News from the writing desk

Occasionally we ask our writers what they are up to out in the wider world, so here’s an update of excitements and triumphs from Arachne authors and poets around the world.

Andrew Blackman (Stations) is having a short story Boy, Dog, Accordion published in a pocket-sized book by In Short Publishing in Australia early next year.

Brian Johnstone (The Other Side of Sleep, Liberty Tales) has recently had a poem installed on the Corbenic Poetry Path in Highland Perthshire. The poem, ‘How the Mire Thaws’ – from his 2004 pamphlet Homing – was selected by curator Jon Plunkett for a recent extension to the path also featuring poems by Kathleen Jamie, John Glenday and Alec Finlay. The Corbenic Poetry Path is situated on the banks of the River Braan near Dunkeld. It is roughly 3.5 kilometres long and takes in woodland of various sorts, open moorland, field borders and riverbank. Access to it is open to all and is completely free. For more information see:












David Mathews (Solstice Shorts, Liberty Tales, Shortest Day, Longest Night) has, finally, a WEBSITE.  where people can catch up with his literary happenings, read a few of stories and sign up for a brand new monthly story, starting 13 November – on the theme of coffee for the first few months.

j.lewis (The Other Side of Sleep) had a book of poetry/photography published this year

Kate Foley (The Other Side of Sleep, Liberty Tales, The Don’t Touch Garden) has had her collected poems Electric Psalms published by Shoestring Press

Lennart Lundh (The Other Side of Sleep) has taken part in three poetry month projects, been part of seventeen open mics, and was a featured reader a baker’s dozen times. One book of short stories, Antique Shopping, was published in October. The poetry collections Poems Against Cancer 2016 (Len’s annual April fundraiser for research into children’s cancers), The Bear Whispers in the Night (August), and Jazz Me (September) also made their appearances.

Liam Hogan (London Lies, Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed) has one three (THREE!) prizes this year, Quantum Shorts 2015 in April and Sci-Fest LA’s Roswell Award 2016 (May), and Worthing WOW YA fiction prize (June) and a 2nd place in On The Premises Darkness contest, (October) for Bring Rope.

Mi L Holliday (Lovers’ Lies) had a poem A Mother’s Concern published by Shooter Literary Magazine Issue #3: Surreal.

p.a.morbid (The Other Side of Sleep) has 2 chapbooks out this year, and a solo exhibition….

Peng Shepherd (Weird Lies) has signed with Curtis Brown agents, and has a book deal with Harper Collins for her debut novel M

Pippa Gladhill (Solstice Shorts, Shortest Day, Longest Night)  had her play CITY performed in Faversham Kent in August this year. It will be produced in Bristol in 2017, date to be confirmed, and there is a possibility of more in Swindon and London.

Sarah Lawson (The Other Side of Sleep) has had a poem Coming Home in the Fog in South Bank Poetry in September, a poem When Does the Beginning Begin? in The Interpreter’s House in October, and six poems imminently forthcoming in Raceme. A later issue of Raceme is to contain two of Sarah’s translations of the Spanish poet, Luis Cernuda (1902-1963).

Wendy Gill (Stations, Shortest Day, Longest Night) had her musical That Man showcased at The London Hippodrome in September, supported by the Arts Council.It was a great success with a brilliant cast, with people from shows like Wicked and Lion King.

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What our authors are up to Autumn 2013

Part of the principles on which Arachne Press is founded is to support our authors work for other publishers, or any other weird and wonderful activities they get up to.

in the spirit of which, a round-up of news.

Michelle Shine has just published her first novel, Mesmerised, which is about the Impressionists and homeopathy. I’ve just finished reading it and it is extraordinary – very convincing on period detail and the flavour of the world she is writing about, and occasionally startling.  Michelle has a ‘trailer’ for the book which you can view on YouTube.

Jason Jackson‘s most recent publication was a story called ‘Change, Rest’ in the July issue of synaesthesia magazine online.  he has an upcoming publication: a story called ‘Queuing, Photographs,. Morning Eyes’ in the December issue of smokelong quarterly and he’s part way through nanowrimo.

Rob Walton has been busy:
May 2013 shortlisted/commended in New Welsh Review’s Flash in the Pen microfiction competition.
June 2013 Short play The Bumps produced by Alphabetti Spaghetti and reviewed here:
September 2013 Highly Commended in the Sara Park Memorial Short Story Competition from Red Squirrel Press,   and two poems published in Let’s Play!, children’s sports and games anthology from Frances Lincoln, editor Debjani Chatterjee.

