Archive for Thursday, February 2, 2006

Local writer pens novel on Capote; his second effort

February 2, 2006

Baldwin City artist and writer Ande Parks has written his second historical fiction graphic novel. This one is about Truman Capote and is called Capote In Kansas.

A new movie on Capote, which has been nominated for many awards, is finally going to be shown in Lawrence starting Friday.

While the two are mostly unrelated, Capote has once again become quite a national topic.

Parks shared his thoughts about the book.

"I have been fascinated by Capote since I was a child," said Parks. "I would see him on the Dick Cavett show or something like that and think how odd he was, but how I was kind of captivated by him, as well. When I read In Cold Blood, probably in junior high, I was just amazed by it, and I couldn't help but wonder how that odd little man had come to Kansas and convinced the locals that he was to be trusted with their personal feelings about such a tragic event. As I started working on historical fiction graphic novels, I thought there had to be an interesting story behind the story of Truman's great book. I actually started thinking about that idea before I wrote my first book about the Union Station massacre, but I thought gangsters would be more commercial to publishers, so I went with that idea. As it turns out, the Capote story was so commercial that two films have been made along the same lines I was thinking, so I guess I blew it there!

"Having become interested in doing something about Truman's time in Kansas, I did as much reading about him and his time here as possible. I was, as I suspect most people are, shocked to find out that he came to Kansas with his dear friend and author of To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee. Arguably America's two best writers at the time came to my home state together on a mission to document a horrific crime? There was definitely a story there.

"As I looked for a unique angle on the story of In Cold Blood's creation, it didn't take me long to realize that I wanted the victims to have a voice. I felt it would be wrong to leave the true innocents out of the story. At the same time, I was determined to not, in any way, re-tell the crimes. Truman had already done that brilliantly, and I was not going to go there. So, how would I involve the victims in my story? I eventually decided to make Nancy Clutter a character from beyond the grave. I guess you could call her a ghost, but she is more of a spirit. In fact, if I did my job well, it is left up to the reader to decide if she is a real presence or just a product of Truman's mind. I actually changed how I felt about her in that respect as I worked on the book.

"While it was important to me to treat the people involved with respect, Capote In Kansas is a novel. I felt free to move the characters around as I saw fit to serve the themes I wanted to cover. Still, I think I have been fair to those involved, with the exception of "Nelle" Harper Lee. I write her out much earlier than she actually left Truman, and I do apologize for that in the book's afterword.

"In the end, my book is about Truman's goal to make a great work of art out of a horrible tragedy, and what achieving that goal cost him."

The book can be purchased at Borders Bookstore in Lawrence or on most online bookstores.

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