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  • Fort Unicorn and the Duchess of Knothing

Fort Unicorn and the Duchess of Knothing


Fort Unicorn and the Duchess of Knothing: A Mother's Fight To Save Her Daughter

by Andrea Nelson




Page count: 210




Drug Addiction



“Of the many books I’ve read about mental illness, addiction, and a mother’s love, this is the most powerful. It grabbed my heart and left an indelible footprint there.”

Jill Muehrcke

Owner, JP Publications



"A must read for all who are touched by anyone struggling with addiction, mental illness, or homelessness. During my 25+ years working law enforcement in the San Diego area, I’ve witnessed personally the tragic and often grisly consequences of these sad realities; issues too often closeted by shame, and they needn’t be. This heartbreaking memoir offers an intimate window into losing a loved one to their demons, and what it means to love unconditionally."

Lisa Stinson (Officer Lisa Civulka Turner)

Retired law enforcement

CA Highway patrol

University of California San Diego Police Department

City of Coronado Police Department



“This memoir is at once spare, raw, heartbreaking and lovely. The stories are unique, yet familiar, for anyone impacted by substance use disorder which, at this point, is all of us. Fort Unicorn is a gift to the world, because it reminds us of the humanity in every person struggling with addiction.”

Nora Hertel

Journalist and the founder of The Optimist, a digital news startup in Minnesota.




A retired boxer sets out in search of her daughter, Shyloh, an addict living with mental illness on the streets of San Diego. In Fort Unicorn and the Duchess of Knothing, Nelson tries desperately to find – and save – her first-born, delving into the roots of mental illness, addiction, and the meaning of unconditional love.


This memoir is an unflinching witness of what it means to be homeless, mentally ill, and addicted in America - and to love someone who is all of those things. Fort Unicorn is, more than anything else, a vivid and tender portrait of people who are too often invisible to society.




Andrea Nelson lives and coaches boxing in Madison, Wisconsin. When she’s not in the gym training her boxers, you can find Andrea tending her gardens, chickens, and bees, or running the nearby trails. She shares life with her partner, James.


Fort Unicorn and the Duchess of Knothing is Nelson’s first published book. Several years ago, while her daughter Shyloh was in jail, sober, and medicated, Shyloh asked her mother to help write a book chronicling Shyloh’s struggles and triumphs. Sadly, Shyloh died before the book could be written. Andrea felt compelled to tell her daughter’s story for her. The result offers an important perspective on homelessness, mental illness, and addiction. Nelson’s goal is to open eyes and hearts, so the story might inspire conversation and instigate change.



Awards for Fort Unicorn and the Duchess of Knothing

American Bookfest, 2022 Best Book Awards Finalist – Non-fiction: Narrative

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