Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Daniel Myers

by Jude Higgins Read the Story March 19, 2018

To me, this piece has many levels. And it’s a story I will enjoy returning to many times to find out more. Was it partly inspired by your watching any of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies? As well as the title, the quote at the beginning is an intriguing start to the piece. Where is that from?

This story happened because of a summer pickup basketball game gone wrong. I went up for a layup and landed horribly wrong. My right ankle almost died. I had jumped and landed thousands of times without destroying my right ankle. Because I couldn’t walk for the next couple of days, I had a lot of time to ponder. It was dark. Maybe my body was just doing what bodies do: a.k.a., get more rickety. Or maybe I am an alien who had recently inhabited this body, which is why I didn’t know its limitations. Maybe? Sure. So I decided to run with this joke and began thinking that most would not pity the body snatcher. For example, if a Martian named Kevin stole Jeff’s body, people would feel Jeff was dealt a rough hand. As I sat in my sofa with my ankle ice-packed, propped up, and pulsing, I started pitying Kevin. I then started googling various body invasion movies and read quotes from The Thing and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies (there are so many). During this search, I stumbled on the quote, which comes from the original film. I still have never seen an IotBS movie, but I have read quite a few reviews of the original one, especially articles that link it to McCarthyism and the Red Scare. A few months ago, I found the quote saved on my computer, read a review, and then started writing.

I love the structure and your use of language—the way it gives depth to the character and makes me think about the state of the world in general and questions about identity. Is this style typical of your way of writing?

Absolutely. In fact, I would almost go one step further and say it’s typical of my way of thinking, which is kind of tiring. I’m more of a poet by trade (this is actually my first prose publication). Most of the poets who have really inspired me (Mary Ruefle, James Tate, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gary Jackson, Rick Jackson, Louise Glück, etc.) are incredible at deftly collapsing the micro and macro, oftentimes leaving one unrecognizable from the other.

What writing projects have you on the go currently? And what are your 2018 writing goals?

I spent all winter working on a poem about the afterlife. Unfortunately, when I showed it to my friend, he told me it was extremely similar to The Good Place. When I read the wiki for The Good Place, he was right.

That was sad.

Right now, I’m putting together a manuscript of poems/prose poems. I’m hoping to have the collection ready to send out sometime in May. They’re pretty wild. After that, I’d really love to write a novel. Even though I bet it would be pretty bad, it would be fun to try. I’m also working on putting the finishing touches on my TESOL-linguistics thesis. I’m ready to get that out of the way.

My main writing goal has been pretty constant for the past couple of years. I just want to keep writing and having fun with words.

In the current political climate, both in the U.S. and the U.K., I think a sequel to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers would be pertinent. If a movie were made of your piece, who would you cast for the roles of protagonist and therapist?

This question is so much fun. I think someone like Jesse Eisenberg would play the protagonist super well. I don’t know if he could pull off a Kentucky accent, but I have faith in him. He is a funny guy. Plus, he dabbles in creative writing, I think.

If Saoirse Ronan were interested in the protagonist role, we would make that happen. (I just watched Lady Bird earlier today, so my answer is definitely biased right now.) She would play such a great alien. Even now, I’m not entirely sure if the main character is an extraterrestrial or a struggling human. If Ronan got the role, then I’d for sure know the answer.

For the therapist, I would go with Lupita Nyong’o. As the therapist takes in all this information regarding the protagonist’s alien theory, Nyong’o would find a way to let the audience know exactly what she is thinking despite the fact she has been mostly listening to her client. If we couldn’t get her due to contractual obligations, then Ellie Kemper would be really cool for the role as well.

If this piece ever finds its way to Greta Gerwig, she can have the movie rights.

About the Author:

Daniel Myers is an MFA candidate in the creative writing program at the University of Alabama. His work appears or is forthcoming in Word Riot, Blue Earth Review, DIAGRAM, and Puerto Del Sol.

About the Interviewer:

Jude Higgins is published in Flash Frontier, The Blue Fifth Review, The New Flash Fiction Review, The Nottingham Review and The National Flash Fiction Day UK anthologies among other places. She has won, been placed or shortlisted in many flash fiction contests. Her debut flash fiction chapbook, The Chemist’s House, was published by V. Press in 2017. She founded the international Bath Flash Fiction Award and directs the Flash Fiction Festival, UK. @judehwriter

About the Artist:

Find more of Ryoji Iwata's photography on Unsplash.