67 episodes

James and Ashley are staying at home. Partly because there’s a pandemic, partly because they’re writers, and partly because of their health. Through discussions and interviews, they explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people live with chronic illness? And just what ARE you reading? Hosted by James McKenzie Watson, winner of the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize, and Ashley Kalagian Blunt, author of 'How to Be Australian.'

James and Ashley Stay at Home James McKenzie Watson and Ashley Kalagian Blunt

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 24 Ratings

James and Ashley are staying at home. Partly because there’s a pandemic, partly because they’re writers, and partly because of their health. Through discussions and interviews, they explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people live with chronic illness? And just what ARE you reading? Hosted by James McKenzie Watson, winner of the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize, and Ashley Kalagian Blunt, author of 'How to Be Australian.'

    Learning with a beginner's mindset with urban ecologist Darryl 'The Bird Guy' Jones

    Learning with a beginner's mindset with urban ecologist Darryl 'The Bird Guy' Jones

    'I regard my seventh book, Curlews on Vulture Street ... as my first real writing. You know, this is the one I'm most proud of. It was the biggest challenge and the one I enjoyed the most.' Urban ecologist and noted bird guy Darryl Jones joins us to share his transition from popular science to narrative nonfiction writer.   
    Darryl discusses the importance of having a beginner's mindset, what life is like now that he's a full-time writer, buried treasure, and his experience of living with Parkinson's. And of course we talk birds! Should you feed the birds in Australia? Do rainbow lorikeets eat mince? Plus, our special bonus guest – the eastern koel that lives outside Ashley's window and has been shrieking her awake at 5 am every morning!   
    Darryl Jones is a Professor of Ecology at Griffith University in Brisbane, where for over 30 years he has been investigating the many ways people and wildlife interact. He is particularly interested in why some species are extremely successful in urban landscapes, and how best to deal with the ensuing conflicts. More recently, he has been trying to understand more about the humans that also live in cities in large numbers, and how they engage with nature. This has led him into the strange and fascinating world of wild bird feeding. He is the author of several books, including 'The Birds at My Table', 'Feeding the Birds at Your Table', and his latest, 'Curlews on Vulture Street'.
    Books and authors discussed in this episode:
    Auē by Becky Manawatu; The Tilt by Chris Hammer; The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman (featured in ep 3); One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez; Tracker by Alexis Wright; Feeding the Birds at Your Table by Darryl Jones Get your copy of 'Curlews on Vulture Street' from your local bookshop, Booktopia or wherever good books are sold. And if you want your own bush stone curlew t-shirt, you can find it here. 
    James' novel 'Denizen' is out now! Learn more about it and buy your copy here. 
    Get in touch!
    Ashley's website: ashleykalagianblunt.com Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt Ashley's Instagram: @akalagianblunt James' website: jamesmckenziewatson.com James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson James' Instagram: @jamesmcwatson

    • 46 min
    How to say goodbye with Jackie Bailey, author of 'The Eulogy'

    How to say goodbye with Jackie Bailey, author of 'The Eulogy'

    How do you work through a major edit on your book when you have a traumatic brain injury? And how do you write about the death of a loved one while you're grieving? Jackie Bailey, author of debut novel 'The Eulogy' and professional deathwalker, joins us to discuss her experience with both.
    Jackie Bailey is a professional writer and researcher and a recognised international expert on cultural diversity in the arts. She has a Creative Writing PhD from UNSW and is on the Board of Merrigong Theatre Company. Jackie is also an ordained interfaith minister, trained deathwalker and practising funeral director. 'The Eulogy' is her debut novel.
    Get your copy of 'The Eulogy' from your local bookshop, Booktopia or wherever 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 discussed in this episode:
    'In life, my sister taught me how to love. In death, she made me want to fix the funeral industry' by Jackie Bailey for the Guardian; Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor; Found, Wanting by Natasha Sholl; The Smell of Fresh Rain: The Unexpected Pleasures of Our Most Elusive Sense by Barney Shaw; Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck; Denizen by James McKenzie Watson (featured in ep 60); Virginia Woolf; Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller; How to Be Australian by Ashley Kalagian Blunt James' novel 'Denizen' is out now! Learn more about it and buy your copy here. 
    Get in touch!
    Ashley's website: ashleykalagianblunt.com Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt Ashley's Instagram: @akalagianblunt James' website: jamesmckenziewatson.com James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson James' Instagram: @jamesmcwatson

