Lesbian feminist author Cherry Potts launched her fantasy novel, The Dowry Blade, on February 24 as part of the LGBT month celebrations taking place at Lewisham library.
Potts, 54, from Forest Hill, runs Arachne Press, a fiction, poetry and non-fiction publisher. Potts describes herself as “a lesbian feminist with a love of fairytales”.
Her new book is an “epic fantasy” and was inspired by the lack of women in fantasy writing. She said, “It came out from back when I was in my teens. I was reading fantasy and thinking there is a big problem here. A lot of it was written by men.”
The Dowry Blade has been a work in process for about 20 years. Initially, Potts wrote it as a short story but was then persuaded by her publisher to turn it into a novel, “which they then didn’t want and it sort of sat on the back burner ever since,” she said.
Potts said: “I’ve actually been describing it as Game of Thrones with lesbians, but it’s not at all. My main character has got post-traumatic stress disorder, so behaves quite badly and inappropriately. Basically, it’s the story of her life and relationship based on a four-year period during the civil war.”
The author decided to launch her book specifically during LGBT month, which she thinks of as a great opportunity to celebrate and to reach out to anybody willing to listen. “I deliberately chose February to publish the book because I knew there would be opportunities that there might not be other times of the year. It’s month in which I can say, ‘hello world, I’m a lesbian author.’”
As Lewisham Library always hosts events during LGBT month, Potts thought it’d be a good idea to specifically launch it there. Potts said: “Lewisham Library have been great friends to us. We’ve got an on-going relationship. I approached all the libraries and bookshops I worked with and Lewisham jumped first. I’m very pleased to work with them.”
Another project that’s coming up is a collaboration with photographer Tom Dingley. “Tom took my picture. I just couldn’t let it go. We’re turning it into a book.” The book will include 80 pictures of people holding up a photograph of their young self.
“It’s kind of scary. I’m used to doing words and here are images and it’s way more expensive to produce,” Potts said. She and Dingley have started a crowdfunding project to raise money for the book. Potts said: “We raised over a half of what we need so far. I shall not relax about it until we have hit our target.”
The Dowry Blade was published on February 25 by Arachne Press.