Nicholas Drayson was born in England and has lived in Australia since 1982, where he studied zoology and a PhD in 19th century Australian natural history writing. He has worked as a journalist in the UK, Kenya and Australia, writing for publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Australian Geographic. From 1998 to 2001 he wrote for the National Museum of Australia. His first novel, Confessing a Murder, was published in 2002, his latest is A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (Penguin, 2008). He was recently the winner of the inaugural WILDCARE Tasmania Nature Writing Prize.
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A Conversation with Nicholas Drayson about his novel, A Guide to the Birds of East Africa
Would you describe yourself as a birder?
I'd describe myself as more of a naturalistI like nature as a whole and in all its parts. I get just as much pleasure in watching a wasp hunting for spiders, a family of baboons, or the colors of the New England fall as I do in seeing a bird that I have never encountered before. The great thing about birds, though, is that they are easy to see and study. There are lots of them, they can be found nearly everywhere, most of them fly around happily in the daylight, and they make such great noises.
What made you decide to write this book?
Ten years ago I finished my Ph.D. and married the world's most beautiful Antarctic lexicographer, Bernadette Hince. Bernadette had just accepted a job as publications editor in an international agroforestry research center in Kenya, and we moved from Australia to Nairobi. I had done a lot of nature writing in Australia but, having no job and no work permit in Kenya, I decided to bite the literary bullet and write a novel. This situation also allowed me to spend a lot of time looking at Kenya's spectacular wildlife...
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