The disappointment of multiple event cancellations due to COVID-19 in an optimal year for promoting my most recent novel Mother of Pearl is tempered somewhat by the reviews that the book continues to attract and the conversations I get to have about both the content and the writing process with readers, both in person and (occasionally) in the media.
The literary journal Antipodes recently posted a thoughtful review of Mother of Pearl, The Near and the Far. ‘The novel’s focus is international surrogacy,’ writes Mark Azzopardi, ‘which Savage seeks to both humanize and complicate.’ In a unique angle, Azzopardi also compares the different ways that Christos Tsiolkas (who kindly provided a blurb for the book) and I write about Southeast Asia. I love being described as ‘a less rebarbative writer compared to Tsiolkas’–especially after I looked up the meaning of ‘rebarbative’. Read the whole review here.
Rana Gaind also posted a positive review of Mother of Pearl online on the Australian Public Service News website here. ‘[Mother of Pearl is] rich in portrayals and emotion and looks at social issues that are opportune,’ Gaind writes. By contrast, Patricia Johnson in her review in Westerly magazine writes that she ‘want[s] to hear the primal scream’ in relation to one character in particular. Still, she also concludes favourably with, ‘[Angela Savage] reveals the situation of both sides of surrogacy in a way that makes the reader alive to its many implications and ways in which it can go wrong, not only medically but in psychological/emotional damage as well… As they say in the classics, it’s complicated. Read it and see.’
Some weeks back, I recorded an interview with Sarah L’Estrange for Radio National’s The Book Show on a topic that’s close to my heart: how to write ethically about cultures that are not your own, both in the context of writing Mother of Pearl and more broadly. The program went to air on 27 April 2020; the podcast is here, and my interview with Sarah starts at the 27:47 min mark. However, I’d highly recommend listening from the start to hear Claire Nichols interview award-winning US sci-fi writer NK Jemisin. Jemisin’s new novel, The City We Became, which imagines New York as a sentient city, sounds amazing and eerily prescient.
Meanwhile, with the COVID-19 pandemic all but bringing international and most domestic travel to a standstill, the fabulous folks at TripFiction have started a series called ‘Armchair Travel by Book’ on their blog. The third novel in my Jayne Keeney PI series, The Dying Beach, set in Krabi, was listed in their Armchair Travel by Book – THAILAND post alongside Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad, one of my favourite reads of 2019. I was fortunate to meet (and fangirl) Pitchaya at Adelaide Writers Week in February–back in another time when it was still safe to gather in public with people from all over the world.
‘One of crime fiction’s many virtues is that it allows us to travel to exotic locations from the safety and comfort of the couch or bed,’ writes the Sisters in Crime Australia. In Murder Takes A Holiday, Sue Morgan recommends The Dying Beach as ‘a real page-turner… Very much a dark tale in paradise.’
Speaking of Sisters in Crime, I had great fun being interviewed by Narelle Harris for the Quintette of Questions series on her blog. Read our interview here to find out which actors I would cast in the lead roles in Mother of Pearl, and my favourite literary couple. Answering Narelle’s question about a song that reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in my book (I nominated Tom Waits’s ‘Midnight Lullaby’) reminded me, too, that I made a playlist on Spotify of all the music referenced in the novel. You can listen/download here. Enjoy!