Latest updates


Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?

The crowdfunding campaign for Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? was launched nearly five years ago. And tomorrow, Thursday 18th February, the paperback edition – with a spanking new cover by the wonderful Mark Ecob – will be published.

This, of course, might be only of passing interest to you. Displaying enviable cunning, you got…

Into The Tangled Bank

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

It’s just over two years since Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? was published, and on 9 July its 'sort-of-sequel' will be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Into The Tangled Bank is in some ways similar to Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? It is, for want of a better phrase, 'nature writing', and it takes me on a sort of quest. But there’s no particular target in view, no 'I have to see these things…

Bird talk

Monday, 3 December 2018

Hello bird fans!

A quick update to say I'll be chatting to David Darrell-Lambert about birdy stuff at Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace on Thursday December 13th at 7.30. David's own book, Birdwatching London, is an excellent guide to the best birding spots in the capital, and he, unlike me, is a proper expert. It would be lovely to see you there. More details here.

Launch party reminder

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


Just a quick reminder that you are all invited to the launch party for Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? this Thursday, 5th July at the Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town (invitation attached). If you're coming, and haven't yet told me, please do so, either in the comments below or by email to Sorry I haven't been able to email you all individually with the invitation...

ENGLAND60 is the code and I am an idiot

Monday, 25 June 2018

Achieving unprecedented levels of incompetence, I sent the last update without the all-important discount code.


This is why I'm not allowed near heavy machinery.


Monday, 25 June 2018

A couple of weeks ago I had a brainwave: we’d offer 10% off pledges for The Long and the Short of It per goal England score in each of their group games. They'd never scored more than four goals in a World Cup game. 15 tournaments, 64 games. Never more than four in a game. What could possibly go wrong?

Panama went wrong.

As a result, and for a limited time only, you can get a frankly mind-boggling…

One month in

Thursday, 14 June 2018

It's very nearly a month since Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? hit both physical and virtual bookshelves, so a brief update is in order.

  • Some people have bought it. Exactly how many, I don't know, but some. This is pleasing.
  • Some bookshops are stocking it. It's been seen in places as diverse as Waterstones, Hatchards, Stanfords and so on (I'm going to put three apostrophes here for those…

Words As Music

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

I'm not here. Things to do. But here's a quick update to say that I'm taking part in a discussion on Words As Music at 7pm on Saturday February 10th. It's at the MAP Studio Café, 46 Grafton Road, NW5 3DU.

And here's the thing: I have no idea what I'm going to say. It'll be grand! Luckily the other three participants are clever and serious people, so I might just get away with sitting there and…

Cover story

Sunday, 25 June 2017

If crowdfunding a book has a downside, it’s transparency.

In the normal course of things, the reader learns about a book maybe a couple of months before its release. Usually it’s not until it’s actually published, and often not even then.

But with Unbound’s model, the reader is in on the process from the very beginning, and is an integral part of the book’s creation. Without them, the book…

A year ago today...

Thursday, 25 May 2017 was cloudy. I have the photos to prove it.

The plan for the day: up early (the emptiness of the road will give you a clue exactly how early), a walk round my local patch to see how the nuthatch chicks and other new arrivals were doing, breakfast, school run, work on some Berlioz, catch up with emails, rehearsal in the evening.

Oh yes. Launch a crowdfunding campaign.

I had no idea…

Copy that

Friday, 19 May 2017


In my last update I shared Unbound’s schedule for making a book, and reported that, in accordance with the basics of quantum theory, we were simultaneously at stages 3 and 4.

Things have progressed in the intervening three weeks (quicker than I thought, to be honest – in my weaker moments I had nightmare visions of my manuscript coming back with a pithy 'no good – rewrite' scrawled…

Making a book

Friday, 28 April 2017

One of the delights of pledging for an Unbound book is the nice surprise you get when you receive said book in the post over a year later having completely forgotten about it.

I mention this (a) because my copy of Paul Bassett Davies’ Dead Writers in Rehab arrived yesterday, and (b) to continue the process of expectations-management vis à vis and in re this here book o’ mine.

For all that…


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

I learned a new word the other day. It's 'gökotta' (approximately pronounced, so I gather, 'djuh-koo-ta' – sit on the T for half a second). It's a Swedish word meaning 'the act of getting up early specifically to go outside and listen to birdsong', and I love it unconditionally.

