September 5-7th will see a fascinating mix of historical novelists, aspiring historical novelists, historians, book sellers, editors, agents and readers converging on Westminster University for the annual Historical Novel Society conference. This year sees a brilliant line up of guest speakers and panelists including Kate Forsyth, Elizabeth Chadwick, Essie Fox, Jessie Burton and many, many more.
I am particularly excited about this year’s conference because I have been invited to speak at one of the workshop sessions, along with Ann Weisgarber , author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. It is a real honour to be asked to speak with Ann, and I’m looking forward to our session, which is titled ‘Drawing from disaster: The enduring fascination of calamity.’
I attended my first HNS conference in 2012. At the time, I had a self-published novel to my name and knew very few people who would be attending. As part of the conference, I had the option to book an appointment to pitch my second novel to an editor. I was nervous, to say the least. The pitch went well. The editor liked the concept of my novel enough to ask to see the full manuscript. It was sent on by my agent, but ultimately led to a no. I was, of course, hugely disappointed but I was still glad to have had the opportunity and the experience of pitching, and would encourage anyone to give it a go. As for my first conference experience, I was blown away by the quality of the speakers, and by the degree to which the whole weekend inspired me.
Two years on, and I am fortunate to be approaching the conference from a very different place. That self-published novel of 2012, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, went on to help me secure a two-book publishing deal with William Morrow. The second novel in that deal was the very same novel I’d pitched at the HNS Conference in 2012. It is called A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and will be published in February 2015.
So, I am really looking forward to HNS2014. To meeting up with friends I first met two years ago, and to meeting many, many more.
The full conference programme is available on the HNS website and I’ll share a post-conference update here in September.