Blue Tongue Lizard time.

The lizard was about half the size of this Blue Tongue


The white coping on the edge of the platform is no place for a blue tongue lizard or for the excited children dancing around it.  The poor creature keeps swerving to peer over the edge of the platform clearly looking for a hidey hole or just an escape from the kids. But there’s nothing out there but a one and half metre drop and no purchase for lizard claws.  I grab my long-handled brush and shovel and go to scoop it up.  It bites at the brush and then it crouches down and makes itself as wide and flat as it can so that it looks like its swallowed a saucer.  “I’m too big to eat,” it’s saying. Finally it decides the shovel is a hidey hole and darts inside.


I lower the shovel down over the edge of the platform and before I’ve reached the ground the lizard jumps out and skitters into the safe shadows.

Who interrupts someone in the toilet?

Up at 5 and at work by 6am.  Still dark.  Buses replacing trains on one of our lines.

People are complaining about the lack of toilets and, yes, one has been engaged for over ½ an hour.  Two of us bang on the door and get no response except the smell of cigarette smoke.  Given the danger of overdoses in station toilets, we take the plunge, warn the person we’re coming in and open the heavy toilet door.  Someone is sprawled across the floor face down.  Skinny bare ankles and feet.

“Oh God!” says my co-worker. “We’d better call the ambulance.”  While she’s doing that, I push open the door again to check if there’s anything I can do.  The body has rolled over into a fetal position, a single dark eye open, peering brightly out from under a coat.

“Can we help you? Do you need help?”  We call.  “Are you ok?”

There’s a cushion under the guy’s head.  He mumbles, seems to be conscious.  The situation has changed. We call off the Ambulance.  We obviously have a rough sleeper.

The station Master arrives,

“Do you need help?  You can’t sleep here.  You have to get up.”

“Go away!”

“If you don’t get out, we’ll have to call the police.”

The door slams and we stand in the corridor talking about calling the police.  A minute later the door is flung open again and the three of us, all women are confronted by this huge angry man who screams at us…

“How dare you interrupt someone in the toilet! What sort of people are you to interrupt someone in the toilet? Don’t you know any better?”  He’s huge and he’s yelling. At me, maybe because I’m the tallest of we three smallish women. “Stop smiling.  How dare you interrupt someone in the toilet.  What kind of people do that?”  I feel a spark of terror because he’s really angry and big and it’s a small space. I call on my wireless for the ticket inspectors who are all men to come and give us back up.

The man slams the door again.

“We’re calling the cops,” says the Station Master as we retreat.  But we don’t need to. A few minutes later, the man appears cushion under his arm and stalks off towards the trains.

“What sort of people interrupt a man in the toilet?” he mutters loudly enough to be heard all the way.   Such wounded dignity.

It’s not yet dawn.  The beginning of a 9 hour shift.



Every Autumn these large puffball fungi break through the asphalt.  And always I am reminded of this poem by Sylvia Plath.


Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.

Good Samaritans and Russian Grandparents

“I found these people wandering around outside the zoo,” said the young man.  “I think they want a train I hope you can help them.  They only speak Russian.”

And so saying, he left.

The old man with the walking stick and the old woman in the beanie agreed that they were Russki but that was the end of our communication.  I bought them over to the ticket machine, but not only could I not explain how they got a ticket,  I couldn’t even work out where they wanted to go.  The woman was getting more and more upset repeating the same phrase and urgently tapping her map of the zoo.   I didn’t want to put them on the wrong train.

Thank God for the young man seating nearby!  It turned out he had studied Russian in school. A long and complicated conversation followed obviously slowed down by his having an unexpected accent.  At last he told me that these elderly people were expecting to be picked up by a car at the Zoo Gate. But when they got out of the gate they were confused because they didn’t recognize the place.

The first young man had actually brought them further from their goal! No that he could know that.   He’d clearly meant well and the elderly woman kept tapping the picture of the railway gate on her zoo map.

As the train came and and took my Russian speaking helper away, I lead the increasingly anxious and questioning Russians back to the zoo.  The zoo gate only seemed to make them more upset. It finally occurred to me why that might be happening.

The zoo has two entrance gates, a main gate and a railway gate. Visitors often assume there is only one gate and come out the wrong one.  Could that be what happened to these two?  I applied to the railway gate staff who liked my theory.  We handed the Russians over to an zoo volunteer who would take them over to the other gate.  I don’t know what happened after that. I didn’t see them again, which I hope was a good sign. I hope an anxious waiting child was reunited with anxious elderly parents.

But what amazing luck to find someone with schoolboy Russian sitting in the Zoo station waiting room at just the right time.  Someone was watching over someone that day.


Floor show

A large heavy set man is vaping in front of the station. Did you hear the one about the about the woman who bought a Koala he says suddenly to a small Asian lady wheeling a pram up the ramp. From her startled reaction she has no idea who he is.
She found it on Gumtree he continues, mystifying her even further. I go out to break the ice.
That’s a terrible pun I tell him.
I’ve got millions of them, he says. And proceeds to tell me them continuously till the train comes 10 minutes later.
The relieved pram pushing lady escapes to the platform. She’s worked out he was trying to tell her a joke but really when someone three times your size lunges at you out of the blue its understandably unnerving. Its certainly socially inept on the part of the man.
Some may see this as a sacrifice on my part, but actually I have a terrible weakness for bad puns such as Why are drivers good at driving locomatives? Becasue they’ve been trained. So I guess my laughing will do nothing to persude the man not to do it again.

