Tuesday 20 December 2016

Day 20: The Recognition Tokens by Dawn Knox

What gave you the idea for  Baubles story?
I heard about the call for submissions for the Baubles anthology shortly after watching a BBC historical documentary about the Foundling Hospital in London. I was fascinated to learn that foundling babies were identified by tokens, such as swatches of fabric - one half being kept by the mother and the other half by the hospital. If a woman wanted to reclaim her child, she had to present her token which would be compared to that held by the hospital. It prompted me to wonder about the people whose lives and happiness depended on a tiny piece of cloth or other artifact, such as a coin, medal or jewellery and I decided to write a story based on those thoughts.

How would you describe your normal style of writing?
As I'm a relative newcomer to writing, I think I'm still trying to find my style but I have a feeling that it might turn out to be lighthearted, humorous and slightly absurd. When I write stories in response to the prompts given out at my writers' group, I usually find myself writing fanciful fantasies which I really enjoy, so I think that may turn out to be my preferred style.

Have you published other material?
I've had success with romance, horror and sci-fi short stories and flash fiction, as well as a script for a play about the First World War which has been performed in England, France and Germany. Earlier this year, inspired by the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, I wrote one hundred stories, each one containing exactly one hundred words, about the First World War which I have published as a book. The stories are quite emotional and poignant. 

My other published book is a young adult adventure story, which takes place in a historic building in my town. 

Do you have a writing routine?
I like to write every day but don't really have a routine. When I'm not actually typing words into my computer, I'm often to be found scribbling them on paper to type up later, or indeed deep in thought about new stories.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?
I prefer it to be quiet when I write, so I like to work at my desk in the loft. I spend hours up there, tapping away on my keyboard. Soon, we will be having some building work done on our house and my small space is going to be converted into an office, so I'll have my own special writing room.

Tell something quirky about you.
Probably the quirkiest thing that ever happened to me was the occasion, many years ago, when I bumped into the Queen in a tunnel. She had come to open a new wing in the Royal London Hospital, where I worked as a lab technician. When I'd finished work for the day, I decided to avoid the crowds in the hospital grounds by going through the tunnel that linked the labs and the main hospital. I'd got half way through the tunnel when I was surprised to see a group of people coming towards me and the man at the front of the party asked me to move to one side. I then realised the Queen was also avoiding the crowds. She smiled at me as she walked passed, just a few feet away.

An extract from 'The Recognition Tokens'


Climbing the sweeping stairs towards his bedroom, he was overtaken by a yearning to carry on along the corridor and go into his daughter's room. He wasn't sure what he would do once he was in there, but he needed to be near her belongings and to see if perhaps something of her, still lingered there. The candle flame cast long flickering shadows on the pink frills and flounces that adorned the bed, covered her chaise longue and hung at the windows. The room had been prepared, as if Rose was expected back at any time and there was no reminder that she had lain under the pretty pink covers as life ebbed from her. He stared at the bed, trying to remember her last hours, but his mind was numb - he could still see her face in his mind’s eye, but the more he tried to pin the memory down and hold it, the more indistinct it became.
Three dolls sat on the dressing table, unblinking eyes in their china faces fixed on him accusingly, and he turned away from them, moving closer to the bed where he might avoid their gaze. When Isabella died, Rose was still a child - intelligent and quick-witted, if a little wilful, and her heart-shaped face and chestnut curls had reminded him of his beloved wife. Sometimes the pain of looking at Rose was too much. So he’d engaged the finest nanny and governess and left his daughter’s upbringing in their hands. If only he’d seen that her resemblance to Isabella had been a blessing and not the curse he’d imagined it to be. If only…
He gently stroked the bed cover, hoping that contact with something she'd often touched, would somehow connect him with his daughter; would somehow bring him comfort. The movement released a hint of Rose’s favourite perfume and he breathed deeply, greedy to experience it more intensely, anxious to hold on to anything that had once been part of her. But it was like trying to grasp a shadow. The second he recognised the scent, it was gone – just as she had gone.


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