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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 28, 2023

‘I wanted to find compassion for me and for any writer out there who’s doing the best they can but it’s not working out the way they planned.’  

Author Laurie Steed shares how crippling anxiety affected both his literary career and his experience of fatherhood. Before he could address the anxiety, he first had to unlearn the lessons around masculinity that prevented him from expressing vulnerability. Working with a creativity coach, Laurie has developed new ways of thinking about his writing, his career, and himself. 

Plus, James and Ashley discuss their own ongoing health challenges and how their approaches to discussing health have changed (or not) over time. 

Laurie Steed is the author of You Belong Here, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, and Greater City Shadows, which was shortlisted for the 2022 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. His debut memoir is Love, Dad: Confessions of an Anxious Father. 

Get your copy of Love, Dad from Booktopia or your local bookshop.

Upcoming events 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • You Belong Here by Laurie Steed
  • Greater City Shadows by Laurie Steed (forthcoming)
  • ZZ Packer
  • Jack Kornfield
  • The Disorganisation of Celia Stone by Emma Young
  • Trapdoor by JP Pomare 

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.