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 December we had a voucher, ARA10DEC, to get 50% off the following books – mostly Solstice anthologies that month, which may not be a surprise, plus a YA Fantasy novel.
Because we hardly ever publish a book in January, we are extending the December voucher to the end of January, so keep using ARA10DEC for the solstice books, and we are adding the only January book Lovers’ Lies which is already reduced to £5, so if you use ARA10JAN you get it for £2.50! That’s clear, isn’t it??
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, when we remember the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Second World War, and all victims of persecution and genocide around the world.
Author Anna Fodorova grew up in a family where everyone except her parents had been killed in the Holocaust. Both in her career as a therapist, and as an author, Anna explores the notion and experience of being a Second Generation Holocaust Survivor. To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, and to remember all the lost families, Anna has shared this blog post with us.
In 1968 I was a student at the Prague College of Applied Arts. Being a Jew in post-war Czechoslovakia seemed then like a dangerous secret, but it was an exciting time – there was hope that the reform of the totalitarian regimes in Eastern Europe was possible, and it was the first year that we were allowed to travel and work in the West. When a fellow student showed me the Butlin’s holiday camp brochure picturing a palm tree against the sea, I imagined myself as a barmaid somewhere in the Bognor Riviera and, though I didn’t speak a word of English, I felt I had what it took: I was young, had long hair, wore a miniskirt and intended to purchase some stick-on eyelashes as soon as I got paid.
On arrival in Bognor Regis, the first thing I noticed was that Butlin’s was surrounded by a tall barbed-wire fence and powerful searchlights. I was issued with a uniform and a card with a mugshot of me holding a number that I had to show every time I left or entered the perimeters of the camp. I slept on a bunk bed, and at night I watched the security guards walk around with their scary dogs.
Bizarre though my experience in Butlin’s was, I remained blind to its obvious echoes. I left Butlin’s hoping to hitch-hike around England but then the Russians invaded my country, and I became an emigrant.
Years later, when I started to train as a psychotherapist I gathered the courage to talk about what it felt like to be born into a family where everyone except my parents had been killed in the Shoa. Around the same time I came across the term ‘Second Generation Holocaust Survivors’. When I mentioned it to my mother she looked at me surprised: What second generation? You were born after it was all over, nothing happened to you.
I became puzzled by that nothing. The nothing that we carry inside us, and that formed us in our childhood. I attended conferences about the transgenerational transmission of trauma where, to my amazement I met people who, though coming from different countries and circumstances, had similar experiences of silence, denial and guilt. I published a paper about it in Psychodynamic Practice journal called Mourning by proxy: Notes on a conference, empty graves and silence. The same journal also printed another paper of mine called Lost and Found: The fear and thrill of loss. As a part of my research I visited the London Transport Lost property office and, seeing piles of toys, shoes, suitcases, push chairs (what happened to the child?) and other personal belongings who lost their owners, my internal associations were no longer a mystery to me.
I realized that the loss of someone or something and the search for them was going to be a theme that stayed with me. Another theme I wanted to explore was heritage, both psychological, and the one we carry in our genes.
My new novel, In the Blood, explores the impact of history on the personal lives of three generations – a mother, a daughter and a grandmother. My main protagonist, Agata, is the only child of Czech/Jewish parents. She grew up in Prague, believing that all her relatives perished in the Holocaust. Now living in London with her English husband and their daughter, Agata discovers astonishing news: not everyone died.
Like Agata, I too believed that my mother was the only member of her family to survive the war. When, to my incredulity, I found out that it wasn’t quite so, I tried to understand why this was kept a secret. What was there to hide?
Eventually I realised what that secret was: it was trauma, but in my novel Agata sets out to discover ‘the truth’.
Through her subsequent search for her surviving relatives, she meets a young man, the grandson of a Nazi who is writing a thesis about the transmission of trauma to the descendants of the perpetrators as well as the victims. They form an odd relationship. Soon Agata’s pursuit turns into an all-consuming obsession that alienates everyone around her. Yet for Agata, despite her quest risking the tearing apart of not only the family she already has, but her very own identity, finding out what happened in the past seems vital, the past that we all need to understand, whether that is to come to terms with the transmission of trauma, or as in Agata’s case, to put names and dates and faces to all the lost families, and to discover the not so lost.
To find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day you can visit www.hmd.org.uk. At 4pm today people across the UK will take part in a national moment for HMD by lighting candles and putting them in their windows to remember those who were murdered, and to stand against prejudice and hatred. You can take part as an individual and share a photo of your candle on social media using #LighttheDarkness.
