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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.

Oct 26, 2021

Ashley's on her own again, and without James around, things get really earnest really fast. She shares ten of her favourite quotes from a variety of books, summarising 'The Most True Things She Knows About Life and Writing' (one of them, at least, is funny.) Then she does a deepdive #WhatAreYouReading into Rutger Bregman's 'Humankind: A Hopeful History,' recommended by recent guest Lyn Yeowart.

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • 'A Brief for the Defense' by Jack Gilbert; 
  • Humankind: A Hope History by Rutger Bregman;
  • Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenrich; 
  • The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology by Mark Boyle; 
  • The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson; 
  • Billy Collins, poet; 
  • Sarah Sentilles, author

Boundless, the festival of Indigenous and culturally diverse writers, is taking place 30 Oct to 1 November, free and online. Book your tickets at

Intro to Novel Writing: Finding Joy In Your First Draft with Ashley

  • Tuesday 2 November 2021, 7:45-9 pm AEDT
  • Online via Zoom
  • Tix $9-14

Whether you’re planning to complete 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or you’re drafting your first masterwork at your own pace, this workshop is a gift basket of tips and tricks to make the process easy, efficient and fun. Learn how to tap into your creativity to get the words flowing, how to separate drafting from editing to make your writing process more efficient, and how to know if you’re on the right track. This is a workshop for novice writers who are in the early stages of a novel or memoir, or are keen to start one. Get your ticket here.

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