    • 43 min
    The writer and the advocate with Al Campbell, author of 'The Keepers'

    The writer and the advocate with Al Campbell, author of 'The Keepers'

    Author Al Campbell joins us to discuss her debut book 'The Keepers,' a fictionalised account of her own life both as the mother of two autistic boys and the survivor of an abusive parent. 
    Al shares the reasons behind her choice to write fiction instead of memoir, what people don't realise about the life of a full-time carer, and the struggle for disability advocacy. 
    'The Keepers' is a contemporary Australian novel infused with deep love and wild torment, 'about the damage done by parents who can’t love, the failures of a community that only claims to care, and the resilience of those whose stories mostly go untold'.
    Born in Brisbane, Al Campbell is a mother and full-time carer. Long ago she studied a bit, acted a bit, and pulled a lot of beers. Her first publication was in 'Overland' in 2020, followed by a story in 'Signs of Life.' 'The Keepers' is about issues – and people – that matter to her more than anything.
    Get your copy of 'The Keepers' from your local bookshop, Booktopia or wherever 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 discussed in this episode:
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; David Vann; Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon; We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver; The Signal Line by Brendan Colley; Denizen by James McKenzie Watson; The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman (who we spoke to back in ep 4); The Suspect by Michael Robotham; The Road by Cormac McCarthy; All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy; Curlews on Vulture Street by Darryl Jones; The Whispering by Veronica Lando; Vikki Petraitis James' novel 'Denizen' is out now! Learn more about it and buy your copy here. 
    Get in touch!
    Ashley's website: ashleykalagianblunt.com Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt Ashley's Instagram: @akalagianblunt James' website: jamesmckenziewatson.com James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson James' Instagram: @jamesmcwatson

    • 56 min
    The most successful episode ever: a conversation about 'Denizen'

    The most successful episode ever: a conversation about 'Denizen'

    ***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 bookshop, Booktopia 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  Get in touch!
    Ashley's website: ashleykalagianblunt.com  Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt  Ashley's Instagram: @akalagianblunt  James' website: jamesmckenziewatson.com  James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson  James' Instagram: @jamesmcwatson

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Rest, recovery and writing with Bronwyn Birdsall, author of 'Time and Tide in Sarajevo'

    Rest, recovery and writing with Bronwyn Birdsall, author of 'Time and Tide in Sarajevo'

    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 bookshop, Booktopia 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!
    Ashley's website: ashleykalagianblunt.com Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt Ashley's Instagram: @akalagianblunt James' website: jamesmckenziewatson.com James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson James' Instagram: @jamesmcwatson

    • 49 min
    Ashley's big news

    Ashley's big news

    Ashley's got some exciting news she's been bursting to share, and you're just going to have to listen to this episode to find out what it is! 
    Read more here! 
    Get in touch!
    Ashley's website: ashleykalagianblunt.com Ashley's Twitter: @AKalagianBlunt Ashley's Instagram: @akalagianblunt James' website: jamesmckenziewatson.com James' Twitter: @JamesMcWatson James' Instagram: @jamesmcwatson

    • 5 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

Jacinta Dietrich ,

Must listen!!

Ashley and James are absolutely hilarious and should be top of your list!! Great banter, awesome guests and wonderful discussion.

@shannonanima ,

Book Banter

Ashley and James are perfect companions to flannel pjs and a cuppa, or ear buds and a brisk-ish walk. Their book banter, empathy & humour keep me walking that extra kilometre.

nlship ,

Ambiguous Loss

I very much enjoyed the podcast about ambiguous loss. It’s such a fascinating topic and sadly, far too common.

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