About Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a published fiction writer, publisher, event organiser, photographer, cardmaker, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She is an enthusiastic singer. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.

Hither Green Festival Video One – growing up reading SF and Fantasy…

Cherry Potts & Katy Darby Arachne Press authors and editors, talk about growing up reading SF & Fantasy, particularly by women, at Manor House Library for  Hither Green Festival

For the completists amongst you, here is the list Cherry forgot to bring with her of lots of  Sf/Fantasy books she loves, feel free to comment to add your own high points. There are loads more these were the ones that sprang readily to mind!

Growing up with SF/F – YA books and first reads…

Diana Wynne Jones The Spell Coat series
Susan Cooper The Dark is Rising
Sylvia Engdahl Heritage of a star
Jan Mark: Useful Idiots/ Riding Tycho/ The Ennead
Andre Norton Forerunner Foray, Plague Ship, Moon of Three Rings, The Beastmaster, Mark of the Cat, Witchworld series, Octagon Magic, Steel Magic etc
Tanith Lee The Dragon Hoard, Kill the Dead, Companions on the Road, Drinking Sapphire Wine
Ursula le Guin Earthsea series, Lathe of Heaven, Rocannon’s World, Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed (actually pretty much anything by Ursula)
Helen Simpson Ingo series
Joy Chant Red Moon, Black Mountain
Pamela Sargeant Women of Wonder anthologies

Writers discovered in the 70s and 80’s

Margaret Atwood Handmaid’s Tale
Joanna Russ We Who are About to
Jaygee Carr Leviathan’s Deep, Navigator Syndrome
Joan D Vinge Snow Queen, Catspaw,
Jane Yolen Cards of Grief, Briar Rose, short stories,
Vonda McIntyre Fireflood and other stories, Dreamsnake
Elizabeth A Lynn The Woman who Loved the Moon
C J Cherryh Faded Sun, Brothers of Earth, Heavy Time, the Morgaine series
Marian Zimmer Bradley Sword & Sorceress anthologies
Anne McCaffery The ship who sang, Pern series, Decision at Doona
Megan Lindholm Wolf Brother, Harpy’s Flight
Suzy McKee Charnas Walk to the Ends of the World, Motherlines
Nicola Griffith Bending the Landscape (as editor), Hild, Ammonite, Slow RIver
R A MacAvoy Tea with the Black Dragon
Kate Wilhelm The Infinity Box, Where late the sweet birds sing,

Classics:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman Herland, The Yellow Wallpaper
James Tiptree, Jr Houston, Houston do you read? (short story) Her Smoke Went Up for Ever
Naomi Mitchison Memoirs of a Space Woman
Vera Chapman Three Damosels
Zenna Henderson The Anything Box

More recent:

Naomi Novik Temeraire series
Emily St John Mandel: Station Eleven
Aimee Bender The Colour Master (short stories)
Kate Atkinson Not the End of the World, Life After Life

Women writers of SF/Fantasy published by Arachne Press

Alex Smith Devilskein & Dearlove
Cherry Potts Mosaic of Air, The Dowry Blade
Ghillian Potts The Naming of Brook Storyteller series

Anthologies: (stories with SF/F flavour by women, there is SF/F by men, and stories with nothing to do with either SF or fantasy in most of them!)
Weird Lies (Alex Smith, Angela Trevithick, C T Kingston,Ellen O ‘Neill, Maria Kyle, Peng Shepherd, Rebecca J Payne) winner of Saboteur2014 best anthology award
Lovers’ Lies (Mi L Holliday, Michelle Shine)
We/She (J A Hopper, Joanne L M Williams, Jennifer Rickard, Elizabeth Hopkinson, Ilora Choudhury, Katy Darby)
Five by Five (Katy Darby, Helen Morris)
Solstice Shorts (Helen Morris, Imogen Robertson, Cindy George, Jayne Pickering)
Shortest Day, Longest Night (Polly Hall, Katy Darby,Pippa Gladhill, Karen Bovenmyer, Cherry Potts, Frances Gapper)
Dusk (Pippa Gladhill, Penny Pepper, Fiona Salter, Helen Slavin,Katy Lee)
Liberty Tales (Katy Darby, Cherry Potts, Sarah Evans)
Stations (Cherry Potts, Caroline Hardman)

Amsterdam poets…

Arachne’s Amsterdam poets are reading together (with others) this Sunday…

(From the facebook info…)

