Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Megan Louise Rowe

by Kelly Czyzniejewski Read the Story December 14, 2015

What is something you once “word-vomited” that you wish you’d whispered to a pocket square instead?

I think for me that’s mostly small stuff. For example, when I go to see a movie and the ticket-taker tells me to enjoy the show, I end up saying “You too!” and then realize that they’re working, not going to watch a movie. Something like that can keep me up at night.

Considering the specific complications in your narrator’s life (no strong father figure, social anxieties, etc.), she’s also faced with figuring out sexuality. Yikes! If you could give her a single piece of advice, what would it be?

Exposing herself in public isn’t the best idea, but I think she’s on the right track. Figure it out. Find a way to accept it as an essential part of the human experience that is somewhat scary but mostly great. On the surface, this is pretty simple, but in practice, especially as a woman, this is a difficult lesson to learn. I’m still working on it, I think.

Let’s imagine that you make a sequel, and your narrator attends school for the first time. Which clubs, sports, or social circles would she join? Would this help her or bland her individuality?

Even if she were to attend school, I don’t see her as much of a joiner, but if anything maybe something like chess club. She’s very intuitive, and I could see her enjoying an activity where she had to anticipate someone else’s moves. I don’t think she would lose her individuality in school. She would be a big observer of people, a wallflower, I think. Her perception of lives outside her own would only deepen her sense of who she is.

Your story is framed by beginning in a closet and ending out in the open. The dynamic of deliberately being private and blatantly being open gives the story a feeling of anticipation. Do you think life is generally this huge continuous game of hide-and-seek?

I don’t know if I would say hide-and-seek, but I do think that we’re all constantly testing the waters, trying to find our proper boundaries. We’re constantly in a process of being resocialized as the world changes. People also go through things in life that can make them want to withdraw—a death of a loved one, a breakup, some sort of failure—and it seems like each time we open up again, we’re a little wiser, but also a little more hesitant. There’s a strength in radical vulnerability that we lose when we get older, when we’re burned enough times. My main character still has that vulnerability, so I think I was interested in looking at that, as someone who’s lost some of that.

Even in the form of a short-short, you have managed to create an unforgettable character. Sometimes I create characters off a wacky one-liner I think of and it shapes all that he or she becomes. I feel like all authors must love their characters intensely, whether good or bad, to flesh them out. What was this process like for you while writing “Lampshades”?

This story actually started with the idea of a character who simply talked to herself a lot. I liked the idea of an interiority that could be shown through dialogue, like a dramatic monologue, but then it transformed into this. I really enjoy when I start out a story with one idea and it becomes something else, and that was certainly the case with “Lampshades.”

What authors do you trust to always give you a character that just “gets you”?

I don’t know that I look for characters who “get me” when I’m reading fiction. I’m much more interested in characters who remind me how different we all are. I regularly turn to Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Parker, and Lydia Davis.

About the Author:

Megan Louise Rowe is a fiction writer whose work has appeared in Fiction Fix, Blood Lotus, Danse Macabre and others. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Eastern Washington University.

About the Interviewer:

Kelly Czyzniejewski is a senior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is majoring in English and minoring in creative writing.

About the Artist:

Claire Ibarra is a writer, poet, and photographer. Her photographs have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Roadside Fiction, Alimentum--The Literature of Food, Foliate Oak, Lime Hawk, and Blue Fifth Review. She was an artist in residence for Counterexample Poetics and art editor for Gulf Stream Magazine. Claire’s work was included in the “Finding the Light” Exhibition at the PhotoPlace Gallery.