A Fey Tale: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Fairies, oh my!

Written by Karen J Carlisle

Karen J Carlisle is an author 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 a cosy fantasy mystery set in Adelaide. Her short stories have featured in the 2016 Adelaide Fringe exhibition, ‘A Trail of Tales’, and the ‘Where’s Holmes’ and ‘Deadsteam’ anthologies. Karen lives in Adelaide with her family and the ghost of her ancient Devon Rex cat. She’s always loved dark chocolate and rarely refuses a cup of tea.

August 2, 2020

A Fey Tale: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Fairies, oh my!

Did you know the author of the Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes, once visited Adelaide? It was part of his personal world lecture tour in 1920. This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of that very visit – this September!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle arrived in Adelaide on 21st September, 1920, by ship, and left for Melbourne on 31st September. While here, he spoke on his spiritual beliefs, had dinner with fellow doctors, dinner with the Governor, visited the state museum, art gallery and Humbug Scrub, then still a fledgling wildlife sanctuary. Sir Arthur was a keen supporter of preserving native wildlife and fauna at a time when no one really knew what they were.

As 2020 is the 100th anniversary of Mr Doyle’s visit, it didn’t take much convincing to get the organiser of the Adelaide Steampunk Festival to incorporate Sherlock Holmes as this year’s theme… Also watch out for the fairy doors around the Adelaide Steampunk Festival event.

But what do fairy doors and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have in common? Firstly, Sir Arthur also wrote a book on fairies 1921, after his return from his world tour. And they both appear in my next book, A Fey Tale.

A Fey Tale is the second cosy fantasy mystery in The Aunt Enid Mysteries series. While not steampunk, the story was inspired by Doyle’s visit and Adelaide’s hidden fairy doors.

In Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire – the first book in the series – our heroine, Enid Turner, mentions in passing how lovely she thought Doyle was … (SPOILER WARNING!) … then does a quick cover-up explaining away it was his writing to which she referred. Well, now you get to find out the story behind that throw away comment.

Fairy doors also feature in my book. I first saw one of Adelaide’s fairy doors not long after I moved here in 1988. Ever since, they have fascinated me. Information is not easy to find. It seems no one really knows exactly when they first appeared (sometime in the late 1800s), or who created them. There are rumoured to have originally been seven scattered throughout the Adelaide CBD. Most are now lost in time. You can find the one that inspired them in Rundle Street, near the footpath on the front of 238a Rundle Street, and I’m told there is one in the Coffee Branch alley, Leigh Street.

A Fey Tale is set in 1920 Adelaide, where the unseen world of magic and Otherworlds seeps through into our world.

Aunt Enid’s back, but something’s changed…

A deal with fairies… to solve a mystery… and prevent a war.
Fairies and magic: It’s all real!

Enid Turner is invited to a picnic in honour of the creator of the world’s most famous detective, currently on a lecture tour in Adelaide, where they are caught in a web of treachery and betrayal from the Otherworlds.

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.

I want to thank the SA Museum and the Birdwood Motor Museum for their assistance in my research for this book.

Originally, I’d planned to debut A Fey Tale at the Adelaide Steampunk Festival, and officially launch it at the Tea Tree Gully library the following week. Unfortunately, the book launch has been delayed due to a return to lockdowns in Victoria and South Australia’s recent changes in event recommendations. At this stage (depending on the Covid situation), A Fey Tale should be ready for publication late October to November, 2020. You can pre-order your copy here: https://karenjcarlisle.com/product/a-fey-tale-pre-order/ (At special price + postage.)You’ll be the first to receive a copy when they are available.

I also have copies of book one available to order, if you want to catch up on Aunt Enid’s adventures before then. https://karenjcarlisle.com/product/aunt-enid-protector-extraordinaire-2/

For those who want to know more about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adelaide visit, I’ll be doing a talk at the Tea Tree Gully Library. (was originally scheduled for 23rd September, but has been postponed to later in the year due to Covid restrictions and changes to the libraries events). You can find out more at: www.karenjcarlisle.com/events

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