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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 8, 2022

Fiona Robertson lived with migraines for years, writing short stories as a creative pursuit. Now she's free from migraines and the award-winning author of the debut short story collection, If You're Happy. Her work explores the lives of lonely people seeking happiness in a turbulent world. 

She tells us about the common threads that bind her stories, why they're her chosen form, and how living with unpredictable chronic illness impacted her life and creative work. 

Fiona is a writer and doctor. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines and anthologies in Australia and the UK, and has been shortlisted for international competitions. Her collection of stories, If You’re Happy, won the Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer at the 2020 Queensland Literary Awards. Fiona lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Learn more about Fiona on her website, and buy a copy of 'If You're Happy' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else books are sold. 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Louise Allan;
  • The Keepers by Al Campbell, plus her Sydney Morning Herald article, 'The disappointing question I most often got after writing a book'; 
  • Long Road to Dry River by Jen Severn;
  • All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy;
  • Child of God by Cormac McCarthy;
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy;
  • David Vann;
  • Denizen by James McKenzie Watson, out 19 July 2022! 

Get in touch!