Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that both books are about birds. I've been a keen birdwatcher since my dad took me to a patch of woodland near Tatton Park some time in the 1970s and we were lucky enough to see a jay. When I was editing Murmurations: An Anthology of Uncanny Stories About Birds (Two Ravens Press) in 2011 I invited Nick to submit a story; he sent me 'Gulls'. Meanwhile, I had been writing stories reflecting my growing interest in birds. In 2009 I wrote a story, 'Murder', for an artists' book, Stilled Lives (Righton Press), that was the result of a collaboration between colleagues of mine in the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and practitioners from the Manchester School of Art. With the benevolent indulgence of artist-editors Jonathan Carson and Rosie Miller, my story appeared as if in galley proof form from an imagined collection of my bird stories entited Ornithology.
Six years on, this imagined collection has become a reality thanks to Confingo Publishing, hitherto the home of a twice-yearly magazine, Confingo. Editor/publisher Tim Shearer and art editor Zoë McLean have produced a book so beautiful and tactile I regard myself as extremely lucky to have my name on the front cover. At least I think of it as my name. At the launch party for Nick's novel recently, we were joined by another Nicholas Royle (see photo, below). Would you believe me if I told you he is a biologist and academic with a special interest in birds?
If you would like to come and see and hear me and Nick read from and talk about our bird books, we are doing some events over the coming weeks, starting on Tuesday 16 May at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester. The following week we will be at Piccadilly Waterstones in London on Wednesday 24 May and at Brighton Waterstones on Thursday 25 May. Booking is recommended at all events.