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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 29, 2022

38,000 people go missing every year in Australia, yet only a small number of these cases garner public interest. In 'The Missing Among Us,' author Erin Stewart explores the issue of missing persons from a variety of perspectives, including the lack of police resources that leave families leading their own searches, the Stolen Generations, and cults. And what drew Erin to the topic is just as fascinating. 

Erin talks to Ashley and James about how the ambiguity of living with chronic illness drove her interest in missing persons. 'The Missing Among Us' is 'about finding a space for those conversations about ambiguous circumstances in order to understand the complex issue of missing persons.’ She also describes her experiences with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and the research behind her book. 

Erin Stewart is a Canberra-based freelance writer who has written for a range of Australian and international publications including Meanjin, Voiceworks, ABC Online, SBS Online, Daily Life, Overland, and many others. She has been an opinion columnist for The Age and made regular appearances on ABC Sydney Mornings to talk about books and the arts. An earlier version of this book was shortlisted for the Portobello Books Unpublished Manuscript Prize in the UK. She holds a PhD in non-fiction writing.

You can buy a copy of 'The Missing Among Us' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else books are sold. 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

Ashley is teaching in-person at Writing NSW! Crafting Memoir: An Introduction. Saturday 7 May 2022, 10am-4pm, in-person at Writing NSW, Callan Park, Sydney. Visit Writing NSW to learn more about their online course program

Get in touch!