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Through discussions and interviews with writers, artists and health professionals, author friends James McKenzie Watson and Ashley Kalagian Blunt explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people navigate life with chronic illness? And just what are you reading?

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is the author of Dark Mode, an internationally published psychological thriller. Her earlier books are How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, collected fiction and essays. Her writing appears in the Sydney Morning Herald, Overland, Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, and more. Ashley is an enthusiastic teacher of writing and creativity. Originally from Canada, she has lived and worked in South Korea, Peru and Mexico. Find her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

James McKenzie Watson won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize for his novel Denizen, which was published by Penguin Random House in 2022. Denizen also received a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship and a 2021 KSP Residential Fellowship. James' short stories have been recognised in Australian and international competitions. His writing has appeared in The GuardianMeanjinKill Your Darlings and the Newtown Review of Books. He works as a nurse. Find him on Twitter and Instagram or visit his website.

Feb 2, 2021

James and Ashley interview Josephine Taylor, author of 'Eye of a Rook.' In it, they discuss vulvodynia, a poorly understood and often debilitating gynaecological condition, how this illness has shaped Josephine's life, and the stunning novel it's inspired her to write.

Find out more about Josephine at her website, and buy a copy of 'Eye of a Rook' from your local bookshop, Booktopia, or wherever else books are sold. You can also check out Josephine's #FridayCookBook project on Instagram and join her for her Avid Reader online event with Lee Kofman on February 9, 2021.

For more support and information about vulvodynia, visit the following resources:

Books discussed in this episode:

  • The Fifth Season by Philip Salem
  • Wintering by Krissy Kneen
  • 'The Wife's Story' by Ursula K LeGuin
  • Imperfect by Lee Kofman (who we spoke to in episode 3)
  • Unlike the Heart by Nicola Redhouse
  • Pain and Prejudice by Gabrielle Jackson
  • Show Me Where It Hurts by Kylie Maslen
  • Hysteria by Katerina Bryant
  • One Day I'll Remember This: Diaries 1987-1995 by Helen Garner
  • In the Woods by Tana French

Get in touch!

Ashley's Website:

Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt

James' Website:

James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson