Arachne Tenth Anniversary Sale – June


We are celebrating our 10th Anniversary by exploring our back catalogue and inviting you to do likewise with special offers on books celebrating their anniversaries in each month.


So for June we have a voucher, ARA10JUN, to get 50% off the following books

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Accidental Flowers (novel)

Paper Crusade (poetry)

Story Cities (flash)

Brat (YA Novel)

Wolftalker (YA Novel)

The Old Woman from Friuli (illustrated children’s story)


All you need to do is use the code ARA10JUN at the checkout when you buy any or all of these books – you can only use the code once, so we encourage you to buy in bulk!

Special offer on New AudioBooks – Routes

We launched three audiobooks on Thursday night, and this is the last of the recordings of readings. To celebrate the launches, we have a 20% off special offer voucher for these three audiobooks if you buy them via our  audio and eBook store, this isn’t valid for any other site. Just use the code AudioLaunch before the end of May!

Tonight’s recordings: Rhiya Pau‘s Routes, read by Farhana Khalique

Rhiya introduces the book:

the readings:

and an actual audiobook file


Special offer on New AudioBooks – In the Blood

We launched three audiobooks on Thursday night, and over the next couple of days we are going to share some of the recordings. To celebrate we have a 20% off special offer voucher for these three audiobooks if you buy them via our  audio and eBook store, this isn’t valid for any other site. Just use the code AudioLaunch before the end of May!

Tonight’s recordings: Anna Fodorova‘s In the Blood, read by Lisa Rose

Anna introduces the book:

the readings:

and a couple of the actual audiobook files


Special offer on New AudioBooks – Paper Crusade

We launched three audiobooks last night, and over the next couple of days we are going to share some of the recordings. To celebrate we have a 20% off special offer voucher for these three audiobooks if you buy them via our  audio and eBook store, this isn’t valid for any other site. Just use the code AudioLaunch before the end of May!

Tonight’s recordings: Paper Crusade, a book length poem by Michelle Penn, read by Sophie Aldred, Nigel Pilkington and Saul Reichlin

Michelle introduces the book:

the readings:

and one of the actual audiobook files – combining the voices of all three narrators

we are deeply impressed with the skills of Sean Kennedy at Listening Books, who spliced this together so seamlessly from files recorded in 3 different home studios!

Independent Bookshop Week 2023

We’re really pleased to be joining forces with Brixton bookshop, Round Table Books, for a week of events in celebration of Independent Bookshop Week 2023, and of the brilliant community of independent publishers, booksellers, readers and writers in South London.

Independent Bookshop Week, which takes places from 17 – 24th June, is a Bookseller’s Association campaign, designed to celebrate and promote indy bookshops and all they do to keep the UK book trade diverse, eclectic and engaged with local communities.

We love getting know our local independent bookshops (as well as those further afield!) so we’re delighted to be hosting four events at Round Table Books during Independent Bookshop Week, showcasing recent and forthcoming Arachne Press titles. All the events are free to attend:

Sunday 18th June, 6.30pm: Writers from Arachne Press anthology, Where We Find Ourselves: Poems and Stories of Maps and Mapping from UK writers of the global majority. Nikita Chadha, Farhana Khalique, Lesley Kerr, Emily Abdeni-Holman, L Kiew and Mallika Kahn will read their own and one others’ work from the anthology, discussing what inspired their own piece and why they chose the other to share. Book now.

Monday 19th June, 6.30pm: Writing LGBTQ+ Joy with poet Jeremy Dixon. Ahead of the submission deadline for Arachne Press’ LGBTQ+ poetry anthology, Joy//Us, (October 11th) join poet and co-editor Jeremy Dixon for a workshop on writing queer joy. Suitable for all levels of poetry experience, this is an opportunity to explore the theme of queer joy, and perhaps produce a poem to submit for the anthology. Jeremy Dixon’s latest collection, A Voice Coming From Thenwon the Wales Book of the Year English language poetry category in 2022. Pre-booking essential, book now.

Tuesday 20th June, 6.30pm: Poetry reading with AJ Akoto. Debut poet AJ Akoto gives a pre-publication reading from her forthcoming poetry collection UnMothered (13 July 2023), followed by a Q and A session with Round Table Books Co-Director, Meera Ghanshamdas. Inspired by a desire to break the silence surrounding difficulties in mother-daughter relationships, UnMothered uses storytelling and myth to capture the complexity, and contradictions, that define the mother-daughter bond. Book now.

Thursday 22nd June, 8pm: poet Rhiya Pau reads from her award-winning debut collection, Routes. Exploring the routes taken by Rhiya Pau’s parents and grandparents across multiple countries to arrive in the UK, Routes lays bare the conflicts of identity that arise from being a member of the East African-Indian diaspora. Book now.

