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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

Sep 13, 2022

***Warning! Spoilers for Denizen by James McKenzie Watson in this episode***

Heads up, this episode of James and Ashley Stay at Their Respective Homes in Separate Cities is full of spoilers for Denizen. If you haven't read Denizen yet, you can still enjoy reading about our special double-guest episode, and then get even more excited to go and read Denizen so you can listen without spoiler concerns.

Double guests? That's right, we finally get to speak with debut novelist Hayley Scrivenor, plus we welcome back our one and only repeat guest, author Jacinta Dietrich. We jump in immediately by talking about *that ending* and then discuss the ethics of writing violence, one-star reviews, and, of course, the great lasagna-with-a-side-of-peas debate. 

Hayley Scrivenor is the author of the number one Australian bestseller Dirt Town, also out now in the US and UK. She is a former Director of Wollongong Writers Festival. An earlier version of Dirt Town was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award. Hayley lives on Dharawal country, on the east coast of Australia, and has a PhD in Creative Writing.

Jacinta Dietrich is a writer and editor who holds a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. Her first book, This Is Us Now, was published in 2021 by Grattan Street Press. We first spoke to Jacinta back in episode 45.

Get your copy of Denizen from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else good books are sold.

Plus, check out the online courses from Writing NSW, including the six-week Online: Creative Non-fiction with Ashley, starting 31 October. 

Books and authors (and one doco) discussed in this episode: 

  • Robert Gott; 
  • This Is Us Now by Jacinta Dietrich (from ep 45); 
  • Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor; 
  • Petronella McGovern (from ep 12); 
  • Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix), directed by Skye Borgman; 
  • Halibut on the Moon by David Vann (from ep 23); 
  • There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura; 
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; 
  • Karl Ove Knausgård (of course); 
  • My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach; 
  • The Keepers by Al Campbell; 
  • Dark Deeds Down Under, edited by Craig Sisterson; 
  • Reacher Said Nothing: The Making of Make Me by Andy Martin; 
  • Dancing Barefoot by Alice Boyle; 
  • Earthlings by Sayaka Murata; 
  • The Whispering by Veronica Lando 
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