I never can say goodbye…

The combined demands of a busy (but highly satisfying) day job and supporting my daughter through Year 12 meant I started 2023 with the intention of temporarily winding back my involvement at writers festivals and events.

So far, I rate my performance as an epic fail!

In my defense, I’ve only said yes to gigs that fall in the eight weeks between the 11-12 May conference I am organising for Public Libraries Victoria, and the start of my daughter’s third semester at high school mid-July. Here are the upcoming events that are public so far.

First up is the Queenscliffe Literary Festival, a great-looking program over three weekends in May. I’ll be attending on the middle weekend, 20-21 May, with two appearances on Sunday 21 May.

Sunday 21 May 2023, 11.30AM
Queenscliff Town Hall
Hear Rebecca Giblin, co-author of Chokepoint Capitalism, Angela Savage and Jock Serong discuss how the creative sector can take back the power and profit from giant corporations. Chair: Paul Barclay

Sunday 21 May 2023, 11.30AM
Reckoning with Australia’s Troubled History
Queenscliff Town Hall
Acclaimed author Jock Serong evokes the endurance and dignity of Aboriginal resistance to God and guns in The Settlement, his third novel to grapple with the complexity of our colonial past. Jock Serong in conversation with Angela Savage

Tickets here.

Untitled-34550The following week I have the privilege and pleasure of launching Dennis Altman’s first crime novel, Death in the Sauna at Readings Carlton. Death in the Sauna is set during an international AIDS Conference in London, 2003, with the conference chair found dead in suspicious circumstances. In real life, Dennis and I often crossed paths at international AIDS conferences. I’d studied his groundbreaking book, AIDS and the New Puritanism, at university in the late-1980s, which was one of the things that influenced my decision to work on HIV/AIDS projects for more than ten years.

Here’s the blurb and booking link from Readings:

Join Angela Savage to celebrate the launch of Dennis Altman’s brilliant crime novel, Death in the Sauna.

You will already know Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, Professor Dennis Altman from his extensive collection of work exploring sexuality, politics and their inter-relationship in Australia, the United States and now globally. He now turns his piercing gaze to fiction and creating the perfect ‘who did it’ novel.

Free, but bookings are essential. Please book here.

Finally (for now!) on Sunday 4 June, I will be giving two workshops on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula for the Peninsula Writers Club as follows:

Never Just Description: Using Setting to Enhance Your Story (morning) , and Pathways to Publication (afternoon)

This workshop is ideal for writers who are focusing on writing setting and a sense of place in their works. A strong sense of place helps transport readers into the world created by a novel. Without it, readers can feel lost, frustrated, and the pleasure of reading is diminished. Angela will focus on how to bring a place to life and create an evocative sense of place without sacrificing plot or pace. Writers of all abilities welcome.

See here for more information and bookings.


Australian historical fiction reading list

(Whispering, so as not to jinx it) I am having a go at writing historical fiction set in Australia – specifically Melbourne and Queensland – in the second half of the nineteenth century. Mindful of the need to be a good reader in order to be a good writer, I’ve been seeking out beautifully written works of Australian historical fiction set in (roughly) the same period. A recent call-out on social media produced a list that generated some interest among my followers; so I thought I’d put it together for any interested readers to access.

A Kindness Cup – Thea Astley
Set in Queensland and described by the Australian Book Review as ‘[o]ne of the earliest and most empathetic postwar engagements by a white Australian writer with the horrors of nineteenth-century racial violence.’

The Salt Letters – Christine Balint
Set in 1854, this Vogel shortlisted novel centres on 16 year old Sarah Garnett who is among a group of unmarried women forced to leave England for Australia. The description of the novel, which sounds wonderful, reminded me of Voyage, Helen Begley’s song-cycle about the unmarried women sent from the UK and Ireland to Australia in the 1830s to address the gender imbalance. I’ll be adding this one to the TBR.

Infamy – Lenny Bartulin
Set in Van Diemen’s Land in 1830, “Infamy is a superbly rendered piece of historical fiction, a dark, almost noir crime story, and a unique and unashamedly Australian take on the western. Possibly my best read of 2013″ (PulpCurry).

