Early reviews for Mother of Pearl

Early reviews are coming in for my new novel, Mother of Pearl, and I’m blown away by the thoughtful and insightful responses to the book so far.

Author Cass Moriarty writes, ‘In Mother of Pearl, author Angela Savage has given us a wonderfully diverse and engaging book with confronting themes that are sure to be hotly debated over a glass of wine in book clubs all over Australia. This is a nuanced and complex story of parenthood, most particularly what it means to be a mother. It’s a story of family – the yearning to create a family, and the sacrifices we are prepared to make in order to establish and maintain a family.’

Avid reader Armed With A Book, aka Kriti Khare, in a reflective review of the book’s themes writes ‘[Mother of Pearl] is a powerful narrative on the ethical issues that one confronts in surrogacy, about the rights of the mother that bears the child, and the mother who keeps them… This is one of the best books I have read this year and I learned new things about Thailand and surrogacy.’

As well as writing her generous review of Mother of Pearl, Kriti interviewed me on Armed With A Book. Kriti asked insightful questions, and I greatly enjoyed our interview. But I was blown away when I read her final write up, as the ending contains a most wonderful coincidence — the kind of coincidence, as author Barbara Trapido once said, that you could never get away with in fiction. Further proof of what I think of as the magic of fiction and the way it connects people.

One of the most affirming responses I’ve had to Mother of Pearl came from Dr Linda Kirkman. In what was one of the first IVF surrogacy cases in the world, Linda carried and gave birth to her sister Maggie’s daughter Alice back in 1988. (I mention them in this post about the inspiration behind Mother of Pearl, and also cited Linda’s writing in my PhD thesis). Given Linda has a more intimate understanding of surrogacy than most, to have her describe the novel as ‘brilliant’ is high praise indeed.

And Lisa Hill at ANZLitLovers writes, ‘The book is written in three parts: Preconception; Gestation and Afterbirth, and although the reader feels fairly confident that a baby will be born, the narrative tension is maintained by the uncertainty that surrounds commercial transactions of this type… However, I think it’s the ethical decisions that will engage readers most.’

I’ve also been visiting a few blogs.

I was delighted to be interviewed by author Amanda Curtin, whose work I’ve long admired, for her terrific 2, 2 and 2 series. On Amanda’s blog, I talk about two things that inspired Mother of Pearl, two places connected with the book (spoiler: they are Melbourne and Bangkok), and two favourite things about writing Mother of Pearl.

At Booklover Book Reviews, I posted about what inspired me to write Mother of Pearl.

And I wrote about Switching Genres on the blog of my fellow author and friend Lee Kofman.

In the next day or so, I’ll upload links to some of the radio interviews and podcasts I’ve been doing. So stay tuned (no pun intended!).

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Mother of Pearl is launched

I feel a bit like a book is a ship, the building of it takes so much labour, the structure engineered over and over, to make it watertight, to get it to float and then the leap of faith.

Off it goes, book.

Megg Minos


Mother of Pearl was launched on Thursday 25 July on a wave of love, at my local bookshop, Brunswick Bound. With a welcome speech from my publisher at Transit Lounge Barry Scott, the official launch by Christos Tsiolkas, and a thank you speech from me to rival the Oscars, Mother of Pearl has set sail, slightly ahead of its official release date of 1 August.

I had a such a joyful time at the launch and after party, despite feeling uncharacteristically disorganised (how did I forget to bring a decent pen to my own launch party, when I’m the one always reminding other authors to do this!). I was thrilled and humbled to be in the company of so many people I love and admire, and to share the joy I feel at releasing this new book.

It was also special for me to have my daughter, to whom the book is dedicated, spend time beside me at the signing table.

Among the long list of people I wanted to thank were my jewellery-making consultants, Belinda Newick and Megg Minos. Beli brought along the perfect prop for the evening, a beautiful mother of pearl shell that features in the photo above right (image by Sarah Rey). Megg, who is also a writer, not only made the ‘evil eye signet ring’ that I’m wearing in the photo above left, but allowed me to use it in my novel Mother of Pearl, where it is designed by a character, fittingly, called Meg. The exquisite photo of the rings was taken by my friend Suzanne Phoenix, who–just as I was regretting the day after the launch that I hadn’t arranged for anyone to take photos–sent me an album of stunning pictures I don’t even remember her taking.

