My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Patty Templeton to talk about how the power of hoeing history for the strange relates to There Is No Lovely End.
Who likes hoeing history for the unexpected? Me. Dude, I will hoe history ALL NIGHT LONG. Ahem. Hmm. Let me rephrase. I LOVE BOOKS! I’ve written them, written about them, sold them at used and new bookstores, and did a five year stint as a Readers’ Advisor in a public library. I’ve noticed that when I’m reading fiction, it is my fun time. When I’m reading nonfiction – oh man, grab your notebook, girly…because here comes storybrain. All of the sparks for my best stories, and my debut novel – There Is No Lovely End – came to me from reading nonfiction. And not only nonfiction, but sleazy, peculiar, or mysterious nonfiction. I have become a Queen of Queer Antiquities, a Curator of Curious Histories, a Burrower for the Bizarre. I love medicine wagons, burlesque stars, anarchists, early female explorers, eccentric entrepreneurs, loners, nighthawks, Civil War hookers, hoboes, vaudeville, Victorian fart musicians, and early French postcard photographers. Give me your taxidermy how-to’s, gonzo music gurus, prison histories, folk artists, charlatans, bikers, and bibliophiles. I want them all. All those beautiful freaks, screwballs, and rebels footnoted in history? They break my brain open. They are a clear breath in a smoky bar. They remind me that you have to make your own damn magic in this life. Nobody’s out there dropping miracles and awe-bombs on folks. We gotta work for our wonder. I like learning about those who had the fortitude to follow their artistic, outlandish, or scandalous dreams. I like reminding myself that life is as sensational and thrilling as you allow it to be. I like letting that wonder seep into my writing so that others can have entertaining and invigorating pauses in daily life. There Is No Lovely End is full of apparitions, outlaws, and mediums. It’s a historical horror story full of misery, lust, and murder based on the unknown medium who sent the famous Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah Winchester out west to build her (still standing) Victorian mystery house. I was interested in giving Sarah a voice that showed her as something more than a supposedly haunted mad woman. I was interested in exploring the fantastical history of a medium whose name has been lost to history—if he or she ever existed at all. I wanted to write a spectacular ghost story. And next, next I am not sure what I’ll write, but I can near guarantee the story will bust forth from an incredible, obscure history hole.
Patty Templeton is roughly 25 apples tall and 11,000 coffee cups into her life. She wears red sequins and stomping boots while writing, then hits up back-alley dance bars and honky tonks. Her stories are full of ghosts, freaks, fools, underdogs, blue collar heroes, and never giving up, even when life is giving you shit. Lately, she has appeared in Pseudopod, Podcastle, Steam Powered II, and Criminal Class Review. She won the first-ever Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors Award and has been a runner-up for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. There Is No Lovely End is her first novel.