By Rosanne Lortz Spears, HNS North America Marketing Chair
As we near the end of June, I recall with pleasure that time a year ago when I was at the Portland Hilton, attending my first Historical Novel Society Conference. Eight years after joining HNS, I was finally in the same room with the authors, editors, and book reviewers whom I had grown to know at a distance through social media.
Others remember the 2017 Portland conference fondly as well. Amanda Skenandore, whose debut novel Between Earth and Sky just came out this spring, remarks that “the 2017 Historical Novel Society Conference had it all—engaging workshops, inspiring keynotes, and rousing mixers. I learned about the craft, about the business, and even a few steps of English Country Dance and how to shoot a seventeenth-century musket.”
For many attendees, one highlight of the Portland conference was “Hooch through History,” an evening spent enjoying the spirit(s) of history. Diana Mathur, author of The Ghastly Year, notes that “the session on historic libations was memorable–scratch that–memory is a bit fuzzy on certain details…but loved the Belle Epoque absinthe service!”
For Patricia Bracewell, author of Shadow on the Crown and The Price of Blood, Portland was her sixth HNS Conference and “one of the best I’ve attended.” Like other attendees, she enjoyed the festive events presented in the evenings, but she notes that “the heart of the conference lies in the sessions that give insight into all aspects of the craft of writing, or present a snapshot of what is happening in the publishing industry, or offer a glimpse into the minds of our colleagues on current cultural issues and how they relate to our genre.”
Another draw for Patricia Bracewell was the guest of honor: “Our guest speakers are always fantastic, but I don’t recall that we’ve had a Pulitzer Prize winner before, and as a huge fan of Geraldine Brooks I was hanging on her every word.”
And the best part of all? For Amanda Skenandore it was meeting “other authors, readers, and industry professionals who love history as much I do.” The thought-provoking sessions, the intimate Koffee Klatches, the shared drinks and meals all brought us together as a community of historical fiction lovers. As Patricia Bracewell puts it: “The HNS conference is a celebration of our genre and a gathering of kindred spirits.”
So, as we fondly remember the good times we had at Portland 2017, let’s look forward to that celebration and gathering next year….
Maryland 2019! See you there!