Christos spoke so beautifully about my work (and me!). My beloved partner, Andrew Nette, tended the bar. My father, brothers, cousins, in-laws came along. My mother couldn’t make the trip from NSW, but her older brother–my uncle–was there. There were school friends and former school teachers, family friends, friends from two stints at university, old friend and new friends, current and former work colleagues, and so many writer friends. You can see why I was feeling the love! As I noted in my speech,

Oscar Wilde once said, “Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.” The fact that you are all here, sympathising with my modest success, is a testament to your very fine nature. Either that, or my excellent taste in friends!

Thanks to everyone who came along to be part of the celebrations. Thanks, too, to all those who sent their good wishes, though they couldn’t make it on the night. I feel fortunate and grateful to be sending this, my fourth novel, out into the world.

And if you’re curious about the inspiration behind Mother of Pearl, visit author Amanda Curtin’s blog for my 2, 2 and 2 interview.


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Coming soon to a festival near you (Part 3)

Winter is here, possibly the best time of year for reading and talking about books. Early next month, I’ll be doing just that in Geelong at an ‘Author Encounter’ with Sarah Hopkins, talking about her latest novel, The Subjects, an eerie depiction of the over-criminalisation and overmedicalisation of young people in the juvenile justice system. I started reading The Subjects last night and already I’m hooked. This free event will be held on Wednesday 3 July, 6.30-7.30pm, Geelong Library & Heritage Centre. Book here.

As the season of literary festivals continues across Victoria and beyond, I’ll be appearing at the Warm Winter Words Festival in Apollo Bay on Sunday 28 July. I’m delivering a workshop on Crime Writing from 10.00AM-12.00PM. This is a workshop I really enjoy teaching, which covers the history and conventions of crime fiction, the rules of the genre (and how to break them), and the essential elements of premise, character, plot and pace. Early and emerging writers, as well as established writers turning to crime as a new genre, are all welcome. There’s a Facebook event with details here and tickets are available here.

On Sunday afternoon, I’ll be appearing as part of Warm Winter Words with Anna Snoekstra, Bram Presser and Mark Brandi, celebrating 30 years of Writers Victoria in the process. I’m delighted to be sharing the floor with three writers whose work I admire so much. Event details here and tickets here.


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Coming soon to a festival near you (Part 2)

I’ve added a couple more events to my schedule in the next couple of weeks. On Tues 4 June at 7.00PM, I will be appearing at the Art Is… Festival in Horsham, in the Wimmera region of Victoria, as participating chair on a panel celebrating 30 Years of Victorian Writing. I’m delighted to be appearing alongside Ingrid Laguna, Robert Gott and Andy Jackson. Can’t decide whether I’ll read from one of my crime novels, or my soon-to-be-released new novel, Mother of Pearl. Maybe both. Venue is the Centre for Participation, 39 Urquhart St, Horsham.

Art Is Festival photo

Robert Gott and I will be together again, alongside the inimitable Sulari Gentill and emerging writer Nilima Rao, at the event, Sleuthing Historical Crime, for the Historical Novel Society of Australia (HSNA) Melbourne Chapter, on Sunday 16 June, 2.30-4.30PM at the Mail Exhange Hotel in Melbourne. See the Facebook event for details.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will no longer be appearing at the Woodend Winter Arts Festival next month. The splendid panel, 30 Years of Victorian Writing, will still go ahead with Mark Brandi, Kelly Gardiner, Eliza Henry-Jones and Robert Gott, and my marvellous colleague Kate Cuthbert will chair.



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Coming soon to a festival near you (Part 1)

With advent of writers festival season, I’ll be appearing at several festivals around the state in 2019, either as part of my day job as Director of Writers Victoria, and/or in my other guise as an author and freelance chair/interviewer.

I’m missing out on my democracy sausage on Election Day this Saturday as I’ll be at the Queenscliffe Literary Festival, chairing a panel, Killer Reads, with a killer line-up: Emma Viskic, Mark Brandi and Michael Robotham. Can the capacious Queenscliffe Town Hall  contain all that crime writing talent? — You’ll have to come along to find out.