A reminder that this anniversary festival is all the work of our authors, from making suggestions as to what they would want to attend, to putting together the events. We just promote and host!
I thought it would be useful to give you all a bit more detail about the authors who have put together our amazing, eclectic anniversary events.
For our fourth week we have events on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday (two events)
Tuesday Jan 24, 2023 6pm The Business of writing– The Society of Authors This is very kindly being run for us, by two of the coordinators of the Society of Authors Poetry & Spoken Word group: Johanna Clarke and Mathilde Zeeman
Johanna Clarke has been an advisor at the SoA since October 2021. She advises writers on publishing contracts and issues, and works closely on their outreach programme. Johanna is one of the coordinators of the SoA’s Poetry and Spoken Word Group.
Mathilde Zeeman joined the SoA in 2022. She recently transferred from the Membership team to the Advisory team where she will continue her work advising writers on publishing issues, and is a coordinator of the SoA’s Poetry and Spoken Word Group.
Nikita is a writer, poet and social commentator who advocates for an intersectional lens and approach to be utilised – she is committed to spotlighting the ‘other’, those who are chronically unheard and underrepresented within society. Her poetry focuses on the experiences of the South Asian diaspora, mental health and identity. Nikita’s poem Jallianwalla Bagh appears in our anthology Where We Find Ourselves, and she chaired our Writing the Diaspora panel. Nikita is also a patient voice advocate, lead facilitator and speaker for Cysters (a non-profit that specialises in supporting marginalised people with reproductive and mental health problems. Instagram: @nikkaayyy_c @didacticdiaspora @cystersgroup
Seni was born and raised in Leeds, of English and Sri Lankan heritage. Published by Peepal Tree Press – Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin (2007), The Heart of It (2012), Unknown Soldier (2019). She is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and has collaborated with film-makers, visual artists, musicians and digital artists. She is one of ten commissioned writers on the Colonial Countryside Project: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted. She is currently co-editing a Bloodaxe anthology of post-independence Tamil, Sinhala and English poetry and working on her fourth collection. She lives in Derbyshire and works as a freelance writer. Arachne published Seni’s poem,Triptychs Without Borders, in our Global Majority anthology, Where We Find Ourselves, and Seni took part in our writing the Diaspora panel.
After working as an actor and arts administrator in London, Clare married a boat builder and moved to Cornwall. She promptly had three children and set up an improvised theatre company, re-enacting the stories of their audiences around the county. More recently she has co-written and performed with the all women ensemble, ‘Riot of the Freelance Mind’ and she regularly reads her short fiction at spoken word events and local festivals. Her first YA novel Zed and the Cormorants, was published by Arachne Press in April 2021 and is the winner of the Holyer An Gof YA prize and the Ann Trevenen Jenkin cup. Clare also had a story in our anthology, An Outbreak of Peace, both the short story and the novel explore various aspects of mental health through the lens of a young adult protaganist, and the way the natural world can help.
Kavita A. Jindal is an award-winning poet, fiction-writer and essayist. Her novel Manual For A Decent Life won the Eastern Eye Award for Literature 2020 and the Brighthorse Prize. She has published three slim volumes of poetry: Raincheck Accepted, Raincheck Renewed and Patina. She served as Senior Editor at Asia Literary Review and is co-founder of The Whole Kahani writers’ collective. Kavita’s workshop is aimed at short fiction and poetry writers, and is about harnessing emotions for creativity. She says that her story Cocoon Lucky in Where We Find Ourselvescame out of anger, and I can relate to that, as it was temper that created Arachne Press!
On Saturday 21st our first event is at 12:00, when we have the first of our looking after yourself as a writer sessions, Resilient writers with writer and coach Neil Lawrence.
Neil taught Wellbeing Education in secondary schools for 25 years. He is now a Life coach and Organisational Consultant. Keenly creative, he is a musician who has performed on the acoustic circuit as well as being an impassioned writer.Neil sent this little video to explain his workshop.
We had a huge BSL translation project for What Meets the Eye, and the conversations between writers and translators were fascinating and I really wanted to share them, so this is our first attempt at that. this workshop will be conducted in BSL with english interpretation and auto captions
DL is a deaf queer poet fluent in British Sign Language and English. Working with such different languages has inspired a deep interest in translation and how her work can be made accessible to signing and non-signing audiences. They have performed around the UK including at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Millennium Centre and the Albert Hall, as well as in America and Brazil.
