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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 23, 2023

The idea for Karina May's novel came to her while she was in the ICU, recovering from brain surgery. In this open-hearted interview, Karina shares the experience of living with a brain tumour for two decades before undergoing multiple surgeries to have it removed, and the resulting anxiety and creative inspiration she experienced. 

Despite now being the author of the popular romcom 'Duck à l’Orange for Breakfast,' Karina admits there was a time in her life when she didn't believe she was creative. We discuss the connection between her writing and health experiences, and what she's learned from both.   

Karina May is a Sydney-based former magazine journalist turned digital marketer, avid reader and writer of lively love stories that span the globe. 'Duck à l’Orange for Breakfast' is her debut novel in print. 

Get your copy of Duck à l’Orange for Breakfast from Booktopia or your local bookshop

Note: Nothing in this podcast is intended as medical advice. If you have concerns about your mental health, speak to your GP.

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Crushing by Genevieve Novak
  • No Hard Feelings by Genevieve Novak
  • The Shot by Naima Brown 
  • The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy 
  • Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Upcoming events with Ashley:

Upcoming events with James:

  • Sydney Writers Festival presents James McKenzie Watson – Wednesday 24 May, 6.30-7.30 pm, Penrith City Library ($5 – book here)
  • Sydney Writers Festival Life in the Landscape – Thursday 25 May, 11 am to 12 pm, Carriageworks ($15-$25 – book here
  • Yarrum Storyfest – 1-2 July, Yarrum Regional Theatre, Yarrum, VIC ($25-$40 book here

Ashley's psychological thriller 'Dark Mode' is out now! Learn more about it and get your copy.

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

Get in touch!