A very real and special childhood memory inspired the writing of Barty's Secret: Australian Outback Animal Adventure Novel #1.
*Spoiler Alert* Don't read on if you haven't read Barty's Secret yet! You can check it out here first:
Now back to the real-life-story behind Barty's Secret (along with the inevitable spoilers).
The shingleback called Barty in the story is named after my very own Barty whom I met in real life.
While, the story Barty is not the same as my real life Barty, there are a lot of similarities. Many of the ideas in the story come directly from my childhood memory. There is nothing like meeting a wild shingleback and making friends with one. It's the most amazing feeling.
In real life, Barty (Batholemew) was my greatest wild animal love ever. Real-life-Barty was a shingleback just like the Barty in this story. In Australia, shinglebacks are also known as bobtails or sleepy lizards.
My real-life Barty lived in my dad's veggie patch (vegetable garden) when we lived in Broken Hill. Broken Hill is a mining town in the arid interior of outback Australia. It's a rocky, dry land where not much but salt bushes and desert plants grow and where the wildlife is used to the harsh weather. It was common to see snakes and lizards there as well as many kinds of kangaroos, particularly big reds roos.
As a kid, I loved eating dinner on the back lawn and one day when I was doing this, the very real and very wild Barty crawled out and tapped my leg and wanted food. Real-life-Barty had come over for some sweet treats! I hand fed Barty tomatoes and strawberries. We were good mates from that day on and it was lovely because Barty the wild lizard chose to connect with me and allow me to hold him/her.
Here is a photo of the real-life Barty.
I never found out if the real-life-Barty was a he or she. That didn't matter to me. One day the real-life-Barty disappeared but never returned. I always wondered what happened to him/her!
So, while you can see my childhood memory inspired the story, most of the story is entirely fictional. I've camped in national parks in the outback but never lived in one as a Wildlife Officer's kid. I also don't have a brother called Max and nor am I called Tali. 😉
I don't have video of the real Barty but here is an amazing video that shows exactly how I used to feed him/her and how Tali does in the story too. In this video you'll see a shingleback from Perth, Western Australia, where they're called bobtails.
Barty's Secret was first published by Ginninderra Press in their Secrets anthology in 2006.
You can get the story Barty's Secret: An Australian Outback Animal Adventure Novel at most online book retailers. Here's the Amazon link again.
Otherwise, take a look at my FREE starter sets for Street Cricket Wars and my Billy Boss Whodunit series if you haven't checked them out already by clicking the link below or at the top left.