Now that the Historical Novel Society’s 2011 Conference is over, I’d like to share some highlights and reflections, and to encourage everyone writing historical fiction to attend either next year’s conference in London or the 2013 event here in the states (in Florida, if rumors prove true).
The highlights, in no particular order:
- The agents, editors and publishers’ representatives seemed more active and accessible during this conference than at any other I’ve attended. (That could be a function of the attendees rather than the conference, but it’s a fact regardless of cause.)
- Ditto the authors. Harry Turtledove, Michelle Moran and Erika Mailman all get double gold stars for accessibility and sterling senses of humor. (I spoke with others too, but these stood out for me.) As a whole, the authors seemed more interested in enjoying time spent in the company of other writers – published and unpublished – and less inclined to spend time together as an insular and isolated group.
- The panels were engaging, informative, and often humorous (Michelle Moran, in particular, brought down the house in her panel on Author-Editor Relationships). Many were covered on Twitter (Hashtag #HNS11) for people seeking a more detailed recap.
- It didn’t rain. (After a month of precipitation in Sacramento, that’s a big one in my book.)
- The Twitter Crew – @DeeAnnSmithKC, @AmandaVOrr, @marcijefferson, @ChristyEnglish, @msheatherwebb, @TeralynPilgrim, @kriswaldherr, @sherryjones, @lit_gal (and apologies to anyone I might have missed) – an instant group of friends who came together and made the conference tons of fun.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the conference, as always, was the opportunity to meet and share the time with a fantastic group of inspired people who share a common love for history despite the wildly diverse range of times and topics. In three days of nearly constant talking (I have the lost voice to prove it) I didn’t find any two people writing the same thing. I heard about Roman Britain, Ancient Tyre, Mongolia, the Civil War, the Isle of Wight, the Wars of the Roses, and Renaissance Venice, just to name a few. I heard fabulous pitches for novels I can’t wait to read.
Anyone can schedule lectures. It’s people who make a conference. And from the organizers’ dedication to the passion of every writer and publishing professional, the people made HNS 2011 both memorable and great.
I can’t wait for 2012.