2019 Conference Board
Conference Chair: Vanitha Sankaran
Vanitha Sankaran, PhD, is a biomedical communications consultant and a writer and editor of fiction and non-fiction work. Her debut historical novel, Watermark, was published by HarperCollins in 2010. She was a co-founding editor of the literary journal flashquake for its 10-year run, and has served on for-profit and non-profit Boards over the years. Currently, she is working on an adult historical novel and a young adult fantasy. For more information, please visit her website.
Program Chair: Leslie Carroll
Leslie Carroll is a multipublished author in three genres, including historical fiction, where (under the pen names Amanda Elyot and Juliet Grey) she has written about numerous scandalous women, from Helen of Troy to Marie Antoinette. Her novels have been optioned for film and television and translated into 11 languages. A frequent commentator on royal romances and relationships, she has been interviewed by MSNBC.com, USAToday, the Australian Broadcasting Company, NPR; was a featured royalty expert on CBS nightly news in London during the royal wedding coverage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton; and appears on royal-centric Travel Channel and Canadian History Channel docuseries. Leslie is also a professional actress and an award-winning audio book narrator, specializing in works of historical fiction. You can learn more about her at her website.
Registration Coordinator: Maryka Biaggio
Maryka Biaggio, PhD, a professor of psychology for 30 years, undertook writing fiction as a serious pursuit around 2000. She improved her craft by completing three novels before writing Parlor Games, which was published by Doubleday in 2013. Now she splits her time between writing and working as a higher education consultant. Excerpts of her novels have garnered Willamette Writers and Belle Lettres awards. She specializes in writing historical fiction about real people.
Venue Chair: Christine Trent
Christine Trent is the author of the Lady of Ashes historical mystery series, about a Victorian-era undertaker, as well as the author of three other historical novels. Her novels have been translated into Turkish, Polish, and Czech. She writes from her two-story home library, where she lives with her wonderful bookshelf-building husband, five precocious cats, a large doll collection, entirely too many fountain pens, and over 4,000 fully catalogued books. She and her husband are active travelers and journey regularly to England to conduct book research at historic sites.
Marketing Chair: Rosanne Lortz Spears
Rosanne (“Rose”) Lortz Spears is a writer, editor, teacher, school administrator, history-lover, and mom to four boys. Her historical novels include work set during the medieval period and Regency era murder mysteries. Her current project is a Latin curriculum for elementary and middle school students. Rose is a native of Portland, Oregon and is a passionate advocate for a liberal arts education.
Board Secretary & Editor/Agent Liaison: Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is a native New Yorker, former actress and history geek. Her first book, Scandalous Women, was released in March 2011 to enthusiastic reviews (Stiletto Storytime called it “not to be missed.”) Since the book’s release, it has been sold to Thailand, Korea, and Poland and was a best–seller in Singapore. The book was featured in the Daily Candy weekend section, and it was an RT Book Review Non-Fiction Pick of the Month for April 2011. She was also named RWA NYC’s Author of the Year for 2011. In 2012, she was a featured speaker at the We Move Forward conference on Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and was asked to participate in Chick History’s yearlong project #HerStory. Elizabeth has been featured in the H2 show How Sex Changed the World, as well as The Travel Channel’s Monumental Mysteries and the Investigation Discovery show Tabloid.
Treasurer: Caren Wasserman
Caren Wasserman, unlike the rest of the HNS Conference Board, has always been a numbers person. She earned her BS and MBA from Cornell University and has spent most of her career in banking. However, Caren has been an avid reader literally since she was old enough to sit up and hold a book: everything from Greek mythology and the classics to contemporary mysteries, and of course, is a passionate fan of historical fiction. She is also a huge dog lover and used to breed and race thoroughbreds. She has raced her horses at several racetracks including the historic Saratoga Race Course.