The highly discerning Arachne Press, run by Director Cherry Potts, has brought together some of the best stories performed at the League over the last few years into three (so far) print anthologies, London Lies, Lovers' Lies, and our newest publication, sci-fi/fantasy/horror/WTF? anthology Weird Lies.
They've also published Stations, a book of stories themed around the London Overground line featuring many Liars' League authors, of which Londonist said: "Very funny ... a surprising amount of emotional depth ... bittersweet and yearning, particularly the further down the line we go. Sadness shot through with flashes of beauty: we’ll never look at Penge West the same way again."
There’s something about Liars’ League that brings out the wildness in the writers’ imaginations. Here we explore myth, fantasy, science fiction, and the indefinable what the– that makes up Weird. In true Liars’ League fashion there is as much humour as there is darkness and poignancy.
More than twenty tales, varying in style from stories not out of place in One Thousand and One Nights, to the completely bemusing. Discover mirrors that predict the immediate future and museums where your personal future life is exhibited in the kind of ephemeral objects that might normally find their way into a dustbin. Meet tadpoles, lazy assassins, and assiduous poisoners; observe deals with the devil, and workplace stress taken to its logical conclusion. Heroes, villains, and animals – anything and anyone could provide the twist in the tale – cursed travellers, persistent dreamers, aliens, robots and even ice might be the object, or source, of love.
"This collection of weird, funny, sad, moving stories is a mini galaxy of treats and a thoroughly Ace read." -Sophie Aldred (Doctor Who companion, Ace)
Enter the world of stranger than strange for £9.99 (inc. UK P&P) here, or peruse some sample peculiarities below...
The Last Words of Emanuel Prettyjohn by Jonathan Pinnock
Read by Tony Bell and Lin Sagovsky
Those swine wrecked my life. Before I joined them, I had a job. I had a wife. I had access to my kids. More than that, I had self-respect. But a year with them and I was a raving nutter, reduced to living on the streets. You would not believe some of the things I saw. And that Silent Gabriel, he should be strung up for some of the things he done. Just ask him how much he’s making out of this, next time you see him. But you won’t get an answer. I guarantee you that.
The Elephant in the Tower by David McGrath
Read by Ed Cooper Clarke
The lover of Louis XI, King of France, is taken from his luxurious apartments in Poissy and thrown into the Tower of London ... Except that he hasn't been taken, he's been given away to King Henry III. Also, he's an elephant.
This sexy little volume contains 22 tales of love, lust and loss and is the perfect gift if you forgot Valentine's Day, or indeed for anyone you love. You can buy it for £9.99 (inc. UK P&P) here.
"This book is designed expressly for romantic cynics and cynical romantics. Be careful who catches you reading it – your intentions might be misinterpreted.
Explore role-play gone wrong, goldfish that eat loneliness, and a very literal leap into the unknown. Old love, cold love, true love, new love, dead love, we’re through love – making babies and making whoopee, disappointment and contentment, playing at home, playing away or just playing; missed chances and new romances: everything from first conversation to last breath, strange journeys and stranger destinations."
Interested? There are some tasters of the stories below ...
A TIME AND PLACE UNKNOWN by Jason Jackson
Read by Cliff Chapman
She was naked, standing on the flat metal plate in her tiny apartment, and all I could see were her eyes. Caitlin. My closed, dead past. Resurrected, and about to disappear again, forever.
It started with a phone call, like always. My number’s in the freesheets, amongst the whores and the scams. I didn’t recognise the voice as I jotted down her address. She still wasn’t sure, she said. Could I come around tomorrow anyway, talk things through?
Of course, I said. No problem. It wasn’t like I could pick and choose.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE OLYMPICS WiTH A BROKEN HEART by Rosalind Stopps
Read by Nicky Diss
Buy a box of man-size tissues, the softest ones you can get to stop your nose from getting sore.
Make a wall chart, a huge one detailing every heat of every event of the Games, complete with tiny flags. Take special care to cover up all the photos of happier times stuck up there like blu-tacked evidence.
Exhibit A - a picture of you and Charles on Brighton beach last summer, licking ice creams in an ironic, postmodern way.
THIS ISN'T HEAT by Richard Smyth
Read by Silas Hawkins
Outside, a tonne of air sits on Manhattan like a squatting golden Buddha. Inside, James Mercury searches for a friend in his Rolodex.
‘David – nope. Janice – no: how can I call her after last time? Louie Sweeney. Who the hell is Louie Sweeney? So no. Harry, Murray, Cathy – no, no, no.’
It seems that there are no friends to be found within James Mercury’s Rolodex.
Subtitled Urban Tales from Liars' League, this anthology features 23 superb stories set in London past, present and future, and retails at £9.99. You can hit up your local bookseller for a copy, or order it online right here. It was published on September 8th 2012 and there was a launch party (featuring West End star of "Matilda", Bertie Carvel) at the wonderful London Review of Books bookshop in Bloomsbury - where better?
Check out Arachne Press's events page for more free readings from the anthologies at various bookshops & libraries around London ... there's bound to be one near you.
Here's what Londonist had to say about London Lies: "... each [story] has a distinctive voice and a point to make. Perfect for reading in bite-sized chunks on the way around town." Read the rest of the review here.
"From the mean streets of Hackney to sleepy South London suburbs, from boho Bloomsbury to City wine bars, London Lies is a tour of the capital as you’ve never seen it before. What happens when a girl on her way to work is propositioned by a frog? When a man breaks into London Zoo to fight a hippo? When nuclear bombs fall on a future London, when the rats rise up to rule us or – most terrifying of all – when Scrabble goes wrong?
Moving from 1930s Camden to a Royal Wedding riot, via football fights, office steeplechases and awkward dates in art galleries, London Lies is a bizarre, funny, moving and sometimes unnerving glimpse into the secret life of the city we all love and know … or do we?
And here's the full list of stories and authors: (and a couple of videos to whet your appetite)
O Happy Day ... by David Bausor - read by Rhik Samadder
Telling It Like It Is by James Smyth - read by Steve Wedd (WARNING: swearing!)
The Escape by Emily Cleaver - read by Elizabeth Bower (click the grey box below to hear the audio)
The Suitcase by Rosalind Stopps
Thieves We Were by Simon Hodgson
Mark's Fortunes: A Story in Nine Parts by Laura Wlliams
Keep Calm and Carry On by Katy Darby
Leaving by Cherry Potts
Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore by Martin Pengelly
Red by David Mildon
Palio by Liam Hogan
The Frog by Emily Cleaver
Made for Each Other by Nichol Wilmor
Truth, Music and NikkiSexKitten by Jason Jackson
Ringtone by Harry Whitehead
The Runner by Alan McCormick
Are We Nearly There Yet? by Emily Pedder
Rat by Liam Hogan
Stained by Laura Martz
How to Win at Scrabble and Life by Clare Sandling
Girl with Palmettes by Martin Pengelly
Renewal by Joan Taylor-Rowan