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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

May 3, 2022

'If he wants to follow me, I can't stop him.' After a random encounter with poet and author Ellis Gunn at an auction, a stranger decides to stalk her. Years later, she sits down to write about the experience – and realises it's connected to a lifetime of gendered abuse, including surviving both sexual assault and domestic violence. In this wide-ranging and compelling interview, Ellis discusses what she learned through the experience of writing her debut memoir, Rattled, including the psychological impacts of stalking, the reactions of her family and friends, and the concepts of agency deletion and radical empathy. 

Ellis Gunn is a Scottish writer and poet who now lives in Australia. Her poetry, essays and reviews have been published widely in the UK and she has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh Book Festival and the British Embassy in Berlin. She lives near the beach with her partner, two children, a cat and some ants.

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

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

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk;
  • 'Tribes and Traitors', Hidden Brain podcast from Shankar Vedantam;
  • Troll Hunting: Inside the World of Online Hate and Its Human Fallout by Ginger Gorman;
  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard; 
  • The Luminous Solution by Charlotte Wood;
  • How to Be Australian by Ashley Kalagian Blunt;
  • Outline by Rachel Cusk;
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette

Get in touch!