Bristol is brimming with talented and creative women: women who get off their backsides and DO something about the frustrating situation we often get dealt. One of those women is Sian Norris, who (aside from being one of the main forces behind Bristol Feminist Network and a blogger, among many other things) has set up a self-publishing house: Crooked Rib Publishing.
The first two books were published towards the end of 2011: a children’s novel called Greta and Boris, and an anthology of feminist awakenings called The Lightbulb Moment. Both are self-published through Lulu’s print-on-demand service, and packaged in beautiful covers by Susie Hogarth.
(Before I go on, I should declare that I’ve known Sian for a number of years and count her as a friend… and I’m a contributor to The Lightbulb Moment.)
Greta and Boris is that rare beast: a children’s novel that has a strong female protagonist, finds no need for violence or romance, and eschews a feminist undertone. Greta wakes on the first morning of the school holidays to discover her beloved cat Boris has gone missing. But this seemingly common occurrence quickly gives way to the most uncommon of situations when Greta discovers Boris is not simply her pet, but he is also the Prince of the Kingdom of Cats and he has been catnapped by the wicked Rat King.
With the help of new feline friend Kyrie Mi-Ke, Greta sets off on a quest to rescue Boris and ensure the safe future of the Kingdom of the Cats. En route, our heroine must battle her own demons and find her inner courage, while learning to outwit others, and it’s a deft tale that keeps you flicking through the pages to make sure Greta and Boris are happily reunited.
On a different tone, The Lightbulb Moment is an anthology, edited by Sian, of around 32 people’s stories about why they became feminists: of when they had their lightbulb moments. Inspired by the US anthology Click (published by the wonderful Seal Press), Sian collected stories from people including Finn Mackay (London Feminist Network, Reclaim The Night), Nimco Ali (Daughters of Eve), Francine Hoenderkamp (Turn Your Back On Page 3) and Matt McCormack-Evans (Anti-Porn Men Project). The contributors write in different styles: from poems, to short stories, to childhood reminiscences, and more, bringing a mixed flavour to the collection. Which is a good thing, to keep readers on their toes and remind them that each chapter brings a fresh voice.
As a contributor, I may be biased, but it’s vital to have volumes like The Lightbulb Moment to remind us that we’re not lone crusaders out there, and we are surrounded by a huge network of other feminist activists: who may live in different areas, have different backgrounds, and work to different agendas, but ultimately, we are all feminists working together.