Saturday 16 May 2020

A Leap in the Dark - Saturday 16th May

Last night's Leap was a cracker, with a marvellous assembly of talents - poets Astrid Alben, Christodoulos Makris, Rhys Trimble and Matthew Welston joined our regulars Jonathan Gibbs and Michael Hughes, and the novelist Simon Okotie read his fine 3:AM Magazine lockdown blog and talked us through his Personal Anthology of favourite short stories.

Here's tonight's programme, curated by the novelist and publisher Nicholas Royle:

A Leap in the Dark 14    
8pm Saturday 16th May 2020

      An evening with Nightjar Press

Nightjar Press ( is an independent publisher specialising in limited edition single short-story chapbooks by individual authors. The publisher and editor is Nicholas Royle, the designer John Oakey. 

(The nightjar – aka corpse fowl or goatsucker – is a nocturnal bird with an uncanny, supernatural reputation that flies silently at dusk or dawn as it hunts for food. The nightjar is more often heard than seen, its song a series of ghostly clicks known as a churring. In her poem ‘Goatsucker’, Sylvia Plath wrote that the ‘Devil-bird’ flies ‘on wings of witch cloth’.)

Nicholas has organised a nocturnal entertainment featuring a spectacular cohort of writers published by Nightjar. This will be a night like no other.

There's no charge for taking part in A Leap in the Dark, but please make a donation, no matter how large, to The Trussell Trust.

The Programme

1 Performance by sound artist Gary Fisher

2 Reading by Alison Moore

3 Wyl Menmuir and Alison Moore in conversation

4 Reading by Wyl Menmuir

5 Reading by Conrad Williams


6 Reading by Leone Ross

7 Reading by Paul Griffiths

8 Reading by Matt Thomas

9 Reading by Roberta Dewa

10 Reading by CDN Warren

11 Performance by Gary Fisher

10 The Pale Usher signs off

The Company

Roberta Dewa published three historical novels with Robert Hale when in her twenties. There followed a short story collection, Holding Stones (Pewter Rose Press, 2009), and, in 2013, a memoir, The Memory of Bridges, and a contemporary novel, The Esplanade (Weathervane Press, 2014). Since retiring from university teaching, she has been writing poetry and short stories again, and in 2017 won the Willesden Herald prize. Her latest story, ‘Hide’, has just appeared from Nightjar.

Gary Fisher is a sound artist and experimental composer whose work explores sound through processes of inquiry and experimentation with objects, actions, words, places and technologies. He records, composes, performs and creates installations with various sound materials and approaches including found objects, found sounds from collected tapes and records, and invented instruments.

Paul Griffiths lives in Wales, where he was born in 1947. His novels include let me tell you (Reality Street Editions, 2008), which uses only the words Ophelia speaks in Hamlet – as does his Nightjar story, ‘so this is it’ (2019). He has also written extensively on music. His new novel, Mr. Beethoven, is published by Henningham Family Press. For further information see

Wyl Menmuir was born in 1979 in Stockport. He lives on the north coast of Cornwall with his wife and two children and works as a freelance editor and literacy consultant. His first novel, The Many (Salt), was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016. His second novel, Fox Fires, is forthcoming, also from Salt. His Nightjar story, ‘Rounds’, was published in 2016.

Alison Moore’s first novel, The Lighthouse, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Awards, winning the McKitterick Prize. Three further novels and a collection, The Pre-War House and Other Stories, have been published by Salt as well as a series of books for children. Born in Manchester in 1971, she lives near Nottingham with her husband Dan and son Arthur. She has had four stories published by Nightjar, most recently ‘Broad Moor’ in 2019.

Leone Ross is the author of two novels, All the Blood is Red (Angela Royal Publishing) and Orange Laughter (Anchor), and a short story collection, Come Let Us Sing Anyway (Peepal Tree Press). She works as a senior lecturer at Roehampton University. Her third novel, This One Sky Day, is forthcoming from Faber & Faber. Her website is at Nightjar published her story, ‘The Woman Who Lived in a Restaurant’, in 2015.

Nicholas Royle is the author of three short story collections – Mortality, Ornithology, The Dummy and Other Uncanny Stories – and seven novels, from Counterparts to First Novel. He is series editor of Best British Short Stories (Salt) and a Reader in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. He founded Nightjar Press in 2019, to publish signed, limited-edition short stories in chapbook format. A new collection, London Gothic, is forthcoming from Confingo Publishing. 

Matt Thomas was born in Wales and lives in South London. He has worked as a journalist and in museums. His short stories can be found in Foci, Ghostland and the Ink Anthology. His Nightjar story, ‘Living Together’, was published in 2018.

CDN Warren is a typographic/typewriter artist and writer based in the UK. His work has been exhibited several times, in Beijing (China), Hyrynsalmi (Finland) and the UK. His work is interested in various aspects of typographic experimentation, from painstakingly rendered graphic works on a range of manual typewriters, to computer-designed and hand-drawn visual works and concrete poetry. His website is at

Conrad Williams is the author of ten novels. His short fiction is collected in Use Once Then Destroy, Born With Teeth and I Will Surround You. He has won the British Fantasy award, the International Guild award and the Littlewood Arc prize. His new novel, One Who Was With Me, will be out in October 2020. His story for Nightjar was ‘The Jungle’ (2013).

The Pale Usher is David Collard, who organises these gigs.
The pale Usher—threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Our next Leap in the Dark is on Friday 22nd May and features the author Joanna Walsh (Hotel, Vertigo and Worlds from the Word’s End) discussing her forthcoming novel Seed with her publisher, Belfast-Based No Alibis Press. We’ll have another yoga lesson from David Holzer and the latest canto of Spring Journal by Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes, who will late join two other writers from Northern Ireland - Wendy Erskine and Emma Devlin - for the Settee Salon. 

No charge to join is so please remember to make a donation to The Trussell Trust (or your local equivalent)

Stay well!

The Pale Usher 

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