Free tickets to all the events can be reserved on Eventbrite and books will be available to buy, and get signed, at Round Table Books.

Meera Ghanshamdas of Round Table Books said:

‘We are delighted to be partnering with Arachne Press for Independent bookshop week, not only are they really local to us, but we are on very much the same page (pun deliberate) on the importance of inclusive publishing. Arachne’s focus on LGBTQ+ and disabled writers, as well as their championing of Global Majority writers, sits really well with the aims and ethos of our organisation. I’m really looking forward to meeting all the authors who will be reading or running workshops with us.’

We are really looking forward to being involved in #IndieBookshopWeek and hope to see you at one of the above events. And remember, a bookshop is for life not just Independent Bookshop Week! 


Today, 17th May, is IDAHOBIT – International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. A much needed punctuation to the year. This evening in Edinburgh, at Typewronger Books, Jeremy Dixon is running the first of a series of workshops: Writing Queer Joy. (book here!) These workshops are to encourage LGBTQ+ poets to submit their work to our anthology Joy//Us, which will be published on IDAHOBIT 2024. Deadline for submissions is Coming Out Day, 11th October 2023.

Check out our events page for booking details for the workshops. They are in  London (June), Sheffield (July), Bristol (August),and on line (September).

In the meantime, a flaaaash sale! Use the code IDAHOBIT50 at checkout today, to get 50% off any of our LGBTQ+ titles! 

Older Women Writers: Cheryl Powell

Continuing our conversation with older women writers, a contribution from Cheryl Powell who has a story in Menopause: The Anthology due out October 2023

If it wasn’t for the menopause and mid-life malcontentment, I wouldn’t have started writing. So, thank you, hormones. Without the hot sweats, anxiety attacks, brain fog and crises of confidence, I might never have explored the joy of storytelling.

So, this is how it happened. I was in my early fifties and had been self-employed in public relations and copywriting for more than twenty years. All going along without a hitch. Then one day, quite out of the blue, I had a meltdown. I felt I didn’t know what I was doing, couldn’t think straight; I was a fraud, an imposter and hopelessly out of my depth. Looking back, I realise I had typical menopause symptoms.  At the time, I wondered if I’d always been inept, but had only just rumbled it.

It was January, I took time out from work and – so I didn’t feel totally without purpose – did an ‘introduction to teaching’ course at my local college. By September I was teaching English GCSE to disenchanted car mechanic, social care, early years and hairdressing students, some of whom were on the course because they simply didn’t know what else to do.  My first class involved stopping motor mechanic students from dangling a tyre out of the window and trying to persuade them to sit down and put their phones away. If I’d wanted to throw myself to the lions in a fit of self-loathing, this was as good a start as any.

But, here’s the thing. English GCSE has a 40-mark creative writing question. I bloody loved that question.  I loved preparing class materials for it, teaching it and even writing a response to the question myself.   Even though my students were generally a tough crowd, there were occasions I felt I actually did teach a few of them something and, more importantly, helped them to find their inner creativity, which can do a lot to nurture self-confidence.

The upshot: I started writing. I joined a fantastic writers’ group in Solihull, submitted a few flash fiction pieces to magazines and anthologies, got one or two accepted, and submitted more. My stories are dark and speculative and explore what it is to be human, and the hell we bring upon ourselves.  Pretty glum, sometimes, admitted, but often with a knife-slide humour.  They’ve been performed by the Liars’ League in London and Hong Kong, and appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Arachne Press’s Menopause anthology, due out in October this year.

In 2018 I completed an MA in Writing at Warwick University. I had the absolute time of my life. Me, a woman of advancing years, a student again, in the much-revered Writing Room at Warwick. Well, how ridiculous. Yet, I found out that young people, though awesome, didn’t have the monopoly on creativity and talent. Some of the best writers on the course were those who, yes, had talent, but were also older and had life experience. That was heartening.

I now live in Worcestershire where I have started a local writing group, deliver writing workshops and also go on writing retreats twice a year with some longstanding writer friends. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut: ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”



Coming this weekend: Earth Day, Shakespeare, workshop

It’s a busy weekend. We have VG Lee’s Writing the Body workshop on Memoir and Monologue on Saturday afternoon at Manor House Library SE13, book via the library on 020 8463 0420 or on this link

It’s Earth Day on Saturday (so turn off everything you can turn off for an hour), and it’s Shakespeare Day ( and Folio400 day) on Sunday!

