Quintette of Questions: Angela Savage

Today I’m asking Angela Savage 5 questions about her latest book!

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

I found the title for my novel Mother of Pearl fairly early on in the course of writing it. I don’t want to give too much away for readers–there’s a moment late in the novel when you realise the significance of the title–but part of the inspiration came from something a friend once said about a pearl being the perfect metaphor for a baby: an irritant inside of you that emerges as a thing of beauty.

While writing the novel, I also saw an exhibition called Lustre: Pearling & Australia when it visited Melbourne from the Western Australian Museum, where I was struck by this quote from Marilynne Paspaley: ‘The pearl is the only gem that is made by a living creature…it represents life, as every other gem is made by the passing of time and decay.’ Pearls, both literal and metaphorical, ended up permeating the novel.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

I’d have Claudia Karvan play Anna and Asher Keddie play Meg (bringing the Love My Way cast members back together again!). Yayaying Rhatha Phongnam, who did great work in the Thai-Swedish noir Farang, could play Mukda. And I’d have David Wenham circa 1998 play Nate.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Nuanced, thoughtful, transporting, luminous, curious.

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple ?

I’m going with the first couple that sprang to mind: Hana and Kip in The English Patient (and only partly because of the scenes between Juliette Binoche and Naveen Andrews in the film version!).

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

There’s actually quite a lot of music referenced in Mother of Pearl; I even made a playlist on Spotify. My favourite of these is ‘Midnight Lullaby’ by Tom Waits; I actually wrote a scene in the book for the song.

About Mother of Pearl

A luminous and courageous story about the hopes and dreams we all have for our lives and relationships, and the often fraught and unexpected ways they may be realised.

Angela Savage draws us masterfully into the lives of Anna, an aid worker trying to settle back into life in Australia after more than a decade in Southeast Asia; Meg, Anna’s sister, who holds out hope for a child despite seven fruitless years of IVF; Meg’s husband Nate, and Mukda, a single mother in provincial Thailand who wants to do the right thing by her son and parents.

The women and their families’ lives become intimately intertwined in the unsettling and extraordinary process of trying to bring a child into the world across borders of class, culture and nationality. Rich in characterisation and feeling, Mother of Pearl and the timely issues it raises will generate discussion among readers everywhere.

Buy Mother of Pearl

About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is an award winning Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her latest novel, Mother of Pearl, is published by Transit Lounge. Her debut, Behind the Night Bazaar, won the 2004 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and all three of her Jayne Keeney PI novels were shortlisted for Ned Kelly Awards. Angela also won the 2011 Scarlett Stiletto Award for short crime fiction.

Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written By WomenCrime ScenesReview of Australian Fiction, and Hard Labour. She has published non-fiction in Smith JournalSunday LifeThe Big Issue and AsiaLIFE among others.

Angela has appeared as at major writers festivals and events across Australia and in the USA. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing, giving her the Bond villain-like name of Doctor Savage. Angela currently works as director of Writers Victoria.

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So many book launches and author talks have had to be cancelled, I’ve decided to run as many Quintettes as I can to share some great upcoming work – and let you stock up on things to read while we’re all self-isolating.