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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.

Jul 5, 2022

In this bonus episode, James and Ashley share an episode from a brand new podcast series called Queer Writes Sessions (QWS), a Words and Nerds Podcast spin-off series in partnership with Blarney Books & Art. The series is hosted by R.W.R. McDonald, who we interviewed in episode 32.

Each month, QWS Podcast will interview a LGBTIQA+ writer and shout-out books and authors from our rainbow communities. We’re sharing this episode of QWS in celebration of NAIDOC Week, which celebrates and recognises the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is a chance to learn about First Nations cultures and histories. You can listen to each episode via Words and Nerds.

In this episode, Rob speaks with Professor Gregory Phillips, a writer from the Waanyi and Jaru Aboriginal Australian peoples. More information about this episode, including a transcript of the interview and list of books discussed, can be found here!

(Stick around to the end for 10 minutes of James and Ashley rambling about what they're reading.)

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Addictions and Healing in Aboriginal Country by Professor Gregory Phillips
  • The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James
  • Cemetery Boys by Aidan Thomas
  • The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O'Rourke
  • The Ruins by Scott Smith

Denizen is coming out July 19! Find out more and pre-order here. Details about all the events discussed in this episode, including launch events in Sydney, Melbourne, Dubbo and online now available

Book your tickets to Writers Unleashed, the 2022 Sutherland Shire Writers Festival, here! This is an all day event on Saturday, September 3 2022, at Tradies Gymea in Southern Sydney. Both James and Ashley will be appearing at events - it would be wonderful to see you there!

Ashley's next online writing workshop, The Joy of Creative Writing, is on Monday 25 July, 7:45-9 pm AEST online via Zoom. Book in here!

Get in touch!