In Murder at Teal’s Pond: Hazel Drew and the Mystery That Inspired Twin Peaks (Thomas & Mercer, Jan.), Bushman and Deer Meadow Radio podcaster Givens investigate a century-old homicide.
What brought you two together on this book?
Givens: Reading through the old newspaper articles it quickly became clear that this story was both extremely intriguing, with its myriad of sketchy suspects, red herrings, and twists and turns, as well as painfully tragic at its core. There was something undeniably sad about the brief life and death of Hazel Drew. Especially considering that after all the furor the case had caused, it would ultimately go unsolved and essentially fade from memory. I quickly scrambled to get an episode of my podcast out, which David heard. He reached out and said he had recently come across the same information and asked if I wanted to work on a book together. I had immediately recognized its potential as a cracking yarn in its own right, so didn’t have to think too hard about saying yes.
How and why did the case capture the attention of Mark Frost and David Lynch, the co-creators of Twin Peaks?
Bushman: Lynch fans know he is obsessed with troubled young blonde women—take another look at his oeuvre—but Frost has a very deep, personal connection to the story. His maternal grandmother, Betty Calhoun, lived right by the scene of the murder in Sand Lake, and used to scare Mark and his brother Scott into not staying out late on summer nights when they were visiting with stories of the ghost of Hazel Drew haunting the woods where she was killed. The story stuck with Mark, and he evoked it when writing the pilot for Twin Peaks with Lynch. There are many clear connections between the pilot and the Hazel Drew murder, but especially in the opening moments when Laura Palmer’s body is discovered on the bank of a lake.
How did you research a case more than 100 years old?
Givens: In retrospect, I think there were two distinct phases to the research, although in practicality they were non-linear and overlapped. First, there was digging out the extensive reporting done on the case at the time. This story made coast-to-coast headlines for weeks in 1908, and the various reports contributed unique facts and perspectives, as well as their own biases and motivations, that had to be sifted through and sorted. Then there was the fact that the investigation into Hazel’s murder ended completely stymied. We had to, in a sense, reopen the investigation and try to solve the mystery.