We are celebrating both these with a flash sale over the weekend (so no need to use your device to order during Earth Hour)
Use the Code EARTH for discounts on our eco titles
A Pocketful of Chalk by Claire Booker, Accidental Flowers by Lily Peters, Saved to Cloud by Kate Foley, Strange Waters by Jackie Taylor,
and anthologies: No Spider Harmed in the Making of This Book, Tymes Goe by Turnes and Words from the Brink
and SHAKESPEARE for discounts on our Shakespeare inspired titles,  Paper Crusade and With Paper for Feet

Advance warning! We are back at Keats House on Midsummer night, 21st June to celebrate #Folio400 in our own way. Readings from Michelle Penn and Jennifer A McGowan from their respective Shakespeare-hued collections, Paper Crusade, a distopian take on the Tempest, and With Paper for Feet, which delves into the interior lives of Shakespeare’s female characters. Followed by a sonnet workshop from Jennifer for those who want to have a go. Appropriately, it is Paper Crusade‘s 1st Anniversary that day.

older women writers: Kate Foley

Continuing our series of commentary from older women writers, here is Kate Foley on the huge gap between first experience of making poetry poet and actually getting published 45 years later. Also, video interview from when we first published Kate, in October 2016, with her collection The Don’t Touch Garden (also available as an audio book)

The Don’t Touch Garden

Up on the wild and lonely moors/ a keen wind is blowing./ The heather and the yellow gorse/ are in profusion growing….’  I wrote, aged 11 in my first convent grammar school year. ‘That’s poetry’  said my lion-headed English teacher. So I knew that I was destined to become a poet. 

My second stroke of luck happened when I was 56 at a bookshop ‘do’ when I’d thrust a few poems on Lilian Mohin, publisher of Onlywomen press, who raised her eyebrows wearily. Next day the phone rang and a voice said ‘I want to do a book!’ Now nearly 30 years and 11 publications later I still don’t know where the difference between being a poet and making poetry lies. Is it because I’m a woman in a world largely occupied by men in the being a poet bit? Nah! True but too easy! Time left only to savour that moment when one word fits another creating a nest for the rare and magical egg of poetry.

Crab Pots and Coffee: Writing The Arctic Diaries

As publication of The Arctic Diaries approaches, we spoke to poet Melissa Davies to ask about the inspiration for her debut collection and her experiences on Sørvær – a tiny island in a remote Norwegian archipelago.

Here we are, The Arctic Dairies is about to go out into the world and what am I feeling? 

In this moment, I find myself thinking often about the people living on Fleinvær. The handful of residents, the weekenders and friends I’ve spent another winter with. I picture them reading it and try to imagine what they will feel. After all, every poem sits in their landscape, not mine.

Listen to Melissa Davies read ‘Bird Wife’, on location in Norway

The Arctic Diaries truly started in the spring of 2017 with a Facebook post asking ‘Do you want to live and work in the Arctic?’ to which I replied yes! Months later a Skype call with the jazz musician who founded an artist retreat on Sørvær (one island in the archipelago of Fleinvær) and in November 2018 I was on a plane to the north of Norway to run The Arctic Hideaway for two months….which turned into six. My husband and I landed in the middle of an arctic storm to quickly learn the way of life here: weather rules winter and it is futile to resist that fact.

Sørvær is one of two year-round inhabited islands in the archipelago and during that first winter we spent many of the cold afternoons of polar night with the only other couple overwintering there. It was over kaffe, lefse and boknafisk (semi-dried cod) that I heard the tales that eventually became The Arctic Diaries. The book really began to form when I realised that many of these stories—eroded through family retelling—would disappear with the passing of the people we came to call friends. Not just traditional or folk tales but vocabulary unique to the landscape, ways of living and happenings that continue to tell us how it is to be here.

However, I don’t see The Arctic Diaries as an archive. The characters I’ve written are fictional, they are not two dimensional drawings of the people I met, I could never do them justice. Instead, I hope that readers will take from each poem what they need, along with a raised awareness or reminder of what we are losing as industrial fishing and fish farming continue to devour Norway’s coastline.

Having said that, the book is also a diary of my first winter on Fleinvær. An exploration of being ‘other’ and the personal demons I was facing at the time so I kept the diary title, structure and dates.

As someone from rural Cumbria, it was interesting to see so many of the difficulties facing Fleinvær and wider Nordland county reflected in the issues facing my own home. I write about the coastal Arctic because it’s the landscape that speaks to me but many of the poems sing a mourning song familiar to the fells too. So as you dive into sea orms, crab pots and eider nests please remember, The Arctic Diaries is only the first chapter in a project that has more to give, especially as art cements a place in the forward momentum of climate activism and Europe swirls with questions of borders and migration.

Pre-order a copy of The Arctic Diaries through our shop.