Robbery Under Arms – Rolf Boldrewood (aka Thomas Alexander Browne)
This novel, published in 1888, is set on the Australian goldfields in the 1850s and narrated by a member of bushranger Captain Starlight’s gang.

The Philosopher’s Daughters – Alison Booth
Recommended by Kirsty Murray, this romantic historical novel is a story of two free-thinking sisters, set in London and the Australian outback in the 1890s. Always interested in cultural outliers, this is one for the TBR pile.

The Silence of Water – Sharon Booth
Recommended by Maria Papas and set in WA at the turn of the nineteenth century, this looks like an enthralling read.

Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
It’s decades since I read Carey’s Booker Prize winning novel. Must revisit.

The Burial – Courtney Collins
Recommended by Lucy Treloar and shortlisted for the Stella Prize, though the setting is a little late for me (1920), it’s a novel I’ve been meaning to read for some time.

The Journal of Fletcher Christian – Peter Corris
This novel sounds absolutely intriguing, Corris’s take on the ‘true story’ of the events surrounding the mutiny on the bounty, drawn from historical diaries.

The White Woman – Liam Davidson
From Lisa’s review at ANZ Lit Lovers: ‘In the 1840s when countless ships were lost off the perilous Victorian coastline, the loss of the Britannia which was wrecked on the Ninety Mile Beach in 1841 gave rise to the rumour that a female survivor had been taken captive by the Kurnai People.  Fear of the unknown and public outrage led to rescue expeditions, one of which is the basis for the novel.’ The novel is out of print but I’ll keep my eye out for a secondhand copy.

The Norseman’s Song – Joel Deane
Described as noir and gothic, Deane’s novel ‘weaves the violent, hallucinatory tale of a 19th century Norse whaler with that of wild, early days in Australian tabloid newspapers’ (Time Out).

Savage Crows – Robert Drewe
Interesting to note that Drewe’s novel, first published in 1976, deals with the same historical material as Jock Serong’s The Settlement (see below): the massacre of Tasmania’s Aborigines and George Robinson’s ill-advised establishment of a ‘protectorate’ on Flinders Island. Drewe’s dual narrative moves between the 1830s and 1970s.

The Angel of Waterloo – Jackie French
The time period is a little early for me, but French’s YA novel is recommended for its wonderful historical detail.

The Secret River – Kate Grenville
Grenville’s multi-award winning novel, inspired by her family history, is set in the early nineteenth century in what was then the frontier between British colonists and Australia’s indigenous people: the Hawkesbury River, 80 km northwest of Sydney. 

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray – Anita Heiss
Opening in Gundagai, set on timeless Wiradyuri country in the mid-nineteenth century and based on devastating true events, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) is an epic story of love, loss and belonging.

Benevolence – Julie Janson
Recommended by Gordon Duncan, Benevolence spans the years 1816–35, and is set around the Hawkesbury River area, the home of the Darug people, in Parramatta and Sydney; the author is a Burruberongal woman of Darug Aboriginal Nation.

Paris Savages – Katherine Johnson
This novel was on my TBR for some time when Kirsty Murray’s recommendation bumped it to the top. Set mostly in Belle Epoque Europe, Paris Savages is a disturbing, absorbing account of three Badtjala people from K’gari (Fraser Island) who were toured as ‘live exhibits’ in the equivalent of human zoos.

Sixty Lights – Gail Jones
This story starts out in Australia in 1860, before the orphaned child Lucy Strange and her brother Thomas are taken in by an uncle in London. Lucy also travels to India, the action moving between London and the colonies. Despite not being so relevant to my own setting, I am intrigued by this novel, which was longlisted for the 2004 Booker Prize, short-listed for the 2005 Miles Franklin Award and won a slew of prizes. Thanks to Sandra Leigh Price for this recommendation.

Fled – Meg Keneally
While set earlier than my own Work In Progress (WIP), I was captivated by this artfully crafted story, based on the life of convict Mary Bryant — recast as the character Jenny Trelawney — which reads like a thriller.

