Program Schedule: Saturday, June 26

Saturday, 7:00-9:00AM (CT)

CONVERSATION ROOMS        

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests, and this year is no different! Check out the themed Conversation Rooms in our Histfic Hub.


Saturday, 9:00-10:00AM (CT)

STATE OF THE STATE: TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

Amy Elizabeth Bishop, Cate Hart, Emily Sylvan Kim, Kevan Lyon, Tessa Woodward

Join our industry guests for a spirited conversation about what’s passé, what’s à la mode, and what’s yet to uncover in the world of traditionally published HF.

Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret as a literary agent in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. DG&B was founded in 1994 by Jane Dystel, and is a dynamic, full-service literary agency boasting an impressive client list and a sterling reputation. Some of her recent and upcoming titles include The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller, A Dirty Year: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in Gilded Age New York, by Bill Greer, The Silence of Bones by June Hur and The Girl Explorers: How a Group of Adventurous Women Trekked, Flew, and Fought for Human Rights Around the World by Jayne Zanglein. She represents a wide variety of adult upmarket and literary fiction, narrative and prescriptive nonfiction, as well as select YA. In historical fiction, she is looking for female-driven narratives, non-Western European settings, and untold perspectives. You can find her on Twitter at @amylizbishop.

Cate Hart joined Harvey Klinger in 2019 after 5 years with another agency. Established in 1977 by its eponymous founder, Harvey Klinger, the agency has been among the leading literary agencies in adult and children’s books. Its interests cross many fields in fiction, nonfiction, and middle grade and young adult fiction by new and established authors. Cate specializes in historical, whether middle grade or young adult, women’s fiction and romance, and narrative nonfiction. She is particularly drawn to forgotten stories, especially from underrepresented voices. She is especially excited to see: fresh perspectives and voices in historical for MG and YA; women’s historical fiction beyond WWI and WWII; dual timelines; everything gothic; family sagas and buried secrets; historical romance and romcom outside of Regency period; and nonfiction history and biography.

Emily Sylvan Kim is a literary agent and the president of Prospect Agency that she founded in 2005. Emily loves taking a holistic approach to agenting, working with her authors to build sustainable careers and partnering with every major publisher. She’s committed to making sure her authors maximize all opportunities for each title, including foreign rights and audio rights. With a focus on romance, contemporary and historical women’s fiction, young adult fiction and a select number of non-fiction, she gravitates towards titles by and for women and girls. Emily loves historical fiction because it can entertain and educate. She is looking for stories that illuminate little known aspects of the past and introduce inspiring historical figures and help readers understand the role women played in history. Some of her clients include Piper Huguely and Julia Kelly. Emily loves drinking tea, taking walks, and having long talks with her clients on the phone–and more recently on Zoom.

Kevan Lyon is a literary agent and partner with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency with more than 20 years in the publishing business, including 12+ years as a literary agent and many years in the wholesale, retail, and distribution business. She thus brings an informed and unique perspective to her work with clients. Her fiction list includes NY Times and USA Today Bestselling authors Kate Quinn, Natasha Lester, Stephanie Dray, Kerri Maher, Jennifer Probst, Jennifer Robson, Laura Griffin and may others. Kevan works with her clients to help them realize their dreams of being published and building a long-term career as a writer. Kevan handles women’s fiction, with an emphasis on commercial women’s fiction and historical fiction. When not reading clients’ work or obsessively monitoring email, Kevan loves to walk near the beach with her 4-legged office mates. For more information, visit the agency website at www.MarsalLyonLiteraryAgency.com or their Facebook page, or follow Kevan on Twitter.

Tessa Woodward is Executive Editor at Harper Collins. She edits a wide array of historical fiction, women’s fiction, and romance. Her women’s fiction titles range from historical fiction hits like New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn’s The Huntress, Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning, Caroline by Sarah Miller, and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, to contemporary favorites like Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev, as well as book club hits If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman and You and Me and Us by debut author Alison Hammer. On the historical side, she recently acquired the forthcoming The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli and Kaia Alderson’s Soldier Girls. On the romance side, she edits authors across all genres, including the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers Tessa Dare, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Maya Rodale. She is looking for more women’s historical fiction with strong characters, especially from diverse voices.


