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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

Feb 22, 2022

Lech Blaine is the author of the memoir 'Car Crash' and the Quarterly Essay ‘Top Blokes’. Here, he speaks to James and Ashley about the challenge of writing and releasing these two publications back to back during the pandemic, and the burnout that followed. He also discusses the epiphanies that writing a memoir can bring and the emotional toll of sharing so much vulnerability with readers. 

His writing has appeared in The Monthly, Guardian Australia, The Best Australian Essays, Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings and Meanjin. He was an inaugural recipient of a Griffith Review Queensland Writing Fellowship. 

Learn more about Lech on his website, and buy a copy of 'Car Crash' and 'Top Blokes' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else books are sold. 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Cloudstreet by Tim Winton;
  • Timeline by Michael Crichton;
  • Sphere by Michael Crichton;
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton;
  • State of Fear by Michael Crichton;
  • Lee Child;
  • John Grisham;
  • Know My Name: A Memoir by Channel Miller
  • Specky Magee by Felice Arena and Garry Lyon;
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling;
  • Glory Gardens by Bob Cattell

The Joy of Creative Writing – lunchtime workshop with Ashley: Tuesday 8 March, 12:15-1:15 pm AEDT, online via Zoom, tix $9-14

Whether you haven’t written creatively since high school or you’re the author of 12 books, this fun class will help you get your creativity flowing. Wherever you’re at, this is the class for you. Through a series of short, timed writing exercises, we’ll explore different ways to access the creative recesses of our minds and surprise ourselves! Get your ticket here.

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