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 Stina Leicht to talk about how being meticulous, overly analytical, and sensitive relates to her work.
There should probably be a sign hung over this post that reads, Don’t Try This At Home, Kids…
Frankly, I’m not sure I’d call any quality I have a ‘super power.’ (Well, other than the ability to find a goth outfit in any store.) I’m a ball of positive and negative traits that constantly war with one another–in short, I’m a human being. As luck would have it, that happens to work in my favor from time to time. My husband loves to call me a ‘method writer.’ He does this primarily when I rush outside after an ice storm and tramp around in the thin layer of snow with my head tilted like the Victor dog, Nipper. Dane loves to shout, “Remember your coat!” because half the time I’m so wrapped up in capturing the experience that I forget silly little things like self-preservation. It’s why, when I took rally racing lessons as part of my research for Of Blood and Honey and its sequel And Blue Skies from Pain, he made me promise not to race on the track with other drivers. When I broke my arm in Kung Fu class last summer, my biggest thought was, So, this is what it feels like. How much does it hurt? What can’t I do? What can I do? Why do I know something is wrong? How long does it take for the pain to set in? Am I some sort of freak that a broken bone didn’t hurt that much until a few hours later? For the record, it happened at 10:30am. The pain didn’t really set in until almost 2pm–largely because I attempted to take care of the entire matter myself and was probably running on adrenaline or something, resulting in my driving a manual transmission for several hours with said broken arm. I didn’t worry about it being a debilitating injury until that night when I tried to work on the latest novel project, and well, I couldn’t type with both hands for some reason. [cough]
There’s a reason Dane calls me Weapon X. It isn’t that I have a mutant healing factor, it’s that I think and act like I do. Good thing I’ve a healthy sense of mortality that prevents me from doing the really stupid shit, or I’d be doomed.
For the latest project, Cold Iron and its sequel, I’ve (so far) restricted my adventures to fencing, target shooting with a gun, firing a bow, touring The Elissa, touring a sword forge with a real sword smith for a guide, taking an herbalism class, taking up gardening, visiting a pioneer farm museum, and indulging in some horseback riding. This series is set in an American Revolutionary Era/Napoleonic Era secondary world. Thus, it isn’t requiring much in the way of risky adventures — to my husband’s relief. But, you know, I won’t rule that out. I’m only on the second novel, after all. There’s time. [cough]
That explains the overly analytical and detail-oriented aspects of my personality, and to be honest, I firmly believe that I’m nothing special in this capacity. All authors have to have an element of the insightful observer to them. This is what makes their work real. How much you indulge your investigative cub-reporter side is up to the individual. Speaking for myself, I err on the side of more rather than less. It’s handy. Now for the emotionally sensitive part. This one is a little tougher because it cuts closest to the bone.
I was bullied as a kid.
Yeah, yeah. Cry me a river. You’re right. That’s not all that unusual for authors either. We do tend to be outsider-y types who spent far too much of our young lives sitting on the edges looking in. The big difference, however, is that we can’t shut down. Become emotionally distant and you can’t tap those feelings for your art. Conveying emotion through media is what an artist does, after all. To me, it was a funny kind of conclusion to come to — being a sensitive person actually becoming an asset rather than the liability I had always thought, but the truth is, being able to convey real emotion on the page is what makes fiction stand out. Of course, this is true to a varying degree in that not every author focuses on the emotional side of writing, but it’s definitely something that you have to be able to do well in your own way. For me, I use it to explore human relationships and not only the romantic ones. Because, you know, there are quite a few relationships in the world which involve women and men that aren’t romantic.
[Sorry, that was for the people in the back row who think women only write about romance.]
Heh. I think you begin to see what I mean about struggling with myself. The way I’ve always seen it is like this: I’ve two parts to my personality, and they’re comprised of Tank Girl and Jet Girl.  It’s summed up with the following:
TG: “Oh, I was just thinking about leaving this place. It’s been swell. But the swelling’s gone down. What do you reckon? We go to New York? See ‘Cats.'”
JG: “You don’t understand. The better you behave, the more they leave you alone. The more they leave you alone, the better off you are.”
TG: “Well, THAT’S a bore.”
Yes, it’s like that.
 Yeah. We get those in Texas.
 Naturally, I broke that promise the second time I went down to the track. To my credit, I did so with a driving instructor in the passenger seat–as did all the other drivers–and was thus, perfectly safe. No, really.
 Apparently, I’m a freak. I thought everyone was like this. It’s handy in emergency situations, but not so much when you need to express that there is a serious problem. Medical people tend to look at you funny when you say, “I think my arm is broken” in a calm voice and no evidence of pain – -that is, until they see the X-rays.
 I’m proud to say that I came in second place in the women’s tournament at my college. I also came in fourth in the men’s.
[5} Although, I really need to fire a musket. I just haven’t found anyone who owns one and is willing to let me do so. Yet.
 Sometimes Morticia Addams takes a turn at bat, but she doesn’t as often as I’d like.