Smoke & Mirrors: An Interview with Jonathan D. Nixon

by Jason Teal Read the Story June 18, 2018

There seems to be a dark underbelly to the story, thinking about Grand Canyon murders and heiress convictions and gambling losses. I wonder why these associations with the lottery game are made. What inspired the story we’re reading now?

I first started thinking about this story back in January of 2016 when the Powerball jackpot reached its $1.5 billion peak. From there, I came up with the idea of a superstitious woman who becomes consumed with the prospect of “hitting it big.” I had so much fun imagining a world full of hidden meanings on billboards and in newspapers and let the story sort of grow from there. Everyone loves a good financial windfall story, but for every winner there are countless Lydias and Vivs throwing hundreds of dollars away for just the hope of something better.

Just because I’m curious: What’s the most you’ve ever won or loss in a wager, and how did you come to bet this amount?

I don’t think I’ve ever gambled more than ten dollars at a time (at least with my own money). I really enjoy online poker, but that’s just with digital coins. The game itself is fun to me, so I love reading up on strategies and watching others play, but I’m too frugal to make any real risks. I believe the last time I wagered anything in real life was back during the record-breaking Powerball jackpot. I had to at least try, right?

Despite the shifting tone of the story, tending toward the seedy corruption of money, who profits and who loses with each draw, there remains an innocent hope in the appearance of our yellowed atlas. So recently, the Supreme Court declared sports betting legal, striking down a 1992 federal law. I would like to know, as an author engaging these structures, what is your take on this current event?

Sports betting is going to happen regardless of what the law says. If there’s an opportunity to regulate it and utilize some of that money for something good, it’s hard for me to find much wrong with that. I’m all for people spending their money however they’d like.

At the end of the story, Alaska pays big odds for Viv, who measures her life in chance numbers wagered by her Aunt Lydia. If you could travel anywhere you ever wanted, where would you go? Alternatively, where have you gone that you would never go again?

New Zealand has been at the top of my list for as long as I can remember. My boyfriend and I have talked about going over there and through some of Asia after finishing up with grad school. In the meantime, I’m excited to travel to Buenos Aires next year for the sunset solar eclipse.

I didn’t have the best experience going through customs in Serbia, but I don’t know that I can write it off as somewhere I’d never go again. There’s so many places I’d love to visit; Serbia’s just on the bottom of that list for the time being.

About the Author:

Jonathan D. Nixon is originally from South Florida and currently resides in Auburn, Alabama where he is pursuing a master's in technical and professional communication. His worked has previously appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly.

About the Interviewer:

Jason Teal is a writer and editor living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction from Northern Michigan University and runs Heavy Feather Review. His work appears in Quarter After EightEleven ElevenKnee-JerkVestal ReviewSmokeLong QuarterlyLit.catFlulandCorium MagazineBig MuddyMatter PressHobart, and Fine Print, among other publications.

About the Artist:

Find more photography by Saffu at Unsplash.