Saturday, 10:15-11:15AM (CT)

STATE OF THE STATE: INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING

Linda Cardillo, Anna Castle, M. Louisa Locke, Jane Steen, Sarah Woodbury

Historical fiction authors are increasingly interested in indie publishing—what it takes and what the benefits are. Join our panel of authors as they discuss the market as it pertains to indie histfic.

Linda Cardillo (https://www.lindacardillo.com/) is an award-winning author who writes about the old country and the new, the tangle and embrace of family, and finding courage in the midst of loss. Hailed by Publishers Weekly as a “Fresh Face,” Linda has built a loyal following with her works of fiction—the novels Dancing on Sunday Afternoons, Across the Table, The Boat House Café, The Uneven Road, Island Legacy and Love That Moves the Sun, as well as novellas in the anthologies The Valentine Gift and A Mother’s Heart and the illustrated children’s book The Smallest Christmas Tree. She is also co-founder of Bellastoria Press, (https://www.bellastoriapress.com/) an independent hybrid publisher partnering with authors to produce, distribute and promote their books.

Anna Castle writes the Francis Bacon Mystery series and the Professor and Mrs. Moriarty Mystery series. She has earned a series of degrees—BA in the Classics, MS in Computer Science, and a PhD in Linguistics—and has had a corresponding series of careers—waitressing, software engineering, documentary linguist, assistant professor, and digital archivist. Writing fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.

M. Louisa Locke, a retired professor of U.S. and Women’s History, has a successful second career as the USA Today best-selling author of the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series. This cozy historical mystery series follows the investigations of Annie and Nate Dawson who own the O’Farrell Street boardinghouse. With the help of their servants, family, and friends, this couple investigates a series of crimes that are associated with various late nineteenth-century female occupations. Not just content with writing about the past, Dr. Locke also writes a science fiction series set in the open-source collaborative world of the Paradisi Chronicles.

Jane Steen has been writing and publishing indie historical fiction since 2012. Her books are a blend of mystery and family saga and consist of two series, both set in the late Victorian era. She has lived long-term in both Belgium and the US but is now living on the south coast of England, where she thinks she’ll stay put. As well as being in the HNS, active as a reviewer and conference board member before she moved to England, Jane is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Novelists, Inc., and the Society of Authors. You can find out more at www.janesteen.com.

Sarah Woodbury received her Ph.D. in anthropology in 1995 and began writing fiction in 2006. With over a million novels sold to date, she is the author of the bestselling After Cilmeri series, the Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mysteries, The Welsh Guard Mysteries, the Lion of Wales series, and the Last Pendragon Saga, all set in medieval Wales. Sarah is a member of Novelists, Inc.; the Historical Fiction Society Cooperative; and the Historical Novel Society.


Saturday, 11:30AM-12:00PM (CT)

LUNCH WITH LISA SEE

Join us for a lunchtime discussion with our Guest of Honor, Lisa See.

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books published in 39 languages. She received the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Association of Southern California, the History Maker’s Award from the Chinese American Museum, and was named National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women.


Saturday, 1:30-2:30PM (CT)

THE A-Z OF YOUR INDIE AUTHOR BUSINESS

Anna Castle        

You have a beautiful book, fully edited and ready to publish. You’ve decided to go indie. Well, now what? This talk will walk you through it from formatting to marketing. Should you go wide or sell exclusively through Amazon? Should you buy your own ISBNs? What about taxes? We’ll learn the basics of marketing with plenty of references to learn more as you go along. We’ll also talk about finding time for writing with all this business stuff to do. (Hint: writing always comes first.)

Anna Castle writes the Francis Bacon Mystery series and the Professor and Mrs. Moriarty Mystery series. She has earned a series of degrees—BA in the Classics, MS in Computer Science, and a PhD in Linguistics—and has had a corresponding series of careers—waitressing, software engineering, documentary linguist, assistant professor, and digital archivist. Writing fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.


