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


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.

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


Suneetha Balakrishnan, Ann Marti Friedman, Richard Lee, Elisabeth Storrs

With technology bringing us all together this week from around the world, the boundaries of publishing in markets beyond North America have become a real consideration to many. Join our panelists from around the world as they share the state of the state in their neck of the woods.

Suneetha Balakrishnan, a Creative Writing Trainer certified by the British Council, is a journalist, translator, editor, and writer; working in English and Malayalam, and across genres. She has two novellas, one poetry anthology, and five translations to her credit: including the Malayalam translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. Suneetha won the 2010 Penguin-HT short fiction competition, the 2012 DWL Short Story Competition, is a Fellow of the Sangam House International Writer’s Residency 2009, a Featured Poet at the Prakriti Poetry Festival 2010, and a 2019 awardee of the Book Completion Fellowship at The Manipal Centre for Humanities.

Ann Marti Friedman trained as an art historian and enjoys bringing the history of art into her novels.  An Artist in Her Own Right, set in Paris in the early 19th century, tells the story of Augustine Dufresne, a little-known member of the circle of artists surrounding Napoleon Bonaparte.  A Fine Tapestry of Murder takes place in Paris in 1676-1677 amidst the painters, sculptors, tapestry weavers, silversmiths and other craftsmen of the Royal Manufactory of the Gobelins. Ann is now working on its sequel, Death in the Fountains of Versailles. She was a member of the 2020 HNS Master Class on writing historical novels.

Richard Lee is founder and chairman of the Historical Novel Society. He’s working (has been working for a while) on a novel set in eleventh century Syria at the time of the first crusade.

Elisabeth Storrs is an Australian author who graduated from the University of Sydney in Arts Law, having studied Classics. The three novels in A Tale of Ancient Rome Saga vividly describe the world of Etruria, a sophisticated society which heavily influenced Rome from republican to imperial times. She is the founder of the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) and the program director for the HNSA conferences. In 2020, she founded the $60,000 ARA Historical Novel Prize. Her novels inspired an archaeologist to feature the books’ characters in an audio-visual exhibition of Etruscan statuary at the Museo dell’Agro Veientano in Rome.

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


Claire Gebben

Writers do a ton of research for our historical novels, but only a fraction of that work actually makes it into the book. But all is not lost. Thinking ahead to publication helps authors lay the groundwork for book promotion, raise visibility, and increase sales. In this presentation, historical novelist Claire Gebben, author of The Last of the Blacksmiths (Coffeetown Press, 2014), shares tips and techniques for using your historical research to your advantage before, during and after book publication.

Claire Gebben is the author of The Last of the Blacksmiths (2014), based on a true story of a 19th century German immigrant blacksmith. Her memoir, How We Survive Here (2018), describes the discovery of ancestral letters in an attic in Germany, which propels her on a transatlantic quest to write about their lives. The Last of the Blacksmiths was named a Notable Book by Cleveland State University. The memoir was a finalist in the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Claire loves research as much as writing and speaks at numerous venues on topics related to her books.

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


Edie Cay, Syrie James, Jeannie Lin, Emily E K Murdoch

Romance is the most popular and bestselling book genre and the most profitable fiction book genre, bringing in more than a billion dollars in annual sales. Yet as a literary form, it doesn’t always receive the credit it deserves. We will cover what romance is, the surprising people who write romance, its audience, the intense research required to write historical romance (just like other historical fiction categories), larger themes of the genre, writing challenges, its changing perception in the marketplace, and its financial impact in publishing. Interested in the power of Romancelandia? This presentation is for you!

Edie Cay (Katie Stine) writes Feminist Regency Romance. Her debut, A LADY’S REVENGE won the Golden Leaf Best First Book in 2020. The next in her series, THE BOXER AND THE BLACKSMITH will be out in February 2021, and won the Hearts Through History Legends Award as an unpublished manuscript in 2019. She obtained dual BAs in Creative Writing and in Music, and her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Alaska Anchorage. She is a member of RWA, The Beau Monde, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Follow her on social media @authorEdieCay.

