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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.

Apr 2, 2024

‘I had thought I was going to be like Harper Lee. I was going to write one book, it was going to be a massive global success, and then I would go into hiding.’ 

Hear from award-winning Irish author Liz Nugent, whose novel Strange Sally Diamond may have turned Ashley into a total fangirl. 

Liz discusses her journey from a childhood accident leading to dystonia, to finding success and self-confidence through writing, and to her recent brain surgery. Liz also dives into her latest novel, sharing insights into the creation of its unique protagonist and her writing process. 

Plus, Liz makes a call on the greatest crime novel of the past ten years!

Before becoming a full-time writer, Liz Nugent worked in film, theatre and television. Her five novels – Unravelling Oliver, Lying in Wait, Skin Deep, Our Little Cruelties and Strange Sally Diamond – have each been number one bestsellers. She has won four Irish Book Awards, as well as the James Joyce Medal for Literature. She lives in Dublin.

Books and authors discussed in this episode

  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper;
  • Val McDermid;
  • Ian Rankin;
  • Graham Norton;
  • Dervla McTiernan;
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee;
  • Lisa Jewell; 
  • The Prophet Song by Paul Lynch;
  • In the Woods by Tana French;
  • The Hunter by Tana French;
  • The Search by Tana French;
  • Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica;
  • Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov;
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro;
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Get your copy of Strange Sally Diamond from Booktopia or your local bookshop.

Upcoming events 

Learn more about Ashley's psychological thriller Dark Mode and get your copy here or from your local bookshop

Learn more about James' award-winning novel Denizen and get your copy here or from your local bookshop.

Get in touch!