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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.

Sep 28, 2021

James and Ashley interview David Heska Wanbli Weiden about his multi-award-winning debut novel 'Winter Counts.' In it, they discuss the shocking American laws that let crimes on Native American Reservations go unpunished, the importance of food in cultural reclamation, and the marvel of Carhenge.

Learn more about David on his website, and buy a copy of Winter Counts from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else books are sold. 

'Winter Counts' is a contemporary thriller about Virgil Wounded Horse, a hired vigilante on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Through it, Weiden reveals the profoundly broken criminal justice system on American reservations. 

David Heska Wanbli Weiden is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation and the author of Winter Counts. His debut novel, Winter Counts was the winner of the 2021 Thriller Award for Best First Novel, the Spur Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, and the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing. He lives in Colorado.

Books and authors discussed in this episode: 

  • Jim Thompson, US noir author;
  • Don Becker, Denver comedian;
  • Razorblade Tears by SA Cosby;
  • These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall;
  • They Can't Take Your Name by Robert Justice;
  • The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville;
  • The Shadow House by Anna Downes (our guest from episode 5);
  • The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright;
  • Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk 

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