#Arachne5 The Hazlenut Grove Paula Read

As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Paula Read whose work we published in Stations

 

The publication by Arachne Press of my two stories in Stations back in 2012 was a significant moment for me. I’ve made my living as a journalist and teacher, so writing has always been essential to those roles. I continued to squeeze imaginative writing into this life and, like most aspiring writers, had folders full of half-finished novels and abandoned stories.

Publication by Arachne, however, changed everything. It signalled that I could write a story that someone else would want to read. It signalled that I should be serious about writing for publication. It signalled potential.

But I realized I needed help – and deadlines. I signed up for a creative writing MA, with a non-fiction book in mind, and with time to devote to it. I am about to start my second year, with many thousands of words still to write – and I am having the time of my life.

A huge thank-you, therefore, to Arachne for the part it has played. Without Arachne’s founder Cherry Potts and her decision to publish my stories, I should not now be able to say the following: I expect to finish my book, the story of my cousin’s eventful move to a mountain top in Italy, by the end of 2018. Look out for The Hazelnut Grove by Paula Read.

Come to the 5th anniversary Party! free, but ticketed

#Arachne5 Why I Write – Joan Leotta

As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Joan Leotta who we published in Shortest Day, Longest Night

Why I Write!

Let me say, before we even begin, I write a variety of genres, lengths etc. I’m a journalist, business writer, author of woman’s fiction (four book historical fiction series, Legacy of Honor), author of children’s books (four are out, latest is Rosa’s Shell), essayist, short story aficionado and practitioner, and poet. Poetry is the most personal thing I write.

Why I write and why I seek publication are not exactly the same thing. I write because I am compelled to put on paper my ideas—to help me think through things, to help me understand what is in my heart. Writing is both a gift and a compulsion. I seek to publish my writing to serve others with my gift.

Even when I write something personal, confessional, and grief stricken, such as the poetry that deals with the loss of our son, if I seek to publish it, I review my work and then revise with an audience in mind. What do I want them to feel, to know? Do I want to make them suffer? No!!!! I want them to understand what grief does to a person so they can be of assistance to a person who grieves to help them in their grief by knowing others are there on the same path…

Tolstoy says that writing is a transfer of emotion form one person to another. Even when I transfer sadness, anger, I want it to lift my reader to a place of hope or at least understanding.

Writing is my gift, but it only enriches me when I share. When a piece is rejected, I feel it has not found its right audience, or is not yet ready for an audience and I revise and/or file, and send it out again.

Unlike stage work where at the end of a performance I can bask in the love of applause, writing like mine garners few appreciative letters or emails, but when it is published, I do at least know it has touched the heart of an editor! So, thank you, editors and readers for participating in my writing process by giving it audience. I write for you.

COME to the 5th anniversary party, 8th Sept it’s free (but ticketed)

Who would have thought it? #Arachne5

As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Kate Foley who we published in The Other Side of Sleep, Liberty Tales and The Don’t Touch Garden

 

When Cherry first told me she was launching a new press my first (private!) reaction was….hmmmm….? How many small – or micro, as she calls it – presses are launched like massive liners every year, only to founder like a leaf on the stream of got-in-first-well-funded competitors? Good Luck! But it turned out she didn’t need luck. Her energy and commitment to finding interesting authors with a story to tell or a poem to write has led to the five-year-old toddler Arachne Press growing to a stature well beyond its years, with a list that compares with many an older, staider press.

In particular, since poetry is my bag, I am proud to be in her line-up of  vibrant and interesting poets, astonished that she used  my poem The Other Side of Sleep as title for her innovative book of (neglected) narrative poems, delighted that she has published my collection about adoption and childhood, The Don’t Touch Garden and look forward to the emergence of A Gift of Rivers in April.

That is of course after a rigorous and exhausting process of editing and the prospect of an equally wilt-making string of readings…. but hey! let me not grumble. It’s high time we poets – especially those of us who don’t have very sharp elbows and who are maybe knocking-on a bit – learned to value a publisher who cares even more about getting our work out there than sales.

So thank you Cherry and Happy Fifth Birthday Arachne.

COME to the 5th anniversary party, 8th Sept it’s free (but ticketed)  Kate is reading

About a Towel #Arachne5

As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Carolyn Eden who we published in Liberty Tales.

