Now this from Tom Franklin, author of SMONK.
We had a righteously animated book flocking the last week to discuss SMONK and as a result I have some semi-legible questions scrawled on bar napkins for you.
1. The first question begs for a prequel and pleads, "we want more Smonk."
I've often thought of a sequel. Ned Smonk is born via caeserean (sp?) so that Evavangeline survives. She social climbs to a position of prominence and Ned becomes a ruthless Alabama policitian. Wm R. McKissick Jr, his father (though he doesn't know it) tries to assassinate him for reasons I've not been drunk or stoned enough to contrive. Yet.
But my wife -- agent either -- won't tolerate any more Smonk. In fact, BA, reading my new novel ms, calls any overwritten parts Smonkian, and cuts them.
2. Why Eugene, Oregon? Why not name him Ann Arbor, Michigan or Denver, Colorado?Because I liked the name E. O. Smonk and knew, upon thinking of E. and O. together, that they'd stand for Eugene and Oregon. It's also the reverse of O. E. Parker --Obidiah Elihue Parker-- in Flannery O'Connor's story "Parker's Back," a story I love.
Also, early in the writing of Smonk, I came up with a mythos of Smonks, and part of it was that they'd take the name of wherever they were born. That went, but the name stuck.
3. What inspired the rabies religion? Was it rooted in some historical situation or was it purely a product of your twisted, southern mind?
For the longest time I didn't know what Smonk was. Werewolf? Half-dog, half man? The missing link? I just knew he was something other than completely human. The spooky town of Old Texas, with its widows, was part of the book but with its past unexplained. Then my friend, writer Michael Knight, read an early version of the ms and asked abt the town. I didn't know. But, to answer his question, I wrote that whole flashback past scene in a fevered frenzy, almost 20 pp, being horrified and delighted as I went. Kind of a metaphor for any religion, you know, a "prophet" and those who follow him.
4. As the night progressed and we had exhausted all discussion of Smonk, Cormac McCarthy, Deadwood and 21 Jump Street, our attention moved to the cover. We know authors don't have much say in this decision but...where's the goiter? Is the gun a pump action shotgun or an over under (I don't know about guns but this member of the book club was very interested in knowing if you knew).
The cover. I love it. I worried that, because I'd made so much of Smonk not wearing hats, the cover had one. So the artist removed the hat and I have that version of the cover somewhere. But it wasn't as cool-looking, I thought. Then my editor said, "It doesn't have to be exact, as long as it gets the feeling." I agreed.
But I also had Smonk put on a hat, for a disguise, at the book's end, as he and Ike sneak into Old Texas. Note, too, that there's no rain in the book, but there is on the cover. So I wrote in some rain, too. I know, I know, I'm a whore. But E. O. would approve.
The gun, not an over and under, but I don't think he had the gun until he got into the room, when McKissick brought it back. So it's just a convenient firearm that he goes in with.
5. An artist in our group, Kristopher Pollard has finished his own drawing of Smonk. It will be revealed to me tonight and then smuggled to you via internet...because we're creeps and nerds.
I would LOVE to see the rendering of Smonk. Please do forward it when you can. Maybe I can put it on my homepage or something. Though I can never figure that stuff out.
Thank yall for keeping ole E. O. and co. alive. I wish I could've been there.
Tom is currently living in Brasil with his family. He just finished a new novel entitled CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER. He is very nice.