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James and Ashley are staying at home. Partly because there’s a pandemic, partly because they’re writers, and partly because of their health. Through discussions and interviews, they explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people live with chronic illness? And just what ARE you reading?

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is author of two books, How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, a thriller novella and collected essays. My Name is Revenge was a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Woollahra Digital Literary Awards. Her writing appears in Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Big Issue, Westerly, Kill Your Darlings and more. She lives and works in Sydney, NSW. Find her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

James McKenzie Watson won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize for his novel Denizen, which also received a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship and 2021 KSP Fellowship, and was highly commended for the 2020 Writing NSW Varuna Fellowships. His short fiction has been recognised in competitions including the International InkTears Flash Fiction Contest and the Grieve Writing Competition, and featured in publications such as Baby Teeth Journal and Brave Voices Magazine. He works as a nurse in regional NSW. Find him on Twitter and Instagram or visit his website.

Ashley Kalagian Blunt and James McKenzie Watson

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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