Syrie James is the bestselling author of 13 critically acclaimed novels published in 21 languages, including many award-winning works of historical fiction. Dubbed the Queen of Nineteenth Century Re-imaginings by Los Angeles Magazine, Syrie is a huge fan of Jane Austen, the Brontës, Dracula, and All Things English. A produced screenwriter and playwright, Syrie has given keynote and breakout addresses and served on author panels across North America and in England. Find Syrie on Facebook, Twitter, and at

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.

Emily E K Murdoch is a historian and historical romance author. With a Masters in Medieval Studies, she has over 37 historical romance books published. Many of those have been heralded by academic journals for their detailed accuracy, and her genres span from medieval to Westerns to Regency, with different heat levels but—of course—happily ever afters.

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


Katherine J. Chen, Molly Greeley, Gill Hornby, Natalie Jenner

In this session, the second of two sister panels on 21st-century responses to the grandes dames of historical fiction, four historical novelists will share how they found inspiration in the work and life of Jane Austen.

Katherine J. Chen is the author of the novel, Mary B. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Literary Hub, and most recently, in the bestselling historical fiction anthology, Stories from Suffragette City. She is a graduate of Princeton University and a candidate in the MFA Fiction program at Boston University, where she is also a Senior Teaching Fellow. Her second novel on the rise and fall of Joan of Arc will be published in 2022.

Molly Greeley was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her addiction to books was spurred by her parents’ floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. She is the author of two novels inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—The Clergyman’s Wife and The Heiress. Molly lives in northern Michigan with her husband and three children.

Gill Hornby is a writer and journalist. She read History at Oxford before working for the BBC, The Times and The Telegraph. She is the author of two non-fiction books for children—on Jane Austen and Mozart—and three novels. Miss Austen, published in 2020 by Century and Flatiron, is her first piece of historical fiction. She lives in Kintbury, West Berkshire, with her husband and four children.

Natalie Jenner is the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen lived. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie is a former lawyer who also once founded Archetype Books, an independent bookstore in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. A #1 National, USA Today and LA Times bestseller, The Jane Austen Society will be translated into eighteen different languages around the world.

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


Michelle Gable, Kerri Maher, Gill Paul, Steven Rowley

John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline are two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century, and the fascination with their family shows no signs of lessening. Their story is not just about politics, money, and ambition – it’s also about living under media scrutiny and surviving unimaginable tragedy. Writing novels about the Kennedys is a way of uncovering deeper truths about them, and each member of this panel approached it by a different route. They will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of tackling recent history and look at ways to achieve a fresh perspective on well-known characters.

Michelle Gable is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including A Paris Apartment and the upcoming The Bookseller’s Secret (2021). A San Diego native and graduate of The College of William & Mary, Michelle spent twenty years in finance before retiring to write full-time. She lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with her husband, two teenaged daughters, one geriatric cat, and a Thai street dog.

Kerri Maher is the author of The Kennedy Debutante, which People called “a riveting reimagining of a true tale of forbidden love,” and The Girl in White Gloves, which was an HNS Editors Pick and Library Reads selection. Her forthcoming biographical novel, The Paris Bookseller, is about bookshop-and-library owner Sylvia Beach, who opened the original Shakespeare and Company in Paris in 1919.  A professor of writing for many years, she loves to talk about the craft of writing. Learn more at

Gill Paul is the bestselling author of ten historical novels, many of them describing real women she thinks have been marginalised or misjudged by historians. Jackie and Maria looks at the way Jackie Kennedy’s and Maria Callas’s lives began to overlap as they became rivals for Aristotle Onassis, and her forthcoming novel The Collector’s Daughter, due out in September 2021, is about Lady Evelyn Herbert, a remarkable woman who was part of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Gill lives in London with her partner, who is a light artist, and loves wild swimming year-round.

Steven Rowley is the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, a Washington Post Notable Book of 2016 and The Editor, named by NPR and Esquire Magazine as one of the Best Books of 2019. Both are in development as feature films. His new novel, The Guncle, arrives May 25th, 2021. O Magazine hails it as one of the LGBT books changing the literary landscape. Rowley’s fiction has been published in twenty languages. He lives in Palm Springs, California with his partner, the writer Byron Lane.

Sunday, 11:30AM-12:30PM (CT)


Janet Fitch, Aimee Liu, Jennifer Steil, Liza Nash Taylor

When writing about characters who migrate from one country to another, or characters native to a foreign land, historical novelists face a complicated cultural balancing act. We must fuse research on historical events with accurate, time-period correct portraits of foreign cultures. But how do we simultaneously convey both culture shock and rich and complex societies? How can writers employ the conflict and tension inherent in cultural transition? Perhaps most critical of all, how do we earn the right to tell these stories, when we ourselves are not native to the lands and the ethnicities we are fictionally inhabiting?

Janet Fitch is the bestselling author of White Oleander, Paint it Black, and now the epic historical novels The Revolution of Marina M. and Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, set during the Russian Revolution.  She was awarded a Likhachev Fellowship to St. Petersburg, Russia in 2009, to further her research. While an undergraduate at Reed College, she majored in history with a specialty in Russian history and imagined she would become an historian before she turned her sights to fiction writing.  Her short stories and essays have appeared in many venues.

Aimee Liu is the bestselling author of the historical novels Glorious Boy; Flash House; Cloud Mountain; and Face, as well as the memoirs Solitaire and Gaining. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Honors include the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, Bosque Fiction Prize, and Literary Guild Super Release. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She has also written or co-authored more than ten books of popular non-fiction. Aimee teaches in Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program at Port Townsend, WA.

Jennifer Steil is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. Her newest book, Exile Music (Viking, 2020), is the first novel in English to explore the lives of Austrian Jewish musicians who sought refuge from the Nazis in Bolivia in 1939.  Her two previous books are The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, a memoir of her experience running a newspaper in Yemen, and The Ambassador’s Wife, a novel about a hostage crisis inspired by Steil’s experience. She currently lives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She is now writing a novel about an underground Bolivian community of LGBTQ artists.   


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.

Sunday, 11:30AM-12:30PM (CT)


Judith Starkston

The challenge for historical fiction writers who incorporate fantastical elements in their work is to sustain readers’ believability and emotional engagement amidst the “unreal,” magical, supernatural, mythical, or surreal. Embedding fantasy in richly historical world-building is the canonical solution within the fantasy genre whether the author pulls the historical details from one historical period/place or weaves from multiple traditions. Using passages from J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin, and George R.R. Martin, we’ll explore what the fantasy genre offers to historical fiction and break down how to build convincing and immersive fantastical elements by using history.

Judith Starkston has spent too much time exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get degrees in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution is her brand: Fantasy and Magic in a Bronze Age World. Hand of Fire was a semi-finalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award. Find out more at

Sunday, 11:30AM-12:30PM (CT)


Susanne Dunlap, Malayna Evans, Colleen Gleason, Erika Mailman

It’s the holy grail of building a brand: Appealing to young readers just starting to form their literary tastes so they’ll follow you—or at least the genre—as they grow up. On this panel, four authors with different approaches to writing historical fiction for teens talk about their strategies for appealing to this important audience—from choice of protagonists to research tactics to adding paranormal or time-travel elements—and how much to meddle with history for the sake of a story young readers will devour. Author Q&A and fun to follow! Come prepared with a title and two sentences about a nonexistent YA historical.

