Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jack Todd

From a Q & A with Jack Todd about his new novel, Come Again No More:

You mention in your author note that some of these stories were based on those of your family. Which story was your favorite to explore in the novel? Is it interesting to see in a fictionalized format?

My parents were such an oddly matched couple that I most enjoyed exploring the way they met, their courtship and their marriage, including the story of the day my father left my mother alone for hours in a hotel in Denver. My mother told me that story in some detail, but it turns out that it is only the tale of their honeymoon in Denver, not of their wedding day. I recently discovered that my parents were not actually married when I was born, because my father had never obtained a divorce from the woman known as Thelma Pearl in this novel. They were together some twenty-five years before they finally married. We were never told that my parents weren’t married, but my older sisters remember babysitting the youngest while the folks went to the courthouse to get hitched at some point in the 1950s – I was never told at all. I’m not sure I would have handled the situation depicted in Come Again No More any differently had I known, but it does cast a different slant on things.

Sometimes it’s hard to lay out family history in a memoir or even a fictional work. Did you find it hard to depict certain aspects of your family’s life in this book? Are there any aspects of the book that you think members of your family would object to?

The single most painful incident in our family is probably the one I wrote about in Sun Going Down, in which Emaline is terrified that her mother is being beaten to death by her stepfather. Emaline herself puts an end to the beating by hitting her stepfather over the head with a burning kerosene lantern. Knowing that your mother endured something like this is hard enough, bringing it to life even harder.

While I didn’t necessarily find it difficult to write about my family, I don’t doubt that some family members would object to much of what is portrayed here. They want to believe that their ancestors never fought, drank, cheated on one another or had sex – even marital sex. They would ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue