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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 24, 2022

In her exploration of life in rural Australia, author Yumna Kassab draws on horror, crime and gothic inspiration to craft a thematically linked experiment in form and style. She speaks to us about her own experiences of rural life and how her science background has influenced her experimental approach to writing. Plus, James pitches her writing on the Pilliga as Australia's answer to The Blair Witch Project

Yumna Kassab is a writer from Western Sydney. She studied medical science and neuroscience at university. Her first book, The House of Youssef, was listed for prizes including the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, Queensland Literary Award, NSW Premier's Literary Award and The Stella Prize. You can buy a copy of 'Australiana' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else books are sold. 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au;
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard;
  • Blindness by Jose Saramago;
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez;
  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann;
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez
  • Divorce Is in the Air by Gonzalo Torne;
  • Raise the Titanic by Clive Cussler;
  • Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke

Find out more about Denizen here and check back for event details leading up to its release on July 19 2022!

Join Ashley for Put Them on the Edge of Their Seat, a workshop on crafting narrative tension. Saturday 11 June, 1-4pm in person at KSP Writers’ Centre, Perth. 

Get in touch!