Special Guests at HNS2023

We were delighted to welcome four Special Guests to the Historical Novel Society North America Conference in San Antonio, TX: Lisa Wingate, Jamie Ford, Libbie Grant, and James Scott Bell

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Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of thirty novels. Her work has garnered or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Booklovers Reviewer’s Choice Award. Her blockbuster hit Before We Were Yours remained on the New York Times bestseller list for ten months, was Publishers Weekly's #3 longest running bestseller of 2017, and was voted by readers as the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction. Before We Were Yours has been a book club favorite worldwide and to date has sold well over one million copies.

She has penned over thirty novels and coauthored a nonfiction book, Before and After with Judy Christie. Her April 2020 novel, The Book Of Lost Friends, became an instant New York Times bestseller. The story follows an unlikely trio of girls coming of age as they embark on a perilous journey through reconstruction Louisiana and Texas… and a modern-day teacher in small-town Louisiana who rediscovers their story. The Book Of Lost Friends was inspired by the real-life “Lost Friends” ads, through which families separated during slavery sought to find their lost loved ones in the chaos following the Civil War. A reader and museum volunteer from the Historic New Orleans Collection connected Lisa with HNOC’s vast database of over 2500 Lost Friends ads, which chronicle the heart-wrenching and hope-filled searches of separated families, and which inspired the story of eighteen-year-old Hannie Gossett in the novel.

The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others as recipients of the National Civics Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Wingate’s novels have been translated into over 35 languages. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.”

Lisa was inspired to become a writer by a first-grade teacher who said she expected to see Lisa’s name in a magazine one day. Lisa also entertained childhood dreams of being an Olympic gymnast and winning the National Finals Rodeo but was stalled by a mental block against backflips on the balance beam and by parents who stubbornly refused to finance a rodeo career. She was lucky enough to marry into a big family of Southern tall tale tellers who would inspire any lover of story. Of all the things she treasures about being a writer, she enjoys connecting with people, both real and imaginary, the most.

Novel cover of Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
Novel cover for Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
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Jamie Ford is a Northwest author most widely known for his bestselling Seattle-based novels. His debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list, won the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, the Pacific Northwest Book Award, and the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction. Hotel was named the #1 Book Club pick in 2010 by the American Bookseller Association and is now read widely in schools all across the country. This multi-cultural tale was adapted by Book-It Repertory Theatre, and has recently been optioned for a stage musical, and also for film, with George Takei serving as Executive Producer.
Jamie's second book, Songs of Willow Frost, was also a national bestseller. His third novel set in Seattle, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, was published in 2017 and Library Journal named it one of the Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2017. An award-winning short-story writer, his work has been published in multiple anthologies, from Asian-themed steampunk set in Seattle in the Apocalypse Triptych, to stories exploring the universe of masked marvels and caped crusaders from an Asian American perspective in Secret Identities: The first Asian American Superhero Anthology, and Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology. His essays on race, identity, love, heroes, and complex families have been published nationwide and his work has been translated into 35 languages. He says he’s holding out for Klingon, because that’s when you know you’ve made it. Jamie’s most recent novel, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy, was published in August 2022.

Jamie is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations.  Having grown up near Seattle’s Chinatown, he now lives in Montana where he’s on a never-ending search for decent dim sum. When not writing or daydreaming, he can be found tweeting @jamieford and on Instagram @jamiefordofficial.

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Libbie Grant (a.k.a. Olivia Hawker, Libbie Hawker) writes historical and literary fiction. She is a Washington Post bestseller and a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction. Her novel One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow was among Amazon's top 100 bestselling books of 2020. She lives in Victoria, BC, with her husband Paul.

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James Scott Bell is a bestselling thriller writer, a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award, and the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure (Writer’s Digest Books).  Jim has taught writing at Pepperdine University and at writers conferences in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied writing with Raymond Carver, and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California Law Center. A former trial lawyer, Jim appeared as an expert commentator on Good Morning America, CBS radio, and in Newsweek  magazine during the O. J. Simpson murder trial. His book on Search and Seizure law is the leading authority in its field, used extensively by lawyers and judges throughout California every day. He lives and writes in his hometown of Los Angeles. His website is www.jamesscottbell.com

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