 

 

One chilly afternoon a few years ago I found myself chatting to a chap in the local health club’s Jacuzzi.  I’d just completed a leisurely gym work-out, swum a few lengths of the heated pool and was contemplating either a visit to the steam room or the sauna or, indeed, both.  The Jacuzzi had always been my favourite place to “zone out” and often, lying there with my eyes closed and my body partially afloat, I would find that as my aches drifted away solutions to niggling problems would bubble into my brain.

“It’s great here, isn’t it?” I said to the young man wallowing next to me.

“Yup, freezing outside,” he replied.

Then the thought that inspired “Free White Towel” blasted into my brain.  “Give me,” I said, “ten good reasons why we should ever leave this building.”

I don’t remember what he replied and I certainly didn’t manage to think of ten reasons to leave because I rapidly became caught up in the idea that a leisure club was the ideal sanctuary; the bolt-hole I’d run to if there were a crisis of impending doom.

At a leisure club members can eat in the café, drink free water from the fountains, watch television screens as they pound the exercise machines, read newspapers or surf the internet in the lounge area, snooze on the loungers by the pools, sweat in the hot rooms, cool down in the showers where they can wash and preen using the complimentary toiletries.

Much of the idea was inspired by the story of the man who lived in the limbo of an airport and it wasn’t much of a leap for me to then get the idea that for a homeless person this place would be an improvement on the Spartan airport home, if they could blag their way in, or just afford the monthly fees (a good deal cheaper than the rent on a bedsit).  The lockers were big enough to contain a cabin-sized piece of luggage and relatively secure. And then, everywhere I went people were handing out freebies at stations, and I wondered could you keep yourself fed that way, provided you didn’t look destitute?

The clincher was the free white towel that all members were given as they entered the leisure club.  Cleanliness is the friend of normalcy.

And so my story “Free White Towel” was born in a whirlpool near Woking.  Pamela, my heroine, was able to run away from her abusive husband into this sanctuary of warmth and moistness.

The original was a long poem, read at the first Liberty Tales event back in June 2014 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta. Excited by the ideas still flowing I wanted to turn it into a much longer tale; a novel.  Pam was to be widowed and then the victim of a con-man, but my editor, the wonderful Cherry Potts, soon pared the story down to the essence of a vulnerable woman reinventing herself.  The novel may emerge eventually, as I am still fascinated by how someone can live without a home and still look respectable, without resorting to anything more criminal than liberating a left-over portion of muesli.

Come to the 5th anniversary party!

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” #Arachne5

As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Jacqueline Downs who we published in Stations – her story She Didn’t Believe in Ghosts is set at Crystal Palace.

 

On September 23rd 2016, I received a birthday gift: a five-year diary.

Instead of acting as a repository of my thoughts and feelings about pop stars and boys and fallings out with best friends, this diary has a different function. Each day, year by year, this diary requests that I respond to a question or statement. The idea is that over five years I will be able to see how my answers to the questions or statements change, or don’t change. Prompts range from the profound and potentially distressing (‘Who loves you today?’, ‘What have you got to lose?’) to the seemingly more trivial (‘Write down the last text message you sent’, ‘What is your favourite item of clothing?’). Whatever I am asked, my response will reveal something about how I am thinking or feeling at the time; how I view myself on a given day in a given year.

One of the things that makes it so challenging and interesting, is that it also serves the purpose of acting as a series of miniature writing exercises. You may need to be descriptive (‘What’s the weather like where you are right now?’) or imaginative (‘Where do you see yourself this time next year?’). You may have to negotiate your emotions (I’m always going to give the same answer to ‘When did you last speak to your parents?’ – 13 February 1979 and 12 May 2009 – and that is always going to be sad).

There isn’t much space to write, but within those confines I can answer with a couple of words or an untidy and ill-fitting paragraph. The best thing is, it gets me writing every day.

The challenge on the day I received this gift was: Write a quote for today.

I was able to answer immediately, as a writing group friend had helpfully written something apt in his birthday card to me:

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

     Thomas Mann

I’m a writer. I don’t earn my living from it, but it’s who I think I am; it’s what I say I am, if I’m asked (although out loud I will always add the caveat ‘and editor’).  I put off writing a lot of the time, I get a slight homework-style dread when I know I have a deadline. But once I start, even if it’s just typing or scribbling, I feel happier. And then when typing or scribbling becomes actual writing, I feel a kind of lightness inside, there’s a taking off.

In the five years since Arachne Press started, I’ve taken off a little more. My first anthologised story was in Stations. Since then I’ve had stories performed at live literature events, published in other anthologies and online magazines, and written a screenplay based on another published short story of mine. This screenplay is with a producer who is trying to get a director on board, raise money, get the words off the page and onto the screen. I’m under no illusion about how long this process could take.

