As a group of avid readers in the LRP team we are very happy to have recently expanded our book offering online and in the showroom. We knew you would be interested in finding out more about some of the wonderful authors and illustrators who have created the ones we've selected. All books have a Hong Kong theme whether it be written or illustrated by someone who lives here or is about the city, the stories and the history of the place so many of us call home. We are creating a series of Ask The Author blog posts where we ask the same three questions (with an added bonus one at the end!) to find out more about their connection to the city, what their book is all about, what inspires them and their favourite things to see and do in the 852.
I was born in 1964, of Anglo-Welsh parents. I first came to Hong Kong in 1975, at the age of 10. My family lived on Waterloo Road in Kowloon Tong and I attended KGV School until we returned to England in 1981. I revisited Hong Kong several times during the 1980s, and in 1988 I moved back permanently, taking up a junior position in the Department of Zoology at Hong Kong University. I studied and worked on various aspects of Hong Kong’s natural history at HKU for the following ten years. This included conducting an M.Phil. at Mai Po Nature Reserve, a survey of Hong Kong’s freshwater wetlands, and Hong Kong’s first (and only) formal territory-wide biodiversity survey. I also established and edited a Hong Kong natural history newsletter, Porcupine!, during the 1990s. Confessions of a Hong Kong Naturalist is my memoir of those wonderful ten years; of the fascinating and often eccentric individuals I met and of the astonishingly diverse Hong Kong wildlife that I encountered.
In the mid-1990s, in addition to my HKU work, I joined the newly established Fauna Conservation Department at Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, on a part-time basis, a position which became permanent in 1998. This enabled me to not only continue my work on Hong Kong wildlife but to extend it into tropical southern China.
At the turn of the century, I started a family and turned to more remunerative work in the field of ecological consultancy until 2008, and subsequently undertook a third career, in editing. My novel, Sevens, was written during this time and drew upon my experiences of that period. In 2012, with some reluctance, I moved back to England. I now live in Winchester with my Hong Kong family.
Confessions of a Hong Kong Naturalist was driven by my love for the wildlife of Hong Kong, a love which began in the 1970s when I was still a school boy. Back then, the name of the naturalist Geoffrey Herklots was still well-known amongst those who took an interest in Hong Kong’s fauna and flora. He had written extensively on both. In 1959, Herklots had published The Hong Kong Countryside, his delightfully informal account of the territory’s natural history. No work of a similar ilk had been published before or since (although there had been numerous field guides and academic studies). I wanted my Confessions to be a sort of homage to Herklots.
The initial inspiration for Sevens was a visit I made to my old school, KGV, in 2008, with a group of old classmates. It was the first time I had been back since the early 1980s, and affected me much more profoundly than I had anticipated. The novel grew out of an imagined reconstruction of that transformative event.
Favourite thing to do or see in Hong Kong
I spent more than thirty years in Hong Kong and loved so many aspects of it that it is very hard to single out a favourite thing. Walking in the hills of the North East New Territories, or Sai Kung Peninsula, or Lantau Island, on a dry, sunny January day, in a cool breeze, looking out for the familiar winter visitor birds, is one of the things that I most miss. Or wading a shady hill stream in summer, searching for dragonflies (my favourite creatures).
Your favourite Hong Kong creature
The dragonflies of Hong Kong have been a passion of mine since the 1990s. There are more than 120 different species, though, so I won’t attempt to single out a favourite.