A Fey Tale: End at the Beginning

As we settle into this new year, I’d like to welcome author Karen J. Carlisle to the Web Journal to tell us about her latest novel A Fey Tale. Karen and I have appeared together on the pages of a handful of anthologies, plus, even though she’s in Australia, the rise of virtual cons has allowed us to meet and get to know each other at some events. She is a talented author and a great person. Please welcome, Karen J. Carlisle.


David asked me to do an ‘Introduction to Aunt Enid’ for my post. At the time, I didn’t know his post would be last official stop on my blog tour. So I thought: why not end at the beginning?

Of Origin stories and Inspirations.

It’s fitting in a way. A Fey Tale is the second book in The Aunt Enid Mysteries. In book one, Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire, we meet (Great) Aunt Enid for the first time, through the eyes of her great niece, Sally who finds herself plunged into a hidden world of magic and fantastical creatures. Enid Turner is ‘your average seventy-something year old. She loves to cook, is a regular at bingo and spends hours in her garden, talking to her army of garden gnomes and fussing over the colour of her hydrangeas…

In book two, Aunt Enid is back, but something’s different, but with the same premise: daemons, fairies, and magic are all real.

This time, there’s a deal with fairies to solve a mystery and prevent a war… and it’s up to Aunt Enid and the Protectors, with a little help from the self-appointed Fairy Hunter, to solve the mystery, return the kidnapped heir and save the humans from Otherworldly retribution. It’s now a race to save the Earth from becoming a battleground for a magical war.

A Fey Tale is a prequel, set one hundred years before the first. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is visiting Adelaide for a lecture tour. Enid Turner – and friends – are invited to a picnic in his honour, only to be caught in a web of treachery and betrayal from the Otherworlds.

In this tale of beginnings, we meet past Protectors, Olive and Sylvia, and discover the origin stories of other characters and a little more about Enid herself – such as: why she doesn’t drive and why she took up crochet.

This series really began with childhood memories and new memories of my adopted home of Adelaide, South Australia. I melded them into a fantasy world, blurring the familiar with the speculative:

When I was a child (less than eight years old) we owned a purple Wolseley car. We called it the Purple People Eater. It broke an axle going down the steep hill where we lived. I can still smell the massive metal stove my own Great Aunt Enid used when we made lemon butter. It had a multitude of doors and stove tops. It seemed to fill the entire wall. She had hydrangeas at the base of the wooden stairs of her old Queenslander house.

Many times we stayed at my grandmother’s house in Nambour. There was a huge frangipani tree in the front yard, and chokoes and persimmons out the back. There were large rooms with wooden floors and long wispy curtains.  These were happy memories of a less complicated era, embedded in darker memories of my childhood.

My grandmother had spunk, kindness, and a sense of humour. She was my hero. And still is. These women of a certain age deserved to honoured. Together, they inspired Great Aunt Enid – a beacon of light and strength in my fantasy world.

But, I only know one side of the family. Of my father’s side I know next to nothing – no relatives, no history. I’ve often wondered: what hidden truths I would discover?

In book one, Sally embodied my fearful curiosity as she discovered the truth of her mysterious great aunt and her own destiny.

In A Fey Tale, we travel back in time, in the wake of the Great War and Spanish Flu, to (almost) the beginning of Enid’s story. We discover past relationships and how they shaped her. We meet creatures from the Otherworlds desperate to prevent their own Great War – and other creatures determined to encourage it. As a Protector, it was, is, and always will be Enid’s duty to defend our world. And duty always has a cost.

As always, there will be tea and scones with lashings of Enid’s award-winning lemon butter.

But this is not the end for Enid. There’s more books planned. There are many more Otherworlds and legendary creatures to endanger our world. I already have plans for book three. But first, I need a lighter project. Next on the ‘to-be-written list’ is book two of The Department of Curiosities. Aunt Enid’s third mystery currently scheduled after that.

Get your copy of A Fey Tale at book blog special price

To visit other stops on the book blog tour, visit: https://karenjcarlisle.com/2021/12/17/a-fey-tale-book-blog-tour-schedule/

BIO

Karen J Carlisle is a writer and illustrator of steampunk, Victorian mysteries and fantasy. She was short-listed in Australian Literature Review’s 2013 Murder/Mystery Short Story Competition. She is currently writing the second book in her cosy fantasy mystery series, set in Adelaide. Her short stories have featured in the 2016 Adelaide Fringe exhibition, ‘A Trail of Tales’, ‘Where’s Holmes?’ and ‘Deadsteam’ anthologies.

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Remembering Houdini

Happy Halloween! I hope everyone dropping by will have a safe and enjoyable celebration. This Halloween finds me operating the Mayall 4-meter telescope instead of trick-or-treating, but I do plan to bring some spooky reading with me to the telescope to celebrate the occasion.

Today also marks the ninetieth anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death. Houdini fascinated me as a kid and the more I’ve learned about him over the years, the more he intrigues me. Not only was he an amazing escape artist and magician, but he was a pioneer in both cinema and aviation. However, what has always fascinated me most was Houdini’s work as a skeptic. The photo below shows Houdini in a “spirit” photograph of him interacting with Abraham Lincoln through the magic of a double exposure.

500px-houdini_and_lincoln

Houdini became interested in the occult and spiritualism after his mother died in 1913. He wanted to contact his mother beyond the grave. However, back in his early days as a performer, he masqueraded as a spiritual medium himself and began to recognize that the mediums he contacted had just updated and recycled tricks he himself once used. Ashamed of his own past, he started a crusade to expose fake mediums and show people how they performed their tricks.

By 1925, Houdini’s show went from his familiar routine of escapes and magic tricks to showing how psychics and spiritualists performed their tricks. Houdini chronicled his exploits in a book entitled A Magician Among the Spirits which he co-authored with C.M. Eddy Jr. Reportedly, it’s this book which cost Houdini his friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes.

Doyle himself was a strong believer in spiritualism, though interestingly he’s associated with his own share of intellectual fraud. Probably the most famous case was helping to publicize the Cottingly Fairies. In this case, two young cousins photographed themselves with dancing pixies. However, the cousins later confessed that the “fairies” were illustrations from a popular children’s book of the day called Princess Mary’s Gift Book. I first read about this case in James Randi’s book Flim Flam. Of course, Randi himself was influenced to investigate the paranormal by Houdini. I was honored to meet the Amazing Randi when I was in college, where he did his own demonstration of psychic “magic.”

In 1926, Houdini planned to start a new book about religious miracles with C.M. Eddy Jr. and none other than H.P. Lovecraft. Although an outline and three chapters were written, plans for the book were derailed by Houdini’s untimely death later that year.

Despite Houdini’s efforts to debunk the paranormal, his widow Bess went on to attempt to contact her dead husband through the aid of spiritualists. It’s said her final attempt happened eighty years ago tonight on October 31, 1936. The séance was broadcast on the radio. The medium, Ed Saint, called out on to Houdini to make himself known, but no answer came. After an hour, Bess called an end to the séance. At that point, a very localized, violent storm broke out. Supposedly it was clear over the surrounding area. It only rained over the séance location.

I hope you stay warm and dry this Halloween and may all your encounters with ghosts and spirits prove pleasant ones.