Out of the starting gate

Escher jigsaw: a distraction in troubled times

It has been a tumultuous start to the new year/decade, as Australia suffers through an unparalleled bushfire crisis, the fate of entire communities–human and animal–subject to the vagaries of a sudden wind change, a random lightning strike. Of course, for those who have studied climate change, there is nothing sudden nor random about the current crisis. And it feels as though everyone is affected. We have loved ones in bushfire affected zones (my mother has been evacuated from her home on the NSW south coast four times since New Year’s Eve; a dear friend’s family home miraculously survived the firestorm in Batlow). Even distant from the fires, we suffer the effects of poor air quality caused by smoke and transport restrictions. We try to stave off despair in the face of huge losses (including threatened extinctions) and do whatever we can to help affected communities.

For my part, I joined the #AuthorsForFireys initiative earlier this month, a Twitter-based auction devised by YA writers Emily Gale and Nova Weetman, which saw over 800 writers, editors, illustrators and other artists donate their time, works, support and skills to raise funds for the Country Fire Authority and other bushfire appeals. My own offering of a mentoring meeting raised $600 for the CFA.

I also successfully bid on a bespoke bag by Emma Bowd at DEED bags to be modelled on the cover of my novel Mother of Pearl, and a set of writing exercises devised by author Penni Russon. At the time of writing, the auction had raised nearly half a million dollars – an extraordinary outcome from a group of artists not exactly renowned for our disposable income!

My chief source of distraction at this time of year are jigsaw puzzles. Last summer, I tackled a puzzle of MC Escher’s ‘Bond of Union’, which took me 19 days and nearly did my head in. I swore I’d never try another Escher. But desperate times call for desperate measures – I needed something completely absorbing – and so to Escher’s ‘Concave and Convex’. This one only took 10 days – a new personal best. Solving puzzles like these provides me with respite from the chaos, and allows me to indulge in the brief fantasy that hard work delivers results.

My other escape is reading, and the year/decade is off to a great start in this respect, with three books by Australian women. Lucy Treloar’s exquisite Wolfe Island saw me out of 2019 and into 2020. Emma Viskic’s Darkness for Light was the perfect beach read. And Miriam Sved’s A Universe of Sufficient Size currently has me in its thrall.

In other news, my first author event for the year/decade is an Author Encounter at the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre on Tues 4 Feb, 6.30-7.30PM, where I will be talking about my novel Mother of Pearl with Enza Gandolfo. This is actually my first event dedicated to this novel. I’ve done a couple of shared panels since the release of Mother of Pearl, mostly public readings. The Geelong Author Encounter will be the first in-depth conversation about this novel and its themes. And I’m delighted that Enza, a writer and thinker whose work I greatly admire, will be interrogating me. The event is free but you can book here.

I have a few other festival events coming up, but the details are under embargo until the programs are released. Watch this space…


About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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4 Responses to Out of the starting gate

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    It has been a horrible time with the fires, Angela. It’s good to hear that your mother is all right (although evacuation is scary)! I hope now will be a time of healing for Australia. Good on you for doing Authors for Fireys. What a great way to help. Wishing you a good year, and hoping it will be a successful one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. FictionFan says:

    It’s particularly frustrating that you have some of the best climate change scientists and some of the worst politicians. Glad things seem to be settling a bit at last – fingers crossed for more rain.

    Liked by 1 person

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