I have always loved writing. And I have always loved the natural world. I fell asleep to the sounds of lions roaring before I could talk, but they were the lions in London Zoo, locked up across the park from our basement flat.
When I was six, we moved to “the countryside” (suburban Woking) and I was soon eager to impress visiting friends from the city with my newly acquired rural knowledge, imagining myself as a home counties Gerald Durrell.
Of course, I knew no more about anything than they did, but while Woking was not 1930s Corfu, I was lucky. My parents were enthusiastic walkers and amateur botanists. I was introduced early on to orchids on the South Downs, to roe deer in the Surrey hills and to walking holidays in the Highlands.
Even more influential were the books my Dad read to me about Africa, and the tales he told me of his own childhood in Kenya and Sudan. I dreamt of zebras galloping though long grass, lions sprawling under flat-topped acacias and giraffes silhouetted against a giant red sun.
I had to get there and see it all for myself, so when I left university I promptly headed for the bush. I spent nearly ten years working on research projects, living in remote camps in South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana. I studied African wild dog behaviour for my PhD but when I eventually came back to the UK I was shocked by how impoverished my home country’s wildlife was, how sanitised and beaten down.
We were supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, but the papers published horror stories about red kites flying off with small dogs and gulls stealing people’s chips. I thought of the rural Africans I had worked with who lived uneasily alongside elephants and lions and marvelled at the intolerance of our own farmers who refused to tolerate badgers or even crows.
Writing stories about wildlife was a natural progression for me. It offers me a way to share my love of the natural word and encourage a greater empathy for the remaining wild creatures we share our planet with. I hope you enjoy them.
I have written articles for magazines like BBC Wildlife and newspapers like The Independent (England’s Last Eagle).
In 2016 I won the International Wildlife Writing Competition on Mark Avery’s Conservation Blog.
My first novel, The Blue Hare, was published on 28th February 2019.
I am currently writing a second novel, The Painted Wolf.
Follow me @DrHWeb