Sunday, June 14, 2009

Historical Novel Society Conference

I just drove home from the 2009 Historical Novel Society Conference in Schaumburg, IL. Friday rush-hour Chicago traffic aside, it was sooo worth going. You have to be a bit reclusive to be a writer, or at the very least be able to tune out the rest of the world and detach yourself from daily life. Conferences like this connect you with those you share a deep passion with. The great thing about the HNS conference is that there was such a variety of attendees: aspiring writers and established authors; readers of the genre and librarians; editors from both small, independent presses and mega publishing houses; and literary agents.

Sometimes I had trouble choosing which session to attend. My favorites were The Return of the Late-Night Sex Scene Reading and Historical Boys:A Panel about Testerone (which turned into the differences in writing in the male vs. the female POV). Just to mention a few of the incredible speakers I had the pleasure to listen to: Trish Todd (editor-in-chief of Touchstone Fireside), Barbara Peters (editor of Poison Pen Press), and authors Anne Easter Smith (A Rose for the Crown), Diana Gabaldon (the Outlander novels), C.W. Gortner (The Last Queen), and Margaret George (Helen of Troy).

The most memorable moment was when I met debut novelist Ann Weisgarber. Her novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, is about a black pioneer women and is set in the early twentieth century South Dakota Badlands of America. It was a UK publisher, Panmacmillan, that finally offered her a deal - and that was after it had been passed over many times here in the U.S. Ann, you give all aspiring writers inspiration to persevere.

Time flew by and I learned more in one weekend than I have in the past several years. It was a great insight into the current state of the industry, various stages of the writing and publishing process and the historical fiction market. I can hardly wait for the next one.

Until later,


Anita Davison said...

I'm following these conference blogs, yours and Dawn's with interest. I agree how necessary it is to interact with other writers and get a new perspective. And both of you say there are lots of 'brainy people' there, well you are both brainy too and the others are probably saying the same thing about you! Researching for a novel and integrating the information in a seamless way is not for the faint hearted!

N. Gemini Sasson said...

The really amazing thing to me was how many established authors had day jobs, some of them lawyers, professors and engineers. No excuse for not having enough time in the day here!

Sheila Lamb said...

Thanks for posting about the conference. I think I will be conference-less this year - but HNS sounds like a great one!