The Umbilical Word

A contemporary novel about chasing dreams, confronting loss and discovering what’s important in life. A must-read for every parent and parent-to-be.


A contemporary novel about chasing dreams, confronting loss and discovering what’s important in life. A must-read for every parent and parent-to-be.

After a series of miscarriages, Adam and Maddy manage to get pregnant. To ‘personify and self-actualise’ his fatherhood, Adam decides to email their unborn child. To his surprise, “B” gets his message at and replies. Then, in Week 29, “B” stops corresponding. What’s happened? Brace yourself for the unexpected!

The Umbilical Word is a contemporary novel about chasing dreams, confronting loss and discovering what’s important in life. A must-read for every parent and parent-to-be.

Darren Groth

Darren Groth is a Brisbane boy transplanted to Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of acclaimed fiction novels MVP – Most Valuable Potential and The Procrastinator. MVP – Most Valuable Potential was shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and was selected for the prestigious ‘Books From Our Backyard: 100 Must-Read Books From Queensland’ list. The Umbilical Word is his third novel.

Darren has appeared at numerous literary events including the Brisbane Writers’ Festival and the National Young Writers’ Festival. He has been a guest speaker, workshop/masterclass facilitator and writer-in-residence for literary organisations, writing groups, schools and libraries. He remains a registered Mentor with the Australian Society of Authors.

When he’s not watching Family Guy with his beautiful Canadian wife, he’s head-banging to Spiderbait with his six year old twins.


Maddy recognised the man at her feet. He had proposed like this, on his haunches. She’d laughed at him. One knee was love, she’d argued. Two was desperation.

He’d replied that he was desperately in love.

Nine years on, was it still the case? In her darker moments, she imagined him dashing off with some younger, thinner, better dressed chick; unscarred, History-free, who didn’t demand Mars bars or inspire toilet door vigils, who could see a pregnancy through to term and, in doing so, fulfil the most basic function of the female species. And she wouldn’t begrudge him his flight. Given the chance to run away from herself, she would’ve outpaced an Olympic sprinter.

The day-to-day evidence refuted her worst imaginings. He hugged her when she needed it. He kissed her unannounced. He cracked up at her rude puns. He got horny over her untouchable body. He eagerly reported dreams in which he remained faithful to her and he changed the channel when Halle Berry appeared on TV. He met her every requirement without overt complaint. He promised the suffering would end.
And he still got down on both knees.

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Customer Reviews

1-5 of 4 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    A fresh story full of warmth and humour, The Umbilical Word will charm its way into your heart.
    – Rebecca Sparrow

    July 26, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Darren Groth is a writer to watch. His work is insightful, poignant and funny. He has a unique world view and the mastery of words to express it. His characters come to life in a way that makes readers realise they are in the hands of a born storyteller.
    – Venero Armanno

    July 26, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Boldly conceived, a refreshingly different tale of feel-good factor and sharp-toothed angst. Darren Groth deftly holds up a funny, poignant mirror to the hopes, fears and transcending joys of every parent. You’ll choke up, you’ll laugh, and you will believe.
    – Simon Higgins, Author of Tomodachi: The Edge of the World

    July 26, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    They say it’s good to “talk” to your unborn child, for mum or dad to chat away through the tummy wall to the foetus, which can, apparently, hear its parents and will bond with their familiar voices.

    In Darren Groth’s latest novel, The Umbilical Word, this concept takes a giant leap forward when the protagonist, Adam, emails his child-to-be and is
    somewhat freaked to get a reply – as you would be.
    Father and child continue to exchange messages, and
    the reader learns that Adam and his wife Maddy have a history of failed pregnancies – a history that is making this current pregnancy very stressful indeed.

    For Brisbane-born Darren (now based in Vancouver),
    the story has its roots in personal experience. He and
    his Canadian wife Wendy experienced fertility problemsand now have six-year-old twins, Jared and Chloe, born following IVF-related processes.

    “The nature of Adam and Maddy’s history was
    deliberately different to ours,” the 38-year-old said on a recent visit to his home city. “I’m not the sort of writer who likes to throw my own life experience under the bus, as it were, but as a writer to really create strong work, you have to bring something of yourself to it.”

    Certainly, The Umbilical Word brings a refreshing
    male perspective to a subject men don’t necessarily think about, let alone talk about.

    Darren recalls his own shock at discovering that conception was not going to come easily. “I could never have imagined that we’d face such an elemental life challenge. It was all supposed to fall into place. For guys, especially, we don’t think of this stuff. It
    was nothing I ever thought I’d have to deal with.
    “My intent with the story is always just to write a great
    story. In this particular circumstance, the tag for the story has been, ‘It’ll make dad laugh and mum cry’. I’d like to think it could be the other way round as well.”
    More challenges came when their son was diagnosed as autistic. This prompted the family’s move to Canada.

    “Just at pre-school age we started to run into some
    pretty significant challenges here in terms of providing support and help for Jared,” Darren says. They learned that in Canada, autistic children are much better provided for by the education system, and in May last year the family upped sticks and left Brisbane behind.

    “The motivation for going has been validated in a lot of
    different ways,” says Darren. “Our little guy’s doing great, Wendy’s reconnecting with her family, our little girl Chloe is having a ball over there. And for me, I sort of like being different – it’s nice being an Aussie over there.

    “I’d like to get a writing career going over there too,
    but that’s going to take time. I like to think the universal nature of my stories can have some wide-ranging appeal.”
    – Jane Scott, The Brisbane News, July 2008

    July 26, 2023

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