The Dickens Boy – Thomas Keneally
Based on a true story, the story narrated by Charles Dickens’s tenth child, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, known as Plorn, who was dispatched to Australia at age 16 to learn to ‘apply himself’. Set largely in outback NSW, it’s a rollicking read.

Devotion – Hannah Kent
Kent’s latest novel opens in Europe in 1836 and moves to South Australia in 1838. The novel garners praise for its beautiful prose and affecting love story. Jacinta di Mase, who recommended it, says it’s ‘transformative’.

English Passengers – Matthew Kneale
A polyphonic novel set in Van Diemen’s Land in the mid-nineteenth century.

Bridget Crack – Rachel Leary
Set in Van Diemen’s land in 1838, Lenny Bartulin (above) calls this story of a convict woman’s struggle to survive transportation, servitude, the bush and bushrangers ‘a compelling story and terrifically told’.

Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay
Lindsay’s classic 1967 novel, set in Victoria in 1900, concerns the disappearance of a group of school girls and their teacher during the eponymous picnic at Hanging Rock.

Remembering Babylon – David Malouf
Malouf’s award-winning novel, set in Queensland in the nineteenth century, was inspired by the experiences of shipwreck survivor James Morrill, who lived with Aboriginal people in North Queensland for 17 years from 1846 to 1863.

The Sun Walks Down – Fiona McFarlane
Another book I bumped on the TBR pile when it was recommended by Susan Wyndham. McFarlane’s novel is an engrossing read, ostensibly about the search for a missing child, but more broadly about colonialism. Set in South Australia in 1883, and told from an intriguing array of viewpoints, it’s a captivating read.

Skylarking – Kate Mildenhall
Mildenhall’s novel, set on an isolated Australian cape in the 1880s, is based on a true story that centres on the friendship between daughters of lighthouse keeping families. A gorgeous read.

The Drover’s Wife – Leah Purcell
Purcell’s reimagining of the classic Henry Lawson short story explores race, gender, violence and inheritance.

Stone Sky Gold Mountain – Mirandi Riwoe
One of my favourite reads of 2020, Stone Sky Gold Mountain tells the story of the late-nineteenth century goldrush in northern Queensland from the perspective of Chinese siblings siblings Ying and Lai Yue, and a young white woman, Meriem, whom Ying befriends when they move to Maytown for work. A powerful evocation of time and place featuring memorable characters.

That Deadman Dance – Kim Scott
Scott’s mega-award winning novel, told through the eyes of black and white, young and old, is set in a fledgling Western Australian community in the early 1800s known as the ‘friendly frontier’.

Preservation, The Burning Island, The Settlement – Jock Serong
Serong’s award winning Furneaux Islands trilogy opens in 1797 with the discovery of shipwrecked survivors south of Sydney and ends in the late 1830s at the Wybalenna settlement on Flinders Island. Based on historical records, some cited in the novels, the trilogy charts the devastating impact of colonialism on First Nations people through memorable characters and compelling narratives.

Salt Creek – Lucy Treloar
I’d read Treloar’s Wolfe Island and had been meaning to read Salt Creek for a while. Although the setting (South Australia) does not correspond with my own, this was an inspiring read on so many levels: evocation of place, class, character and the impact of settler history on First Nations people.

The Roving Party – Rohan Wilson
Wilson’s multi-award winning history thriller is set in Van Diemen’s Land in 1829; the ‘roving party’ of the title searches for Aborigines with the aim of massacre. Described as a ‘surprisingly beautiful evocation of horror and brutality.’

The Yield – Tara June Winch
This multi-award winning novel set in New South Wales moves between time periods and draws on historical source material to tell a compelling story of dispossession and survival. IMHO, Tara June is one of the finest writers Australia has ever produced.

Lucy Sussex recommends reading a contemporary voice from the era, Ada Cambridge, who migrated to Australia from England in 1870, lived around Victoria and produced an impressive oeuvre.

