Irini was born in Sydney to Greek Cypriot parents. A teacher of English and Drama, she is passionate about teaching and learning (and also about travel!). Willow Tree and Olive was written as part of Irini’s thesis for her Masters of Arts degree at Macquarie University, and her research included travels to Greece to follow her character’s footsteps. Now studying and writing full time, Irini’s latest book is a powerful blank verse novel, Against the Tide.
Irini Savvides’ debut novel, Willow Tree and Olive, follows the journey of an Australian-born Greek girl in her final year at school trying to come to terms with all the difficulties of adolescence – fitting in with friends and teachers, fitting in with her family, fitting in with her Greek heritage. Irini says this about her novel: ‘The original idea came from wanting to write a story about survival in emotionally difficult circumstances and also wanting to explore my own dual culture… I wanted to show the strength of young adults when faced with great odds… As Melina Marchetta comments, ‘a beautifully fragmented story, so powerful and relevant. Olive is one of the gutsiest characters I’ve read.’ Her other books for young adults are Sky Legs and Aliki Says, and she has also published A Marathon of Her Own (in the My Story series) and a picture book, Hide and Seek (illustrated by Owen San).