Awards and Mermaids


PrintIt’s been an exciting week. First I won an award for one of the anthologies I edited for Arachne Press – Weird LiesThe Saboteur2014 Best Anthology Award!

It’s one of very few independent awards, voted for by the book-reading public, and it was thrilling to win. They don’t tell you beforehand and being a bit superstitious I refused to believe there was a chance, so it was only when they were reading out comments from voters I was thinking, ooh, that sounds like our book, that really sounds like… oh crikey, it is! In fact we netted about 35% of the over 1000 votes – you can read more of all the lovely things people said here, though I will quote just one particularly juicy one:

one of the most original writers herself Cherry Potts provides opportunities for unusual and thought-provoking writing.

Good eh?

Then, Liars’ League London chose my story The Real McCoy, (featuring a naive but indignant mermaid) to read at next Tuesday’s Weird & Wonderful event,  and will  be read at The Literary Kitchen Festival in Peckham on Tuesday 17th June 7pm

AND THEN Liars’ League Hong Kong chose Portrait of the Artist’s Model as A Young Woman for their Truth & Lies event on 30th June.

So that makes me not just “award-winning”, but “internationally renowned”, right? (She says with unrepentant cheek).

If you can make any of those events it would be brilliant – I won’t be at the Hong Kong one, but I will be at the other two, so you could come and say hello.

Finally, a heads-up: The title of this blog is a nod to Mary Hamer, author of Rudyard & Trix, a novel about Rudyard Kipling and his sister. (Awards and Mermaids, Rewards and Fairies, yes?) I’ve read this novel, after inviting Mary to The Story Sessions, and it is brilliant – upsetting in many ways, but very perceptive, and manages without doing that annoying thing some people do of making it SO clear that they did lots and lots of research and you aren’t going to escape an iota of it. Mary has belatedly joined the blog hop and will be blogging about her writing process just as soon as she finishes unpacking from the trip which meant she didn’t see the email I sent her about this sooner.

Blog hopping the writing process with fellow writers


I don’t know where the idea originated, but here I am blog hopping, thanks to Michelle Shine, author of the extraordinary fictional biography of Dr Paul Gachet, Mesmerised, and of short story Skin Deep, which I published in Lovers’ Lies.

So here goes with the hopper’s questions:

What am I working on?

I’m always working on several things at once. I’ve just finished putting together my latest short story collection, fine tuning the order of the stories and such like, more admin than writing really. At the moment active progress is being made on a novella about wanting to be normal when you are born into a family of witches, which strays into some very strange territory – gingerbread, nuclear power, planning applications, genealogy, parrots… I’ve just finished a short story set in a fairground sideshow, which I wrote at the request of the actress who will read it, Carrie Cohen (well, she kept asking when I was going to write her something so I did) at Other Worlds for Brockley Max on 1st June. and I’ve promised myself a final, final edit on a fantasy epic as soon as I have a stretch of time to concentrate on it.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Oh, the G word. I err towards fantasy as my default – possibly because it means I don’t have to do much research, possibly because it amuses me to stretch outside the real and explore the might be. How does it differ from others? I take a very loose attitude to fantasy, (I’ve been reading it for forty years, and I get fed up with rigid sub-genres) so sometimes when I say fantasy I just mean rather unlikely, sometimes it’s a whole other world with different rules. Alix, my partner has a yardstick for fantasy – is there a sword that goes ‘ting‘ in it? If there is she won’t touch it. So no tinging swords for me. (But the space where it would go ting is very um, ting shaped.) I really dislike graphic violence that is there to make your stomach churn, so you won’t get any of that from me. Violence, yes, realistic and upsetting, possibly, but not stomach churning. Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m deadly serious. I aim to make you care a LOT about my characters one way or another, so they aren’t ciphers or archetypes, they are real people doing strange things and coping, or not.

Why do I write what I do?

It’s fun. I couldn’t spend the amount of time I do at the computer if I didn’t enjoy it. I adore the what if of fiction, I’m passionate about inventing new rules for the universe and seeing what that does to my characters.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t have hard and fast rules, or techniques that I can be sure will always work. An idea will strike me (often on the bus, or in a cafe, overheard – especially mis-heard – conversations are fertile ground) or an exercise at my writers group will spark something off. Sometimes it just lies fallow in my ideas file until something else comes along and they create a crazy offspring, sometimes I’ll start writing straight away and not stop until I’m done, sometimes I write the key scene and put it away for months.