Sunday 20 May at 4pm Labyrinth is hosting a poetry afternoon. ‘Stranger in A Strange Land’.
English language poets living in and around Amsterdam present their work based on their experiences in their old and new homes. Presented by Jeremy Keighley,
Line up of Poets:
Featuring Poet Kate Foley, Abra Bertman, Vicky Enea, Simon Brod, Lisa Suess, Jeremy Keighley and Robin Winckel

The poetry critique group started about 15 years ago and is a varied group of people who meet twice a month to read, discuss and critique each other’s poetry with a view to encouraging and improving their poetry. Along with the Poetry Critique, the group organises occasional Readings and Workshops.

Labyrinth (Amstelveenseweg 53, 1075VT Amsterdam, Netherlands) is a cocktail, food & poetry bar based in Amsterdam Zuid next to the Vondelpark. Labyrinth serves delicious food, special cocktails and regularly organises poetry events. Through the art of poetry and spoken word Labyrinth aims to bring people in their diversity together.

Facebook event

Bellingham Festival preview for DUSK

A handful of authors and poets will be previewing DUSK (the book of the latest Solstice Shorts  Festival), at Bellingham Festival, lunchtime on Wednesday 20th June.

Line up to be confirmed, but includes Laila Sumpton

Join us at

St John’s Church
353 Bromley Road
London
SE6 2RP

at 12 noon prompt!

Free, but bring money to buy a book – you know you’ll want one.

The book of the event

Patrick Gale called Dusk

One of the most imaginative, forward-thinking festivals in recent history: a nation’s length celebration of the dying of the light at the turning point of winter. 

Come and get shivers in the middle of summer…

Happy #IDAHOBIT everyone, and happy publication day to Cathy Bryant

To celebrate IDAHOBIT (INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA, BIPHOBIA, INTERSEXISM & TRANSPHOBIA) here’s a poem from Cathy Bryant‘s collection, Erratics, published today!!

We are still working on avenue for the official launch, bt Cathy will be reading at Stirred Poetry at 3MT on Oldham Street in Manchester,  on Monday 28th May.

Congratulations Cathy!

Shit People Say to Bisexuals
Cathy Bryant

You’re just greedy, aren’t you?
So when do you think you’ll make up your mind?
Are you a tourist?
When you’re going out with a man, what’s the difference
between you and a straight?
You’re straight really, aren’t you?
When you’re going out with a woman, what’s the difference
between you and a lesbian? You’re gay really, aren’t you?
Do you just want to fuck everybody?
Would you like a threesome? If so, does it have to be with
one of each?
Which is better, sex with a man or with a woman?
I want you to come to more gay events, to make you more gay.
Why not just be straight? After all, you can choose.
Is it just desperation?
Do you just think that no man will want you, but you want
to keep your options open?
Ah, I’m sorry to hear that – you can never settle down or get married, can you?
Well, everyone’s bisexual, aren’t they?
You’re doubly damned because you could choose not to sin.
You are so lucky not to have to deal with any of the
prejudices and preconceptions that we do.
You have it easiest of anyone, don’t you?

copyright Cathy Bryant/ Arachne Press Limited

Mental Health Awareness Week

In case you wondered, our writers and other collaborators are always welcome to talk about their mental health or lack of it with us at Arachne. Mental Health is an important issue too readily ignored. (An organisation I once worked for were doing risk assessments, and put ‘stress’ on the list because
people might make mistakes if they are stressed.
The head of HR and I both rose up and said very loudly, more or less in chorus,
no, stress is a risk in itself.
We didn’t win that one, I like to think that these days we would.

This week we are publishing Erratics a collection of poems by Cathy Bryant, who has several disabilities including ones that affect her mental health.

Here’s a suitable poem for this week that addresses an old chestnut:

Seeing the Glass as Half-full or Half-empty
Cathy Bryant

There are many other possibilities.
The busy homeworker sees more washing up to do.
The cat sees something to knock over.
The lovers see something to share.
The conspiracy theorist sees that the water was drugged,
and the glass had a gun and was on the grassy knoll.
The racist believes that the glass will be stolen by immigrants.
The tv presenter sees (whether it’s there or not) his reflection.
We depressives see something
that we’ll no doubt drop, spill and break.
The musician flicks the note E. Ping!
The child sees a drink, or water for paintbrushes.
The surrealist sees that the glass is made of political bananas.

copyright Cathy Bryant/ Arachne Press 2018

Wolftalker lopes into view

Here is the traditional ‘the books have arrived!’ shot for Wolftalker, by Ghillian Potts.

