From a Q & A with John Brandon, author of Arkansas, at McSweeney's Internet Tendency:
McSweeney's: Where were you when you started the novel that became Arkansas?Read the complete interview.
John Brandon: Chattanooga. I was working at a plant that produced the little perfume samples that go in fashion magazines. And lotion samples—sometimes I got free lotion. All I did was stand in one place and box them up and build the boxes into pallets. I was at one end of the machine and this guy named Alan was at the other end. He did most of the talking. He was an ex-hippie, not very hippie-ish anymore. I'd never been to California before, so he told me all about it. When he was young, he went to the same Buddhist church—temple?—as Richard Gere. He was still ticked because Richard Gere had beat him out for a woman. I used to tell him not to worry about it, that there was no shame in losing a chick to Richard Gere. He'd say, "Yeah, but back then he was just Richie. And I was better-looking."
McSwys: How'd that job fit into the rest of your life? Aside from the lotion, I mean.
JB: I had the perfect work shift in Chattanooga—6 to 2:30. I would come straight home and take a three-hour nap before dinner, then I'd be fresh to write from about 7 to whenever the coffee place closed. Chattanooga is known for its hair salons and coffee houses, weirdly, and my favorite place to write was...[read on]