Susanne Dunlap is the author of ten historical novels for adults and teens. Her PhD in music history has inspired her to bring to life the remarkable stories of women in music from the middle ages through the 19th century. A Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, The Musician’s Daughter (Bloomsbury Children’s, 2008) kicked off a YA mystery series with a young Viennese violinist as sleuth, which she is continuing with a forthcoming fourth book.

Malayna Evans was raised in the mountains of Utah and spent her childhood climbing, reading, and finding trouble. Her early fascination with sci-fi—and worlds different than her own that she found in books—led Malayna to a lifelong interest in the origins of culture and society. After earning an MA in Greek and Roman history, then Mesopotamian and Egyptian history, she received a Ph.D. in ancient Egyptian history from the University of Chicago. A single mom, Malayna now lives in Oak Park, IL, with her two kids and a rescue dog. Learn more about Malayna at

Colleen Gleason, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has dipped her pen in several genres, from paranormal romance, mystery and suspense, YA, and, of course, historical fiction. She has a book for every taste and reader. Colleen has written stories set in the Middle Ages, the Regency Period, Lincoln’s nineteenth-century America, and even an alternate Victorian London. Colleen lives somewhere in the Midwest with her family and dogs, fingers furious on the keyboard on her next novel.

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. &

Sunday, 11:30AM-12:30PM (CT)


Anna Castle, M. Louisa Locke, Sarah Woodbury

Wise heads these days are advising authors to write series, however they publish. It’s the best way to build an audience. Readers love to come back to favorite characters in a familiar setting and see what they’re up to now. Writers of historical fiction face the same problems as any other series author—keeping things fresh for themselves and their readers, book after book—but we face some unique problems as well. Come find out how four authors of long series manage to keep the story going through the years.

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.

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.

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


Autumn Bardot         

Dive into a little-used author platform and bring your particular skill set or interest to readers. Having trouble getting ‘out there’ on the traditional social media platforms? Me too. I also wanted to brand and market my books in a more subtle way. A complete novice—and not especially techie—I waded through YouTube set up, vlog topics, videoing snafus, and editing snags. Was it worth it? My author reach expanded, and I get more views on a video than I ever did on a blog! Shake free from your author cage with a YouTube channel that is uniquely you!

Autumn Bardot writes historical fiction and more about fearless women and dangerous passions. She has taught advanced literary analysis and writing for more than sixteen years. She has two traditionally published historical erotica and three indie historical novels. She is currently writing her next novel and making videos for new writers on her YouTube channel. Autumn has a passion for history and a special affinity for the unsung courageous females that history neglects or misunderstands. Autumn lives in Southern California with her husband and ever-growing family. She wishes she was one-tenth as brave as the women she writes about.

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


Elizabeth Bell, Glen Craney, Susan Higginbotham, Sadeqa Johnson

The past is never dead, wrote Faulkner: It’s not even past. Perhaps more so than any era in American history, the Civil War is viewed through the prism of current social and political divisions. Our panelists will discuss new challenges and opportunities in writing and selling novels set during this period. Topics will include: Creating empathetic Confederate protagonists for a woke readership; ramifications for book covers; balancing authenticity and sensitivity using racially-charged language; navigating the minefield of cultural appropriation; interpretations of slavery and the Underground Railroad by emerging African-American voices; and public expectations and the persistence of the states-rights narrative.

Elizabeth Bell chose a pen name at the age of fourteen and vowed to become a published author. After earning her MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University and after nearly three decades of research and revision, she published her Lazare Family Saga about a multiracial Catholic family struggling to understand where they belong in the young United States. The first book in the series, Necessary Sins, was a Finalist in the Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards. The second and third books were Editors’ Choices in the Historical Novels Review. Visit Elizabeth online at

Glen Craney is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, and lawyer. His fiction has taken readers to Occitania of the Albigensian Crusade, Scotland of Robert the Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, and the WWI trenches of France. His recent novel, The Cotillion Brigade, is based on the Civil War’s Nancy Hart Rifles of Georgia, the most famous female militia in American history. 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. He has also served as president of the HNS Southern California Chapter.