Another gorgeous cover from Gordy Wright, and another great printing job from TJ International.

This is the third and final installment of The Naming of Brook Storyteller, and Brook (Brat-Spellbinder-Dragonfriend-Wolftalker) has taken on an apprentice, Cricket; but deadly plots are all around and it takes all her cleverness and resilience to get to the bottom of it all, with a lot of help from Cricket, and her ‘cousin’, the wolf, Drinks-the-Wind.

In the shops from 7th June (the day after Ghillian’s 85th Birthday).

Launch party still in negotiation but I will be able to reveal soon, I hope!

The Amsterdam Launch of A Gift of Rivers

A couple of pictures from last week’s launch of A Gift of Rivers at Waterstones in Amsterdam.

Kate kept everyone engaged despite feeling a bit below par, and Tim says he sold lots of books (Kate noticed some people buying more than one copy, which is always nice.) Wish I could have been there!

There are a handful of copies left in store so anyone in Amsterdam who missed it Tim will be very pleased to sell you a copy.

Also available at all bookshops that stock poetry, and can be ordered by any that don’t, and of course direct from us.

There will be more readings soon, in the UK. watch this space!

In the meantime here’s the first review, from  London Grip

and the title poem

A GIFT OF RIVERS

Flying into Amsterdam
I see how a giant comb has pulled the hairs of the fields
into straight, wet lines, how the occasional hedge
runs on wiry feet away from the open,
how as the plane tilts
the edge of the water-land-water seems ghostly as the meniscus
an empty glass has left behind,
how the many transparent
voices of water thicken in canals
and the old windows in the city
are so like rolled water you wait for fish
to swim through their bubbles.

When I left the branches across our yard
were empty. Now small green fists
punch out space.

Thank you for your gift of rivers.

 

 

The Girl Who Sold Slippers to Snakes

A short story from Ghillian Potts

This story is mentioned in Ghil’s forthcoming finale to the Brook Storyteller series, Wolftalker, which is published next month.

The Girl Who Sold Slippers to Snakes

Long ago but not so long as all that, nor so far that you could never reach it, there was a town where lived a woman with one daughter.
The daughter, who was called Stonecrop after the little plant which can flourish even on bare rock, was very clever. She was wise as well as clever; but her mother was not wise. Her mother was very proud of Stonecrop and unwisely she boasted of how clever her daughter was.
“She can cook as well as I can,” boasted the mother. “She can sew with the tiniest stitches you ever saw. She can sing fit to charm the birds themselves and she can talk so well that she could persuade a snake to buy a pair of slippers!”
Now there many other mothers in the town who were quite as proud of their own daughters and they grew very tired of hearing how marvelous Stonecrop was. Perhaps if she had not been as pretty as she was clever, they would not have been so jealous. As it was, three or four of them got together and decided to bring down the pride of Stonecrop’s mother.
They went to the young lord who was the town’s protector and told him that Stonecrop was too clever to be allowed to live in that town.
“Why,” they said, “her own mother says that she can sell slippers to snakes! Whoever heard of such a thing? She must be a witch!”
The young lord did not know that the women were jealous. He did not believe in witches. He just thought that Stonecrop must be very vain and boastful. So he said, “How does one tell a witch? Let her come to my Court of Justice and I will question her. I cannot send her away unjustly.”
The women went away smiling. The first part of their plan was working. Now for the second part! They went to Stonecrop’s mother and told her that the lord himself had heard of Stonecrop’s cleverness and wanted to speak with her next day in the Justice Court.
“You must tell him about her,” they said, “You know how modest she is. She will make no sort of a showing if you don’t speak up for her. But don’t say anything about it to her beforehand; she is so shy!”
Stonecrop’s mother was so puffed up with pride that she suspected nothing. Next day, when the lord’s officers came to tell Stonecrop that the lord wanted her to come to the Court, her mother ran ahead and, as soon as the lord called for Stonecrop to come forward, her mother pushed in front and began to tell him how wonderful her daughter was, just as she always did.
“And she talks so well,” she ended as usual, “that she could surely sell slippers to snakes!”
Stonecrop knew that she could not stop her mother boasting, so she stood quietly waiting in the doorway until her mother finished.
The lord did not see her; he had grown impatient with her mother and now, angry, he exclaimed, “Then she had better go and do so! And never return to this town unless she can prove she has sold slippers to snakes!”
Then Stonecrop stepped forward and bowed to him and he looked and saw her for the first time and wished that he might take back the words he had just spoken. But spoken they were and nothing could alter them now.
However, that lord never afterwards gave any verdict, no matter how convincing the evidence, until after the accused had spoken. So some good came of it.
Stonecrop was hurt and angry at being banished in this way but she said nothing. She packed some clothes and food in a basket, said goodbye to her mother, who was weeping and wailing, and walked out of the town by the nearest gate. She had no idea where to go, so it did not matter which way she went.
She walked and she walked, and presently she came to a village. She asked if there were any snakes nearby.
“There’s a mound where they lie in the sun sometimes,” said the villagers. “We throw stones at them if we see them.”
“Are they poisonous snakes, then?” asked Stonecrop.
“Don’t know,” said the villagers. “Who cares? A snake is a snake.”
Stonecrop went to look. She saw lizards basking in the sun and then she saw the biggest grass snake she had ever seen.
Some of the village children had followed her. They began to throw stones at the snake.
“Leave it alone! It can’t hurt you. Why kill a harmless snake?” asked Stonecrop.
“It’s a snake!” yelled the boys. Stonecrop didn’t bother to argue. She stood over the snake to shield it. The boys did not dare throw stones at her. They went away.
It was getting late. “I can’t go to the village for shelter now,” she said aloud to herself. “Where shall I go?”
As she stood gazing around her, the huge grass snake uncoiled itself.
Stonecrop started away from it in alarm. Then she remembered that it was only a grass snake and she stood still and watched it.


