top of page
  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Cowrie shells, calves and musical theatre with Meg Bignell

The colourful cover, the creativity of this community choir and the cracking good jokes make The Angry Women’s Choir an outstanding story that’s sure to resonate with all readers. There’s so much I adored about this story, particularly the way main character Freycinet regained her sense of identity (and indeed, what a brilliant pre-motherhood identity it was), the crafty ways the choir spread their message wide and far, and the humour that alternated with poignancy.

If you like outspoken activists, a quirky blend of characters facing different challenges at varying stages of life and the occasional f-bomb, you’ll be right at home with the Angry Women’s Choir. Out now with Penguin Random House in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

Author spotlight with Meg Bignell

Do you have a good luck charm or a special token that sits on your desk/in your office?

Yes. I have a cowrie shell from my collection. For twenty years I have collected cowrie’s from the beach beside our farm. It fills me with genuine joy when I find one which makes their power completely real. I am quite superstitious which really annoys my husband and children because often I won’t leave the beach until I’ve found one. I also have a couple of large-ish stones on my desk. Sometimes I need a reminder about how ancient the world is. My writing coach suggests that they help protect my work. I sound weird now but a writer’s work — especially that of a woman writer — needs a lot of protection from obligation and convention.

Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?

Walking, gardening, building walls and stacking wood. I don’t do gyms, they’re a slippery slope for me. I’d compete with yesterday me so much I’d probably end up with a boring obsession, an over-muscled body and no friends.

What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?

Ugh, dinner. Every day I think, “I can’t believe I have to do this again.” I’m the one who asks strangers in the supermarket what they’re cooking for dinner because I never know, have zero interest. I guess spaghetti bolognaise because it’s quick, no one seems to get sick of it and I can hide veggies in the sauce. I’ve been known, after a hard day, to say to the bubbling pot on the stove, ‘Thank you Spaghetti Bolognaise”.

Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?

If I could buy talent, I would be a musical theatre star. One that can act, sing and dance all at once. I adore the theatre and those performers blow my tiny mind. Putting on a show, as Jonathan Larson once said, seems to me like the perfect way to spend a day.

Chocolate, potato chips or cheese?

I’m allergic to dairy - which is kind of devastating for a dairy farmer and part-owner of a cheese company. So chips. Also I’m obsessed with crunchy things. I think it’s a perimenopausal thing.

Have you done anything special with any of your advances?

Got a savings account again! - for the first time since before I had my babies. I’m not a money-driven person but having a savings account with a bit of money in it is a source of joy for me. I’d love to take my family to Europe one day.

Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of inspiration? Yep deadlines work well for me. And walking. Sometimes a hot shower seems to massage out ideas and epiphanies.

Agent or no agent?

Agent thank goodness because I’d be terrible at the wheeling and dealing. She’s the powerhouse to my little fragile glasshouse.

Do you have a writing ‘uniform’ (mine’s big earrings, cardigan and jeans)?

I love that! Not really but I have to get out of active wear or jarmies. Sometimes I get a bit corporate if I feel like it, just because.

Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2022?

I’m a tiny way into Julietta Henderson’s new novel, Sincerely, Me. The voice has grabbed me already. I love it when that happens. I’m like two pages in and I know I’m going to lo

ve it. Also Robbie Arnott has a new one coming our I think. He is an extraordinary Tasmanian talent. Really unique. I’m so looking forward to his career in general.

Best one-line sentence from one of your book reviews?

Occasionally you get a review that kind of saves your career because you’re about to chuck it all in because raising calves is probably easier. Recently I got one that said something like, ‘This book has filled a void I have felt in my own heart and encouraged me to see the world differently.’ Honestly, my work here is done.

Share a quirky habit or something readers might be surprised to discover about you.

Hmm, I feel like I might have already shared enough of those. But here’s another - When I write dialogue I speak the words aloud, in the voice of the character. Lucky I work alone.

Where can people find you online? - I have a monthly newsletter too so I’d love your readers to sign up.

Thanks for being part of the blog! X Maya

Thank you for having me Maya!

Meet the author

Meg Bignell began her writing career as a trainee copywriter with Win Television Tasmania. She went on to work as a commercial and corporate producer and presenter for television and later as a medical advisor for the Network Seven drama, ‘All Saints’. She continues to write — for stage as a cabaret performer, for film and for corporate clients. She is the author of three novels — ‘The Sparkle Pages’ (2019), ‘Welcome to Nowhere River’ (2021) and ‘The Angry Women’s Choir’ (2022) — all published by Penguin Random House. She lives on a dairy farm on the east coast of Tasmania with her husband, three children, one dog and one thousand cows.

The Angry Women's Choir

Freycinet Barnes has built herself the perfect existence. With beautiful children, a successful husband and a well-ordered schedule, it’s a life so full she simply doesn’t fit.

When she steps outside her calendar and is accidentally thrown into the generous bosom of the West Moonah Women’s Choir, she finds music, laughter, friendship and a humming wellspring of rage. With the ready acceptance of the colourful choristers, Frey learns that voices can move mountains, fury can be kind and life can do with a bit of ruining.


Head to the WIN page for your chance to win a copy of The Angry Women's Choir, thanks to Penguin Random House. Simply enter the contest HERE by 5pm Sunday August 14. Aussie addresses and newsletter subscribers only, please.


bottom of page