David Meyers doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t write.
“In elementary school when they’d give me an assignment to write a page, I’d write five,” he said.
When seeing how many books he’s written, including nearly a dozen with his daughter, Elise Meyers Walker, it’s easy to understand just how true that is. Between books on local Columbus history, Ohio history, musicals for the stage, and novels, Meyers stays busy.
Meyers began writing in junior high for his friend’s science fiction fanzine. At the time, in the 1960s, science fiction was thriving as a genre. The group of friends sold subscriptions to the fanzine and attended sci-fi conventions where they met approachable authors who encouraged them. From those early days, Meyers’ love of writing was cemented.
Meyers was discouraged from studying English literature in college by his parents, so he majored in psychology instead.
“When I graduated college, it was 1970, the spring of the Kent State shooting. Because of that, the major companies all pulled their recruiters off the college campuses, so you were on your own to find jobs,” Meyers said.
“I got a tip that the Ohio State Reformatory was hiring, so I drove up there to spend the day and was hired the next week. I was blown away by the architecture and history and that all the offices were furnished with antiques.”
Meyers came back to Columbus after a year in Mansfield because he’d met the woman who would become his wife.
All in all, Meyers spent 30 years working in corrections – which later inspired his and Walker’s history books Inside the Ohio Penitentiary and Central Ohio’s Historic Prisons.
Meyers and Walker frequently are asked about ghosts stories in the prisons.
“We set out to debunk ghost stories,” Meyers said. “The reason being is that not once did anyone ever mention ghosts, which is strange when you’re talking about a place like the penitentiary where you had 315 people executed and 320-something people who died in a prison fire. But the inmates never talked about ghosts.”
The father-daughter team wrote those two prison books together, as well as several true crime books. Their latest, published earlier this year, is A Murder in Amish Ohio,” about the gunning down of farmer Paul Coblentz in 1957.
What makes the story memorable is that because Coblentz was Amish, he was a committed pacifist, and therefore wouldn’t have raised a hand against his killer.
Another of their true crime books, Historic Columbus Crimes – Walker’s favorite of her and her father’s collaborations – has an unforgettable Clintonville story. The true tale of the Ninja Drag Queen Killer, in which a gay male stripper who performed in a ninja costume murdered his former lover, a drag queen, in bed with a samurai sword. He stabbed the victim through the heart in an Indianola Avenue home in 2002.
Meyers and Walker began writing books together in 2008 when Walker graduated from college and moved back home to Clintonville.
“I was looking for activities we could do together, and I asked her if she wanted to write books with me and she was into it,” Meyers said. “We work really well together.”
Since working together, the Meyers and Walker families’ creative pursuits have come to include even more relatives. Meyers’s wife, Beverly, and Walker’s husband, Sam, are artists, as well. Together, the four of them create under the name Exploding Stove media.
“We chose the name Exploding Stove because it’s a circus term that means anything could happen,” Meyers said.
That includes Meyers’ latest solo project: a historical novel called Hello, I Must Be Going: The Mostly True Story of an Imaginary Band, which he wrote based on 500-plus interviews with Central Ohio musicians he collected throughout the years. While the protagonists, their band, and their adventures are fictional, many of the side characters are based on real musicians and bands, which have mini biographies in the back of the book.
“I started collecting music history in 1983 because that was the year my wife was pregnant with Elise, so I could no longer go out to the bars and watch shows late at night. So, I started interviewing musicians over the phone,” Meyers said.
“I interviewed 500 before I stopped counting and I’ve probably interviewed another 500 since then, just compiling the musical history of Central Ohio.”
Neither Meyers nor Walker are resting anytime soon. The father-daughter team’s next book, The Reverse Underground Railroad in Ohio will be out during the coming weeks, and Meyers is hard at work on a sequel to Hello, I Must Be Going, as well as a time-travel trilogy.
To keep up with the Meyers and Walker family’s creative outputs, visit the web site explodingstove.com/.
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