Saturday, 1:30-2:30PM (CT)

TURNING THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE: THE TAROT IN HISTORICAL FICTION

Glen Craney, Jean Huets, Susan Wands

Susan Wands

The Tarot recurs in historical fiction, from Italo Calvino’s Castle of Crossed Destinies to Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride. The first cards appeared in 15th-century Italy, but the deck’s origins may reach farther into the mists of time. Are these fascinating images—such as the Hanged Man, The Tower, and the Popess—more than just divination tools? Their allure and resonance with the past continue to provide rich source material. Our panelists will discuss derivation theories; esoteric influences; how Tarot readings build scenes and foreshadowing; the lives of famous Tarot artists; and insights into history’s most enigmatic art collection.

Glen Craney is a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. His fiction has taken readers to Occitania of the Albigensian Crusade, Scotland of Robert the Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, Civil War battlefields of Georgia, and WWI trenches of France. The Fire and the Light, a Foreword Magazine BOYTA Finalist, drew upon the Fez Moroccan Tarot deck to unveil the story of the Cathars, a 13th-century sect of pacifist Christians massacred by the Church. He is a Chaucer Award First-Place Winner and a Nicholl Fellowship Prize recipient from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences for best new screenwriting.

Jean Huets co-authored, with Stuart R. Kaplan, The Encyclopedia of Tarot, and authored The Cosmic Tarot book, based on the visionary art of Norbert Loesche, and The Bones You Have Cast Down, a novel set in Renaissance Italy and inspired by the Popess card. Her With Walt Whitman, Himself is acclaimed as “a book of marvels” by poet Steve Scafidi and “a true Whitmanian feast” by scholar Ed Folsom. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and North American Review. She co-founded Circling Rivers, which publishes literary nonfiction and poetry. Visit http://www.jeanhuets.com.

Susan Wands is a writer, Tarot reader, and actor. A co-chair with the HNS NYC Chapter, she produces book launches and author panels. Her writings have appeared in Kindred Spirits magazine and the Irving Society journal, First Knight. Podcast interviews include: ‘Biddy Tarot’, ‘Imaginary Worlds’, ‘Bad Ass Bitches Tarot’ and the ‘Spirited Tarot.’ Her first book in a series, Magician and Fool: Book One, Arcana Oracle Series, out in 2021, is based on Pamela Colman Smith, creator of the Waite Smith deck. Her next two books, High Priestess and Empress and Emperor and Hierophant, are in final edits.


Saturday, 1:30-2:30PM (CT)

PORTRAYAL OF LESBIAN AND GAY CHARACTERS BEFORE STONEWALL

John Musgrove

As we uncover more information about the lives of historical figures, we can begin to humanize the experiences of Gay and Lesbian characters. By examining the obstacles presented by society, our characters can become more lifelike, with richer, fuller worlds. The author can provide context for social mores of their chosen time period. By avoiding tropes and clichés, the author can present believable elements of life before Stonewall.

John Musgrove is a new author. His first novel, Ginter’s Pope, which details the romance of the richest man in Reconstruction Era Virginia and his younger man, is being printed by Brandylane Publishers in 2021. He works as an information security analyst in banking, lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his husband, who is retired. John has five university diplomas, has had photographs published by the Smithsonian Traveler magazine, and is renowned for his baking skills. He has traveled extensively, covering six continents and nearly fifty countries.


Saturday, 1:30-2:30PM (CT)

SHARPENING THE BLADE: BORROWING ELEMENTS FROM MYSTERIES TO CRAFT COMPELLING HISTORICAL FICTION

Julianne Douglas, Mariah Fredericks, Karen Odden

With their life-and-death stakes, mysteries have had a profound narrative power since Wilkie Collins wrote The Moonstone in 1868. Mysteries generate profound sympathy for the protagonist; produce suspense, confusion and surprise through a plausible matrix of events and character motivations; and deliver a measure of justice. In this presentation, historical mystery novel writers Karen Odden (A Trace of Deceit) and Mariah Fredericks (Death of A New American) and agented mainstream author Julianne Douglas (writing on 16th-century France) explore ways to draw upon specific narrative elements fundamental to the mystery genre to write more powerful, compelling mainstream historical fiction.

