Spike Island

Residency: Sian Norris


2 January to 30 April 2017

Event type


Novelist, short story writer, journalist and poet Sian Norris is writer in residence at Spike Island, developing a new novel and running a series of workshops and literary events. 

Throughout her residency, Norris is developing her novel The Red Deeps. The novel tells the story of Leonie Lennox, a young woman moving to Paris in 1922 hoping to lead an independent and self-determined life. It explores issues around class, women’s representation, reproductive rights and bisexuality. Narrated in Leonie’s witty and confident voice, it features a vibrant cast of real life characters including Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, Janet Flanner and Kiki de Montparnasse. It evokes the sights, smells and sounds of the period. Every page fizzes and buzzes with the creativity, excitement and noise of the 1920s Parisian Left Bank.

To support the work, Sian is running a series of literature showcase events loosely based on Gertrude Stein’s salons and featuring emerging and established talent from Bristol and around the UK. She is working with local schools, using Parisian modernist texts to help students develop their creative writing. During the four months she is running three public workshops for adults and children.

With the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival website as a portal, Sian is also running a modernist women’s reading group; encouraging engagement with some of the lesser known authors working in 1920s Paris. Through this programme of events, Sian is using the residency to bring to life the themes she explores in her novel.

Literary Salons:

Creative Writing Workshops:

  • Saturday 11 February (Children's Storytelling Spiderweb) Book here
  • Saturday 11 March (Creative writing workshop for adults) Book here

Sian Norris' residency is supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.

Sian Norris

Sian Norris is a novelist, short-story writer, poet and feminist activist. She is the founder and director of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival and the co-editor of the Read Women project. She runs the feminist blog sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com and has written for the Guardian, the Independent, the New Statesman3am Magazine and Open Democracy. Her first book, Greta and Boris: A Daring Rescue came out in 2013. She is currently working on a novel based on the life of Gertrude Stein which in 2016 was longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Prize.

Follow Sian on Twitter: @sianushka