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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.

Jun 12, 2023

How can winning an artistic residency impact your creative career? Hear from four Australian authors about their experiences entering and winning the ASA/Varuna Ray Koppe Young Writers Fellowship, and how their careers have developed since. 

Hannah Bent is the author of When Things Are Alive They Hum. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and Film from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London. She undertook further study in both directing and screenwriting at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. She won the Ray Koppe Young Writers Award in 2013.

Holden Sheppard is a multi award-winning author from Geraldton, Western Australia. His debut young adult novel, Invisible Boys, won multiple accolades including the 2018 TAG Hungerford Award and the 2019 Western Australian Premier's Book Award. His writing often focuses on themes of masculinity, sexuality and mental health. 

Hayley Scrivenor is the author of the number one Australian bestseller, Dirt Town, published as Dirt Creek in North America. An earlier version of the book was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award. Hayley has a PhD in Creative Writing and is a former Director of Wollongong Writers Festival. To hear more from Hayley, listen to ep 68.

Danielle Binks is a writer, reviewer, agent and book blogger. She edited and contributed to Begin, End, Begin, an anthology of new Australian young adult writing inspired by the #LoveOzYA movement. The Year the Maps Changed, Danielle's debut middle-grade novel, was a CBCA Notable Book for Younger Readers 2021. The Monster of Her Age is Danielle's debut YA novel.

We also speak with Hilton Koppe, author of the memoir One Curious Doctor. To hear more from Hilton, listen to episode 70.

The ASA/Varuna Ray Koppe Young Writers Fellowship for 2024 is open for applications from 15 June 2023. Each year, thanks to the generosity of the Koppe family, the Australian Society of Authors awards a two-week residential fellowship to an aspiring or emerging writer under the age of 35. The fellowship includes a two-week Varuna residency, a one-hour consultation, a year’s membership to the ASA, and travel subsidy for writers outside of NSW. For more information and to apply, visit the ASA website

Upcoming events:

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Ghost Music by An Yu;
  • Eta Draconis by Brendan Ritchie;
  • Jacinta Dietrich (from ep 45);
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson;
  • The Long Knives by Irvine Welsh;
  • Jackie Bailey (from ep 66);
  • Candice Fox;
  • Tracey Lien;
  • Garry Disher;
  • Lee Kofman (from ep 76);
  • We Could Be Something by Will Kostakis;
  • Windhall by Ava Barry; 
  • Fiona McFarlane;
  • Limberlost by Robbie Arnott

Ashley's psychological thriller 'Dark Mode' is out now! Learn more about it and get your copy.

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

Get in touch!