It reared up its head and seemed to inspect her, then turned and glided between the trees away from the road. Stonecrop hesitated for a moment, then followed it. The snake led her stealthily through the trees, across a small field and into a hollow filled with low bushes.
In the middle, so sunk into the ground and overgrown with mosses that it was almost invisible, was a tiny house.
The snake slid up to the door and drew itself slowly under it, into the house.
Stonecrop watched until its tail tip had vanished, then went and knocked gently on the door. There was a faint scuffling sound from inside, then silence.
Stonecrop called out, “If you please! Your friendly snake led me here. Will you tell me where I may find shelter for the night?”
The door creaked open, just a crack, and someone peered at her. Then the door was opened wide and there stood a little old man, the smallest and ugliest Stonecrop had ever seen.
“If’n you bain’t afraid of snakes,” the old man said, in a voice as creaky as his door, “you c’n stay the night here.”
Stonecrop thanked him. “I’m certainly not afraid of harmless snakes,” she said. “But,” she added cautiously, “I am scared of poisonous ones.”
The ugly old man grinned at her. “I ain’t  got no poisonous snakes,” he told her. “Never worry, girl.”
Even the grass snake seemed to have vanished. So Stonecrop spent the night quite peacefully. In the morning she told the old man her story.
“That is why I was willing to follow your snake,” she explained. “I must find some way to make everyone think that I have sold slippers to at least one snake, or never go home again. And what earthly use could a snake have for slippers?”
“No money to pay for ‘em, neither,” said the little old man.
“It’s hopeless,” said Stonecrop. “I haven’t any slippers to sell, in any case!”
“Make some,” said the old man.
Stonecrop thought and thought. Then she took long strong grasses and wove them into slippers.
“I have slippers,” she said to the old man. “Now, how would a snake use them?”
The old man said, “Snakes like warmth.”
Stonecrop thought some more. “Would your snake sleep in a slipper of grass?” she asked.
The old man nodded.
“Will you let me take your snake back to the town with me?”
“You saved him from the stones. He’ll go with you,” said the old man.
“But what about payment?” said Stonecrop. “I can’t say I’ve sold the slipper if I haven’t been paid!”
“Snakes go under the ground as well as on it,” said the old man. He went into the house.
Presently the big grass snake came sliding out. It lowered its head and dropped something at Stonecrop’s feet. When she picked it up, she found it was a ruby as large as her little fingernail.
“But this is far too much!” she said.
The snake glided towards the road. It seemed to beckon impatiently with its tail. So Stonecrop followed it. She called goodbye and thanks to the old man but he did not come out or answer.
“I’ll come back and thank him properly later,” she said to herself.
The snake led her to a short cut. When she was sure of the way, Stonecrop carried it in her basket. It could not travel as fast and far as she could.
At last they came in sight of the town. Stonecrop let the snake coil around her shoulders. “You’ll be safer there,” she told it.
Everyone was very surprised to see her come back so soon and with a snake draped round her.
“Here is the snake I have sold a slipper to,” Stonecrop told them, “and here is the payment.”
When they saw the ruby, they ran to the lord’s house to tell him. He came to meet Stonecrop and she told everyone how she had saved the snake and made it a slipper of grass. The snake coiled itself up in the slipper and everyone could see that it was pleased with it.
“Now,” said Stonecrop, “I have done as you said and am no longer banished. But I will not stay here. I mean to go and live on my own, once I have taken this snake back to the old man.”
And she refused to listen to anyone’s persuasion. She gave the ruby to her mother and went on her way. Some of the townspeople tried to follow her, but the snake hissed at them so loudly that they were scared and ran back.
When Stonecrop got back to the hollow, the hut was gone. The little old ugly man was gone, too. Stonecrop was bewildered. She set the snake down in the grass.
“Can you find him?” she asked the snake. “I must thank him properly.”
The snake reared up its head and looked at her. It seemed to want her to do something. Stonecrop stroked it gently and then looked away. When she looked back, the little old man stood there. The snake had gone.
“I do believe you’re the snake!” cried Stonecrop, staring at him.
The old man grinned at her. “Took you long enough,” he said.
Stonecrop flung her arms around him and kissed him. “Thank you,” she began – and then jumped back with a gasp. The little old man was growing and changing! He was taller than Stonecrop and young and good-looking! He was laughing with joy.
“Thank you, Stonecrop,” he said. “You have broken both the spells that bound me. A wizard set them so that I must be a snake for half the time and an ugly old man the other half. Once someone knew the old man for the snake, I would be the old man all the time; and once a girl kissed me, ugly as I was, I would regain my real form. Will you marry me, Stonecrop?”
Stonecrop said, “I liked you when you were a snake and I liked you when you were an ugly old man. I think I like you enough to marry you! But what shall we live on?”
“While I was a snake,” said the young man, “I found many jewels in the ground. And as a little old man, I polished them. I think we shall have enough to live on.”
So they were married and lived as happily and as long as was good for them.

