Carmel Bird was born and educated in Tasmania, taking a BA before embarking on a twenty year teaching career in 1961.
Bird published her first collection of short stories in 1983 and has since published several more collections and a number of novels. The Bluebird Cafe (1990) ,The White Garden (1995) and Red Shoes (1998) attracted much attention and were shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Bird has published several guides for writers and has edited a number of publications. She has been a recipient of many Australia Council grants and is a regular writer-in-residence at schools, colleges and universities.
Carmel has been Consulting Editor for Turnstyle (1984-85), Co-Editor of Fine Lines in early 1990s, Fiction Editor of the Australasian Post from 1995 to 1997 and Fiction Editor of Voices in the late 1990s. In 2000 Carmel Bird won the Philip Hodgins Memorial Award which was presented during the Mildura Writers' Festival in March 2001.
Bird frequently uses Tasmania as a setting in her fiction, animating this setting with narratives that are often surreal and macabre. The beauty of the island often masks the brutal convict settlements and the extermination of Indigenous Australians by European settlers. Bird explores this disjunction by employing perspectives that are meant to reflect the irony of Tasmania's existence.
'From inside her Toorak mansion, Margaret, matriarch, widow of Edmund Rice O’Day of O’Day Funerals, secretly surveys her family in the garden. Everyone, including Margaret herself, is oblivious to the secrets that threaten to be uncovered by a visiting American relative who is determined to excavate the O’Day’s family history. How far will Margaret go in order to bury the truth? Family Skeleton examines the dark heart of a family that has for generations been engaged in dark business. You can’t dig a grave without disturbing the smooth surface of the ground.
'Deftly woven with elegant wit and with compassion, this dark comedy is about what you might unearth if you dig deep enough.' (Publication summary)