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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 15, 2023

After Indira Naidoo lost her sister to suicide during the pandemic lockdowns, she unexpectedly found herself turning to nature to help her heal.

Speaking with Ashley, Indira shares the journey through grief that led to her memoir 'The Space Between the Stars,' including her relationship with an especially consoling Moreton Bay fig. She describes the challenge of writing the book when she struggled even to speak her sister’s name, and delves into our innate need to connect with the natural world.   

Indira Naidoo is one of Australia’s most popular broadcasters and authors. During her multi-decade award-winning journalistic career, she has hosted and reported for some of the country's most distinguished news and current affair programs, including the ABC TV’s Late Edition and SBS TV World News, and she is currently the host of ABC TV’s Compass and ABC Radio Sydney’s Evenings Program. She is an ambassador for Sydney’s homeless crisis centre the Wayside Chapel. Get your copy of The Space Between the Stars online or from your local bookshop.

The South Coast Writers Festival is happening 18 to 20 August at Wollongong Town Hall. Hear from James, Ashley, Hayley Scrivenor, Shankari Chandran, and more! Authors include Alan Baxter, Alexis Wright, Caroline Baum, Emma Viskic, Helena Fox, Indira Naidoo, Kate Holden, Kate Scott, Loraine Peck, Meredith Jaffe, Mykaela Saunders, Pamela Cook, Sara Ayoub, Sarah Saleh, Tim Ayliffe, Tim Flannery and Will Kostakis.

Indira is appearing on the panel 'Ritual, Nature and Grace,' alongside poet Tamryn Bennett, to discuss nature mysticism and medicine, rituals, and how writers express the things that strain beyond words. They’ll be speaking with festival director Sarah Nicholson.

Upcoming events 

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver;
  • Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe 

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!