TWIN PEAKS A Huge Influence on my Work

Peaks SoundtrackIf you were living under an internet rock yesterday, you might have missed one of the day’s most pop-culturally significant announcements — Twin Peaks will be back on the air. Showtime is bringing a new, nine-episode season of the sensational Mark Frost-David Lynch show to television in 2016.

Yes, I know that’s at least a year-and-a-half, if not two years, away. Why is everyone so excited about something that’s going to happen so far in the future?

Because even 23 years after it went off for the last time, Twin Peaks is still thought to be one of the greatest shows in the history of television. Strange, surreal, quirky, funny, and frightening, it was compelling TV for most of its short, 30-episode run from 1990-91. (There was a period in the middle of its second season, where you really wondered where it was going.)

“Peaks” has a legion of obsessive fans, and I am one of them. I watched the show almost from the beginning. I missed the pilot when it originally aired, but I was watching faithfully from Episode 2 on. When it was released on VHS, I saved my money to buy the tapes one at a time until I had the whole show. I bought the first season when it came out on DVD, and I got the Gold Box Edition for Christmas the year it came out. (I am hoping for a similar arrangement this Christmas with the Blu-Ray collection.)

I saw Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in the theater. I was one of the few people who liked it. I hunted down secondhand copies of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes, and Welcome to Twin Peaks. I own Full of Secrets, a collection of scholarly essays on the show. I’ve got the complete set of collector cards.

Twin Peaks found me at a pivotal moment in my life. I was just finishing college, and right after it ended, I went to graduate school. The strange, otherworldliness of the show captivated my young scholar’s brain. The way Lynch played with nonlinear time in the movie fascinated me. The magic of the Black Lodge ensorcelled me.

The influence of Twin Peaks on my work as an artist is difficult to understate. In 1999, I published Heaven & Earth: A Role-Playing Game of Fate and Destiny. This experimental RPG from my early days in the hobby games industry has Peaks fingerprints all over it. I was very deliberately trying to emulate Lynchian surrealism in the game, and its official setting, Potter’s Lake, drew heavily from the mood and atmosphere of Twin Peaks.

The climactic scenes of the novels I published last year both show strong influences from the show. In The Sword and the Sorcerer, Calibot’s journey into his father’s tower towards the end of the book is a surreal carnival that is reminiscent of Laura’s Palmer’s strange trip inside the picture Mrs. Chalfont gives her in the movie and Dale Cooper’s entry into the Black Lodge in the series’ climactic episode.

In Beauty & the Beast: A Modern Fairy Tale, Caleb’s transformation into Beast over the course of the book invokes images of Leland Palmer’s possession by BOB. The final metamorphosis has the same kind of horror as Maddie’s murder on the show.

Even as recently as my newest book, Ghost of Chance, which releases October 13 and is a James Bond-fantasy mash-up, I include elements of Twin Peaks. Wolf is given three mysteries to solve by an otherworldly source, just as Cooper was. As a crime is being committed, he is told, “It is happening again.”

I can’t emphasize enough how important Twin Peaks is to me as an artist. Its long-form storytelling and skillful blend of magic and modernity, quirky and quaint, has guided my own creative decisions for nearly 20 years. The prospect of it being back, of it being written, produced, and directed by Frost and Lynch, and of it being on a pay channel like Showtime, so they won’t have any of the creative restraints of broadcast television like they did when it aired on ABC is just about the most amazing news I’ve heard in a long time.

I have often wondered what Frost and Lynch could have done with Twin Peaks if they had been able to make shows like you find on HBO and Showtime today. Soon, I’m going to get to find out.

I can’t wait to see what they do . . . and how they’ll influence me next.


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