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Through discussions and interviews with writers, artists and health professionals, author friends James McKenzie Watson and Ashley Kalagian Blunt explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people navigate life with chronic illness? And just what are you reading?

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is the author of Dark Mode, an internationally published psychological thriller. Her earlier books are How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, collected fiction and essays. Her writing appears in the Sydney Morning Herald, Overland, Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, and more. Ashley is an enthusiastic teacher of writing and creativity. Originally from Canada, she has lived and worked in South Korea, Peru and Mexico. Find her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

James McKenzie Watson is the author of Denizen, which won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize and was shortlisted in 2023 Ned Kelly Awards for Best Debut. His writing has appeared in The GuardianMeanjinKill Your Darlings and the Newtown Review of Books. He has appeared at events including the Sydney Writers Festival, Newcastle Writers Festival and BAD Crime Sydney. He works as a nurse. Find him on Twitter and Instagram or visit his website.

Nov 15, 2022

'I regard my seventh book, Curlews on Vulture Street ... as my first real writing. You know, this is the one I'm most proud of. It was the biggest challenge and the one I enjoyed the most.' Urban ecologist and noted bird guy Darryl Jones joins us to share his transition from popular science to narrative nonfiction writer.   

Darryl discusses the importance of having a beginner's mindset, what life is like now that he's a full-time writer, buried treasure, and his experience of living with Parkinson's. And of course we talk birds! Should you feed the birds in Australia? Do rainbow lorikeets eat mince? Plus, our special bonus guest – the eastern koel that lives outside Ashley's window and has been shrieking her awake at 5 am every morning!   

Darryl Jones is a Professor of Ecology at Griffith University in Brisbane, where for over 30 years he has been investigating the many ways people and wildlife interact. He is particularly interested in why some species are extremely successful in urban landscapes, and how best to deal with the ensuing conflicts. More recently, he has been trying to understand more about the humans that also live in cities in large numbers, and how they engage with nature. This has led him into the strange and fascinating world of wild bird feeding. He is the author of several books, including 'The Birds at My Table', 'Feeding the Birds at Your Table', and his latest, 'Curlews on Vulture Street'.

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Auē by Becky Manawatu;
  • The Tilt by Chris Hammer;
  • The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman (featured in ep 3);
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez;
  • Tracker by Alexis Wright;
  • Feeding the Birds at Your Table by Darryl Jones

Get your copy of 'Curlews on Vulture Street' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever good books are sold. And if you want your own bush stone curlew t-shirt, you can find it here

James' novel 'Denizen' is out now! Learn more about it and buy your copy here. 

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