Julianne Douglas holds a doctorate in French Literature from Princeton University. She has written two agented historical novels set in sixteenth-century France and is currently working on both a French Revolution novel and a dual-timeline historical mystery. She has twice attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fiction Workshop. Long active in the historical fiction community, she posts book reviews, author interviews, and articles on French history and culture at her website, Writing the Renaissance.

Mariah Fredericks was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in history and studied Russian at the University of Exeter. She enjoys reading and writing about dead people and how they got that way. For many years, she was the head writer for Book-of-the-Month Club and worked as a freelance editor reviewing narrative history and historical fiction for inclusion in the catalog. She is the author of the Jane Prescott mystery series, set in 1910s New York.

Karen Odden earned her Ph.D. in English literature from NYU and subsequently taught literature and critical theory at UW-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous books, written introductions for novels by Dickens and Trollope for Barnes & Noble, and edited for Victorian Literature and Culture. Her published historical mysteries are all set in 1870s London. A Lady in the Smoke (2015, Random House/Alibi) was a USA Today bestseller; her second and third novels, A Dangerous Duet and A Trace of Deceit (2018 and 2019, William Morrow) have won awards for historical fiction and mystery. You can reach Karen at www.karenodden.com.


Saturday, 2:45-3:45PM (CT)

SOCIAL STRATEGY: PLATFORMS AND ONLINE PRESENCE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION WRITERS

Sarah Penner

The publishing industry talks endlessly about the importance of platforms and online presence, but what exactly does an effective platform look like for a historical fiction writer? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, a personal website…the options are intimidating, to say the least. Yet whether you’re soon-to-be-querying or an established author, a solid platform is paramount. In this session, we’ll talk through strategies to develop and manage your platform given your writing career goals. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each platform, plus we’ll discuss engagement with followers, platform advertising, personal branding, effective social media visuals, and more.

Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary (March 2021, Park Row Books/HarperCollins), which has been translated into more than fifteen languages. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her husband. When not writing, Sarah enjoys running, cooking, and hot yoga. To learn more, find Sarah on social media or visit www.SarahPenner.com.


Saturday, 2:45-3:45PM (CT)

RESEARCHING HISTORY: DAUNTING, CHALLENGING AND FUN

Patricia Marcantonio

Conducting research for a book can be challenging, daunting and fun or all of the above. In this interactive presentation, writers will learn how to conduct effective and efficient research, consider out-of-the-box places to research, and when to stop researching and get to work writing.

Patricia Marcantonio is the author of the Victorian Felicity Carrol Mystery series (Crooked Lane Books); Verdict in the Desert (Arte Público Press, the largest US publisher of contemporary literature by US Hispanic authors); and Red Ridin’ in the Hood and Other Cuentos (FSG), named an Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature Commended Title. Her screenplays won the Willamette Writers Kay Snow competition and hit the top percentage in several other contests. She earned an Alexa Rose Foundation grant to direct her original play Tears for Llorona and is a Newspaper Association of America New Media Fellow.


Saturday, 2:45-3:45PM (CT)

BREAK IT DOWN: STAYING MOTIVATED FOR THE LONG HAUL

Erika Mailman

Writing a novel is such a daunting task, and while we begin a manuscript in a flurry of excitement, sometimes motivation dips when we hit the doldrums around 100 pages. In this workshop, Erika Mailman offers suggestions to keep focused on the goal and plunge forward through torpor to reach “the end.” Her talk will address how to tie your motivation to the time period you are writing about and how to not get sucked into researching at the expense of writing. She will leave time for Q&A.

