Top Five Takeaways from the Historical Novel Society Conference

I recently went to an in person conference, and wanted to share some of the wealth with you, dear reader. It was so much fun to rub elbows with writers and other industry professionals. Plus, who doesn’t love to visit a real castle… Below are my top five lessons. I have pages of notes, but these are the sound bytes, if you will.

  1. In Person Conferences are so WORTH it!  You get to meet people and have conversations and it is just so much fun to go places and talk to people and not worry about being on camera.  You get to focus on the moment, rather than the backgrounds, the chat box, and whether or not you are talking while muted…
  2. The History isn’t the story…the plot is the story and it centers on your characters.  This came from a presentation by Liz Harris.  Find out more about her here:  
  3. Historical Fiction is a conversation between the present and the past.  I LOVE this idea.  The present is always informed by the past, and historical fiction allows us to interrogate some of our assumptions and beliefs about it.  This is from a presentation by Laura Tisdall, professor and writer, find out more here:  
  4. Also from Professor Tisdall:  “The more history you read, the more you find out that what you thought could never happen, did happen.”
  5. When you choose to tell a story in a particular time period, you must know WHY.  Why it must be then and cannot be at another time. 

Finally, a couple of resources for those of you writing Hist Fic.

Food can be tricky, let this resource make it easier (and yummier)  From the Folger Shakespeare Library, Early Modern Foodways:  

Ever wonder when a word began to be used?  Need to know for your dialogue?  I use this all the time, but it was in a presentation at HNS and I realized maybe everyone didn’t know, so here it is, Etymology for you: 

Published by Robin Henry

Independent Scholar and Book Coach specializing in Historical Fiction and Literary Fan Fiction.

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