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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

Oct 12, 2021

Ashley interviews author and editor Heather Taylor-Johnson. When Heather was diagnosed with Ménière's disease at age 25, one of the many things it meant was quitting skydiving. She discusses how more than two decades of living with chronic illness have inspired her writing and led to the anthology 'Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Illness and Chronic Pain'. She also shares Van Gogh's misdiagnosis with her condition, describes how a year of studying art has changed her writing process, and tells us about her latest book, 'Rhymes with Hyenas'.

Learn more about Heather on her website, and buy a copy of 'Rhymes with Hyenas' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else books are sold. 

Heather Taylor-Johnson is a writer and editor. Born in Minnesota and now living in South Australia, she has written novels and poetry collections, and is the editor of 'Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain'. Her writing has been published in Meanjin, Southerly, Cordite, Westerly, Griffith Review, Island and TEXT. She lives with Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear.

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability by Jennifer Bartlett (ed);
  • Prosopagnosia by Sonia Hernandez;
  • No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

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