Erika Mailman‘s contemporary YA trilogy The Arnaud Legacy (Kensington)–Haunted, Betrayed, and Avenged—dips into history with  shades of Elisabet Bathory, the French Revolution, and Arthurian legend. She writes YA under the name Lynn Carthage, and under her real name she’s the author of three adult historical novels: The Witch’s Trinity, Woman of Ill Fame, and The Murderer’s Maid: A Lizzie Borden Novel. Her freelance work has appeared in Smithsonian, Washington Post, Lit Hub, Rolling Stone and more. She’s a Yaddo fellow, co-director of Open Page Writers, and a novel-writing instructor through Mailstrom Writing Clinic. www.erikamailman.com & www.lynncarthage.com


Saturday, 2:45-3:45PM (CT)

FILLING IN THE BLANKS: WRITING ABOUT TIMES AND PLACES WHERE LITTLE IS KNOWN

David Blixt, Zenobia Neil, Lisa See

Ancient Rome, Victorian England, World War II— writers of these periods have a lot of access to research.  However, there are places and times where very little has been recorded, oral history has no historical records to back up family lore, or the dominating narrative has been written by conquerors. Even for eras that are well documented, there are countless surprises. We as a society have many false memories and impressions of Tudor England, Renaissance Italy, or Victorian America. In this panel, three authors will discuss how they crafted the unknown into vibrant historical fiction.

David Blixt’s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” His novels span the Roman Empire to early Renaissance Italy, through the Elizabethan era to the Victorian age with his series following daredevil journalist Nellie Bly. In 2021 he revealed that, while researching Bly, he had discovered eleven lost novels by Bly herself. David’s novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society says, “Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It’s well worth it.”

Zenobia Neil was born with a shock of red hair and named after an ancient warrior woman who fought against the Romans. In college, she studied Ancient Greece, Voodoo, and world mythology. She writes historical fantasy about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun.

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneSnow Flower and the Secret FanPeony in LoveShanghai GirlsChina Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. She is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China. Her books have been published in 39 languages. See was the recipient of the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Association of Southern California and the History Maker’s Award from the Chinese American Museum. She was also named National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women.


Saturday, 4:00-5:00PM (CT)

DEMYSTIFYING BOOKBUB

Stephanie Barko

When two of my historical novelist clients became bestsellers after being selected for a BookBub feature, I made it my mission to deconstruct how that happened. What was going on with these clients’ stories that made BookBub editors want to feature their books? Was it the number of Amazon reviews? Was it the book’s price? Was it their subgenre? Was BookBub anticipating special demand from a date hook? Maybe it was their cover art or competition within their category at the time. Attracting a BookBub feature takes a quality product, insider knowledge and skill. Let me demystify it for you.

Stephanie Barko has specialized in preparing adult pre-pub historical novels and nonfiction for success in the marketplace for the past 15 years. She was voted 2020 Best Book Promotional Firm, Site, or Resource by 23rd Annual Critters™ Readers’ Poll (formerly Preditors & Editors). Historical novelist clients include Pam Webber, Sandra Worth, Jane Kirkpatrick, Karen Kondazian, and Jack Woodville London. Stephanie has served as a Recommended Associate at Author U, an Industry Expert at Author Learning Center, and a Panel Moderator at Texas Book Festival for the past ten years. Based in Austin, Stephanie has degrees in Business & Sociology.


Saturday, 4:00-5:00PM (CT)

MORE THAN “JUST THE FACTS”: THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF WRITING HISTORICAL MYSTERIES

Susanna Calkins, L.A. Chandlar, John Copenhaver, Alma Katsu

What does an author do when historical evidence thwarts an elegant twist? Or a fact-rich account leaves no room for a riveting plot? Is adhering to historical accuracy always the righteous path to take? Is there a point where distorting history is problematic or even dangerous? In this panel, the four mystery authors will draw on their experiences wrestling with these issues and how often those challenges can create the opportunity to explore fresh perspectives, yield narrative innovations, and illuminate the past in new ways.

Susanna Calkins holds a doctorate in early modern British and women’s history and occasionally teaches history at Northwestern University.  She writes two award-nominated historical mystery series—the first set in early modern London and the other in a 1920s Chicago speakeasy. She has delivered several keynotes on writing and researching historical fiction at universities and libraries and has participated in many panels on the subject.  She is the president of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland and lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons.