Any other beautifully written Australia historical fiction you can recommend? Bonus points for work set in Melbourne and/or Queensland in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Posted in Works in progress | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Celebrating Gravy Day

Fans of the general knowledge crossword in The Age newspaper would have read this clue for 18 across last Saturday:

Now a quintessential Australian Christmas anthem, what song written by Australian musician Paul Kelly in 1996, has given rise to a day of celebration on 21 December? (3, 2, 4, 5)

The answer, of course, is ‘How to Make Gravy’, with 21 December coming to be known as ‘Gravy Day’ after the song’s opening lines:

Hey Dan, it’s Joe here / I hope you’re keeping well
It’s the twenty-first of December / and now they’re ringing the last bells

The lyrics represent one side of a phone conversation between Joe, who has ‘screwed up’ and is doing time in prison, and his brother Dan, who is preparing to spend Christmas with their family, including Joe’s love, Rita. Joe agonises over ‘Who’s gonna make the gravy now?’ and gives Dan his recipe, but bets ‘it won’t taste the same.’

‘How to Make Gravy’ was not one of the songs chosen by writers in the anthology, Minds Went Walking: Paul Kelly’s Songs Reimagined. Given how iconic the song is – how perfect it is as a narrative in it’s own right – I can see why a writer might be reluctant to take it on. On the other hand, there are a couple of minor characters in the song crying out for their own stories. Mary’s last boyfriend, for example, whose name Joe can’t recall, only ‘a little too much cologne’. Angus, Frank and Dolly. And, of course, Rita.

Short of writing a story inspired by ‘How to Make Gravy’, what better way to celebrate Gravy Day than by purchasing a copy of Minds Went Walking from your local bookstore or by ordering online from Fremantle Press. Then click the link below and sing along.

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Minds Went Walking

I am so excited to be part of Minds Went Walking: Paul Kelly’s Songs Reimagined, to be released by Fremantle Press in a matter of weeks.

The book is the brainchild of co-editors Jock Serong, Mark Smith and Neil A White and an exercise in ekphrasis, in which one art form inspires another – in this case, Kelly’s songs inspiring prose. The project was launched with Paul Kelly’s blessing and his front cover blurb is perfect.

I like to see my songs walking around every which way, dressed in different clothes, talking different ways. I wave to them and they wave back.

The songs – to extend Kelly’s metaphor – are dressed as memoir, narrative non-fiction, speculative fiction (from Claire G Coleman with a twist that made me laugh out loud), noir and literary fiction. There are stories of illicit love affairs, two of which – my own ‘Don’t Stand So Close to the Window’ and ‘Five-eight’ by Zoë Bradley – feature men named Tom. Several writers share stories of powerful memories associated with Kelly’s songs. Jock Serong’s ‘The Fastest Ford in Western Australia’ contains frozen prawns. And Michelle Wright’s ‘With Walt’ is in my opinion the best story to feature a pig since Charlotte’s Web.

The invitation to contribute to the anthology came mid-2021. Though I hadn’t written anything substantial for the better part of two years, I’d always longed to have work published in an anthology and the invitation gave me the incentive to get back on the proverbial horse.

My story was inspired by ‘Don’t Stand So Close to the Window’, a song Kelly recorded at least three times, originally on the 1987 album Under the Sun. My personal favourite is the country waltz-style version from Foggy Highway, the 2005 album he recorded with the Stormwater Boys. I aimed to echo both the narrative strand and the mood of the song, also referencing a few things I knew about Paul Kelly’s life.

My first creative choice was to set the story in Ballan in regional Victoria (where my father lived for the last ten years of his life) in the 1950s. Trawling around Trove, I discovered that a football team in the area called the Madingley Spiders had defeated the Melton Bloods in the 1958 Bacchus Marsh Grand Final. I decided that the Madingley Spiders needed to be immortalised in fiction and the story evolved from there. As a creative exercise, it got me out of my writing slump, reminding me of something Cate Kennedy wisely said: ‘The creative mind loves restriction.’

Minds Went Walking: Paul Kelly’s Songs Reimagined will be launched in Melbourne on Friday 18 November at the Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton by Readings Books. As the event blurb says,

Join writers Jock Serong, Mark Smith, Neil A. White, Lorin Clarke, Matt Neal, Michelle Wright, Angela Savage, Alice Bishop, Bram Presser, Mirandi Riwoe and Zoe Bradley who all met the challenge: what would happen if a group of Australia’s finest storytellers were invited to let their minds go walking through the Paul Kelly songbook?

