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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.

Sep 13, 2022

***Warning! Spoilers for Denizen by James McKenzie Watson in this episode***

Heads up, this episode of James and Ashley Stay at Their Respective Homes in Separate Cities is full of spoilers for Denizen. If you haven't read Denizen yet, you can still enjoy reading about our special double-guest episode, and then get even more excited to go and read Denizen so you can listen without spoiler concerns.

Double guests? That's right, we finally get to speak with debut novelist Hayley Scrivenor, plus we welcome back our one and only repeat guest, author Jacinta Dietrich. We jump in immediately by talking about *that ending* and then discuss the ethics of writing violence, one-star reviews, and, of course, the great lasagna-with-a-side-of-peas debate. 

Hayley Scrivenor is the author of the number one Australian bestseller Dirt Town, also out now in the US and UK. She is a former Director of Wollongong Writers Festival. An earlier version of Dirt Town was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award. Hayley lives on Dharawal country, on the east coast of Australia, and has a PhD in Creative Writing.

Jacinta Dietrich is a writer and editor who holds a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. Her first book, This Is Us Now, was published in 2021 by Grattan Street Press. We first spoke to Jacinta back in episode 45.

Get your copy of Denizen from your local bookshopBooktopia or wherever else good books are sold.

Plus, check out the online courses from Writing NSW, including the six-week Online: Creative Non-fiction with Ashley, starting 31 October. 

Books and authors (and one doco) discussed in this episode: 

  • Robert Gott; 
  • This Is Us Now by Jacinta Dietrich (from ep 45); 
  • Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor; 
  • Petronella McGovern (from ep 12); 
  • Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix), directed by Skye Borgman; 
  • Halibut on the Moon by David Vann (from ep 23); 
  • There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura; 
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; 
  • Karl Ove Knausgård (of course); 
  • My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach; 
  • The Keepers by Al Campbell; 
  • Dark Deeds Down Under, edited by Craig Sisterson; 
  • Reacher Said Nothing: The Making of Make Me by Andy Martin; 
  • Dancing Barefoot by Alice Boyle; 
  • Earthlings by Sayaka Murata; 
  • The Whispering by Veronica Lando 
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