L.A. Chandlar is the award-winning author of the Art Deco Mystery Series and has been nominated for the Agatha, Lefty, Macavity, and Anthony Awards. Laurie has been living and writing in New York City for 19 years and has been speaking for a wide variety of audiences for over 20 years and is on the Sisters in Crime National Speakers Bureau. Laurie has also worked in PR for General Motors, is the mother of two boys, and has toured the nation managing a rock band. She loves coffee and wine; and hates thwarted love and raisins.

John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning, won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel and garnered Anthony, Strand Critics, Barry, and Lambda Literary Award nominations. Copenhaver writes a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight,” cohosts on the House of Mystery Radio Show, and is the six-time recipient of Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He’s a Larry Neal awardee, and his work has appeared in CrimeReads, Electric Lit, Glitterwolf, PANK, New York Journal of Books, Washington Independent Review of Books, and others. He lives in Richmond, VA. www.jcopenhaver.com.

Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of six novels, including historical horror (The Hunger and The Deep) and, most recently, Red Widow, her first spy thriller, drawn from a long career in intelligence. She is a graduate of the master’s writing program at Johns Hopkins University and earned her undergraduate degree in literature and writing from Brandeis University. She lives in the Washington DC area with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. For more information, please visit her website at www.almakatsubooks.com.


Saturday, 4:00-5:00PM (CT)

FASHION SHAKES UP SOCIETY: SCANDALOUS WOMEN AND WHAT THEY WORE, 1770-1960

Liza Nash Taylor          

From flaunted bare breasts in the French court of Marie Antoinette to Betty Paige in bondage in the 1950s, women’s fashion statements since 1770 have both shaped and scandalized society. Through the centuries courtesans, socialites, performers, and feminists have used clothes to shock, to titillate, and to make political statements. This program features a sampling of two centuries of women whose clothing choices created scandal. From pinup nudity to androgyny, fashion has served as a conduit to and statement of power. A former fashion designer for Ralph Lauren, Liza Nash Taylor offers a brief visual history of scandal in fashion.

Liza Nash Taylor is a late-blooming writer and the author of two recent historical novels from Blackstone Publishing. Etiquette for Runaways (August 2020) is set in 1924. It was named one of Parade’s 30 Best Beach Reads 2020 as well as Frolic’s Best Book of Summer 2020. In All Good Faith, set in 1932, will be published in August 2021. Liza is the 2016 winner of the Fiction Prize of the San Miguel Writers’ Conference and a 2018 Hawthornden International Fellow. She lives in rural Virginia, in an old farmhouse which is a setting in her novels.


Saturday, 4:00-5:00PM (CT)

VOICES THAT SHOOK UP THE PAST

Annamaria Alfieri, James R. Benn, Nancy Bilyeau, Michael Cooper

What do historical novelists owe to the accurate portrayal of real historical characters in their stories? In their historical novels, members of our panel have featured the likes of Madame Pompadour, Ernest Hemmingway, Yitzhak Rabin, and Evita Peron. When we dramatize the lives of historical icons and weave them into the fabric of our historical fiction, how much artistic license do we have? Where does creative license end and misrepresentation begin? And if we stray from the historical facts about a real person’s actions, should we include an addendum explaining where the story deviates from “true” history?

Annamaria Alfieri has written three historical novels set in South America at different times and places.  Of her debut, The Washington Post said, “As both history and mystery, City of Silver glitters.”  Library Journal said, “History comes alive under Alfieri’s sure hand.  Alfieri’s current series, set in in British East Africa, begins in 1911.  The Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch described Strange Gods as having “the flair of Isak Dinesen and Beryl Markham, the cunning of Agatha Christie and Elspeth Huxley.” The Idol of Mombasa and The Blasphemers have followed. Her work in progress, La Magica, is set in Sicily in 1692.

