Richard Thomas allows us to choose our own adventure, sort of, with Splintered in the March issue. He talks with us about the structure of that story, awkward breakups and breakup mixes.
1. How did you figure out that “Choose Your Own Adventure” was the best way to structure “Splintered”?
I don’t like to plot my stories (or novels for that matter). I knew that I wanted to do a “Choose Your Own Adventure” and I started thinking about moments in life where things split in two, or hinge on something. That movie popped into my head,Â Sliding Doors I think? Didn’t even see it, but I remember the previews, and the idea of missing an el train, and how that might be the difference between catching an affair and never finding out about it. Once I got into “Splintered” and started thinking about where it could go, and then put some contemporary twists on a classic frame, it felt like I was on the right track. I enjoyed writing it. Paranoia, fractured lives, it all made sense.
2. What is the most awkward way you’ve broken up with someone?
Is it ever NOT awkward? I wish I could say text or email, something weird like that. At some point you know if it’s over, if it’s broken and can’t be fixed. And, if there was ever love, then there’s certain to be some pain, some hate. I remember breaking up with a girl and then we had a sidewalk sale in the city, selling off our stuff. There was a lot of drinking, that’s all I can say. And she even drove me to the airport. Too bad that plane was headed for Arkansas. Ah, road tripping gone bad. Good times.
3. If I kicked you out of the house, what would be in your suitcase?
A handful of signed books. My laptop. Photos. And a legal pad so I could write you a long love letter, apologizing for how I screwed up, something long and sexy, soft and dreamy, a way for us to forgive each other for having allowed things to get so bad.
4. What would your break-up mix look like on an iPod?
Been there. I’m into classic alternative angst when it comes to music. So it’d be a mix of The Smiths, The Cure, probably some Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Nirvana.
5. Why must we burn other people’s things during a break up?
There’s something cathartic about it, spiritual. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Regenerative, right? Phoenix rising. It destroys, but it also lets go, it’s freeing.
6. How would the movie version of “Splintered” look?
Neo-noir, something by maybe David Lynch, kind of an old Blue Velvet feel, or maybe Mulholland Drive, fast cuts, black and white mixed with bursts of color. You think you know what’s going on, and then, oops, down the rabbit hole, things aren’t what they seem. It’s gritty, and it hurts, but when you say yes to the pleasure, you say yes to the pain.