Greetings and welcome to our Steampunk Revelry!
Sit down, have a cup of tea and join me in an overindulgence of dark chocolate. Today we celebrate the release of Karen J Carlisle’s new release The Adventures of Viola Stewart Journal #1: Doctor Jack and Other Tales (paperback compilation) and the Doctor Jack eBook.
Greetings, I am Karen J Carlisle – speculative fiction writer, costumer, artist, gardener, chocoholic and tea-lover.
Life is full of adventures. Since discovering the fantastical world of alternate history, many of my adventures have been steampunk related.
The signs were there: my costuming morphed from Renaissance to Victorian splendour. One room was redecorated, then another. My book shelves started dripping with cog-adorned book covers. My viewing choices sported more and more dashing men in top hats. I was hooked.
I rediscovered writing as a catharsis – to exorcise work anxiety. I followed the usual advice: Write what you know. I started writing high fantasy but was side tracked by several other (steampunk) ideas. Why should I be surprised? I could never decide my preferred genre – in costuming, art or reading. Now I get to mash them all up – fantasy, science fiction and history – in one fell swoop. How exciting! I can play with a familiar setting, create my own alternate world and posit what if with historical events. What is there not to love?
My first series, The Adventures of Viola Stewart, is actually more gaslamp than pure steampunk; it explores a darker storyline than I usually entertain (part of that catharsis I mentioned earlier). But the romance is still there.
And the fantasy story is just biding its time…
This month I have released my first novella and the fourth story in this series, Doctor Jack, in eBook form. The compilation paperback, The Adventures of Viola Stewart Journal #1: Doctor Jack and Other Tales, is being launched at the Adelaide Steampunk Festival on 30th May, 2015.
Doctor Jack and Other Tales contains the short story, An Eye for Detail, shortlisted on The Australian Literature Review’s mystery short story competition, 2013.
I am now working on my first novel-length story, The Department of Curiosities, which is planned for launch at end of the year. Just in time for Christmas!
Introducing Viola Stewart, a widowed optician with a penchant for detectiving, who stumbles on a secret society of Men in Grey.
Journal #1: Doctor Jack and Other Tales – contains three short stories and novella.
Three Short Stories: The Day of the Dirigible/ An Eye for Detail/ The Magic Lantern
Who is that Man in Grey? Why does he want her toy dirigible? Who is taking the children? And what is the connection between Viola’s missing patients, the photographer and The Society?
Novella: Doctor Jack
Someone is stalking the women of London. An unexpected encounter puts Viola in grave peril. Viola is detectiving again, chasing secret societies and nefarious plots.
An excerpt from Doctor Jack: (p 90-93)
Viola beamed at the two men seated at the table before her. Light streamed into the palm court from the lobby beyond the square columns that surrounded them, partially silhouetting Doctor Collins and Sir Archibald Huntington-Smythe. Nearby potted palms swished in the vestiges of the outside wind, which stole through the door as they opened with each new diner. Viola watched the dancing shadows across the polished tile floor.
Thank goodness The Langham has heating.
An excellent afternoon tea had been set before them, enhanced by the crisp white linen and silver table setting. Viola nibbled on a petite egg and cress sandwich, as she eyed the delicate pastries on the platter on the table before her.
Viola delighted in the afternoon discussion. Sir Archibald had an ingenious plan to take photographic images of astronomical objects, using his new tracking telescope. Viola was relieved once the explanation of the necessary camera equipment was dispensed with. She then listened intently as he regaled them with the intricacies of the mechanics, and to Collins’ dismay, the optics of the creation.
Collins picked up a piece of sponge cake and glanced in Viola’s direction. He paused. Viola eyed him. His silk waistcoat peeked out from under his jacket. Its silver buttons rose and fell as he breathed.
Viola’s glare softened. A smile flickered over her lips. How could she deny him something he loved so much? She nodded gently. Collins grinned and popped the morsel in his mouth.
He had been quiet for much of the afternoon, smiling and nodding when appropriate. Viola appreciated the effort he had made to ensure she enjoyed herself. He had spent the past few weeks being overly-charming, extremely attentive and ever-apologetic for ever doubting her word.
