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Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Jillian Jackson

Interview by Cyn Vargas (Read the Story) March 21, 2016

Jillian Jackson

Alexander C. Kafka

Was there an image or piece of dialogue that got you started when writing this story?

Fake Jesus himself, or, the real fake Jesus. A few years ago a man showed up in my very small hometown dressed as Jesus, and, of course, how do you let go of something like that? And he had Tevas. The Tevas stuck with me. He came up in a few failed drafts of different stories before he ended up here.

In your story fake Jesus couldn’t raise anyone from the dead, but if he could, who would he?

Probably some mysterious false messiah like himself. Elvis, maybe.

There is a sweet yet sad tone to the story. Does most of your other work play with these emotions all at once?

I think so. Or, at least, I find myself drawn to trying to tell stories like that—stories that manage that kind of balancing act between emotional weight and emotional lightness, sadness and sweetness and humor. I try not to tip too much in either direction.

What story are you working on right now?

I’m working on a story about doppelgängers, a phenomenon that has always fascinated me (and very thoroughly creeped me out). It’s a little outside my comfort zone, which makes it exciting.

Do the narrator and her brother ever get to go to Water Wiz?

I think that they do, one way or another. But I don’t think it will be because they asked for it—I think the narrator, at least, is done asking for things like that after this story.

About the Author

Jillian Jackson is an MFA Fiction candidate at Boston University. She has a degree in literature from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and she’s interned for many Boston area publishers, including David R. Godine, Shambhala Publications, and Candlewick Press. She’s the recipient of the St. Botolph Club Foundation’s Emerging Artist Grant, and Boston University’s Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award. She lives in Allston, MA.

About the Interviewer

Cyn Vargas’ short story collection, On The Way (Curbside Splendor, 2015) received positive reviews from Library Journal, Newcity, Shelf Awareness, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere.

About the Artist

Alexander C. Kafka is a journalist, photographer, and composer in Bethesda, Maryland. He created the cover image for Lost Addresses: New and Selected Poems by Diann Blakely (Salmon Poetry, 2017). His work has also been published at All Things Fashion DC, BuzzFeed, Fast Company, Juked, Vice, The Washington Post, The Writing Disorder, and many other periodicals. He has been on the documentation team for the Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo and is a contributing concert photographer for DMNDR. Kafka studied fine-art figure photography with Missy Loewe at the Washington School of Photography and portrait photography with Sora DeVore at Glen Echo Photoworks.

This interview appeared in Issue Fifty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifty-One
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.