Like Paul Kelly’s songs, the stories tonight will take you anywhere, and everywhere, and they will keep coming back to you like a cork on the tide.

This event is free to attend but bookings are essential.

Register here.

I have created a playlist on Spotify of all the songs that inspired the writing in Minds Went Walking, in order of contents. Listen here.

Posted in Angela Savage, short story | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Felony and Fun

Crime fiction can be deadly serious, but it can also have a lighter, even amusing side. On Friday 28 October, on behalf of Sisters in Crime Australia, I take great delight in interrogating authors Kirsty Manning, Katherine Kovacic, and Lucia Nardo about how their plots and protagonists can lift readers’ spirits and crack smiles … the ideal way to loosen up for the end of 2022. All three of their novels are wildly entertaining.

Kirsty Manning’s latest novel, The Paris Mystery (Allen & Unwin), transports us to 1938 Paris, where Australian journalist Charlie James has come to break news and, even more importantly, to break with her past. Paris is in turmoil as talk of war becomes increasingly strident. Charlie is chasing her first big scoop, but it doesn’t stop her from immersing herself in the fabulous world of fashion…

Kirsty has several other novels under her belt: The Midsummer Garden, The Jade Lily, The Lost Jewel, and The French Gift. She is a partner in the award-winning Melbourne wine bar Bellota and the Prince Wine Store in Sydney and Melbourne.

Katherine Kovacic brought the character of Peregrine Fisher from screen to page in the playful Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries: Just Murdered (Allen & Unwin). She is the author of the award-winning Alex Clayton art mystery series and has also delved into true crime with The Schoolgirl Strangler and The Portrait of Molly Dean.

Katherine has a diverse background ranging from veterinary medicine to art history. When she’s not writing, she divides her time between work in the heritage sector, dog training, and running a family business. Her new book, Seven Sisters, will be published by HarperCollins in January 2023.

In Lucia Nardo’s debut novel, Messy Business (self-published), the week begins like any other in Jacqueline Burne’s messy life. And it just gets worse. Jac’s business is in trouble, her husband is up to no good and her eccentric housekeeper, Draga, is nagging her with unsolicited advice. Then Jac’s annoying teen stepson lands on her doorstep and wants to stay. Everything goes horribly wrong. They soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law, where handcuffs and prison jumpsuits become a real possibility…

Lucia began her career as a social worker and community development manager, later moving into a corporate career as a company executive and business writer for some of Australia’s largest corporations. Since leaving the private sector, she has written non-fiction titles, articles, and short stories. Lucia has taught creative writing in the TAFE sector and conducts writing workshops in the community.

Event details:

Friday 28 October 2022, 8 pm. Rising Sun (upstairs), 2 Raglan Street, South Melbourne.

$12 Sisters in Crime and Writers Victoria members; $10 under 19; $20 non-members; $15 concession. Book here by 3 pm Friday 28 October.

Tickets not sold prior to the event will be available at the door for $22/$18/$15/$10. Dinner from 6.30-7.30 pm. Men or ‘brothers-in-law’ welcome.

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Hilary Mantel, my mother and me

Reading The Mirror and the Light to my mother Olgamary in Moruya Hospital, March 2020

When my mother Olgamary was first diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010, I asked if she had any regrets. Without missing a beat, she said, “I might not live to read the sequel to Wolf Hall.”

The story became so well-known in our circle that when Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel died last month, many friends and family members contacted me to say they were thinking of my mother and me.

Not long after my mother died in May 2020, I started writing up the story of her relationship with Hilary Mantel with a view to publishing it. At that very time, Australian author Teagan Bennett Daylight released her book The Details, about books and her own mother’s death, and published My mother taught me the joy of reading. I remember her through books. So I set aside my piece.

Hilary Mantel’s death led me back to my article, which I was surprised to discover was near complete. I wrote the ending, gave it a polish and submitted it to The Monthly Online. To my delight, they agreed to publish it. You can read the article here.