Susan Higginbotham turned to nineteenth-century America after writing several novels set in medieval and Tudor England; her latest, The First Lady and the Rebel, tells the story of Mary Lincoln and Emily Todd Helm, half-sisters who find themselves on opposite sides of civil war. A diligent researcher who loves digging through archives, Susan is also the author of two biographies and a number of articles. Having developed a taste for American history, Susan is completing John Brown’s Women, about the wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law who stood behind—and stood up for—the American abolitionist. Susan enjoys traveling and collecting photographs, especially from the nineteenth century.

Sadeqa Johnson is the award-winning author of four novels. Her accolades include the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and the USA Best Book Award for Best Fiction. She is a Kimbilio Fellow, former board member of the James River Writers, and a Tall Poppy Writer. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children. Her most recent novel, Yellow Wife, tells the story of a sheltered house servant who is thrust into the bowels of the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, visit

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


Libbie Hawker, Carrie Hayes, Pamela K. Johnson, Tonya Mitchell

Historian Amanda Foreman has said, “Only fools and pedants have a problem with artistic license.” Yet novels featuring historical female protagonists are confronted with countless obstacles. Not only do the characters go against the status quo, but they must also agitate the waters so they can step into their power. The writer then faces these age-old dilemmas: Is she (the character) a good mother/daughter/helpmeet OR is she something else? Can she be a good mother AND be something else?  Or will she be obliged to SACRIFICE the opportunity to fulfill any domestic aspirations while pursuing her dream/destiny/life’s work?  These are time management issues women wrestle with even now, particularly in the pandemic. And to that end, is our narrative arc proactive or re-active? This panel aims to discuss the above challenges when writing about actual extraordinary women in historical fiction.

Libbie Hawker, who also writes under the pen names Olivia Hawker and Libbie Grant, is a bestselling author of historical and literary fiction. Her work has been translated into six languages; her most recent, One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Willa Literary Award, and was among Amazon’s top 100 bestselling titles of the year in 2020. She lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband Paul and several naughty cats.

Carrie Hayes was born in New York City and grew up around journalists, idealists and rule breaking women. Her debut novel, Naked Truth or Equality, The Forbidden Fruit was published last year. Reviewed as an Editors’ Choice by HNS, Naked Truth “offers glimmers of fresh insights into these oft-discussed, oft-challenged women, providing an excellent, entertaining, and provocative read.”

Pamela K. Johnson is the author of Tenderhead and co-author of Santa and Pete. She was an editor at Essence magazine and has written for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Tonya Mitchell received her BA in journalism from Indiana University. Her fiction has appeared in, among other publications, Glimmer and Other Stories and Poems, for which she won the Cinnamon Press award in fiction. She is a self-professed Anglophile and is obsessed with all things relating to the Victorian period. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and three wildly energetic sons. A Feigned Madness is her first novel.

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


Mary F. Burns, Colin W. Sargent

Great events of the past are inspiring and often inscrutable, and we writers love to linger on the details of the era as well as the real-life personages who were part of those events. But how much “history” do you include in an historical novel? How do we make history come alive without a long recitation of facts and events? The answer lies in the Characters and what makes them uniquely fitted to meet the challenges of their times. We’ll explore how we create fictional characters from real people and produce a ripping good yarn that’s engaging and memorable.

Mary F. Burns is the author of an historical mystery series featuring John Singer Sargent and Violet Paget (aka Vernon Lee) as Victorian Era amateur sleuths. Mary is a former book reviewer for HNS and a frequent presenter at HNS conferences. Her books include Portraits of an Artist, Isaac and Ishmael, J-The Woman Who Wrote the Bible, and Ember Days. Her latest mystery, The Unicorn in the Mirror, sets in 1881 Paris, involves a murder whose roots reach back to 1500, and which engages her characters’ intelligence and intuition against a background of four centuries of French revolution and turmoil.

