Sunday, 18 December 2016

Day 18: The German Pickle by Jo Fino

  1. What gave you the idea for  Baubles story
I had the voice of the teenage narrator in my head for a while and at first wanted to explore her relationship with a  much younger sibling and how she dealt with that. Then the father who spends vast amounts of  unexplained time away from home came forward and I wanted to look at how he affected the family when he was home and what he was really doing. The gifts the father brings were inspired by some of my own possessions, but what pulled it all together for me was when I found out about the story behind the German pickle bauble. The fact that the veracity of this story and its origins is questioned echoed the theme of what is real and not real in the life of this family and the teenage narrator's growing frustration, as she struggles with her relationship with her parents, whilst still clinging to the innocent beliefs  of her sibling. I deliberately left  the ending unexplained as many things between families remain unresolved and unexplained.In addition it's a story I think will come back to me and continue to be written.

2. How would you describe your normal style of writing?

 I often think a lot about stories in my head , or store an idea from something I've heard or read ( I should write them down straight away more often though!) When I sit down to write I very rarely know exactly what's going to happen, and when I think I do the story invariably goes in a different direction.I think for me that's all part of the magic and excitement. It's like unwrapping the presents on Christmas Day as a child and not knowing what I'm going to reveal.

3. Have you published other material?
 I have had a piece of flash fiction and another short story published  in Bridgehouse anthologies and a short story published in a national writing magazine which won the first prize in the monthy open competition.

4.Do you have a writing routine?

At present I write as and when I can find pockets of time, in between running a business and bringing up my child.

5.Do you have a favourite place for writing?

.I enjoy sitting outside and scribbling, anywhere that has a view. Cafes, where I can surreptitiously  people watch and occasionally eavesdrop.

6. Tell something quirky about you.
I can't stand the word 'fruitful'...even just writing it down makes my toes curl.

Evie still believes in the magic. Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, red nosed reindeers; Father Christmas, of course, is top of her hit list. She even thinks there really are fairies at the bottom of our garden. I like to watch her talking to them. She nestles down in the grass, her hair tumbling all over her face and I see her lips moving, chatting to the fairies as she plucks up the daisies. She gently squeezes each moist green stem, her pink shiny nails making tiny slits and then she spends ages putting the little chains together, one for Evie, one for Mum, one for the fairies, one for me, and always an extra one in case Dad comes home.

They were the first thing Mum told me about Evie: her nails. “I swear these last few days she was scratching me. Desperate to get out she was. Look at them Libby. They’re like those teensy shells we collect on the beach, except the edges are all ragged, as if she’s been chewing them. See?” Then Mum held out Evie’s screwed up little fist to me and smiled, not at me; it was the smile that went over me, and she got that ‘I’m somewhere else’ face on. I knew then she was thinking about Dad. He missed Evie’s birth, like he had missed a lot of events in the past few years.

Evie was a late baby. I was already eight years old when she came along. Mum’s little miracle. Mum said it was a wonder Evie happened at all with how little time Dad spent at home and I said that was way too much information for a child of my age, even if I was Mum’s ‘grown up girl’. We settled into a new pattern, Mum and Evie and me. The Miracle Child grew to be blonde and bonnie, and always laughing. Quick to learn new things Evie never stopped and she never gave up until she got to where she wanted to be; she was like a mini one way train on a single track and she was loud. But Mum never seemed to mind and when Dad was home he would swing her up onto his shoulder then flip her over his back and she’d land on her hands on the floor. Dad never did stuff like that with me. I was the Serious One, which was really a polite way of saying clumsy. I knew the first time Dad came home after Evie was born that he would fall in love with her, and I watched his face when Mum handed Evie to him and I wondered if he looked at me that same way the first time. I didn’t mind that Dad fell for Evie so quickly; I was glad because I felt the same way too. There was no way you could not love Evie and I thought that if Dad felt like that then he’d come home more often, he wouldn’t travel all over the world to such far-away places, because he had Evie to come home to.

I once asked Mum what Dad really did and she gave me a strange look and said “He buys and sells, you know that Libby, all over the world.”

“Yes but what does he buy and sell Mum? You never tell me.”


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