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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.

May 16, 2024

Throughout their careers, James and Ashley have each picked up some excellent writing tricks, plus developed a few of their own. Now, they’re each sharing a few of their most effective writing techniques (starting with episode 94 - James’ shortcut to compelling characters).

In this episode, Ashley gives a mini-masterclass on narrative drive and shares some revelations inspired by a book she refuses to name. She breaks down the four components of narrative drive in writing and explores the importance of each.

Plus, she shares the official title of her forthcoming thriller! 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Gears of War: Aspho Fields by Karen Traviss;
  • Candice Fox;
  • JP Pomare; 
  • In the Woods by Tana French;
  • Red River Road by Anna Downes; 
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt;
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga; 
  • Rattled by Ellis Gunn (from ep 56); 
  • Toni Jordan;  
  • How to Be Australian by Ashley Kalagian Blunt;
  • The Cop Who Fell From the Sky by Craig Semple; 
  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara; 
  • Annette Higgs (from ep 86);
  • Indira Naidoo (from ep 82)
Upcoming events 

Learn more about Ashley's bestselling 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!