Interview with the author of Twin Peaks True Crime Inspiration

Laura Palmer stares at the ceiling in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
Screenshot: New Line Cinema

Twin peaks the fans all know the tragic story of Laura Palmer, the beauty queen of a small town who died hiding some rather dark secrets. But did you know that Mark Frost, who co-created the series with David lynch, was it actually inspired by an unsolved historic murder?

A new book, Teal’s Pond murder: Hazel Drew and the mystery that inspired Twin Peaks, features an introduction by Frost and offers an in-depth investigation into the 1908 murder of Hazel Drew, a beautiful young woman found floating in a pond in Sand Lake, New York. Although the press picked up on the bizarre case and local investigators appeared to be doing their best to resolve it, her killer was never apprehended. It’s a fascinating story made even more fascinating by its Twin peaks link, then io9 participated in a video chat with authors David Bushman (who also co-wrote Twin Peaks faq: everything there is to know about a place that is both wonderful and strange) and Mark T. Givens (who runs the Twin peaks Podcast Deer Meadow Radio), to learn more.

Cheryl Eddy, io9: The book is touted as being about “the mystery that inspired Twin peaks”, Which will surely be an entry point for fans of the series. Can you briefly explain the connection between the murder of Hazel Drew and the murder of Laura Palmer in the television series, and how one came to inspire the other?

David Bushman: When Mark Frost, who co-created Twin peaks, contributed to its eruptive arc portion which [was] Laura Palmer’s death, he had in mind two personal experiences that have played a big role in the development of this story. One was the story of Hazel Drew. Her grandmother lived in a house in [Teal’s Pond]- she was quite a character and quite a storyteller, and we actually dedicated the book to her – and she was talking to Mark and her brother, Scott, about that ghost in the woods right outside her house, about a young woman who had been murdered and the murderer had never been identified. The way Mark and Scott tell the story now is that it was kind of a warning to get them not to stay out too late because they had to come home through the woods.

Mark Frost therefore only knew very general information about him; he even had the wrong name when he mentioned it, he called her “Hazel Gray”. But he knowed it was in the woods and it was near that pond and that she was a young woman. So it’s really the link with Twin peaks. He told David Lynch about it, but he said he doubted Lynch would remember telling him about it – and, you know, obviously if you go back and look at Lynch’s work, you’ll see that he has his own obsessions with the young blond troubled women. But it turns out that like Mark [T. Givens] and I dug much deeper, that there were all kinds of other connections between [the case of Hazel Drew and Twin Peaks] that Mark Frost was not aware of, but [from visiting his grandmother every summer] he had a good idea of ​​what Sand Lake and the hamlet of Taborton looked like and was very familiar with it. So a lot of the feeling you have of Twin Peaks as a small town with these kind of idiosyncratic characters, and what small town life is like in an old forest town, were things that Frost helped to bring to bear. the story of his stay there.

Image of the article titled Before Twin Peaks' Laura Palmer, There Was the Mystery of Hazel Drew

Picture: Thomas and Mercier

io9: As you write in the book, the question “Who was Hazel Drew” is almost as confusing as “Who killed her?” »What were your main sources and methods of investigating this case?

Mark T. Givens: We started with the newspapers of the day. The coverage of contemporary newspapers was very extensive; for about two and a half weeks, it made headlines across the country. I think we ended up with 12 or 13 different kinds of gospels covering this, and each had different perspectives and biases and different facts and reports. So that was great. It was about trying to get a baseline – putting together this puzzle from over a hundred years ago, and describing what happened: Hhow did the investigation go? The pitfalls, the twists and turns, and ultimately failure because it hasn’t been resolved? And then there was a kind of phase two: I have used extensively, and outside of the media coverage of the case [specifically], a lot of those people were sort of half famous locally at the time, politicians and things of that ilk. So we were able to find all kinds of little information that informed the background characters.

And then we went to Troy and Sand Lake to do some research and talk to people, probably close to a dozen trips between us. There were great resources up there; we contacted local historians who told us what 1908 looked like and filled in many details that way. In particular, the historian of Sand Lake, Bob Moore, would moderate these round tables where he considered the question himself. [along with] other people up there. Some people who were actually distant cousins ​​of Hazel that we found were also interested in the case and studied it, so [we were also able to get] their point of view and somehow collaborate with them. We had been there for five or six years, so we used everything we could. You know there’s a lot of facts in the newspaper, but that didn’t give us all the color, so talking to people who actually knew some of these people, like Minnie. [Taylor, Hazel’s aunt] in particular, who has lived a long life and had good stories [about her and] anecdotes about his quirky personality.

io9: In the book, you present a theory about who did it and why. What is the most convincing evidence that has led you to this conclusion?

Data: I think my state of mind from the start was, yeah, at the end of this we’re going to find something that they didn’t. They didn’t solve it. We will do our best guess. Maybe investigators at the time had their best guess, but we don’t know what it was. That being said, for sure the solution we came up with in the end wasn’t something we started out with and it wasn’t, you know, some sort of “let’s pick a theory and then get the facts.” . When we started to investigate, we were just trying to figure out what had happened. It laid the groundwork, and then you look at it from all angles. You feel like you know this case and then you can take it to the next level in terms of solution.

We kind of found the factors that got us there really early on – I was very skeptical about that. It seemed a little outrageous to me, but [without giving anything away to readers], eventually you start to see that kind of evidence building up, and then it sort of leads that way. I think we’ve always wanted a solution, and I think [what we came up with is] beyond plausible. I’m still interested in feedback on our solution and if people can find any holes in it, but haven’t seen anyone do that yet, so I’m really happy with how we found out about this.

Bushman: When people read a book like this, they sort of expect a solution. I mean, I even heard people [ask], why couldn’t they solve it definitively, without a doubt? And you know, it’s a 114 year old murder with no surviving physical evidence, no DNA or anything of that nature. The evidence is gone. The people who were around are all dead. So. But I agree with Mark that we definitely thought we were going to offer our best possible solution. You know you think about books [about] Jack the Ripper or the Black Dahlia, all of these books have a solution. I think that’s what people expect from a book like this.

io9: What do you hope readers take away Murder at Teal Pond?

Data: If you are a Twin peaks fan, it’s kind of historically important to you. But you don’t have to be a David Lynch fan. There aren’t any dancing little men or other dimensional killers in our story, but it’s a really good mystery with twists and turns, real crime, and history. I think it’s just a compelling story, and I hope we’ve done it justice.

Bushman: I have the feeling that [1908] the investigation itself was not top notch, and I also feel like if Hazel had been a privileged person and maybe a man – if she had been a privileged man I think he There is no way they stopped before they solved this murder. And, you know, I think she was just kinda forgotten. And that’s kind of one of the reasons we wrote the book, I think, is that we don’t think she should be forgotten.

Teal’s Pond murder: Hazel Drew and the mystery that inspired Twin Peaks is available now.

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