I’d hate not to have something cooking, as well as what I’m actively working on. I’m a great believer it write first check  facts later, and if the facts don’t fit, change the facts.

Once I’ve got to first draft, I’ll do any fact checking that’s necessary, then I put the piece away for a while – a few weeks for something short, a few months for a long piece. Then I read it onto a recording device and listen back, a great way to spot over used words, plot inconsistencies, awkward phrases and so on. The I take it to my writers group (or if it’s very long ask a couple of them to read it outside the group.) I get useful feedback, which I sometimes ignore! My final test is to read aloud to a live audience who don’t know me: preparing for that really makes me hone the story into the best it can possibly be.

Editing other people, as I do for Arachne Press, has been very good for me, I really analyse why something isn’t working these days, and beat it around the head until it does, rather than shrugging and shoving it to the back of the metaphorical bottom drawer.

Ok, that’s the last of the questions, time to hand over to Alex Smith for the next blog hop.

ALEX Smith-AT-BEAUTIES-LAUNCHAlex lives in Cape Town with her partner, their book-eating baby boy and their two dogs. She has had four novels published in South Africa (Random House/Umuzi Imprint), was shortlisted for the 2010
Caine Prize and won the 2011 Nielsens Bookseller’s Choice Award.

She has a story in Weird Lies, and her YA novel, Devilskein & Dearlove is forthcoming from Arachne Press in the UK and Random House Umuzi in South Africa, on July 24th 2014.

Inspirations – The Archetypal Good Wife


The first story I ever got published, Penelope is no Longer Waiting ( A Very, Very long time ago) came from my finally reading Homer (not in the original Greek, comprehensive schooling isn’t that kind of comprehensive) as opposed to interpretations of… and I found that what I thought I knew about the Odyssey was not all there was to know.  I found myself thinking Really? Really? Ten years of war, ten years to get home? Someone as clever as Odysseus? Would Penelope really have waited?

I think not.

You can hear me reading Penelope is no Longer Waiting LIVE this Saturday 5th October at Misty Moon Gallery SE13 7HS as part of the ongoing celebrations for the launch of Mosaic of Air and Weird Lies more info here.

© Cherry Potts 2013

ancient greek painting of 2 women

I find myself wondering what it would be like …

bright shiny new book


Mosaic of Air by Cherry Potts (cover Melina Traub)

Mosaic of Air by Cherry Potts (cover Melina Traub)

So I’ve been working through the first box of books sending them out to reviewers. And I’ve been so busy organising things I didn’t get round to posting on the website, so (Trumpet fanfare!!) Mosaic of Air is here, and will be in the shops on 26th September.

There will be a launch party at The Planetarium, Royal Observatory Greenwich SE10 8XJ on 1st October 2013 at 6pm  (Combined with Weird Lies, the latest Arachne Press/Liars’ League collaboration).  Readings will focus on Science Fiction stories. If you would like to come along, it’s free, but we have to have a guest list for H&S and so on, so please contact me and reserve your place by the 26th September absolute latest.

On 5th September at 7:30 there is another joint Weird Lies/ Mosaic of Air event, (also free) focussing on fantasy stories, at Misty Moon Gallery, Ladywell Tavern 80 Ladywell Road, SE13 7HS.

You can still buy copies at pre-publication price of £11 up until 26th September, post free within UK.

Performing live at a venue near you??


Opportunities to hear my work live!

mosaic glyphI’ll be reading from The Bone Box from Mosaic of Air at the Arachne Press Weird Lies Preview this Sunday 9th June 6-9 at Misty Moon Gallery,

and then next Tuesday, 11th June 7pm, my story The Queen’s Safety is being read at Liars’ League as part of their Kings & Queens theme night.

bbj-july1st-a6-front copyAnd then I’m reading at Brixton Book Jam  This is now Monday 8th July due to a double booking at the venue (so ignore the date on the poster) some time after 7.30 not sure what yet, possibly Leaving.