have counterparts in the legend—though Thera is almost an anti-Theseus, drawn to the labyrinth for selfish reasons, and frustrated by society’s willingness to deem grand acts “heroic” while failing to recognize more subtle, honest displays of loyalty and courage as anything other than recklessness and stupidity.
What I love about the original myth is the way you just kind of have to roll with it. Pasiphae was cursed to fall in love with a bull? Okay, why not. The king had Daedalus build a massive labyrinth to contain the Minotaur? Sure. Myths are stories where so much seems to be going on below the surface, and yet they’ve been reduced to easily digestible two or three paragraph tales.
I didn’t care so much about being true to the legend as I did about showing what might lie under the surface in a story like Theseus’s, or Thera’s. Minotaur is not a tale about a monster and a hero, but rather about the way the two coexist in all of us.
Thanks for being part of the tour! To celebrate this release, I’m giving one commenter Lost in a Jigsaw, the award winning maze puzzle—all the pieces fit together, so the only way to know if you’ve put it together correctly is to solve the maze. If this sounds too much like torture, rest assured that you also get a $15 Riptide voucher. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you. Please leave your email address so we can get in touch with you if chosen. On October 26th, I’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments. Contest is not limited to US entries. If you’d like,follow the whole tour—the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!
When I was six, my parents died.
When I was sixteen, I was locked away in Rock Point Girls’ Home. Nobody wants to deal with a liar. An addict. A thief.
Nobody except Alle. She is pure, and she’s my friend in spite of all the rotten things I am.
There was once another girl like me—long ago. A cast-off daughter. A lying little beast who left a red stain across the land with her terrible magic. She’s imprisoned now in a maze high up on the cliffs. They say she’s half woman, half bull. They say she dines on human tributes and guards a vast treasure. They say she was born wicked.
But I know her better than the history books or stories do. She and I dream together. Our destinies are twisted up like vines.
Except I’m not going to turn out wicked like she is. I can save myself by destroying her. I’m going to break out of this place, and I’m going to enter the labyrinth and take her heart.
And once I’m redeemed, maybe Alle will love me.
About The Author
J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including By His Rules, Take the Long Way Home, and, with Lisa Henry, The Good Boy and When All the World Sleeps. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.