Lisa Kelly has single-sided deafness. She is also half Danish. Her first collection, Lisa is co-editor of The Deaf Issue, Magma 69. She has been shortlisted four times for the Bridport Prize, longlisted for the National Poetry Competition in 2016 and 2018 and won the 2016 University of Lancaster (MA) ‘Reading’ Prize. In 2019, she read at Poetry International, Southbank Centre for d/Deaf Republic: Poets on Deafness. In 2020, she was commissioned by Nottingham Trent University in partnership with the Science Museum to create a film-poem in collaboration with other poets responding to telephony from a d/Deaf and marginalised perspective. She is currently studying British Sign Language, and is a freelance journalist writing about technology and business. Her latest pamphlet, From The IKEA Back Catalogue, is published by New Walk Editions 2021.
Mary-Jayne is a theatre maker and workshop facilitator. She is passionate about deaf / disabled theatre and empowering people through the use of theatre and drama. Mary-Jayne has a degree in Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies from the University of Reading, and since graduating in 2005 has have worked as a freelance facilitator, scriptwriter, BSL storyteller, actor, stage manager, ambassador, director and BSL poet. She has taught BSL poetry, with a focus on poem translation from BSL to English rather than English to BSL.
And finally (for this week) Sunday at 6.30pm, a second looking after you workshop, What’s it about? Synopsis and Pitch with Katy Darby. Katy has co-edited several of our anthologies, teaches creative writing at City, University of London and co-runs London Live Lit series Liars’ League. I’ve heard her accurately reduce a doorstop of a book to 9 words, so she knows what you need to pitch and write a synopsis, difficult tasks at the best of times.
Jennifer has been published by us consistently, from a single poem in our very first poetry anthology The Other Side of Sleep, to her first full poetry pamphlet With Paper for Feet and her most recent collection, How to be a Tarot Card, (or a Teenager) which we published in October. Jennifer lives in Oxfordshire. She has been a semi-professional mime and performed in five countries as well as more traditional work as researcher, editor, and writer for a strategic management company. She has taught both at several universities, in subjects as varied as English, history, and heritage studies. Jennifer is also an historical re-enactor who disappears out of the 20th Century for weeks at a time. Jennifer was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome at age 16, and has had long covid for most of the past 2 years, and can still come up with a snappy and beguiling title for a workshop!
The root cause of our bilingual anthology, A470 Poems for the Road/ Cerddi’r Fforddwas realising there were Welsh poets writing (beautifully) in English, who weren’t confident enough in their Welsh to write poetry in their native language. If ever there was an overhang of English cultural imperialism, there it was staring me in the face, and I was outraged. You can’t get specific grants for translation into Welsh, only out of it. I was more outraged! So I decided to do something about it. So this workshop is very much in the same mode of enabling people in their goddess given right to write in their native language. My welsh is limited to Diolch (Thank You) Bore da (hello) and what I read on road signs – appropriately – and I’m very grateful to Lowri for taking it on!
Lowri is a Creative Writing graduate from MMU, nature writer, and bilingual poet for BRAG magazine. She loves the sea and spends her spare time surfing at Porth Neigwl. During the evenings she’s a cocktail bartender who enjoys drinking Margaritas with her aunt. Lowri’s poem in A470 proved very useful when I was driving up and down that very road, touring the book to bookshops and libraries – here’s why. I pretty sure she’ll be great company for the workshop!
We’ve published Elizabeth in our 2018 women only Liars’ League anthology We/Sheand our 2019 Solstice Shorts anthology Time and Tide, and our 8th anniversary anthology No Spider Harmed in the Making of this Book.
Outside Arachne publications, Elizabeth has written loads of stories which have been published in anthologies and magazines. More recently she has published three books of revisionist mythology, Asexual Fairy Tales, MoreAsexual Fairy Tales, and Asexual Myths & Tales.
Later in the day at 3pm, we are introducing the call out for Joy//Us, an anthology of LGBTQ poetry, which will be presented by Arachne editor Cherry Potts and Poet, Jeremy Dixon who will be the co-editor; and poet Rick Dove. We publish lots of LGBTQ writers but it feels like time to actually showcase that, and give a bit of focus to the work we are creating with our LGBTQ authors and poets.
Cherry Potts (me!) is the founder/owner of Arachne Press, which she started in a fit of anger after a fall out with her then publisher (a case of I could do it better myself... which I could, but my goodness, I didn’t realise it would be such hard work). She has published an epic lesbian fantasy novel The Dowry Blade and 2 short story collections Tales Told Before Cockcrow and Mosaic of Air, and has numerous stories in anthologies and magazines.
