Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with John Meyers

by Karen Craigo Read the Story December 18, 2017

Airships have always loomed large for me—huge, of course, and graceful, and powerfully symbolic. In a general sense, divorced from your story, what does a zeppelin like the Roma symbolize?

Danger, potential for disaster, to be honest. My first exposure to airships was via the original Hindenburg movie from 1975. The newsreel footage of the Hindenburg catching fire and burning, the glowing skeleton of the ship, stays with me. Perhaps this scarred me for life where airships are concerned.

There are dozens of airship disasters to choose from, a large number of them American. What made you choose the Roma, a relatively obscure disaster, as your subject?

Obscurity was important in this case because it adds to the aura of absurdity surrounding the protagonist. He seems like a bit of a simpleton in terms of his thoughts and actions, but the choice of the Roma disaster suggests there may be more depth to him than we see on the surface. Also, a requirement for his tattoo is that people must be leaping from the burning airship, and I believe this was the case with the Roma disaster. When I first came up with the idea for the story, the image of this guy unveiling his tattoo in swashbuckling fashion was the anchor. In my mind the unveiling scene would appear the way legendary Marvel Comics artist Jack Kirby might have drawn it.

I don’t know you at all, aside from this interview, but I think I glimpsed you in this story: You’re the guy who wants to be alone but can’t help being friendly. (I believe this because that’s me, and you captured it so well—there’s nothing I like more than alone time, though I come across as very gregarious.) How accurate am I? Was that you peeking through the fiction?

There are specific quiet periods during the week when I am able to concentrate on reading and writing. These time windows are very tight, so I appreciate them. I do like interacting with people, but mainly so I can listen to what they have going on in their lives. I don’t like to talk about what I’m doing; I find it embarrassing.

What are you working on these days? Is there a big project that this piece fits into?

I have a flash fiction/prose poetry collection, Mobile Devices Can’t Smell Honeysuckle, which is a compilation of the work I’ve produced over the past couple of years. It did well in a couple of contests but it could be better. I find that each new piece I produce knocks a lesser one off the back end, so to speak.

I suppose you know that zeppelins are making a comeback in the form of semi-rigid cargo-lifters, primarily. If you had an airship, what would you call it, and what would you do with it?

If I had an airship I would call it The Airship Fernando Pessoa, and I would pilot it through the dream that is my everyday life.

About the Author:

John Meyers’ poems, stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Louisville Review, Lunch Ticket, Cease, Cows (forthcoming), BlazeVOX, and Fiction Southeast, among others.

About the Interviewer:

Karen Craigo is the author of the poetry collection No More Milk (Sundress, 2016) and of two forthcoming collections, Passing Through Humansville (Sundress) and Escaped Housewife Tries Hard to Blend In (Tolsun). She is the interviews co-editor for SmokeLong Quarterly.