Conference Confidential

So I’ve just returned from the Historical Novel Society conference in Portland — and I do mean just; I’m perched on a semi-padded bench at SFO waiting for the airporter to Napa — and my little writer brain is whizzing along like a hamster on meth.

The previous three days have been chock-a-block with workshops, presentations, keynote speeches from literati gliterati, panel discussions, and agent pitches. In between, nearly nonstop networking with the other 1,000 or so writers in attendance. It’s been great, it’s been inspiring, it’s been exhausting. Conferences like this one, which is held in the US every other year and in the UK on alternate years, represent an enormous investment of time, effort and dedication on the part of the organizers, presenters, and attendees. Everybody wants to give and get all they can from the experience, and I’m pretty sure the collective energy involved could power Las Vegas for a month.

So this will be a short post because my inner hamster is running out of steam. Suffice it to say that getting to hear from the likes of Geraldine Brooks (Pulitzer Prize winner for March) and David Ebershoff (y’know, the guy who wrote The Danish Girl) as well as pitch to some very high-level agents and hang out with a crowd of seriously smart folks was heady stuff.

Yes, I am beyond glad I went. And if you write historical fiction, you should by all means join HNS if you haven’t already and you should attend their conferences. The next one’s in Scotland. I’m packing my kilt.

Meanwhile, time for this little hamster to go home and get some rest.

As always, I love your comments, so please share!




  1. As a fellow pilgrim to that HNS gathering in Portland I endorse everything you wrote. Writing novels is a lonely business and so it is important to get feedback. What this conference confirmed for me was the importance of informed and quality feedback based on experience. This doesn’t mean that your friend’s opinion is not important – she/he may too be a reader. But as writers we cannot get blown off course by every will o’the wisp comment or criticism. Joining the HNS and its Northern California branch is a great way to keep you on the right path.

    • And where else are you going to see a crowd of bookish nerds getting dressed up and doing 18th century party dances?

  2. All of this, and more. Writing is such a solitary endeavor it’s important to pull out of one’s shell occasionally and talk to others who Get It.

Comments are closed.