From the time he was a boy growing up in Riverhead, Harbour Grace, author Patrick Collins heard plenty of tales about fairies.
"My father always claimed there were fairies, and my mother. We were told we had to have a bread crumb in our pocket when we'd go in picking berries in the fall, and we had to put on our coats backwards if we felt a bit threatened by them," he recalled in a chat with The Compass.
There's even a commonly acknowledged fairy ring (also sometimes referred to as a fairy circle) in Harbour Grace located on private property. All this played into Collins'S decision to write a story about fairies for his ninth book, "The Secret of the Fairy Ring." It's his eighth put out by DRC Publishing.
"I've had a lot of inspiration from people around me, especially with my work at the museum," said Collins, who chairs the committee that oversees Conception Bay Museum in Harbour Grace. "I've met so many people who have come in with stories about fairies and their connection in Harbour Grace."
A period piece set in 1919, the story took two years to write and centres on a young girl in Harbour Grace named Grace. She's a bit of a social outcast among her peers but finds new friends when she meets a set of twin Irish fairies within a circle created by centuries-old beech trees. They help her overcome her learning struggles.
Her family gets caught up in political matters dividing the town, and the first flight from the Harbour Grace airstrip that year is also a plot point within the story. That year, British pilot Mark Kerr completed a 25-minute flight from Harbour Grace to St. John's.
"They have a reason for wanting to be back in Harbour Grace," Collins said of the twin fairies, "and it has more to do with something in their past than it has to do with the flight, the first flight out of Harbour Grace. Although, the first flight is a very significant part of what's happening in the town."
The author is optimistic his book will appeal to a variety of readers, young and old.
"I'm sort of hoping it would be of interest in the senior high school or junior high, and I think for adult readers as well. Anybody who has an interest in the whole concept of fairies and our past."
A book launch will take place in Harbour Grace at the Conception Bay Museum Sunday, Aug. 4 from 2 to 5 p.m.