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James and Ashley are staying at home. Partly because there’s a pandemic, partly because they’re writers, and partly because of their health. Through discussions and interviews, they explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people live with chronic illness? And just what ARE you reading?

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is author of two books, How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, a thriller novella and collected essays. My Name is Revenge was a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Woollahra Digital Literary Awards. Her writing appears in Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Big Issue, Westerly, Kill Your Darlings and more. She lives and works in Sydney, NSW. Find her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

James McKenzie Watson won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize for his novel Denizen, which also received a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship and 2021 KSP Fellowship, and was highly commended for the 2020 Writing NSW Varuna Fellowships. His short fiction has been recognised in competitions including the International InkTears Flash Fiction Contest and the Grieve Writing Competition, and featured in publications such as Baby Teeth Journal and Brave Voices Magazine. He works as a nurse in regional NSW. Find him on Twitter and Instagram or visit his website.

Ashley Kalagian Blunt and James McKenzie Watson

Mar 2, 2021

James and Ashley interview David Vann, author of seven internationally bestselling novels including 2019's 'Halibut on the Moon.' In it, they discuss the trauma that inspired and haunts much of his work, the creative process that fosters his raw and visceral writing style, and the difficulties even an author of his status and calibre faces in the modern publishing landscape.

Just a warning: this episode contains an explicit conversation about suicide and mental illness. 

Learn more about David on his website, and buy a copy of 'Halibut on the Moon' from your local bookshopBooktopia, or wherever else books are sold. David's back catalogue is also available to purchase on Booktopia and Amazon

Books discussed in this episode:

  • Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
  • My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • The World According to Garp by John Irving
  • Goat Mountain; Aquarium; Legend of a Suicide; Bright Air Black; Dirt; Last Day on Earth by David Vann
  • Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
  • Shadow Child by PF Thomése
  • Eight Lives by Susan Hurley
  • The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

Get in touch!

Ashley's Website:

Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt

James' Website:

James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson