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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 23, 2024

'The doctors were telling me, "We’re going to take your greater omentum out" … I had no idea what these terms meant.' 

In episode 96, author Tracy Sorensen joins us to discuss her remarkable novel/cancer memoir, The Vitals, narrated by her internal organs.

After her original cancer diagnosis, a desire to better understand her body led Tracy to crochet her peritoneal organs. This in turn helped her to develop each organ's personality as they became point-of-view characters in the novel. She delves into her creative process, including the three-word sticky note that guided her writing.

Part of her goal was a deliberate departure from conventional 'battle' narratives surrounding cancer, opting instead for a more nuanced approach that challenges societal expectations. She also shares her approach to crafting narrative drive.

Tracy Sorensen is a writer and scholar. She grew up in Carnarvon on the north coast of Western Australia and now lives in Bathurst, New South Wales, with her partner, Steve. Her first novel, The Lucky Galah, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2019. The Vitals, her second novel, is based on her experience with advanced primary peritoneal cancer, a form of ovarian cancer. 

Books and authors discussed in this episode

  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk  
  • Enid Blyton
  • The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico
  • I’ll Leave You with This by Kylie Ladd
  • Number Go Up by Zeke Faux
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka
  • Loosely Based on a Made-Up Story by James Blunt

Get your copy of The Vitals 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.

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