Aaron Golden – co-founder of Living Myth Media, writer, dreamer, and lover of Mango. I sat down to talk with him about his ideas on writing and discovered that writing is really just the tool he uses the most for his real passion. Building narrative and crafting stories, these are the driving purposes that define him. Aaron asserts that narrative is the framework we use to make sense of our existence; our lives are stories, he says, and we use archetypes of them as a template for our social roles, theological systems, even our values. He claims that these concepts are based on a kind of story we have create over the course of our lives. When looking at stories from this perspective, they become far more than just entertainment; they become the seeds of creation. The transformative power in hearing a story is well-known and that is what drives Aaron to write, and while writing might be the word, in the beginning there was the storyteller.
Living Myth Media:
You keep talking about narrative. What does that mean?
By and large, story.
I’m a story addict. I pick things apart and study them by nature, mostly out of a desire to figure out how they work so that I can use them. I’m obsessive when it comes to story in general, but story isn’t the whole of it. Story, in and of itself, is just a combination of plot and character. When those two qualities are properly balanced you end up with a good story.
Good narrative is a logical extension of that. A story is a glimpse of another world or possibility, but narrative is the sort of thing that gets under your skin because it’s not just a glimpse – it is another world entirely, the sort of thing that people could devote their lives to.
As people, we define ourselves by our stories, but we live inside our narratives.
What do you mean by that?
We’re the sum of our experiences mingled with our perspectives. (laughs) What I mean is, there are bits of us that are essential to our identities, beliefs that we refine over the course of our lives that we may or may not be aware of. That’s what I mean by ‘perspective.’
Experience – what happens to us – allows that refinement.
The stories of our lives are built upon those experiences, but narrative is how we look at and interpret those experiences, what meaning we give them through the framework of the perspectives that we are.
So when you write a story are you trying to offer new frameworks of perspective to you readers?
The stories… the stories just sort of come. They’re built off of ideas or conceptual characters, honestly, usually just a moment or two or maybe a trait. From there, it’s figuring out what happens around those events or to those characters.
Mercedes Ketch, for example, was a character I came up with when I was very much younger. She evolved around the idea of being an epic hero in a modern world and what that would mean.
As I’ve explored her world, I’ve ended up discovering things that I wasn’t expecting and the story has gone in radically different directions – I’m usually exploring concepts as much as anything else when I write, and I let the story take me where it wants to go.
Sometimes, things end up going differently than I expect, and characters that I thought would be minor or unimportant take on lives of their own.
Also, main characters change.
Mercedes, Michelle, Solaina, Helena… all of them went through drastic changes that sometimes had me rewriting whole drafts as I discovered more about them and their world.
I know that doesn’t really answer the question, but, well, I’m not really writing with the reader in mind – it’s the story that pulls me in. I like to think that if the story is strong enough it will find an audience, and a good editor can help with that process, too. (laughs)
Why an Epic Hero, what is that to you?
An epic hero is someone who, just by existing, makes the world around them a better place and changes the people around them in ways that make those people better by their understanding of happiness.
The concept of being a hero has been reduced to a caricature in the modern era, as the individual person was seen as a resource and not being of much importance outside of prescribed notions of what was possible and what wasn’t.
It’s one of the reasons that the deconstruction of the hero concept have become so popular in our age, because we’ve been taught and the paradigm we’re living in tells us that heroes are an impossibility.
But we need heroes – paragons to make our lives better. Heroes that are worth living up to, worth aspiring to live in that way.
We need our legends.
Mercedes Ketch explores that whole idea, the concept and definition of heroism and evolution.
There are many different mediums for telling stories, why do you choose writing books?
Every medium has its own strengths and weaknesses, and different stories will play out stronger in one or the other.
The stuff I’m writing now just works better with what books have to offer.
Will you expand in to other mediums if your story is better suited to it?
In a heartbeat.
The idea of Living Myth Media was to create a means of telling stories in whatever medium was best suited for that story, with respect to that story.[hr]
As an author in residence, Aaron is crafting some very good stories that seem to have a life of their own. These worlds he is opening up to us in no rehashing of old tales, they are a vivid insight to our current culture, marking a path through that changing culture. Parables, legends, stories, they are all a part of what makes us human, and Aaron’s work reminds us of the immutable strength that lives in us all.
You can see for yourself by getting the first book in his new series, The Legend of Mercedes Ketch: Her Father’s Daughter. Out now in the iBookstore.