Tomorrow – Margaret Crompton

Continuing our conversation with older women writers Margaret Crompton, contributor to Arachne anthologies, No Spider Harmed in the Making of this Book, and  Tymes goe by Turnes, writes about her work as a playwright in her 80’s

 My first play was not a success. In Usurper Usurp’d, written for Junior Dramatic Society, the heroine conquers the heart of the conqueror’s son. The entire plot is in the title for, then as now, I had no idea how to develop action. After that,  play-writing was confined to my brief JDS portrayal of  William Shakespeare composing Macbeth’s Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow speech.

Many of my own tomorrows produced thousands of written words: articles,  lectures, poems, reviews, short stories, flash fiction, books and blogs. But no more plays.

A university boyfriend who planned to be a novelist took me to Nottingham in homage to D H Lawrence. But I chose the Drama option, two years with Greeks, Jacobeans and Ibsen. Voices. More voices in my postgraduate courses;  training for social work, I could remember and record an entire hour-long interview, word for word. Deep listening behind the words. Really hearing. Paying attention.

Now most of my tomorrows have become yesterdays. Every tomorrow counts. Every word. Every voice in my head. At 70 or thereabouts, I began a new adventure – I wrote a play.  That’s a story for another blog. It’s important today, because it has led to me writing this, when I should be preparing for tomorrow. A (much) older woman writer, on the eve of performance of Anne Askew, my fourth play for the small ensemble for which I write and direct (Script in Hand).The first performance was in the Assembly Rooms (2019), then Cathedral Chapter House (2021). Tomorrow will be our first production in a beautiful Medieval city-centre church, our first Saturday afternoon, our first collaboration with musicians from an Early Music ensemble (1685).

My scripts, and the fine Script in Hand actors, give voices to women with local connections. Through them, I have a voice. For example, Anne Askew read the Bible illegally in Lincoln Cathedral and was harassed by priests. In 1546, caught up in political conspiracy she was burnt for heresy, in London. Her courage, peaceful protest, and fidelity to her co-religionists, enable me to ask questions about freedom, loyalty, justice. Her father asks Eve, a woman of the present day, For what would you go to the stake, like my Anne?

Later,  Anne asks Eve: Do you believe you’re free to not believe whatever you choose? Eve answers: I haven’t thought about it.  Anne: “Not thinking” is the greatest freedom of all. But foolish.  Eve: Why? Anne Because if you are not aware of your freedom it may easily be stolen without you even being aware that it is lost. 

It takes a year to write a play. I revel in the research, ideas, finding ways to bring people to life through words. Whenever possible I use their own words (journals, letters). Dr John Bale selects points from the copious editorial comments in which  he embedded Anne Askew’s written record of her interrogations, (which had been smuggled out of England after her death). Bishop John Longland reads from his sermon. But my plays are works of imagination, not lectures. As I write, I listen to the voices,  attend to the people. I can even write for the actors, knowing their strengths and abilities. Then as we rehearse, I revise.

We have no problems about age. We’re all over 60, five of us over 80. In my first play, three actors began as schoolgirls. Writing for long-dead people disposes of any need to attempt physical resemblances. Anne Askew died at 25. In my play, she is played by two women: one reads from Anne’s own writings. The other meets Eve in the Cathedral in the present day. Performances are staged readings (we were all raised on BBC Home Service radio plays), in simple uniform.

I set Katherine Swynford and the Countess Joan in the Cathedral when visitors have left and remaining residents come out for a tomb-break, where they’re visited by friends and relations.  Although only the viscera of Queen Eleanor repose in her huge sarcophagus under the East window, (progress of the rest, taken to London, marked by the Eleanor Crosses),  I wrote a robust part for the actor to express – loudly and often – her majesty’s displeasure at her treatment.

No role is ever bland or simple. As I write, and even more as they act, I learn. Within the Queen’s bluster is distress. At first I hated Bishop Longland as Anne Askew’s enemy. But I realised that he, like Anne, had been committed to his beliefs, and his position had been perilous at a perilous time. When the actor plays his scene tomorrow, Bishop Longland will be real.

Every script is new, difficult, designed to challenge me, the cast, and eventually the audience. Where is the point otherwise? This is our time to take risk – to grow, learn, experiment, play. Adventures of the mind and spirit. Drama. Time out of time. Free of space.

I understand flow,  rise and fall, change of mood and speed,  and surprise. But I still can’t write a plot or develop action.

Tomorrow at this time it will be nearly over. Another challenge accepted. Another risk taken.

What next?

Margaret Crompton

31st March 2023

The performance is at St Mary le Wigford Church, Lincoln (beside railway station)
Saturday 1st April 2 pm 
admission free, donations invited for Historic Charities of Wigford Trust: JAQT – Relief of Need.
‘Script in Hand’ with musician from ‘Sixteen Eighty Five’ early music ensemble
bookstall with Prize for the fire by Rilla Askew – who will be present