Stations reviewed by Sabotage

Well this is exciting. After the brilliant review from Sabotage earlier this week for Lovers’ Lies, we have a review for Stations as well.


Carol[ine] Hardman’s ‘Bloody Marys and a bowl of Pho’ (Hoxton) is a modern-day, urban take on the vampire narratives so current at the moment. It is well-written and funny. ‘Platform Zero’ (Haggerston) by Michael Zimmer [Trimmer] also offers a quirky version of another, familiar theme – that of the parallel universe. ‘The Beetle’ by Ellie Stewart (Wapping) is also well-paced and moving in its portrayal of a broken relationship. Peter Morgan’s ‘Mr Forest Hill Station’ (Forest Hill) also stands out due to its tender depiction of the bond between strangers, meeting occasionally in the big city.


A common theme the stories share is the sense of locale; all stories give a real sense of London’s enclaves, those small areas threaded together by transport links. In some stories the topography is described in minute detail: ‘ ‘Left out of the station entrance,’ she had said, ‘not far until a sort-of-small-road-kind-of-more-like-an-alley which you need to go down all the way, then through the gap-between-the-shops to cross the big street, then to the right for a bit until you get to a shop with a kind-of-old-fashioned-green-sign and some little writing in the window […].’ (‘Three Things to Do in Surrey Quays’, Adrian Gantlope). It is enlightening to the non-London resident to think of London in such small terms, as described above.

Many stories also focus upon the fragility and fleetingness of relationships. For example, Rob Walton describes an odd kind of love affair in ‘Yellow Tulips’ (New Cross Gate), between the narrator, and John and Alex. The affair itself seems unsatisfactory and temporary, based on hurried meetings. Walton is effective at capturing the instability of the relationship: ‘It is possible to live in a city, a town, a village, an area of a city for a short time and make new friends, close friends, have altogether deeper relationships. Without the shared past or common references you can dive into the here and now, establish a new sort of relationship, one you haven’t tried before. Do all the things you didn’t do in the other places you lived. Then move on and become a new you, or be one of the other yous [sic] in another new place.’

Thank you Sabotage!

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 writing habits 2

Paula Read and Jacqueline Downs like to be in motion

Emily Cleaver writes when her child is asleep

Wendy Gill would like a greenhouse!

Lennart Lundh loves his computer, Michelle Shine loves her writing group

more arachne authors on the writers who inspire and influence them

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

Wendy Gill, Michael Trimmer, Ellie Stewart, Emily Cleaver

Peter Morgan and Jacqueline Downs

Do I really have something to write about?

A Guest Blog from Ellie Stewart

I had writer’s block for two years. I finished university and suddenly found myself faced with an open world I couldn’t navigate: I couldn’t see a future in it. This was brought on by many things – one was the delayed grieving for my mother who had died seven years before.

The block was, I think, not so much caused by the fact that I had nothing to write, but because I didn’t think what I had to say was remotely important. I was depressed because I thought I was worthless, and because I thought I was worthless, I felt all of my writing was terrible and of no consequence at all.

I would write dark little poems for myself alone, and showed my writing to no one. Whenever I tried to write anything ‘good’ (that is, not personal and not about what I was feeling) I was stumped. I’d sit in front of my computer for hours while my boyfriend drifted further and further away from me in another room, and I’d crunch out four or five insignificant lines.

I thought: what I really want to say is shameful. This is what distances me from other people, this is what makes me small and unloveable – these are the words I can never say.

It was actually in the darkest depths of this swamp that I found the power to write. It was summer, and my cat had set about on a murder spree of the mice that lived in the gardens along our street. For months she brought in these tiny, perfectly formed little creatures: sometimes still alive, often dead. It was deeply upsetting to see such wanton cruelty and such suffering, whilst at the same time realising that these animals were small and unimportant and, after all –  this was life. One day I was looking at the dark little eyes and miniature feet of one of the mouse corpses left beside my bed and I suddenly saw the world with absolute clarity. Bleak – of course – not full of love: but it was my truth, and suddenly I didn’t feel ashamed.

And I wrote a snip of story about a mouse called Walter who decides one day that he wants to die. And then I wrote more stories about animals, and about death, and I started a blog. And from that day on I was able to write. I wrote and I wrote and I’ve got better and better since then.

What did I do? I wrote the truth. I wrote what I knew, what I wanted to say. I suddenly realised that I didn’t have to feel ashamed for writing stories that were sad, and bleak, and made people feel uncomfortable. This is a conviction that I have held ever since. I think it applies to everyone who is worried that their life story isn’t interesting, or that what they have to say isn’t important, or because they want to write about themselves that somehow makes them selfish. Everyone’s story is important, and deserves to be told – I believe that’s true.

Ernest Hemingway had some good advice on writing and the self-doubt that prevents its creation. ‘All you have to do is write one true sentence, ‘ he said. ‘Write the truest sentence that you know.’

And of the living souls, I recommend a speech made by the genius Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation) for the BFI in 2011. He is an utterly endearing man: one struggling with self-doubt, who has a desperate desire for love and approval (like most of us), with honest and insightful things to say about the process of writing. His advice to the aspiring screenwriters who had gathered that evening was this:

‘What I have to offer is me, what you have to offer is you, and if you offer yourself with authenticity and generosity, I will be moved.’

So – write what you want to, write it true, but above all: write.

© Ellie Stewart 2013

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

Arachne Press Authors talk about what they did before they met us

Of course we’d like to think the most significant relationship our authors have is with us as their publisher, but they do have histories…

find out what they got up to – in their writing,

Videos of Stations Authors reading at Deptford Lounge

Some little snippets of stories to cheer up a drab wet day. Apologies for the slightly odd sound quality, we were getting an echo on the microphone.

Adrian Gadsden’s hero gets kissed in Surrey Quays

whilst Ellie Stewart’s beetle goes for a walk in Wapping.

The Beetle

© Arachne Press

Deptford Lounge Stations reading – box office now open

Book your FREE ticket for the local launch of Stations. 29th November, Deptford Lounge Giffin Street SE8 (Please note, booking online seems to be a bit tiresome. Strongly recommend use of the phone! 020 8692 4446)

An evening of short sharp bursts of fiction.
Loads of local authors – lots of excerpts from local stories.

Think of it as a metaphorical 100 metre relay as we sprint down the Overground line dropping in on Stations as we go.

And the Prize? You get to buy a copy of the book, and we get to meet you – what more could we ask?

This event is free but you DO need to book!

Representing North of the river:

Katy Darby (Shoreditch High Street)
Bartle Sawbridge (Shadwell)
Adrian Gantlope (Surrey Quays)
Ellie Stewart (Wapping)

And South:

David Bausor (New Cross)
Rosalind Stopps (Brockley)
Paula Read (Honor Oak)
Joan Taylor-Rowan (Anerley)

Wendy Gill and Ellie Stewart on Stations Inspirations