I don’t often write personal pieces, but I feel like my mother would approve. Among the loveliest feedback I’ve had on the article is that readers who knew her can hear my mother’s voice.

I miss her more than I can say.

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Terror Australis 2022

I am greatly looking forward to returning to Tasmania next month for the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival 2022 (TAF2022). I had the great pleasure of being part of the inaugural festival in 2019 in Cygnet and the digital festival in 2021. This year, I am returning to launch the Tasmanian chapter of Sisters in Crime Australia and to deliver two masterclasses in Franklin.

Sisters in Crime Tasmania is being inaugurated on the 100 anniversary of crime writer extraordinaire Dame Agatha Christie’s visit to the island state. In her 1977 autobiography, Christie writes: “From Australia we went to Tasmania [sic.], driving from Launceston to Hobart. Incredibly beautiful Hobart, with its deep blue sea and harbour, and its flowers, trees and shrubs. I planned to come back and live there one day.” While Christie’s plans to move to Tasmania never came to fruition, it seems fitting to mark the anniversary of her visit with the establishment of a local branch of Sisters in Crime, an organisation committed to supporting local readers and writers – sisters and brothers-in-law – of crime fiction.

Participants at one of my 2019 workshops in Cygnet (note my swan frock!)

The Sisters in Crime launch, Let the Heist Begin, is a ticketed event that includes dinner at Frank’s Ciderhouse, on Thurs 6 Oct at 6.00PM. I’m being interviewed by Sisters in Crime co-founder, author and CEO of Clan Destine Press Lindy Cameron about the (considerable) impact that Sisters in Crime has had on my writing career. Details here.

On Sat 8 October, 3.00-5.00PM, I’m delivering a masterclass called Pathways to Publication. While there is no one pathway to publication, there are steps that writers can take to increase their chances of success. I will be covering this terrain in my workshop and providing resources for participants to follow up. Bookings here.

On Sun 9 October, 12.30-2.30PM, I’m presenting a workshop on one of my favourite topics, ‘Never Just Description – Using Setting to Enhance Your Story.’ There will be at least three writing exercises in this workshop and again, participants will be provided with resources, if not homework. Bookings here.

The masterclasses are classes suitable for aspiring, emerging and established writers working in general, literary and genre fiction.

The full program for the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival 2022 is available here.


Port Fairy Literary Weekend

I’m thrilled to bits to be appearing at the inaugural Port Fairy Literary Weekend, brainchild of local bookseller Jo Canham of Blarney Books.

Officially, I have two events:

Launch of The Settlement by Jock Serong
Hosted by Angela Savage
Sat 3 Sept, 6.30PM – 7.30PM Reardon Theatre, 35-37 Bank St, Port Fairy (free but book here)

Here’s the event blurb: ‘The final volume in Jock Serong’s Preservation trilogy is about to hit our shores! We are gathering the local community and friends to the official Port Fairy launch of Jock Serong’s sixth novel. Hosted by Angela Savage, author, executive, and champion of the writing community! This is a free event but registrations essential.’

Stereo Stories Gala Event
With Jock Serong, Angela Savage, Matt Neal, Lynny Mast
Sat 3 Sept, 6.30PM – 7.30PM
Reardon Theatre, 35-37 Bank St, Port Fairy (tickets here)

Stereo Stories is a concert celebration of the songs that shape our lives, featuring established and emerging writers and The Stereo Stories Band. The concert numbers are based on pieces published on the Stereo Stories website. I published two stories on the site in 2020, one inspired by my mother and the other by my father. I have always wanted to do one of the live events and I’m thrilled to be reading one of these pieces (it’s a surprise) at the Port Fairy Literary Weekend, accompanied by a seven-piece band. My fellow guest writer is Jock Serong, and we’ll be joined by guest readers Matt Neal and Lynny Mast.

The Stereo Stories show has been a hit at festivals since its debut in 2014 at the Williamstown Literary Festival, where its audience has grown from 60 in its first year to 400 in 2022.

As the event blurb says, ‘You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hear iconic songs in lovely and ever-surprising ways in this tightly-curated, finely-tuned concert.’