James R. Benn is the Dilys and Barry award nominated author of the popular Billy Boyle WWII mystery series—fifteen books to date—as well as two stand-alone books. His novel The Blind Goddess was long listed for the 2015 Dublin IMPAC Literary Award, and his works have garnered numerous starred reviews from major review publications. Benn is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and has a Master’s in Library Science degree from Southern Connecticut State University. He worked in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years before leaving to write full-time.

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of five published historical novels: the Joanna Stafford series set in Tudor England titled The Crown, The Chalice and The Tapestry, published by Simon & Schuster; an 18th century thriller set in Europe’s art and porcelain world titled The Blue, published in 2018; and an early 20th century mystery set in Coney Island titled Dreamland, published in 2020. Publishers Weekly gave Dreamland a starred review, saying, “This fascinating portrait of the end of the Gilded Age deserves a wide audience.” She is now writing a sequel to The Blue, scheduled for publication in 2022.

Michael Cooper arrived in Jerusalem in 1966, lived in Israel for eleven years, studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and graduated from Tel Aviv University Medical School. Now a pediatric cardiologist in Northern California he volunteers for medical missions twice a year serving Palestinian children who lack access to care. Foxes in the Vineyard, set in 1948 Jerusalem, won the 2011 Indie Publishing Contest grand prize. The Rabbi’s Knight, finalist for the 2014 Chaucer Award for historical fiction, is set in the Holy Land in 1290. Soon to be published, Sins of the Fathers, is set in Jerusalem during WWI.


Saturday, 5:00-6:00PM (CT)

LISA SEE’S BOOK CLUB

Join Guest of Honor Lisa See for an hour-long discussion of her 2019 novel, The Island of Sea Women. Attendees may submit questions for Lisa in advance and during the discussion.

“A mesmerizing new historical novel” (O, The Oprah Magazine) from Lisa See, the bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and devastating family secrets on a small Korean island.

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility—but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook find it impossible to ignore their differences. The Island of Sea Women takes place over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.


Saturday, 6:00-7:00PM (CT)

TAROT FOR FICTION WRITERS (COZY CHAT – Attendance limited to 50 people)

Kris Waldherr

The tarot may be hot these days for predicting the future. But did you know it can also be used as a tool for fiction writing? Join acclaimed tarotist and author Kris Waldherr for an hour-long craft workshop designed to introduce you to the mysteries of the tarot. Through lecture and writing exercises, you’ll gain an overview of the seventy-eight cards that make up the tarot, along with tarot-based techniques to strengthen your fiction. No previous tarot experience necessary. Handouts included. Please bring a journal or laptop for writing. Tarot deck suggested but not necessary.

Kris Waldherr’s many books include Bad Princess, Doomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. Her debut novel The Lost History of Dreams (Atria Books) received a starred Kirkus review and was named a CrimeReads Best Book of the Year. As a visual artist, Waldherr is the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has over a quarter of a million copies in print. She is also a tarotist who teaches the tarot to writers and other creatives. Learn more at KrisWaldherrBooks.com.


Saturday, 6:00-7:00PM (CT)

THE MYSTERY BEHIND THE HISTORY: CAN NOVELISTS BALANCE FACT, FICTION AND ETHICS? (COZY CHAT – Attendance limited to 50 people)

Indrani Ganguly

This session invites debate on how we balance fact, fiction and ethical issues in writing historical novels. How do historical novelists overcome barriers of time, space, gender and culture, decide how much of the fiction is actually true and whose truth they are to reveal?  Is it possible for writers to recognise and overcome their own biases? Are current debates around cultural appropriation and the cancel culture relevant for writers of historical novels regardless of whether they belong to a dominant or marginalised group? Should we adopt some general principles to help historical novelists balance fact, fiction and ethical issues?

Indrani Ganguly was born of Bengali-speaking parents in Lucknow, India.  Her parents imbued her with a strong sense of Indian and world history and culture. Indrani studied English Honours at the University of Delhi and sociology and history at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She did her Ph.D. on the impact of British occupation on revolution and reform in West Bengal from the Australian National University. Indrani’s publications target a mix of academic, community sector and creative writing audiences, with particular focus on how different groups negotiate their diverse worlds as part of multicultural societies such as Australia and India.