But with luck – and it will take a lot of luck, now that the hard graft of several drafts is out of the way – when the diary next asks, ‘Where are you right now?’ my answer will be ‘backstage at the BAFTAs’.

Because if you want to really take off, you have to aim high.

Jacqueline Downs is a writer (and editor). She blogs infrequently at Jacqueline Downs is Reading and Writing

Significance #Arachne5

As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from  Sarah James whose poem and flash fiction we published in  Shortest Day, Longest Night.

Significance

Is the number five more or less significant to a writer than anyone else? Five fingers for writing. Five senses we can use to make that writing as atmospheric as possible. Five days to the working week…or, at least, there used to be.

Working hours have shifted for everyone in our always switched-on society, but writers have never really had a day off as such. As a poet and fiction writer, my subconscious is always busy –  listening for stories, rhythms, the sounds of words.

Maybe I’m trying too hard here to find symbolic links and connections to the number five because Arachne Press is celebrating its fifth birthday. But this is what language and writing are all about – evocative symbols that we use to make connection between us and other people, the page and the reader, the performance and the audience.

In any case, all of these observations filter one way or another into the writing of my poem ‘At the Hotel de la Lune’ and short story ‘Cut Short’ in the Arachne Press anthology Shortest Day Longest Night.

The man in 512 is trying to sleep
but he can hear his ex’s breath
in the air conditioning’s webs…

(From ‘At the Hotel de la Lune’)

There is a phrase ‘If the walls had ears…’ that sums up both part of my writing process and the background to ‘At the Hotel de la Lune’ in particular. The poem hangs on the passing flow of visitors through the hotel and all the stories they bring with them, if only the hotel rooms could pass these on. The beautiful thing about being a writer rather than a wall is that I not only have ears to hear but also a tongue to speak and hands for writing or typing. As writers, readers and audience, we also have something else that’s even more important – imagination.

These aren’t real stories, only stories that could be real. The hotel is a fictitious place conjured up by my mind. Each of the rooms , with its characters and its stories, is a room inside my head. Each character in this poem also has their own rooms inside their heads, with their own stories, hopes and dreams.

But who is in charge of all these rooms? Is it me as the writer/dreamer? The night porter, Billy – a potential modern-day Shakespeare (in his own head at least) – who aspires to theatrical stage stardom? Or the spiders and bugs that scuttle in the mind’s shadows and across this poem’s mundane yet nightmareish everyday stage?

Perhaps the ultimate control is actually with the reader or individual audience member – choosing how to interpret the words and scenes that they’re presented with…

“Damn, late again! I fidget with my car keys, a reflex action, as I’m tempted to bail on lunch. Sundays should be the longest day – lazy sex, coffee in bed, newspapers, novels, Netflix, not getting dressed until three, if at all… Ever since university, I’ve made it my personal quest to stretch these twenty-four hours of the weekend as far as humanly possible. But not today…”

(From ‘Cut Short’)

While ‘At the Hotel de la Lune’ is infused with a touch of A Midsummer Night’s Dream madness, my writing approach for the flash fiction ‘Cut short’ is more inspired by Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage,| And all the men and women merely players” (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII) .

The family politics and matriarchal power dynamics in this short fiction are ones most likely being played out in homes across Britain even as I type this.  At one level, the plotline is a small almost invisible everyday drama. Yet it’s one that moulds the very

personalities of every character in the story and, by extension, wider society.  What can the young woman in this story do to change things? And what will happen if she does try to rock the existing structure?

Tradition and innovation

It might sound like an overly grand aim but in many ways literature as a whole is constructed on two principles brought to a head in this flash fiction – building upon the existing tradition while simultaneously reacting against and rocking it.

This brings me back not to ‘five’ but to ‘thrive’. As a poet, my most immediate response to the word ‘five’ is how close it is in sound terms to ‘thrive’. As words, these are similar yet different. As a writer what I strive for is to create pieces that are both similar (to real life, existing exemplars…) yet different (innovated, unique…). And, of course, yes, I also want my work to be strong, to thrive.

Five years of publishing is a strong stepping stone on thriving’s path. I hope this is a word that will keep resonating, both through my own writing and Arachne Press’s work ten, 15, 20 years from now.

Image: ‘Handling artistic imagination’ by S.A. Leavesley

Come to the 5th anniversary party!