My partner, Andrew Nette (Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950 to 1985), is also on the program, appearing alongside First Nations writers Mykaela Saunders and Jack Latimore (editor and contributors to This All Come Back Now: An Anthology of First Nations Speculative Fiction). Matt Neal (ABC radio) will host this other-worldly discussion, Sat 3 Sept, 2.30-3.30PM at Blarney Books and Art, 37 James St, Port Fairy (tickets here).

The full festival program looks fabulous. I want to attend every session, and may well do so, at least on the Saturday.

Might also fit in a spot of bird watching…

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Warm Winter Read

‘Grab your book, blanket and beanie – we’re hibernating with books this winter!’

In my day job as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria, I’m part of a working group behind the Warm Winter Read, a campaign designed to encourage readers to develop a daily reading habit by tracking the days they read over June and July 2022.

We have eight high-profile Victorian author-ambassadors supporting the campaign, each of whom has recommended four books for your consideration. We’ve put these recommendations, together with the author’s latest book, on to bookmarks. Our author-ambassadors are:

  • Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Claire G Coleman
  • Helen Garner
  • Jane Harper
  • Toni Jordan
  • Rebecca Lim
  • Jock Serong
  • Christos Tsiolkas

Among them, they have recommended 32 books across all genres, most by Victorian authors. Maxine and Claire recommended each other’s books, while Emma Viskic takes the prize for being the most recommended author. The bookmarks are available for free at your local library. Collect the set!

The campaign is being rolled out in nearly all of Victoria’s library services. You can register online via the Beanstack app and use the app to track your reading. Once you create an account here, you can log your daily reading, participate in optional challenges and share book reviews. Challenges include things like: read outside your home; read aloud to a pet, person or plant; and talk about what you’re reading in person or online. Get rewarded with cute badges, designed by my talented library colleagues.

Or visit your local library and pick up a paper form: a drawing of books on shelves that you can also use to track your reading.

No prizes, because after all, reading is it’s own reward.


Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Willy Lit Fest 2022: Days Like These

I am delighted to be appearing at this year’s Williamstown Literary Festival aka Willy Lit Fest, with the theme ‘Days Like These’.

I first appeared at Willy Lit Fest 15 years ago as an emerging crime writer, alongside Garry Disher and Adrian Highland; my debut novel, Behind the Night Bazaar, had been released the year before. More recently, I was part of the online Willy Lit Fest Vision 2020 program with Alice Robinson and Kate Mildenhall, on a panel called ‘Tapping the Zeitgeist’, talking about my novel Mother of Pearl, released in 2019.

This time around, I’m in a chairing role. My sessions are as follows:

PIC_Epic Fiction

Epic Fiction
We love reading it but what compels an author to take on the challenging task of writing it? Find out from two award-winning writers at the top of their game. Steven Conte (The Tolstoy Estate) and Jock Serong (The Burning Island) in conversation with Angela Savage.
Full $20, Conc. $18
Sat 18 June, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
The Chamber, Williamstown Town Hall
Tickets here.

I’m a huge fan of Jock Serong’s writing and both Preservation and The Burning Island are cracker reads, set in eighteen and nineteenth century Australia respectively. Steven Conte is new to me as an author. The Tolstoy Estate is his second novel in 15 years, following on from his award-winning debut The Zookeeper’s War. Set during the disastrous German invasion of Russia in 1941 and narrated primarily from the point of view of a German military surgeon, The Tolstoy Estate is an epic read about war, politics, literature and love. I’m greatly looking forward to talking with Jock and Steven about their outstanding novels.


Questions Raised By Quolls
A nature writer reflects on fatherhood and conservation in an uncertain world. Harry Saddler in conversation with Angela Savage
Sat 18 June, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Committee Room, Williamstown Town Hall
Full $20, Conc $18, Early $15
Buy tickets here.

Questions Raised by Quolls was one of my favourite non-fiction reads of 2021, inspiring a #LiteraryCritter and ultimately leading to an amazing bird watching visit to the Werribee Treatment Plant with author Harry Sadler. I’m looking forward to asking Harry all the questions raised by quolls when we get together next weekend.

Full Willy Lit Fest program here

Posted in Literary Festival | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments