In the weeks leading up to the release date of Shut Down Strangers & Hot Rod Angels, I'll be featuring some of the pieces and authors here on the blog! Our eleventh feature is Patty Templeton and her story "Wrong Side of the Winning Line."
Patty Templeton is the author of There Is No Lovely End, an 1880s ghost story following the life of rifle heiress Sarah Winchester. Templeton enjoys hot coffee, loud rock shows, and reading while wrapped in rhinestones. She’s currently pursuing a library science degree with an archival focus. Her favorite Boss song is “Atlantic City,” and the only person she’s ever heard cover it to satisfaction is a singer by the name of Joseph Huber. You can chat with her on Twitter or Instagram via @PattyTempleton.
Which Springsteen song(s) inspired your story?
The song “Atlantic City” starts off with “Well they blew up the Chicken man in Philly last night…” That line’s about a real life mobster, but every time I hear it, I think of a carnie geek biting the heads off chickens. Why the hell would someone want to blow up the geek in a carnival? That’s the story spark. But my story isn’t about a carnie geek getting blown up, it’s about a book nerd who’s best friends with a tic tac toe playing chicken. Inspiration is odd. You can dip your feet in the story creek, but there’s no seeing a story till you’re full-under.
What is it about these songs in particular and/or Bruce’s music in general that inspires you?
I’ve cried so many times to “Atlantic City.” Doesn’t matter if it’s Springsteen coming from a car radio or folk singer Joseph Huber covering it. There’s songs that hold truth, and those songs hold power. “Atlantic City” is one of them. There’s desperation in it, but it’s the hope that holds me. So much of Springsteen’s work shows a balance of the worn out being able to find wonder and the forlorn pressing forward.
Bruce Springsteen packs a lot of story into a small space. He creates vivid characters with short, poignant details. He doesn’t pull punches with political opinions. He writes to his mood, not the market. He’s a storyteller with over 40 years of worldbuilding that I’m constantly in awe of.
What five Springsteen songs do you think everyone should listen to?
This is so dependent on mood. Obvs, I’m gonna say “Atlantic City,” and here’s five more.
“I’m on Fire” – Born in the U.S.A.
This is a sexyass song full of bad decisions.
“Shackled and Drawn” – Wrecking Ball
Timeless Americana. It sounds like it could’ve been written by Guthrie, but it’s the Boss. It’ll be just as relevant fifty years from now as it is today. Eat the goddamn rich, or at least properly tax the m-effers.
“Highway Patrolman” – Nebraska
A freakin’ masterclass in first person storytelling.
“Dancing in the Dark” – Born in the U.S.A.
If this song doesn’t cause you to kitchen dance, I don’t know if we can be friends.
“Further On (Up the Road)” – Live in Dublin
Gives me chills. Every. Time. Even on a sunny afternoon.
What’s your favorite line/section from this story?
Heck, I think my favorite part is the title. “Wrong Side of the Winning Line.” I can’t believe I wrote that title.
There’s also a moment late in the story where a broad named Zing says, “Midnight pie won’t make it all right, but it ain’t gonna make life worse.” That’s about the truest thing I’ve ever written. I’ve had many a night made better by going to a diner.
Anything else you’d like to say, either about Bruce or about your story?
If I could time travel to any Bruce Springsteen moment, I would jump back to CBGB’s on December 30, 1977. It was the first time Patti Smith ever played “Because the Night” live and Springsteen joined her.