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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

Jul 18, 2022

'Denizen,' the Penguin Literary Prize winning novel from James McKenzie Watson is finally out in the world! In this episode, Ashley asks James about the experience of taking 'Denizen' from idea to published novel. He shares insights into how to seriously improve your writing craft and how to understand your work as a reflection of your life. James also answers the big question – what does his mum think of 'Denizen?'

James McKenzie Watson writes fiction with a focus on health and rural Australia. His novel 'Denizen' won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize. 'Denizen' also received a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship and a 2021 KSP Residential Fellowship. His writing has appeared in Meanjin and the Newtown Review of Books. He works as a nurse in regional New South Wales.

Get your copy of 'Denizen' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else good books are sold. Shout out to Australia's hardworking independent booksellers!

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • David Vann (of course);
  • Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor;
  • The Liars by Petronella McGovern (from ep 12), out in September 2022;
  • The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman (from ep 4);
  • RWR McDonald (from ep 32);  
  • Lyn Yeowart (from ep 39

Denizen launch events:

Ashley's next online writing workshop, The Joy of Creative Writing, is on Monday 25 July, 7:45-9 pm AEST online via Zoom. Book in here!

Get in touch!