“Fun” at the Junction

Small spaces

A torrid hour at the junction when we have a signal failure affecting several lines.  The people on the C line are told leave Platform 2 for Platform 6 and after 15 minutes told to go to Platform 4.  3 trains worth crowd onto the 1 train.  They are understandably pissed off when they are told the train won’t be going down the C line.  I try to answer people’s questions, but I don’t know much. It’s no one’s fault.  Control are moving what trains they can when they can and it’s all very spur of the moment.  A drunk decides this is a good time to try and pick up one of my colleagues with revolting hip wiggles and leering.  We chase him off telling him we’re just too busy.

Everyone is mad.  I get in the lift and am hit by a wall of angry testosterone.  An African couple – wife in hijab and a Bogan couple are facing off in the tiny crowded space.  I’m sure the Bogan couple have said something nasty to the African couple but at this point the Bogans are the ones offended. “That’s not very nice to call us Junkies” they cry. It’s a fair complaint.  They stink of alcohol, not drugs.  It’s a long tense 30 second ride and everyone gets out of the lift as fast as they can at the top

Trigger warning – Gross stuff

Zoo station has a regular customer T. who shows up and threatens to jump under the trains.  He’s got an ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) and I don’t think he’s suicidal but we have to take him seriously.  Yesterday he upped the ante by covering his face with his own faeces and saying he had a knife. (he didn’t) The Control desk took that seriously and stopped me from leaving the Junction for Zoo Station.  So I got to watch the police deciding what to do with T. on CCTV.  The poor young police man who was holding T.s arm threw up twice at the smell or the idea of a face full of poo.  After a 20 minutes train stoppage it was all over and I was allowed to go down to my station.  Strange when you get there.  You wouldn’t know anything dramatic had happened except for the policeman puke on the sidewalk.  Easily fixed with hot water and disinfectant.

As for T.  he seems to have been content with stopping the trains and having the police and ambulance attend.  The police took him home. (on foot not in their car)


Ye Olde Worlde

Ye olde worlde phone

A class of primary school kids have a long wait at Zoo station.  A group of them discover the public telephone.  Press buttons!! A receiver on a cord!!  Public phone calls are free now so 7 of them line up and call their parents on this antique communications device.  Such excitement!

I feel old.

A few days later

Parmesan cheese attack on my local pay phone. It’s rubbed into everything and pressed into the headset. Tried to scrape it off myself but it needs a technician. The station entrance is now redolent with Parmesan. Hope the birds like it.  Odd thing is – it didn’t put off the under 12’s who had a grand time playing with it despite the smell.  Come to think of it – strange smells are part of my remembered the public phone experience too.

Station Diary

This lost dolly was in a tree outside the station all last week.

What was memorable about this last week (apart from the climate change induced humidity) ?

The tough bald headed guy who limped into the station and started telling me how stupidly unhinged everyone was about Covid -19 and how it was just a flu. He was so intent venting his spleen that he almost missed his train. Tee hee! (but I made sure he got on the train because, heck, I didn’t need to hear more of that)

The tiny boy who wanted his parents to stop and see the wonderful poster of men in hard hats fixing the tracks. I was just about the take that poster down so I unlocked the poster case and gave it to him. The memory of his delight at recieiveing an actual official railway poster from an actual really truly railway worker is something that will keep me happy through many a long dark teatime of the soul.

Karen J Carlisle Blog Tour. A Fey Tale



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

A deal with fairies… to solve a mystery… and prevent a war.

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.


Get A Fey Tale at 50% RRP

(via Smashwords – )

Use VOUCHER CODE: YH63W (Exp: Jan 13, 2022)



  1. Your new novel is coming out Can you tell us a bit about it and about Auntie Enid

In book one, Aunt Enid : Protector Extrordinaire we meet (Great) Aunt Enid. A feisty seventy-something who loves to cook, crochet, is a regular at bingo and spends hours in her garden fussing over the colour of her hydrangeas. And is also a Protector, sworn to protect Earth from cryptids, creatures and dangers that spill into Adelaide from the Otherworlds.

So how are things different from book one?

A Fey Tale is a prequel. The story is set in Adelaide, September 1920 – one hundred years before Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire. Enid is younger. She wants a normal life, to fall in love, have a family, to enjoy her birthday. But there are two problems:

1: she can’t let her beau, Owen, know she’s a Protector, and

2: the portals to the Otherworlds have been breached. A troll bounty hunter roams the streets, a Fae is on the loose.

There are answers to hints dropped in book one, and ‘origin’ stories of a few characters. And, yes, Enid’s bees are still buzzing around, and Red, the garden gnome, makes a cameo.