Those Swedes. Take that, hygge.

Scandinavian languages seem to be chock full of single words for which English requires…

Writing tools for writing tools

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

There’s a lot of discussion among writers nowadays about the best software to use to write a book. In fact it’s been calculated that if all the time writers spent thinking about writing software were spent actually writing, then the world would be literally knee-deep in books.

Or maybe that’s the stat I read about breeding success in great tits.

But no matter, the principle stands.

It’s a…

Snoopy dance

Thursday, 9 March 2017

At about 9.15 this morning I did a little Snoopy dance.

I do them most days, obviously, but this one had an extra bounce to it. I’d just received an email from myeditorthelovelyScott. It contained words like ‘warm’, ‘funny’, ‘very good book’. It transpired that he wasn’t talking about some bestseller he’d just read, but the 70+ thousand book-shaped words I’d sent him a couple of weeks ago. So a…

Questions questions

Thursday, 19 January 2017

People have been asking me questions. Here are some of them.

I saw a bird today and wondered if you could help me ident—

It was a jay.

I haven’t told you about it yet.

It was a jay.

It was about the size—

Of a crow, but it had pink bits and looked exotic.


It’s always a jay. People know pigeons, they know crows, they know gulls, tits and parakeets. They don’t know jays, even though…


Saturday, 31 December 2016

Hello shedders.

Once again I have deserted you in your month of need, and now all I'm doing is popping up to say 'Hello!' and 'Happy New Year!' and 'Would you mind giving me a hand with this corkscrew?'

It's been quite a year, and now, with just over an hour of daylight left till the end of my 200-bird challenge, it's all suspense and drama here as I scour the Isle of Wight high and low looking…

Apologies for absence

Friday, 18 November 2016

I do apologise. I’ve abandoned you in the shed without so much as a word for weeks and weeks, and now the biscuits have run out and you’ve resorted to eating potting compost. As I say, I apologise.

Mitigating circumstance No. 1: I’m writing a book.

Mitigating circumstance No. 2: I’ve been watching birds.

Mitigating circumstance No. 3: Elgar’s Violin Concerto doesn’t conduct itself.


When is 100% not 100%?

Friday, 9 September 2016

It's the old football manager cliche: 'The lads gave 110%'.

And so did you. Well, 103% so far. This is fantastic. As previously stated here, it means the book can happen. It will exist.

'So what about the extra 3%?' I hear you cry. 'And why are you still nadging on about funding? Get to that desk and write that book, slacker!'

You have a point.

But as well as biting the rook, as the Reverend…

Mallards and Mahler

Friday, 19 August 2016

Sorry I haven't been around the shed for a while. I blame Mahler.

It was Mahler, if you recall, who told his friend Bruno Walter not to bother looking at the dramatic and precipitous Höllengebirge because 'I have already composed it in my third symphony', this being a decent representation of the truth, because said symph contains some stirring stuff.

It wasn't Mahler's third symphony that occupied…


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

66% funded.

That’s two-thirds (never mind the spare .66666666etc%). Time for a big ‘huzzah’, but also a medium-sized ‘oo-err…’

Because, you see, the Marvin/Eeyore/Toby Ziegler side of me can only see the downside: we still have to find 33% (never mind the spare .333333333etc%).

It’s amazing to have got this far, really. Enormous gratitude is going out, right this very second, to everyone…

Trouble at t'feeder

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The bird feeders in our garden have turned into a battleground.

Our efforts to quell the onslaught of ring-necked parakeets have come to nought. We’d hoped they might be too heavy for the new spring-loaded feeders we bought to deter the squirrels.

No such luck.

One parakeet is a delight. Two are acceptable. Three are a gang. Four are reason to buy an air rifle.

Strangely, I don’t feel…

What's it all about?

Friday, 10 June 2016

It’s been quite a month. When I pitched Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? to Unbound, I did so more in hope than expectation. Their enthusiasm for the project has been a brilliant surprise, and the support I’ve received from numerous pledgers in the short period since the book was launched doubly so. Just two weeks into the campaign we’ve reached 30%.

*airpunch* *sidestrain*

A THANK YOU the size…

Publication date: June 2018
133% funded
353 backers