Saturday, 6:00-7:00PM (CT)

CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION FOR HISTORICAL AUTHORS (COZY CHAT – Attendance limited to 50 people)

Jeannie Lin     

How to authentically present crime scene investigation and police procedurals in a historical setting. Long before crime labs and DNA tests, magistrates in China were applying a methodical and forensic approach to crime-solving. From investigating a scene to interrogating witnesses, this talk features documented case records and forensics manuals to highlight techniques and approaches used in imperial China to catch wrongdoers. Join Jeannie Lin, bestselling author of the Lotus Palace mystery series, for a fascinating journey into historical Chinese investigation methods as well as insights on how to weave intricate research details together to create vivid settings, characters and plot.

Jeannie Lin, a USA Today bestselling author, started writing her first book while working as a high school science teacher in South Central Los Angeles. Her stories are inspired by a mix of historical research and wuxia adventure tales. Jeannie’s groundbreaking historical romances set in Tang Dynasty China have received multiple awards, including the Golden Heart for her debut novel, Butterfly Swords. Jeannie also writes an Opium War steampunk series, the Gunpowder Chronicles.  Her historical erotica series, Princess Shanyin, is written under the pen name Liliana Lee.


Saturday, 6:00-7:00PM (CT)

AUTHOR’S SCOOP ON HYBRID PUBLISHERS (COZY CHAT – Attendance limited to 50 people)

Lorelei Brush, Margaret Rodenberg

Can’t break into traditional publishing? Leery of self-publishing? Determined to get your historical masterpiece into readers’ hands? Here’s a chance to learn about publishing’s Third Way: hybrid publishing where the author shares in the cost and the hybrid publisher (according to Wikipedia) upholds “longstanding publishing industry standards and best practices.” Two authors who took the hybrid route with different hybrid publishers share their experiences and answer questions in a frank, informal setting. We can’t promise the hybrid path is right for you, but we’ll shake up your idea of the publishing experience. Other hybrid authors are welcome too.

Lorelei Brush, after writing hundreds of government reports,  stepped into the glorious freedom of fiction. Her second novel, Chasing the American Dream, rolled from her pen following a six-month stint in the National Archives researching her father’s role in the Office of Strategic Services in World War II. He’d told his children exciting stories of his feats as a spy behind enemy lines, which turned out to be lies. She had to write about his quest to be a hero and how, when the war had not provided the opportunity, he might have used the 1950’s to achieve his goal.

Margaret Rodenberg’s debut novel Finding Napoleon was published in April 2021 by She Writes Press. She’s a former businesswoman, an award-winning writer, and secretary of the Napoleonic Historical Society, a non-profit that promotes knowledge of the Napoleonic era. Finding Napoleon—based in part on a romantic novel Napoleon Bonaparte tried to write—will shake up your perception of the French emperor. A long-term, enthusiastic member of HNS, she’s currently writing a French Revolution novel that speaks to today’s social unrest.


Saturday, 6:00-10:00PM (CT)

CONVERSATION ROOMS        

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests, and this year is no different! Check out the themed Conversation Rooms in our Histfic Hub.


Saturday, 7:00-8:00PM (CT)

HOOCH THROUGH HISTORY LIVE!

Are you ready for a time of camaraderie and fun?  We’re thrilled to be able to incorporate the popular Hooch Through History into our programming this year, although things will necessarily be a little different.  Since we can’t actually provide you with drinks, we are instead providing you with several recipes for our signature San Antonio drink—the margarita—and then everyone is invited to bring their favorite variation to this casual virtual happy hour.  We will play a margarita guessing game, as well as play adult Twenty Questions.  No prizes—just bragging rights.  Join us!


Saturday, 8:00-10:00PM (CT)

HISTORY AFTER DARK

Join us for a night of seduction and passion as History After Dark dials up the heat. Whether you’re after lust, romance, or something more lurid, we want to hear your words! History After Dark invites you to share your work out loud—published or in progress. Give us your best shot!


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