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Matthew Rettino

The Bone Mother
Written by David Demchuk

Rising Phoenix: An Interview with R. F. Kuang, non-fiction, issue 48, September 2019

The Goddess in Him, fiction, issue 52, September 2020

Matthew Rettino teaches at the Thomas More Institute, a continuing education Liberal Arts College in Montreal, Quebec. His first publication, "The Pilgrim's Yoke," appeared in Bards and Sages Quarterly's October 2018 issue, and he was featured as a Summer 2019 creative-to-watch by Graphite Publications. His story about a Scythian time refugee living in Montreal's trendy Plateau neighbourhood is coming out on in 2020. A graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop (2016), he works as a freelance editor. His MA thesis on the relationship between fantasy, modernism, and magic realism, written at McGill University, won a Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master's award. You can follow him on Twitter (@matthewrettino).

Get to know Matthew Rettino


July 31st, 1991

When and what and where did you first get published?

My first semipro story publication was an expanded flash fiction story I wrote for Odyssey called "The Pilgrim's Yoke." It's the story of a pilgrim who seeks the waters of life, but is refused when he reaches the mountaintop. The story consists of his disappointed return home. I wanted to subvert the idea of the hero's journey by focusing just on the last quarter of the traditional quest story.

My first ever paid publication was a restaurant review for a local tabloid newspaper, The Senior Times, in 2009. I was hired for a couple months afterwards, writing articles and interviews with distinguished seniors aged 50 and over in the community.

Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story?

I've always been a major fan of Guy Gavriel Kay--I've read all his historical fantasy books, including his poetry collection Through this Dark House. I even wrote my BA honours thesis on his work. More recently, I have taken a liking to Jeff VanderMeer, Helen Marshall, Claude Lalumère, and Usman Malik, whose novella "The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn" I cannot recommend enough. Outside of fantasy and science fiction, I've taken a liking to Andy McDermott's Wilde and Chase adventure thrillers as well as the idealist riddles of Jorge Luis Borges.

What are you trying to say with your fiction?

A story's meaning is never reducible to the author's intent. However, with "The Pilgrim's Yoke," I was trying to show how our journeys in life usually don't go the way we want them go. As a matter of fact, part of our quest is encountering exactly that fact--that there isn't always something you can concretely point to and say, "That was my reward for undergoing a road of trials." What's more, even if you feel changed as a result of undergoing a pilgrimage, it's hard to explain how you've changed to others--and then maybe doubt starts to set in that you achieved any boon at all. In the end, you can either despair and flail at the universe for not giving you something it didn't really owe you, or you can create your own meaning. If God does have a gift for you, it's in making you notice the things you had all along.

With "The Goddess in Him," my forthcoming story with, I want to explore the idea that ancient people (from the B.C. and early A.D. eras) were probably not so different from us. If a couple were to immigrate from then to today, their child would be exposed to twenty-first century culture. Would the parents support their child's adaptation to the current culture, or try to isolate them, raising them according to traditional mores--much as ordinary immigrant parents do? I first came up with this idea while teaching English as a second language to recent immigrants and refugees.

Do you blog?

You can follow my blog at, or subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

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