 

Previously published in Independent Story of the Year 4: the Ten Winning Stories (Scholastic 1997) There’s a rather mean review of the book as a whole below, which singles out this story as ‘…Outstanding. Its ingredients are traditional but the quality of the writing shines.’

 

Science Fiction and Fantasy for The Hither Green Festival

May 18th at 7pm
Manor House Library
34 Old Road
SE13 5SY
as part of the Hither Green Festival

FREE

Meet Arachne Press authors Cherry Potts and Katy Darby for a chat about Science Fiction and Fantasy written by women, and their own writing.

The evening will include readings and an opportunity to buy books and ask questions (PLEASE ask questions!), and Katy and Cherry will talk about their favourite women SF/F writers and what got them started on writing speculative fiction. Cherry will also talk about her mother, Ghillian Potts’ young adult fantasy series The Naming of Brook Storyteller the final book of which, Wolftalker is published in early June. we  have pre-publication copies, and will bring other books for you to buy. There may even be some giveaways.

An Outbreak of Peace contributors announced

Subject to confirmation from the writers, issuing of contracts and so on, we have the line-up for An Outbreak of Peace, our anthology responding to the centenary of the ending of WWI, which will be published in November.

They are:

Ellery Akers
Karen Ankers
Annelise Balsamo
Valerie Bence
Anne Bevan
Elinor Brooks
Katy Darby
Peter DeVille
Sarah Deckro
CB Droege
Ken Farrell
Corie Feiner
Norman Franke
David Guy
Chantal Heaven
Anwar jaber
Steven Jackson
Peter Kenny
Peter Shaver
Julie Laing
Katy Lee
Gerald McCarthy
Nicholas McGaughey
Nina Murray
Ness Owen
Clare Owen
Lily Peters
Nick Rawlinson
Rebecca Skipwith
Lucy Smith
Sarah Tait
James Toupin
Rob Walton
Nick Westerman
Martin Willitts, Jr
Mantz Yorke

We have an eclectic mix of poems and short stories some of which deal with WWI, some with the ending of other wars, and some not about war at all, as such, which is as it should be.