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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.

Feb 14, 2023

Ashley wrote 40,000 words into the first draft of Dark Mode before scrapping most of it and restarting. Then she ploughed through to the end of a clunky draft in order to create a scene-by-scene outline of the plot mechanics. The outline became the blueprint for the next major revision – the one that landed her an agent.

In this ep, Ashley also talks about how she draws on her writers' group (or as James calls it, emotional focus group) throughout her writing process in order to craft her scenes and story.  

Plus, she shares why she's glad she waited until she'd been writing for 20 years to try a crime manuscript.

This is one of four weekly mini-episodes in celebration of the March 1st Australian release day!

A riveting psychological thriller drawn from true events, Ashley's debut novel Dark Mode delves into the terrifying reality of the dark web, and the price we pay for surrendering our privacy one click at a time.

You can pre-order Dark Mode in Australia and in the UK, from these links or your favourite bookshop. 

Join Ashley and Anna Downes at the Sydney launch of Dark Mode! (James will be there too!) Friday 3 March, 6.30-7.30pm, Better Read Than Dead, Newtown – free, bookings essential.

Join Ashley and JP Pomare at the Melbourne launch of Dark Mode! Thursday 9 March, 6.30-7.30pm, Readings Carlton, 309 Lygon St – free, bookings essential.

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

Get in touch!