He had taken her to the Natural History Museum and the London Zoo. He had even presented her with a new detective novel. Though he had often admitted that he had no head for optics here they sat, discussing it at length with the Empire’s leading expert on mechanics.
Viola smiled as Collins offered her the last pastry. How could she not forgive him? She knew he ached for a change in topic and she had promised not to bring up the subject of the Whitechapel Murders. The poor fellow deserved some relief from the current conversation.
“Tell me about your work in limb mechanics, Sir Archibald,” Viola asked.
Sir Archibald’s eyes lit up. Collins shifted in his seat and leaned forward.
“At a recent Researcher’s Meeting, there was talk of a future technique that may mean that we would be able to attach the prosthetic mechanics directly to the wearer’s bone. Of course, there needs to be improvement in the efficacy of current anaesthesia.”
“That would be marvellous,” said Collins, “but how would one control the attachment?”
“There has been ongoing research, following a Doctor Waller’s medical experiments with the innervation of frogs. One of our colleagues, Mr Grey, has been corresponding with Mr Tesla and feels electricity may be the key,” explained Sir Archibald.
“Was that one of the lectures at the Meeting in September?” asked Viola.
She shot a sideways glance in Collins’ direction. Surely he would fathom the reason for her enquiry but it was unlikely he would create a fuss in public. He may still think her to have an overactive imagination but she knew Findlay was somehow involved in the Whitechapel and Marylebone murders. She had to discover the truth of his alibi.
Collins returned his tea cup to its saucer, with a faint clatter. He met her gaze and narrowed his eyelids briefly.
“As a matter of fact, yes,” replied Sir Archibald.
Viola took a deep breath and straightened her emerald silk eye patch.
“Was there any discussion on Surrogate Ocular Enhancement?” she asked. Collins steepled his fingers, resting his index fingers against his lips. He remained silent, his gaze never leaving Viola.
“None, I am afraid, though my colleagues would be very interested in the subject,” replied Sir Archibald. “Do you dabble in research, Doctor Stewart?”
“No. Sadly I don’t have the funds. However one of my colleagues is considering research in the area.” Viola gently placed the remains of her pastry on the plate before her. “You may have met him at the Research Meeting.”
Collins ran his fingers over his moustache, then sighed.
I did not promise to stop detectiving.
“His name is Doctor Findlay. He studied at Edinburgh.”
Sir Archibald frowned and shook his head. “I am not familiar with the name.”
“Could he have been a guest at the meeting? About five foot six, broad face, sandy moustache?”
“I doubt it. I am familiar with all the attendees. There was no one there of that description,” said Sir Archibald. “Maybe he is known to Mr Grey?”
Viola popped the last bit of pastry in her mouth. It was sweet and rich. She turned to Collins. He avoided her gaze.
Inspector Abberline would need to be informed of the loss of one of Findlay’s alibis. She wondered how many more would prove to be fictitious. Viola smiled.
Collins leaned back into his chair and consumed the last of his cake.
Doctor Jack is available as a stand alone novella – NOW AVAILABLE as eBook at: Amazon (in most countries), Smashwords, for US$2.99
The Adventures of Viola Stewart Journal #1: Doctor Jack and Other Tales (paperback compilation) is available from Amazon, for US$11.99
To celebrate, we are raffling off an eBook copy of both The Adventures of Viola Stewart: Three Short Stories and The Adventures of Viola Stewart: Doctor Jack. Read the excerpt of Doctor Jack and Other Tales, then play the TwoChops crossword puzzle game. To enter, just solve the puzzle and enter your scores in the Rafflecopter form. The competition closes (five days from 28th May). You only have five days to enter!
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Karen Carlisle lives in Adelaide with her family and her ancient Devon Rex cat. She loves fantasy fiction, gardening, historical re-creation, and steampunk and can often be found plotting fantastical, piratical or airship adventures.
Karen has always loved chocolate and rarely refuses a cup of tea. She is not keen on South Australian summers.