Lennart Lunh likewise: Short stories — “Nighthawks” (yes, after the Hopper work) was taken by Pages & Spine
“Paris Street; Rainy Day” (Len’s favorite of all paintings) will be in the Fall 2013 issue of Lewis University’s online journal, The Jet Fuel Review, releasing 21 November.
Poetry — Work saw light in The Chaffey Review and The Binnacle over the summer. Chatter House took three pieces for a November anthology, Ffjords one  as a video reading, and a small boatload of other poems have accepted by Writing Knights Press for several of their anthologies over the next six months.
Len is reading at Lewis’ fall open mic on November 15. Traveling to Cleveland November 23 for an evening reading with Writing Knights Press.

Tania Hershman has begun a PhD in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, exploring the intersection between fiction and particle physics.
She read at the Word Factory ghost stories night on Nov 8th in a cemetery! Also, She will be the judge of the 2014 Bridport Prize for flash fiction and a 2014 Gladstone LIbrary Writer-in-residence.

Laura Martz has started the creative writing MA at Goldsmiths.

Andrew Blackman is working on a third novel, and have also had a few short stories published (e.g. in Spark) and book reviews (e.g. in Review 31).

Writing on Islands – a guest blog from Andrew Blackman

As I write this post, I am gazing out at the following scene:

Andrew' Island View

Andrew’s Island View

On the hillside below me I can hear birds tweeting and the occasional tinkle of one of the bells tied around the necks of grazing goats. It’s all pretty idyllic. In fact, it’s more or less what I imagined when I was a child picturing ‘the writer’s life’.

But of course, life is not a holiday postcard. In this post, I’ll look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of leaving the city in search of the ideal writing location.

The pros of island life

1. It’s cheap. When I tell people that I lived on the west coast of Barbados last year, and am in Crete this year, the most common response is to say how lucky I am (jealousy comes in a close second). The assumption seems to be that these places are hopelessly exotic and beyond the reach of everyone except someone with some unspecified ‘luck’.
In fact, the main reason I left London was that I couldn’t afford to live there. In Barbados and now in Crete, I am paying a fraction of my old London rent, and most other costs are cheaper too. What that means is that I can concentrate on writing, and not have to take on other work just to pay the bills. I’m not lucky; I’m an economic migrant.

2. It’s inspiring. Take another look at that photo I posted. Now imagine yourself sitting on a balcony with a laptop on your knees, gazing out at the sea whenever you’re lost for a word. Picture occasional ships gliding to and fro across a peaceful sea that subtly changes colour as the sun moves across the sky. You can’t fail to be inspired. You have to come up with an entirely new set of excuses for not writing.

3. It’s practical. Not so long ago, moving abroad meant finding work locally, unless you were in the happy position of being able to live purely off your publisher’s generous advances and royalties. Now, it’s easy to stay in touch with all your London contacts, get freelance assignments and make a living through the magic of the internet.

The Cons

1. The logistics are a nightmare. Shipping boxes of stuff from London to Barbados, back to London and then to Crete is expensive, ridiculous and time-consuming. I ended up selling off a lot of my stuff, including some treasured books, just because it’s so impractical to keep transferring them. But no matter how minimalist your lifestyle, there’s still a substantial transition cost every time you move. We came to Crete knowing nothing about where we’d live, so had to hire a car and drive around looking at places and staying in hotels for a couple of weeks before we got an apartment. All in all it cost several thousand pounds (partly paid for by the selling, but still a substantial drain).

2. You miss events. Although I said earlier on that you can stay in touch and get work via the internet, you still miss out on the important face to face stuff. Since leaving, I’ve been invited to give three talks and appear at a literary festival, which is particularly annoying since those invitations were not flooding in at the same rate when I was in London. I’m going to do one of the talks via a Skype connection, but I’ve had to decline the others. And it’s a lot harder to sell books over Skype.

3. You’re not connected with your subject. All of my books and the bulk of my short stories have been set in England, mostly in London. It’s where I grew up, and it’s the place I know best. And yet I’ve been living away from it for almost two years now. I missed the Olympics and a lot of other new developments. I’m slowly losing touch with what it means to be a Londoner. There’s a danger that I’ll keep dredging the same old barrel of images, and my writing will become stale, fossilized in the London of 2011.
Non-writers tell me ‘Oh, that’s great – you can set your next novel in Crete!’ The reality is that to write a novel in which the setting is actually important and not a mere backdrop, you have to know it really well. I lived in New York for six years, and didn’t feel qualified to write a New York novel. London is still what I know, and I think I’ll continue to write about it, even as I drift further and further away.