  1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an indie author and illustrator of speculative fiction – steampunk, Victorian mystery and fantasy.

When I was young I wanted to be a writer, an artist, a cinematographer, an astronaut, an astrophysicist, and Doctor Who’s next companion. I’m a massive (Classic and New) Doctor Who fan, and have all but one of the sonic screwdrivers. I’ve played D&D since 1978, did historical re-enactment for over two decades, and have been an active member in the steampunk community for over thirteen years. I’m a massive murder-mystery fan. I love Sherlock Holmes, Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Christie mysteries.

I live in Adelaide, and miss my ancient Devon Rex cat. In another life I was an optometrist, but always wanted to create.

I’ve had articles published in Australian Realms Roleplaying Magazine, had a short story featured in a 2016 Adelaide Fringe exhibition. I love writing Holmesian fiction, and have had stories published in both ‘Where’s Holmes?’ and ‘Where’s Holmes II’ anthologies. My darker side can be seen in ‘Doctor Jack’ and both ‘Deadsteam’ anthologies.

I occasionally write song lyrics and am fortunate to have Richard Ryall of Littmus Steampunk Band as my co-conspirator.

Most of all, I have a predilection for purple, steampunk, love dark chocolate, rarely refuse a cup of tea, and hate South Australian summers.


  1. What is your writing process? do you write everyday? Do you throw a lot away? Are you a planner or a panster?

I try to write every day. It doesn’t always happen. When I can’t write, I draw, sew, crochet, design (often book-related) or research, which usually results in more story ideas and copious notes I hope I can decipher on a better day.

Often I’ll binge-write for a few days, then take a few days to recover spoons (as in Spoon Theory). If I can do 1000 words a day, I’m happy. 1500 words, and I’m ecstatic (and exhausted).

I used to be a pantser, which is problematic when writing even a simple mystery. With each book, I’ve planned a little more, but I’m still a pantser at heart.

An idea for a scene or character can be sparked by almost anything. When I have at least three scenes, beginning and end (or the characters demand to be heard), I slap sticky notes with the existing plot points on the cupboard, start at one and start writing to the next. I’ll add sticky notes with clues, and new threads to pick up on in later chapters.

I find handwriting helps the creative process. The scientist in me says it’s because it activates more areas of the brain (the artist in me just loves buying gorgeous notebooks).


  1. How do you go with social media?

Ah, social media. I’m a visual person, so Instagram and YouTube works for me. I have an author page on Facebook and am on twitter. I also post research and inspiration pics on Pinterest.

As a result, I don’t write blog posts as often as I should. When I discovered how to ‘re-post’ from IG and my website to other social media, it was a godsend!

I’m slowly coming to grips with technology. More recently I’ve done more livestreams via YouTube and FB. (It also forces me to tackle public speaking. Eep!) I just have to work out how to not have a panic attack each time.


  1. Any tips on how to use it to increase book sales?

If only! I’m still trying to crack that one. I have a non-existent budget, so welcome tips. I find being genuine is crucial. I hope to provide a good story (with good editing), treat readers how I’d want to be treated.

The hardest part is ‘getting seen’. I’m not great in crowds, so I’ve found this year’s uptick in online events has been a bonus for me. I also do book blog tours, like this one.

Some indie authors only do Amazon/Kindle. Personally, I subscribe to the ‘not all eggs in one basket’ theory of publishing. I publish both paperback and eBooks, to many online stores, with eBooks available in many formats, so they’re more readily available.

With social media, it’s important to give readers an insight to the ‘real me’, not just sell books all the time. If you follow me, you’ll know I love chocolate, tea, gardening (though don’t get to do it as often as I’d like), and love books.

I have a monthly newsletter, to let readers know about upcoming books, events etc.

I also do BOOK BLOG SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE, like this: (and hope readers will leave a review, and recommend to friends. 😉 )

Get A Fey Tale at 50% RRP

(via Smashwords – )

Use VOUCHER CODE: YH63W (Exp: Jan 13, 2022)


  1. What are 3 art works (books, music visual arts films etc) that have most inspired you?

When in writing-mode, I often binge watch movies and TV shows like Poirot, Miss Marple, Miss Fisher, and TV shows or movies set in 19th C, I can access at the time, like Murdoch Mysteries, Sherlock Holmes (I have various versions on DVD), The Nevers… Anything set in places or eras I’m currently writing, to get into a mood and hear the noises (thankfully smell-a-vision doesn’t exist).

For writing in general: Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes (mysteries), and Gail Carriger (‘Comedy of Etiquette’ steampunk) have been big influences.

Different stories have different inspirations. Songs feature high on the inspiration list, as do documentaries. Songs create a mood, which kickstarts the process. For ‘Doctor Jack’, I was watching Ripper documentaries and the song ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ by The Who came on the radio – the villain always considers themselves the hero of their own story. Ancient Egypt documentaries and art inspired ‘Eye of the Beholder’.

Aunt Enid was inspired by childhood memories of our old Wolseley car, my own Great Aunt Enid cooking lemon butter (and her hydrangeas), and my beloved grandmother – so cars, cooking, and gardening. They count as art forms, don’t they?










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