Interview with Ghillian Potts – Early Writing

Ghillian Potts, author of Brat and The Old Woman from Friuli bravely shares her adolescent poetry, which got her out of housework! (Photos from the family archive.)

We would like to invite you to a very informal launch reading at Eltham Centre Library, Archery Road, Eltham SE9 1HA on 7th June at 1.30 for Brat and 3.45 for The Old Woman from Friuli. Both readings will be performed by Carrie Cohen.

Further readings are at

BrockleyMax Art in The Park, Hilly Fields Park SE4 on 10th June 2017 at 2.30pm; (Old Woman From Friuli read by Katy Darby)

Stanmore Library, 8 Stanmore Hill, Stanmore, HA7 3BQ on 8th July 2017 2pm (Old Woman From Friuli read by Lisa Rose)

Osterley Library, St Mary’s Crescent, TW7 4NB on 22nd July 2017 at 2.30pm (Old Woman From Friuli and BRAT read by Carrie Cohen)

If you run a library, bookshop or school and would like us to visit you with a reading, get in touch.

The Old Woman from Friuli Launch, Tour and author interview

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with author Ghillian Potts

Events

A very informal launch reading at Eltham Centre Library, Archery Road, Eltham SE9 1HA on 7th June at  3.45  read by Carrie Cohen.

Further readings are at

Art In The Park Story-telling tent on Hilly Fields, on Saturday 10th June at 2.30, when Arachne stalwart Katy Darby will be reading

Stanmore Library, 8 Stanmore Hill, Stanmore, HA7 3BQ on 8th July 2017 2pm read by Lisa Rose)

Osterley Library, St Mary’s Crescent, TW7 4NB on 22nd July 2017 at 2.30pm (Old Woman From Friuli and BRAT read by Carrie Cohen)

(Illustrations Ed Boxall)

Interview with Ghillian Potts author of Brat and launch info

A brief conversation with Ghillian Potts about the writing of Brat

Brat is a novel for older children and younger young adults, the first in a fantasy trilogy about Brook, who is 12 at the start of the series. The Trilogy is called The Naming of Brook Storyteller, because Brook, as a storyteller has the power of naming – she can raise or destroy people by the names she gives them, and she earns, and loses, names herself, starting out as Brat, before becoming Spellbinder (book two out in December 2017) and finally Wolftalker (book three out in June 2018)

We are launching Brat with a very informal launch reading at Eltham Centre Library, Archery Road, Eltham SE9 1HA on 7th June at 1.30. The reading will be performed by Carrie Cohen.

We currently have one other reading for Brat arranged (together with Ghillian’s other book, The Old Woman From Friuli.)

Osterley Library, St Mary’s Crescent, TW7 4NB on 22nd July 2017 at 2.30pm. Once again, Carrie Cohen will be reading.

Bookshops, libraries, schools, if you’d like us to visit and read to you, get in touch.

 

Crowd fund reward for writers

Crowd funding… how I love it… not. It’s a slog and it’s very uncomfortable asking for money, but we have expenses we need to cover if we are to get all our books out in the fresh air and into your hands and onto your shelves, and generous though the Arts Council is, they like to see us find some of the money we need elsewhere.

So, here is something for the WRITERS amongst you.

Have your writing edited by us

Cherry Potts copyright Tom Dingley 2014

Cherry Potts copyright Tom Dingley 2014

Have your short story or 1st chapter of your novel professionally edited and critiqued by Arachne Press editor, Cherry Potts. Maximum 5000 words, sent electronically only.

Estimated delivery: Jun 2017

Limited reward (5 left of 5)

Pledge £100 or more here

 

 

 

 

Is it worth giving us your money?

Here’s some feedback from our tour date in Bath…

  • a really excellent variety of pieces, and wonderfully read
  • inspiring and entertaining
  • I shall look out for future events
  • a very enjoyable event
  • completely gripping
  • Brilliant reading by Nick Rawlinson
  • a break from reality – lovely
  • Bookish whirlwind of tales and poems that provide thought-provoking insight into the writers’ minds
  • Liked the stories in particular – Cherry’s especially loved the weirdness, strange and spooky!
  • Live Loud and Varied. an eclectic mix of poems and prose that veered from tragic to whimsical.
  • an excellent evening with an inspiring mix of poem and stories. Poignant, witty, intelligent work well supported by the incomparable Cherry Potts who does such crucial work in supporting and developing opportunities for writers.
  • A big Shout-out for Arachne Press!