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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.

Oct 12, 2021

Ashley interviews author and editor Heather Taylor-Johnson. When Heather was diagnosed with Ménière's disease at age 25, one of the many things it meant was quitting skydiving. She discusses how more than two decades of living with chronic illness have inspired her writing and led to the anthology 'Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Illness and Chronic Pain'. She also shares Van Gogh's misdiagnosis with her condition, describes how a year of studying art has changed her writing process, and tells us about her latest book, 'Rhymes with Hyenas'.

Learn more about Heather on her website, and buy a copy of 'Rhymes with Hyenas' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else books are sold. 

Heather Taylor-Johnson is a writer and editor. Born in Minnesota and now living in South Australia, she has written novels and poetry collections, and is the editor of 'Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain'. Her writing has been published in Meanjin, Southerly, Cordite, Westerly, Griffith Review, Island and TEXT. She lives with Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear.

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability by Jennifer Bartlett (ed);
  • Prosopagnosia by Sonia Hernandez;
  • No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

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