© Andrew Blackman 2013

Writing Ambitions – three days to go on Kickstarter funding bid

Just thought I’d mention, its three days almost exactly until time runs out on our funding bid. If you’d like to support us, please take a look at the pitch – you can have a laugh at me and Katy being distracted by every butterfly that flew past, and remaining oblivious of the trains roaring by at the bottom of the garden – one of the few decent patches of sun so far this ‘Summer’, a bit like today.

And in the meantime, watch a whole bunch of Arachne authors talk about their writing ambitions…

© Arachne Press 2013

Arachne Authors talk about their writing habits 1

Andrew Blackman reveals the strange places he writes

Caroline Hardman & Cherry Potts confess to letting work get in the way

worrying about routines…

Arachne Authors talk about the writers who influence and inspire them

Stations and London Lies and Lovers’ Lies contributors tell us about the writers they admire

Andrew Blackman, Bartle Sawbridge, Rosalind Stopps, Adrian Gantlope, Joan Taylor-Rowan:

Paula Read, Caroline Hardman, Anna Fodorova, Cherry Potts

© Arachne Press 2013

Andrew Blackman & Paula Read talk about inspiration

Authors Andrew and Paula interviewed about the inspiration behind their stories for Stations: Andrew’s is Actress (Sydenham), and Paula’s are All Change at Canonbury, and Carrot Cake (Honor Oak Park)

You can catch Paula reading from one of her Stations stories at Harrow’s Gayton Library on Tuesday 30th April, 7pm.

Stations: Norwood Junction – the Video

Been a bit slow editing the video from South Norwood Library but here it is at last.

Rosalind Stopps Recipes for a Successful Working Life (Norwood Junction)

Cherry Potts A Place of Departure (Rotherhithe)

Andrew Blackman Actress (Sydenham)

Jacqueline Downs She Didn’t Believe in Ghosts (Crystal Palace, read by Alix Adams)

Michael Trimmer Platform Zero (Haggerston)

Lots more readings happening, take a look at the events page

What Arachne Authors are up to


Despite Arachne keeping our authors hard at work with events to promote our books, they do have a (writing) life outside Arachne.  Because Arachne was set up to support authors as well as produce books which we hope the reading public will fall in love with, we are very interested in what our authors are doing outside of their Arachne stuff.

so: in no particular order…

Wendy Gill is having her musical That Man performed by  Player-Playwrights  for one night only on Monday 25th February at 7.30pm, at the Florence Tavern, 50 Florence Street, Islington, London, N12DU.The play will be read/performed and then there will be a discussion/critique.

Joan Taylor-Rowan‘s musical Kandy Kottage is being showcased in a performance for one night only 14th March at the Landor Theatre as part of a festival of new theatre, from Page to Stage. She is looking for funding to build a set etc so if you have a few pennies down the back of the sofa she’d love to take them away from you

Andrew Blackman‘s second novel A Virtual Love, is being published by Legend Press on 1 April 2013

Richard Smyth has a new book out Bloody British History: Leeds (The History Press – February 1), and the title story in the new Fiction Desk anthology Crying Just Like Anybody.

Ellie Stewart‘s story The Ghosties has just won first prize in the Writers Village Competition

On Saturdays Bobbie Darbyshire is often to be stumbled across in Waterstones introducing book browsers to her two novels Truth Games and Love, Revenge & Buttered Scones. And watch out for her talk in the 2013 Streatham Festival, 11-14 July.

Michelle Shine’s short story,  Blind Faith, was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Short Story competition last year. The winners anthology will be called The Book of Euclid and is out soonish.  She also has an historical novel about to be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, Mesmerised, set in Paris in 1863

Crystal Palace Special

The joy of local authors is they really know their scenery. We decided to take advantage of this and have a reading that celebrated all things Crystal Palace, hosted by the magnificent Bookseller Crow on the Hill. So here are videos of the Crystal Palace stories, as they hit the park.

Jacqueline Downs: She Didn’t Believe in Ghosts (Crystal Palace).

Adrian Gantlope’s Penge Tigers (Penge. Read by Cherry Potts)

Joan Taylor-Rowan: Birdland (Anerley)

Alan McCormick‘s The Runner (from London Lies. Read by Ray Newe)

and to welcome him back from the other side of the Atlantic,

Andrew Blackman: The Actress (Sydenham)