With her new novel, The Twistical Nature of Spoons, Winnipeg author Patti Grayson returns to adult fiction after a brief foray into middle years/YA fiction. She appears to have kept a childlike sense of playfulness and wonder, though, in this story of magic and curses.
The novel is about Ina, a single mother and artist, and her daughter, Blisse, who is working as a magician’s assistant for Mr. Fluxcer, their boarder.
In alternating narratives, Ina and Blisse each tell their own version of events relating to some special and unique bent spoons. And, as Grayson says, “Swirling around the spoons is a host of secrets and lies, curses and best intentions.”
Blisse tries her best to understand her relationship to the spoons and uncover the truth, while Ina reveals the spoons’ origins and why the truth has been buried.
Grayson says spoons lend themselves very well to some of the novel’s “playful” aspects – the variety of shapes and sizes can represent different members of Blisse’s “Spoonfamily.” She also notes that spoon bending is most often used to showcase both telekinetic ability and magician expertise. “So spoons were a natural choice for the family’s secret. And,” she adds, “spoons have held a position of literary prominence ever since the dish ran away with one.”
The particular structure of alternating narratives was one impetus behind The Twistical Nature of Spoons.
“It was the challenge of a parallel, dual narrative that really intrigued me,” Grayson says. “How to write a novel from two different perspectives that were telling, in essence, the same story? Where to start? How to overlap? When to merge? The puzzle of that translated into its own kind of inspiration for me.”
The Twistical Nature of Spoons contains elements of mystery, magic, and romance, but at its core, the novel explores family relationships – and more specifically how they grow.
“In some ways, Ina and Blisse have a typical parent-child relationship that evolves naturally over the course of the novel’s 18 years,” says Grayson. “In other ways, they have a very unique set of parameters that affects their familial bond.”
In the case of Ina and Blisse, those parameters are pushed to extremes and made worse by the idea of a hovering curse.
“They also have a deep, instinctual love for one another, but there is often something percolating in the background that prevents that from being expressed in the best way,” says Grayson.
“Their relationship is definitely a mixed bag with a tiny hole that’s threatening to rip apart.”
Grayson hopes the novel will transport readers into a world where disbelief is suspended and a sense of wonder prevails.
“I hope the work also creates opportunity for pondering larger questions – specifically those surrounding love, and fear, and what it means to be a family,” she says.
“I think this novel also has its share of polarized perceptions and perspectives (an aspect that’s increasing in our everyday world), and I’d like to believe, in some infinitesimal way, that the story might inspire the tapping of a reset button or the opening of a heart.”