Another great 3-2-1 Launch Interview! Patti Grayson shares a bit of insight about her new novel, The Twistical Nature of Spoons.
Congratulations on your latest novel, The Twistical Nature of Spoons.
Why did you choose to structure the narrative from alternating view points?
Patti Grayson: From the outset with this work, I was compelled to challenge myself to achieve a different objective than I had with my two previous novels which are more straightforward narratives. There are so many unique ways to tell a story, and myriads of incredible books inspired me, as a writer, to try my hand at devising a more complex structure. (Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin comes to mind with its novel within the novel. Or Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin in which the stories of disparate characters become connected through a singular spectacle).
In the case of my novel, the structure came to me first, before I could even guess at the full story, and in turn, its dual track (which gives equal weight and focus to both of the main characters) continued to inspire me, as I learned how to navigate its obstacles and take advantage of its perks. In the end, I think the structure supports—from the point of view of craft—what is happening within the narrative itself. It suits the secrets and subterfuge that play a prominent role in the novel.
The Twistical Nature of Spoons is a story filled with various magics. Where do you find magic in the real world?
Patti Grayson: What constitutes magic for me are those things that stir or uplift. In no particular order, here’s a sampling: the trill of a meadowlark, most musical performances, sunrise on the dock, acts of kindness, the gravitas of art galleries, family laughter around the dining room table, bicycle breeze, bees in my herb bed, the silent spasms of mirth that seize my partner in response to old comedy sketches, the rumble of curling rocks, the spectrum of ink colours in my fountain pens, the soft ears of dogs, woodsy paths, friends passionately agreeing on a must-read, the rise and fall of theatre applause, night skies, the scent of Earl Grey tea.
Masks play a role in The Twistical Nature of Spoons. Why did masks as objects interest you?
Patti Grayson: Exploring the historical roots and cultural significance of masks was a very intriguing aspect of my research. It compelled me to attain my own commedia dell’arte mask (created by a Winnipeg mask maker/actor) which hangs in my office. Its presence reminded me daily to try and strive for artistry to match its own.
At one point, masks also caused significant consternation for me. I was completing the submission-ready version of the manuscript when the pandemic struck. At that point, the real world of masking collided with what I was creating in my text. Experts were debating whether face masks were effective. A continent-wide shortage existed. The internet was flooded with patterns for sewing your own cloth versions, and also with photos of the red, raw, face rashes of medical personnel after exhausting shifts in their protective gear. This put me in mind of the long-beaked doctor’s masks of the black plague era—leather coverings with their herb-filled snouts (to supposedly purify the air), versions of which are worn, modern-day, at carnival proceedings, but which remain quite haunting. On top of every harrowing aspect of the pandemic, I was writing a novel with masks at a time when they’d barged into everyday life and were burdened with negative connotations. I felt as if my book’s ship had sailed. Fortunately, I think for the majority of people, acceptance quickly followed, and there remains a gratitude toward the coverings as a form of protection for us all. And thankfully, the artistic, creative, and playful versions of masks depicted in my novel are able to live out a happier existence.
Thank you! Looking forward to launching The Twistical Nature of Spoons on October 4th at McNally Robinson Booksellers!
Blisse has guarded the family secret for her entire childhood. No one can know the origin of her unconventional birthday gifts. Her mother, Ina, has insisted that Blisse never tell a soul – believing it’s the only way to keep her daughter safe from a dire fate. Together, mother and daughter must sift through their own versions of events to understand how the secret has led to the unravelling of their lives. Chock-full of masks and curses, art and magic, seduction and spoons, their stories are both fraught with misdirection and awash in whimsy. Can their revelations negate a tragic prediction? Or is the dissolution of love and family inevitable?