I had an opportunity to speak with Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost today. We were able to cover numerous topics including both of his recent novels ( “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” and The Final Dossier ), the show, Mark’s thoughts and feelings about this entire experience and much more. Many thanks to Mark for taking the time to talk to me and I hope you enjoy the interview!
25YL: In a recent interview, you cited the passage of time as an inspiration for you when writing the new Twin Peaks season and your novels. I’m curious about the passage of time in regards to you, your writing style and what perhaps was of more interest to you now than it was 25 years ago.
MF: Well I think the biggest thing is that the longer you’re alive, the more you realize the passage of time is this universal experience that we’re all—whether we like it or not—enmeshed in and some might even say trapped in. The theme of dealing with people or characters who are going through the passage of time and maybe having seen them after a certain amount of time has passed as we did in The Return, gives you a chance to fully embrace that thematically and I think to get at one of the most, if not the most universal experiences of being alive.
25YL: You’ve said that you had ideas during the show’s original run for what would become The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Did any of those original ideas make the book in its published form or did your vision for it change over time?
MF: I would say that a few ideas made it all the way into the finished book, but I didn’t really dive fully into the book back then. It was just conceptual. Most of the hard work and the structure of the book came when I sat down to write it in 2015.
25YL: The Final Dossier answered the question that ended the original series, “How’s Annie?” Did you always envision that part of the story best being told in a novel or was it considered for television at some point?
MF: You know we never got around to talking about it much when we were plotting and writing The Return. So I decided at that point that it would be something that I leave for the second book. I didn’t want to deal with it in the first book because people hadn’t seen the series yet. That felt like the best way to deal with it. It would have been a question that Gordon Cole would have wanted answered and given the assignment that he gives to Agent Preston to find out about what happened to Twin Peaks in the intervening years that felt like the proper forum.
25YL: The Final Dossier is unique in the fact that it could be either a satisfying conclusion or a hint of what’s to come in either a future book or continuation of the series. Was that the desired effect?
MF: Yes, that felt like the right tone to strike with it. If you would have asked me 20 years ago, I would have said that the chances of going back to Twin Peaks one day are remote. Things change, so you never know. It seems to make the most sense to leave things the way they are with life, which is that life goes on.
25YL: I found that to be a theme with the show as well where we get a snapshot of a lot of character’s lives and we’re left to wonder how their stories continued to unfold. I found that to be very true of life and was something I enjoyed quite a bit.
MF: It is. I think there are people who you have glancing contact with in your view and there are others who you know quite fully for a long period of time. The way in which we dealt with that in The Return felt lifelike to me in that regard and was something I think we strove for.
25YL: I recently wrote an article where I hypothesized that perhaps much of Twin Peaks was a commentary on America through the eyes of the generation that grew up post-atomic bomb. Am I completely off base with that conclusion?
MF: I won’t say no because that’s certainly true of us and whoever you are certainly informs the work that you do. Anybody who came of age during that period was profoundly affected by it. It’s rather astonishing that it’s still an issue today.
25YL: What has this experience been like for you to return to this project after such a long break and not only create another television season but to also pen two novels?
MF: It was very satisfying. We had left things unfinished way back when, as you well know. To have a chance to go back and correct that, bring the story forward in time and then for me to have the chance to write the books, it felt like a very full and complete way to treat one of my favorite pieces of material in my long professional life now. I would say on every level it was extremely satisfying.
25YL: What’s it like for you to have countless podcasts, websites like this one, social media groups and campaigns like last week’s 119 Day all dedicated to celebrate, analyze and discuss your work?
MF: It’s nothing less than flattering. I know as a fan of literature and film myself the energy it takes to devote yourself to something like that. The fact that the work we’ve done over the years has inspired that is as rewarding as anything about it can be. I can’t say that I listen to or read everything because having done the work there’s not much need to analyze it [laughs], but the fact that people are intrigued and engaged enough to do that is a wonderful sign that something we’ve done has gotten through.
25YL: Over the course of the 25 years away from Twin Peaks, did you conceive any of the ideas that we would eventually see in either of your novels or the show? Or was it more a matter of the floodgates opening a few years ago prior to you reaching out to David Lynch?
MF: I think it’s more of the latter. When something is on the back burner the way Twin Peaks was—really it was in the back of the refrigerator, it wasn’t really cooking for a long time—you’re not actively turning your subconscious loose on it, let alone your conscious mind. It wasn’t until it became a directed project, that it was going to happen, that’s when you turn on the jets and things started to flow.
25YL: One of my favorite characters in the third season was Dr Jacoby. At first, I thought it might be a comedy bit, a spoof on Alex Jones but as the show went on, I realized that his central message really was integral to both the show and also to life itself. What was it like to be able to write a character like that during these turbulent political times?
MF: It was cathartic. As you know, I put a fair amount of work into Dr Jacoby into both books as well. He was one of my favorite characters and one of the most fun characters to write. He was sort of an afterthought in the Pilot originally. It wasn’t until we cast Russ Tamblyn and he had this marvelous little cameo in the Pilot that was no more than a page or so that character kind of woke up for me. Over time he’s become one of the characters who can take a meta-view of not only the town but the world, and I think expand upon it in both entertaining and enlightening ways.
25YL: What would Dr Amp be doing in preparation for the 2018 and 2020 elections?
MF: Pulling out all the stops. I would imagine that he would have some new products ready to help people get ready. He might even have a catalog by then; I’m not sure. I’m guessing he would find an ever-increasing audience for his message.
25YL: Who is Mark Frost scheduling to play The Roadhouse in a hypothetical Season 4?
MF: It would be a tough get, but I would love to see if we could get Springsteen to come in and do an acoustic set. He’d be my number one headliner I think.
25YL: What’s next for Mark Frost?
MF: I’ve got a book that is long overdue that I started long before Twin Peaks hit, so I’ve got to get back to that. I’ve got a play I’m working on. I haven’t written a play in about 35 years. That’s been a lot of fun. A couple of other projects looming on the horizon. As always, I’m keeping pretty busy.
25YL: Anything you can share about the play?
MF: It’s a little too early to reveal anything about it, but I will say that it is based on some real history and also on a relative of mine who was a very close witness to some remarkable history. That’s as much as I’ll say.
25YL: Any final words for those reading this interview?
MF: Thanks to all of you guys who keep fanning the flames of the show and keeping the audience community alive. To all of those people who have been with us for so long, I’m really grateful to all of you and wish you nothing but the best.
Thanks so much to Mark Frost for coming on the site! If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to check out some of our others!