Norfolk in ruins

Last week I spent a very enjoyable day out in West Norfolk and the Fens with my friend Clive (who took the fantastic cover photo for my novel), as we poked around various old churches and ruined buildings. One of the churches we visited (which shall remain nameless for now) was very much the inspiration for the church in ‘The Listeners’, and revisiting it for the first time in several years was quite poignant.

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“I can feel the ice-white harshness that pours through the windows, like light inside a glasshouse, mesmerising me…”

The church organ was suitably gothic, but I couldn’t get a sound out of it, despite pumping the bellows in true William Abrehart style…

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If I had seen this ‘Table of Kindred and Affinity’ while researching the book I would have definitely have included it somehow, as it was absolutely perfect. This photo isn’t staged either, this is exactly how it was placed.

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To the side of the altar, I loved the way the light fell on this chair and lectern. I could imagine Reverend Thurtle standing there, but there was no sign of him, fortunately.

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Nearby were the remains of a ruined priory. Despite gazing longingly many times at them over the years, this was the first time I have managed to have a proper close-up look, courtesy of kind permission from the owners of the house whose grounds they stand in.

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After this – and the appearance of a timely ‘stormcock’ (Mistle Thrush) overhead – we headed west, deep into the Norfolk Fens, to explore two ruined churches and a ruined house. I was particularly drawn to this face, which contained so much character in its lichen and its weathering.

 

Review and media roundup

Weed Death - the Non-Poisonous Weed Killer Poweder.

 ‘Weed Death’. Not really relevant to this post, but I needed a photo and rather liked this! I took the photo in Norwich Castle Museum a couple of month’s ago – the box was there in a display of found objects.

Gunnar Jaeck has just posted an excellent, and very interesting, review of ‘The Listeners’ on his website, Metal Reality. Click here to read it. And also have a look around the rest of the site while you’re there. It’s definitely metal, as well as also pretty mental (and I mean that in the positive adjectival sense that was widely in use when I was in school!).

Less metal, but more classic condiment: I was interviewed on Norwich’s local TV station, Mustard TV, a couple of weeks ago, where I talked about this year’s Wymondham Words with my Festival co-director, Moniza Alvi, and also read from ‘The Listeners’ (complete with funky sepia video effects!). Here’s a link to the item, though I don’t know how long it will stay live.

Africa’s Vulture Crisis

The situation for Africa's vultures is bleak - but it's not too late... (Photo: Estitxu Martinez de Albeniz)

The situation for Africa’s vultures is bleak – but it’s not too late… (Photo: Estitxu Martinez de Albeniz)

I thought I’d share an article that I wrote for the September 2015 edition of BirdLife International’s World Birdwatch magazine, which highlights the grave threat these magnificent birds of prey are facing.

To read a PDF of the article (500 KB), please click here.

To help, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/africanvultures

Kingdom of moths

I’ve been catching moths in my garden (using a harmless light trap) for almost a month now, and in that short space of time I’ve already managed to identify more than 50 different species. I’ll write more extensively on this in future, but for now here’s a short selection of images.

Privet hawkmoth

Privet hawkmoth, caught on the evening of Sat 4 July. One of the largest of our resident moths, with an incredible 8cm wingspan.

Burnished Brass.

Burnished Brass. An incredible-looking moth with a glorious metallic/mother-of-pearl sheen to its wings.

Beautiful Hook-tip

Beautiful Hook-tip. A very attractively shaped moth. I’ve only caught the one to date.

Buff-tip

Buff-tip. One of the commonest moths in my garden at the moment, but certainly one of my favourites with their amazing birch-twig mimicry.

I’m recording all of my sightings onto the excellent Norfolk Moths website, so hopefully the data will also prove useful in showing some of the hidden biodiversity in this corner of South Norfolk.

Elephant Hawkmoth

Elephant Hawkmoth. Just one so far in the garden of this common, lilac-tinged giant.

New trailer for ‘The Listeners’

Trailer for 'The Listeners'Thanks to my friends Simon Brooke and Clive Dunn (who also took the novel’s wonderful cover photo), I now have a trailer for ‘The Listeners’, which I think perfectly captures the atmosphere of the book.

I helped Clive to film it in an abandoned house in the heart of the Norfolk countryside, so the setting is certainly authentic. Simon then very kindly edited and made a story out of our rambling rushes.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it and thanks again to Simon and Clive. If you ever need some graphics made, videos edited, or photography or video taken, then check out their websites.

Click here to view the trailer on YouTube.

Signed copies of ‘The Listeners’ now in more bookshops

In good company on the shelves at Toppings, Ely

In good company on the shelves at Toppings, Ely

Signed paperback copies of ‘The Listeners’ are now available in more bookshops around East Anglia. The latest stockists include the wonderful Toppings Books in Ely, Bookmark in Spalding (thanks to Christine and Sam for organising my event there last week – and to everyone who came!), Crabpot Books in Wells and Cley, NWT Cley Marshes visitor centre, Ceres Books in Swaffham, the Holt Bookshop, and Waterstones King’s Lynn.

Thanks to all for their help and support, as well as to my other local stockists: Kett’s Books in Wymondham, The Book Hive, Jarrolds Book Department and Waterstones in Norwich city centre, and Waterstones UEA.

Fantastic Mark Cocker feature on ‘The Listeners’

Nature writer Mark Cocker wrote a wonderful two-page feature on The Listeners in last Saturday’s EDP Weekend.

I particularly enjoyed his description of John Abrehart, the character who strides through the centre of the novel (though we never get to hear from him directly due to his untimely demise before the novel begins):

“This centrally absent figure, John Abrehart, is evoked piecemeal by his offspring as a crudely vigorous muscleman, who is at once a war hero and a sensitive country labourer steeped in rural mythology and the elemental life of the fields, but he is also morally flawed.”

As the EDP don’t always digitise their Weekend features I’m including a pdf link of the article (877 KB) here for anyone who’d like to read it in full. And many thanks to Mark for the wonderful write-up!