Colin W. Sargent is an acclaimed novelist and playwright from Maine. He has an MFA from Stonecoast; a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, UK; and is founding editor of Portland Monthly. His first novel was Museum of Human Beings, followed by The Boston Castrato (published by Barbican Press, and an HNS “Editors’ Choice”). His latest novel, Red Hands (Barbican Press) is a fictional re-creation of more than 800 hours of one-on-one conversations with Iordana Ceausescu, daughter-in-law of the infamous Romanian dictator, during her five-year self-exile hiding in a small town along the Maine coast.

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


Ana Brazil, Edie Cay, Kathryn Pritchett, Linda Ulleseit

Paper Lantern Writers consists of authors published in a variety of ways, including small/hybrid presses and self-publishing. Publishers may have a catalog, some salespeople, and an online presence, but the bulk of the marketing is up to the author. Marketing is the dirty word of book publishing; the part most authors dread. Authors typically write alone but search out writing and critique groups to hone their craft. Similarly, marketing collectives can help hone marketing skills. So share the marketing effort by creating an Author Collective!

Ana Brazil is the author of the historical mystery Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper (Sand Hill Review Press) and writes historical crime fiction that celebrates bodacious American heroines. Her short stories include “Kate Chopin Tussles with a Novel Ending” (Fault Lines anthology), “Miss Evelyn Nesbit Presents” (Me Too Short Stories: An Anthology), and “Mr. Borden does not quite remem–” (Kings River Life). Her work-in-progress features a bodacious vaudeville singer beset with murder, mistaken identity, and multiple romances in 1919 San Francisco. Ana lives in Northern California.

Edie Cay’s debut novel A Lady’s Revenge won the Golden Leaf Best First Book Award, hosted by the New Jersey chapter of the Romance Writers of America. The second in the series, The Boxer and the Blacksmith, won the 2019 Legends Award from Hearts Through History.  Drawing on the history of women’s boxing in nineteenth century London, Cay uses themes of found family and relatable misfits. She is currently at work on the third in the series, A Lady’s Finder, as well as a literary novel titled Square Grand, set in North Dakota at the turn of the 20th century.

Kathryn Pritchett grew up on a potato farm in Southeastern Idaho but has spent most of her adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area. After years writing and blogging about design for print and online publications, she’s now writing historical fiction. Kathryn is currently seeking representation for her first novel, The Casket Maker’s Other Wife, a fictionalized account of her Swiss ancestor’s 19th century polygamous marriage and work as a frontier midwife in Utah and Idaho. She is working on her second novel, Maude and Early, which features actress Maude Adams, J.M. Barrie’s muse and the original Peter Pan.

Linda Ulleseit is the author of three Young Adult historical fantasies that are about flying horses in medieval Wales as well as Under the Almond Trees, a historical novel set in pioneer California, and The Aloha Spirit, set in territorial Hawaii. Linda believes in the unspoken power of women living ordinary lives. Her books are the stories of women in her family who were extraordinary but unsung. Linda is a retired elementary school teacher Linda now writes full time in between traveling with her husband, walking her dogs, and visiting with her two adult sons. She lives in Northern California.

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


Denny S. Bryce, Carrie Callaghan, Margaret Rodenberg

Artistic genius didn’t just inspire these authors. It shook them to their cores, stirring them to craft fresh historical narratives that speak to our times. As inspiration, one chose painting, one music, one literature. But how does the music of the Jazz Age become a tale of found family and ambition? How can a writer convey a woman’s heartfelt brushstrokes and 17th century Dutch prejudices? Or reveal a warrior’s soul through a romance he wrote? These panelists share their artistic journeys with specific tips and short-cuts. Each also shares pitfalls to avoid. You’ll leave eager to storify your own inspiration.