Rick Dove is joining us to give an additional example of our existing cohort of LGBTQ writers. We published a poem by Rick in Where We Find Ourselves, a long three part family history, which so delighted me I went in search of a biography of Ricks Great Aunt, the first black woman to sing on the BBC!
Rick is a mixed-race, London based poet whose work draws narratives, and styles, from wide influences, always takes a keen interest in both societal and personal change, and how these cardinal forces interact as we grow. A regular performer on the London poetry scene since 2015, Rick has been published in numerous poetry zines and the national press. His first pamphlet, Haigha’s Noosphere Canticles, was published in 2017 by William Cornelius Harris Publishing, and his debut full collection Tales From the Other Box, was published by Burning Eye in 2020. In July 2021, Rick became the UK Poetry Slam Champion for 2021.
I thought it would be useful to give you all a bit more detail about the authors who have put together our amazing, eclectic anniversary events.
Tonight, our Three Takes on Place, started as three separate event proposals, perhaps given our propensity for what is apparently known as ‘psychogeography’ (not entirely sure what it is, but if the cap fits…).
Diana Melissa & Sherry
We’ve published all the authors in at least one of our Solstice Shorts anthologies, and Diana is also in our bilingual Cymraeg/English poetry anthology A470. They all have work forthcoming – Melissa Davies’s The Arctic Diaries in April this year, and Diana Powell’s Ravellings and Sherry Morris’s Another Motherland on a promise for our next-but-one funding bid.
The writers live in Cumbria, Wales and Scotland, and Melissa (Cumbria) writes about Norway, and Sherry (Scotland) writes about her native America, Ukraine (where she lived for a while) and her adopted scotland, and Diana writes about Wales. And I don’t mean travel writing, I mean poetry and mythology and humour and that weird stuff that we are so fond of that is hard to categorise. With such a wide ranging spread of places to write and talk about, I asked how they felt about collaborating, even though it would mean whatever fees they made would be shared.
They have put so much work into this event, and decided to make it a donation option, so its as cheap as you need it to be.
There really is something special about our authors, they are so keen to share their ideas and generous with their time.
Week 2 of the festival, continuing our author-led readings discussions and workshops, and this week we have online events on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon and evening.
7.30pm Three Takes on Place
readings and discussion from
Diana Powell, Melissa Davies & Sherry Morris
free/donation details and tickets
11:00-13:00 Tales of Transformation: Bisclavret workshop
£8 details and tickets
and at 3pm
Joy//us – LGBTQ poetry reading, open mic and discussion
Jeremy Dixon, Rick Dove & Cherry Potts
free/donation details and tickets
11:00-12:30/13:00 14 great pickup lines, a poets guide to sonnets workshop
with Jennifer A McGowan
£10 details and tickets
and at 3pm Barddoniaeth Cymraeg Gweithdy Cyfieuthu/Welsh poetry translation workshop
with Lowri Williams
participatory workshop on translating Welsh poetry into English
Nod y gweithdy hon yw cyfieuthu cerdd Cymraeg i fewn i’r Saesneg, drwy trafodaeth/cyfieuthu mewn steil grwp
pay what you can £3/5/8 details and tickets
Arachne Press is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and with it, successful collaborations with artists on the covers of their books. We will be holding an exhibition with our long time collaborators the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich SE10. from January 19th to February 15th, with a private view on the evening of January 18th.
The Gallery is at
10 Stockwell Street London SE10 9BD accessed via the University of Greenwich reception next door – there is a door, but it is for fire escape only! The Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday: 11am-5pm Saturday: 11am-4pm
We will be exhibiting some of the original art that was licenced/ commissioned, and for the commissions, some of the drafts the work went through to end up with the cover, and some of the objects that inspired covers.
Back in 2012 all the publishing chat was about how eBooks were going to replace print, but Arachne founder Cherry Potts was certain that all that would disappear would be ugly, badly made books.
Right from the start the intention was that Arachne’s books would be beautiful, and that where possible, artists would be used, and the cover image would wrap all the way round the book.
When choosing a manuscript, if Cherry starts planning the cover before she’s finished reading, the book is almost certainly going to be published, which means that the search for the right artist is as important as the search for new writing.
Initially that meant licencing existing images, but quickly moved on to commissioning as well. Arachne Press has worked with some of our artists regularly, [Kevin Threlfall, Fiona Humphrey, Gordy Wright] others have been suggested by the authors for a particular project [Paul Summers, Camille Smethwick, Rachel Marsh]; and sometimes, when the image in her head is so clear nothing else will do, Cherry rolls up her sleeves and makes a cover herself. For more details of all our cover artists take a look at our artists page.