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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.

Aug 23, 2022

Author Bronwyn Birdsall joins us to discuss the writing of her first novel, 'Time and Tide in Sarajevo,' and her life after chronic fatigue syndrome. We discuss living with a mindset of rest and recovery, moving overseas and reinventing yourself, and the question at the heart of the book – how do we find hope in a world that feels beyond repair?  

As always, nothing in this episode is intended as medical advice. 

Bronwyn Birdsall grew up in Sydney. At the age of twenty-four, she moved to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and worked as an English teacher. The four years she spent there provided the inspiration for 'Time and Tide in Sarajevo.' Her writing centres around contemporary life and finding meaning in the everyday. She writes from her home on Bundjalung Country, in Northern New South Wales.

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Sarah Sentilles; 
  • Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski;
  • Indelible City by Louisa Lim; 
  • The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman;  
  • Songs of a Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti; 
  • A Kind of Magic by Anna Spargo-Ryan; 
  • The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis; 
  • The Whispering by Veronica Lando 

Get your copy of 'Tide and Tide in Sarajevo' from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else good books are sold. 

James' novel 'Denizen' is out now! Learn more about it and buy your copy here. 

Upcoming events:

  • James: Author talk at Taree Library, Friday 26 August 2022, 11am-12pm, free, RSVP here.  
  • James: Author talk at Port Macquarie Library, Saturday 27 August 2022, 10:30-11:30am, free, RSVP here.  
  • James and Ashley: Writers Unleashed (Sutherland Shire Writers Festival), Saturday 3 September, 9.30-5pm.
  • James: BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival 2022, 'Three Prizewinners Walk into a Bar...' Friday 9 September, 3-4pm.
  • Ashley is teaching The Joy of Creative Writing, Tuesday 30 August, 7.45-9pm, online via Zoom.
  • Ashley's new six-week course Online: Creative Non-Fiction takes place Monday 31 October to Friday 9 December 2022, through Writing NSW. 

Get in touch!