Denny S. Bryce, an award-winning recipient of the RWA Golden Heart®, was a three-time GH finalist, including twice for Wild Women and the Blues, her debut novel. She also writes book reviews for NPR Books and entertainment articles for Frolic Media. Additionally, the former professional dancer and public relations professional is a self-proclaimed history geek. She credits this obsession to her maternal grandmother, Ella Elizabeth Joseph, who immigrated from Montego Bay, Jamaica, to New York City in 1923. Recently, Denny relocated from Northern Virginia to Savannah, Georgia. She is represented by Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates.

Carrie Callaghan is the author of the novels Salt the Snow and A Light of Her Own (both from CRP/Amberjack). She lives in Maryland with her family and three ridiculous cats. She’s something of a political junky, though she hates to admit it.

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.

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


Janie Chang, Fiona Davis, Kristin Harmel, Kerri Maher      

Libraries often call to mind moldy books, strict librarians, and fusty ideas, but the books by these four authors (Fiona Davis, The Lions of Fifth Avenue; Kristin Harmel, The Book of Lost Names; Janie Chang, The Library of Legends; Kerri Maher, The Paris Bookseller) show that libraries and their guardians often offer the opposite: controversial books, rebellious librarians, and trailblazing ideas. This panel will explore the ways in which libraries on three continents in the 20th century changed the lives of readers for generations to come.

Janie Chang writes historical fiction with a personal connection, drawing from a family history with 36 generations of recorded genealogy. Her first novel, Three Souls, was a finalist for the 2014 BC Book Prizes Fiction Prize and her second novel, Dragon Springs Road, was a Globe and Mail national bestseller. Both were nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award. Her third book, The Library of Legends, released in May 2020, is a Globe and Mail national bestseller.

Fiona Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of historical novels set in iconic New York City buildings, including The Lions of Fifth Avenue, which was a Good Morning America book club pick. She began her career in New York City as an actress, working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down to write fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, and she’s based in New York City.

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling, and #1 international bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names, the upcoming The Forest of Vanishing Stars, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into 29 languages. A former reporter for People magazine, Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz. Kristin has spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando with her husband and son. She is the co-founder and co-host of the popular web series and podcast Friends & Fiction.

Kerri Maher is the author of The Kennedy Debutante, which People called “a riveting reimagining of a true tale of forbidden love,” and The Girl in White Gloves, which was an HNS Editors’ Choice and Library Reads selection. Her forthcoming biographical novel, The Paris Bookseller, is about bookshop-and-library owner Sylvia Beach, who opened the original Shakespeare and Company in Paris in 1919.  A professor of writing for many years, she loves to talk about the craft of writing.  Learn more at

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


Wendy Swallow

When Hamlet says, “The play’s the thing,” he means that drama concentrates our attention on the dilemmas of the human soul. Wendy Swallow, author of Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House, will talk about writing sequels or prequels to famous plays and operas rather than novels. Swallow argues that plays and operas can provide rich terrain for historical novelists. As intense, character-driven narratives bristling with conflict, problematic secondary characters and interesting historical settings, plays and operas easily feed a novelist’s imagination. Swallow will also discuss examples of dramatic heroines who deserve their own novels.

Wendy Swallow grew up with a dad who loved opera and a mom who taught her to sail. An English major with a Masters in journalism, she wrote for The Washington Post, then taught at American University. She saw Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House as her own marriage crumbled, growing fascinated with heroine Nora Helmer. As a divorced single mom, Swallow often thought about Nora. Swallow published Breaking Apart: A Memoir of Divorce, then remarried and published The Triumph of Love over Experience: A Memoir of Remarriage.  In 2007, she left teaching to travel to Norway and write Nora’s story.

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


Sadeqa Johnson, Vanessa Riley

It’s a truism that history is written by the victors, and sadly, that one-sided narrative based on dominance rather than accuracy persists today. Join two accomplished authors as we talk about the stories that need to be told and aren’t, and what we can do as individuals and as a society to broaden our perspectives and hear voices that were previously silenced.

