Episode 9

Enduring mysteries, serial killers and the dark web with Ashley Kalagian Blunt

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, which was a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award. Her writing appears in the Sydney widely across Australian publications, and she co-hosts James and Ashley Stay at Home, a podcast about writing, creativity and health, and teaches creative writing. Originally from Canada, she has lived and worked in South Korea, Peru and Mexico.

Our interview begins at  18:00

*Please note this book includes graphic descriptions of sexual and physical violence. Our discussions in this interview about true crime and the manosphere may also be triggering*

We've got a Substack publication now! On the last day of the month, we share recommendations for two things we reckon you should read/watch/listen to. The beauty of Substack is you can revisit all our old editions and comment on our episode updates to share your thoughts. Come say hi!

Caitlin recommends: Yellowface by R.F. Kuang*

A scathing exploration of cultural appropriation and publishing. A compelling read you'll race through.

*Caitlin read a copy through her role at Harper Collins Australia

Michelle recommends: Dancing Barefoot by Alice Boyle*

A delightful YA that puts a queer twist on the classic high school romance.

*Michelle read a copy from Text Publishing.

Bonus recommendation: In Search of a Shepherd by Dave Burton

In this interview, we chat about:

  • How this fictional thriller was inspired by The Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates and the 'manosphere'
  • WTF *is* the dark web?
  • Ashley's approach to her online presence and how it influenced the book (and why you need to change your passwords)
  • The Black Dahlia and how true crime podcasts inspired Ashley's writing
  • The surprising links between Ashley's research into genocide and the manosphere
  • The move from memoir and essays into writing and publishing fiction

Books and other things mentioned:

  • I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
  • Redhanded episode 291: The Silk Road
  • Root of Evil (podcast)
  • The Somerton Man was finally identified after decades of being a fascinating unsolved mystery (ABC feature)
  • Gunpowder (TV series)
  • Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce
  • Women in Crime (podcast)

Follow @AKalagianBlunt on Instagram

Dark Mode is available now. Thank you to UQP for providing us with copies of the book in preparation for the interview.

Connect with us on Instagram: @betterwordspod

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and going to aerial classes.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.