Local author Shirley Davey was at the Sparwood Public Library on Thursday evening for the launch of her first novel The Liar Birds.
Avid readers gathered to hear Davey recite a chapter from the book, to ask questions about her writing process and to get their hands on an autographed copy.
Readers were immediately intrigued by the title The Liar Birds.
Davey explained that, one day, the thought of the lyrebird—an Australian ground-dwelling bird notable for its mimicry of human sounds—popped into her head.
“I played around with the idea of the lyrebird and wrote it down in my notes because it just struck me so poignantly,” said Davey. “Until, eventually, it became The Liar Birds.”
Now, the title alludes to the deception and manipulation of Davey’s female characters, as women in both England and Australia are often colloquially referred to as ‘birds.’
The plot of the book is set in the 17th Century and sees the protagonist, Albert, the orphaned son of a doctor, travel the world and escape danger along the way.
Murder, near-incestuous affairs, unrequited love and the pull of family all plague Albert as he moves from Italy to England to Australia to Egypt and back again.
“It’s definitely a book that holds your attention,” said Davey.
In its beginning stages, the book was originally meant to grab the attention of children.
Davey said, “I had originally written The Liar Birds as a children’s book, but, it quickly took on a life of its own and became something that was definitely not for children.”
Written longhand over the course of several years, Davey explained that “the words just flowed” and wouldn’t stop pouring out.
“I felt more connected to the words, writing them out with a pen and paper versus with a computer,” said Davey.
Growing up, Davey had always felt the need to express herself on paper, dabbling in poetry when she was younger before moving onto paintings and now, a novel.
Davey already has the sequel to The Liar Birds completed, with ideas in the works to make the two a full-fledged trilogy.
“I’ve had so much fun weaving together history and fiction that I feel like this needs to become a series,” said Davey.
As a historical novel, Davey had spent many years researching books, reaching out to museums and conducting a lot of fact checking on the time period she was writing about.
“I wanted to make sure that what I was writing was really accurate,” she said.
Davey’s dedication to accuracy also led her to include a bit of Sparwood in her novel. The family names of Berdusco, Bellina and Tombosso all appear during the novel’s chapters in Italy and are named after real-life Italian families who live in Sparwood.
The book is now available for purchase on Amazon.