Sadeqa Johnson is the award-winning author of four novels. Her accolades include the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and the USA Best Book Award for Best Fiction. She is a Kimbilio Fellow, former board member of the James River Writers, and a Tall Poppy Writer. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children. Her most recent novel, Yellow Wife, tells the story of a sheltered house servant who is thrust into the bowels of the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, visit

Vanessa Riley, Ph.D., Southern, Irish, Trinidadian author, writes Historical Fiction and Historical Romance (Georgian, Regency, & Victorian Eras) featuring hidden histories, dazzling multi-cultural communities, and strong sisterhoods. Her books have been reviewed by the AAMBC, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Publisher Weekly, and the New York Times. Her debut Historical Fiction Island Queen (July 2021 William Morrow) recounts the remarkable life of successful entrepreneur Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a formerly enslaved woman, who battles the unfair taxation of free colored women in British colonies. Riley is represented by Sarah Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

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


Libbie Hawker, Cheyenne Richards

Genealogy can present fascinating inspiration for historical novels. But should authors use cherished family stories as a basis for fiction? What special challenges might we encounter when we combine family history with fiction? And just how should one go about utilizing genealogical resources to create compelling fiction anyway? Libbie and Cheyenne discuss the whys and hows of finding fiction in your family tree.

Libbie Hawker, who also writes under the pen names Olivia Hawker and Libbie Grant, is a bestselling author of historical and literary fiction. Her work has been translated into six languages; her most recent, One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Willa Literary Award, and was among Amazon’s top 100 bestselling titles of the year in 2020. She lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband Paul and several naughty cats.

Cheyenne Richards is a writer, sailor and wellness coach whose life has revolved around family history for decades: First as a marketing executive at, then crafting her forthcoming novel The Prisoner’s Apprentice—inspired by the 19th century serial killer she discovered in her family history closet. Whatever you do, don’t look for consistency. A tomboy who adores polka dots, a Palo Alto native drawn to the past as much as the future, and for all her love of outdoor adventure, you’ll usually find her under a cozy blanket with a good novel.

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


Leslie Carroll, Leanna Renee Hieber, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

Shake up your writing process by viewing it through another artistic lens! In this lively session, three classically trained theatre professionals who have extensive experience in Shakespearean and classical theatre as well as multi-published fiction and non-fiction, guide fellow writers through the ways in which thinking like an actor, director, producer and more can invigorate and refresh your writing process. Learn the exciting tricks of the trade regarding character motivation, the realities of characters’ physical existence, environment and more. More deeply invest in your characters with these tips from actors who have a lifetime of experience channeling vibrant personae.

Leslie Carroll has authored 21 titles in three genres (including historical fiction, under the pseudonyms Amanda Elyot and Juliet Grey). Her novels have been optioned for film and TV and translated into 12 languages; and she’s the author/narrator of two audio guides to the State Rooms of Versailles, soon to be released. She’s a frequent commentator on royal relationships, appearing on Travel Channel and Canadian History Channel docuseries, the 2020 documentary “Grace of Monaco, Hollywood Princess” for Britain’s Channel 5; and global media discussing the Windsors. Leslie’s also a professional actress and award-winning audiobook narrator, specializing in historical fiction.

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, tour guide and the award-winning, bestselling author of Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy novels for Tor and Kensington Books such as the Strangely Beautiful and The Spectral City series. A Haunted History of Invisible Women, Leanna’s first foray into non-fiction, will release in 2021 from Kensington. Her work has won 4 Prism awards, has been included in numerous notable anthologies and has been translated into many languages. Hieber is a ghost tour guide and lecturer for Boroughs of the Dead and has been featured in film and television on shows like Mysteries at the Museum.

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. Her second, Pretty Evil New York, will be released in September 2021. In 2011 she was also named RWA NYC’s Author of the Year. She 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.

Sunday, 5:00PM (CT)


Join us as we gather at the end of a fantastic week to talk about where we’ve been and what’s coming up in 2023!

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