QLF-logoQueenscliffe Literary Festival
Sat 18 May, 2.00-3.00pm, Queenscliff Town Hall
Killer Reads
Leading the renaissance in Australian crime writing, Michael Robotham (The Other Wife), Emma Viskic (And Fire Came Down) and Mark Brandi (The Rip) are killing it!
Facilitator: Angela Savage
Book here. Full program here.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Writers Victoria, and among the festivities, we are curating panels to celebrate Victorian writers at several festivals around the state. Some of these remain under wraps until official festival program launch dates. Among the events already announced is 30 Years of Victorian Writing at the Woodend Winter Arts Festival, featuring readings by Mark Brandi, Kelly Gardiner, Eliza Henry-Jones and Robert Gott with me in the enviable role of chair.

WWAF_LogoWoodend Winter Arts Festival
Mon 10 June (public holiday), 2.00-3.00pm
Woodend Community Centre
30 Years of Victorian Writing
A stellar line up of award winning Victorian writers, Mark Brandi, Kelly Gardiner, Eliza Henry-Jones and Robert Gott, help to celebrate 30 years of Writers Victoria. Across a range of genres the authors talk about their books and read extracts. A veritable feast! Book here. Full program here.

And in news just announced tonight, I’ll be giving the opening keynote on the Conventions of Crime at the Emerging Writers’ Festival Masterclass: Writing Crime on Mon 24 June. This amazing day-long masterclass brings together Mark Brandi, Anna George, Christian White, Gala Vanting, Nayuka Gorrie, Queenie Bon Bon, Lindy Cameron, Anna Snoekstra, Eileen Ormsby, Laura Elizabeth Woollett and Kat Clay for some truly fascinating sessions, including one on representing criminalisation. The Emerging Writers’ Festival holds a special place in my heart — I first appeared as a guest in 2005, just prior to the release of my first novel — and I am thrilled to be included in this year’s line up. The whole program looks brilliant.


Noir: one of the conventions of crime I’ll be talking about at EWF in June

Emerging Writers’ Festival
Mon 24 June, 10AM-4PM, The Wheeler Centre Performance Space
Masterclass: Writing Crime
10.15am Keynote: Conventions of Crime
Angela Savage takes us on a whirlwind tour through the most notable subgenres, tropes and conventions of the crime genre and how to work with them. The perfect introduction for new conspirators, and an engaging refresher for long-standing crime aficionados.
Bookings here. EWF19 program here.

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Melbourne Postcard

Though I set most of my fiction abroad, I love my hometown of Melbourne. So I was delighted to be invited to contribute a ‘Melbourne Postcard’ for ABC Melbourne radio’s The Friday Revue, hosted by Richelle Hunt and Brian Nankervis:

Melbourne Postcard is a chance for us to share stories about our city. Each week The Friday Revue invites a different guest to read a short letter with a connection to Melbourne.

I chose to address my postcard to my paternal grandfather Les Savage, known as ‘Father Bear’ (I have written about Bear previously on this blog, here and here, for example). As it turned out, my Melbourne Postcard went to air within a week of the 35th anniversary of his death.

Father Bear & Ang 1981

Father Bear and me in 1981; although unsmiling because of the braces on my teeth, the photo captures the closeness of our relationship (& the ’70s obsession with weird crocheted things)

My postcard begins,

Dear Father Bear,
There are lots of things about Melbourne that have changed for the better since you left us 35 years ago, like the laneways and lorikeets, accessible trams and the Melbourne Museum.
But there’s one change you’d never have gotten used to: the fate of your beloved Fitzroy Football Club.

You can read the rest and/or listen to me read (and sing!) my postcard here.


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Literary Adventures Abroad

I was delighted to be invited recently by award-winning author and editor Irma Gold to contribute to a post on her blog about the joys and challenges of setting novels outside Australia, alongside two fabulous writers, Angela Meyer and Leah Kaminsky.

Here’s a taste of what I had to say on Irma’s blog:

My relationship with Asia started more than 30 years ago when, after working in France for a year as an au pair, I flew home to Melbourne via Bangkok. I thought I’d reached peak awe after Europe, but Bangkok blew me away. By the time I left France, I could pass for a local; however, that was never going to be the case in Thailand. Then as now, I was intrigued by the question of how to get by in a place where blending in isn’t an option…

You can read more of what Angela, Leah and I had to say here.

Angela in Krabi 2011

Here I am on location in Krabi, Thailand, suffering for my art

Oh, and as an added incentive, if you subscribe to Irma’s blog before 5 pm on Monday 22 April 2019, you go in the draw to win a book pack of Leah Kaminsky’s The Hollow Bones (signed), Angela Meyer’s A Superior Spectre and my own novel, The Dying Beach (signed). Australian residents only.