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Monday 16 February 2015

We're off to Australia for the HNSA Conference!

On the weekend of 20-22 March 2015, the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) is holding its inaugural conference at the historic Balmain Town Hall, Sydney, exploring the theme of ‘The Historical Novel in Peace and War’. The conference will be a celebration of the historical fiction genre in a weekend of talks, panels, debates, book launches and readings.

Balmain Town Hall
The two day informative and interactive weekend program on 21-22 March will showcase forty speakers discussing craft, research, inspiration, publishing, social media and personal histories. Among these are internationally acclaimed historical novelists such as Kate Forsyth, Colin Falconer, Felicity Pulman, Toni Jordan, Juliet Marillier, Sophie Masson and Jesse Blackadder.

Kate Forsyth is our Conference patron. She wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of more than twenty books for both adults and children.
Kate Forsyth
Her interests include fantasy, and the weaving of fairy-tales with history. She is best known for her historical novel Bitter Greens, which interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale with the true life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force.
Kate is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairy-tale retelling at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Conference Program 21-22 March 2015

Day One hosts five interesting and varied panel discussions. In the first of two sessions exploring personal histories, Linda Funnell will interview Peter Corris and Sulari Gentill on the inspiration for their novels and their careers. Linda has over thirty years’ experience in the book publishing industry, including roles as a publisher, editor and literary agent. Peter Corris is credited with reviving the fully-fledged Australian crime novel but he is also a talented historical novelist and will enlighten us on why he finds this genre so appealing.  Sulari Gentill’s first novel was short listed for the 2008 NSW Genre Fiction Award.

In Session Two, Jean Bedford, Isolde Martyn, Johanna Nicolls, Juliet Marillier and Craig Cliff will discuss why they chose a particular era as a setting for their novels, and what research they undertake to bring past times to life in Tall Tales and True: How Storytellers Imagine History.

Session Three, Can CYA fiction compete with werewolves, vampires and zombies, introduces a panel of award winning CYA authors including Sophie Masson, Belinda Murrell, Sherryl Clark, Pamela Rusby and Goldie Alexander who will explore how historical fiction can captivate the imaginations of young readers

In War Torn Worlds, Vashti Farrer, Nicole Alexander, Toni Jordan, Kim Kelly and Sophie Masson discuss why war inspires their fiction, and the challenge they face in depicting characters who must overcome, or succumb to, the turbulence of war.

Day One conclude with a ‘First Pages’ competition where aspiring historical novelists will have their submissions read aloud to industry experts: Irina Dunn, Louise Thurtell and Alison Green.

Day Two continues with the second ‘personal history’ session where Kelly Gardiner, author of Goddess, will interview Toni Jordan and Posie Graeme-Evans. Posie is not only a talented historical novelist but has been a TV executive and producer. Toni’s Nine Days gained world attention when it was recommended by the Richard and Judy Book Club in the UK.

In What is it about the Tudors? Natalie Grueninger, Wendy J Dunn, Barbara Gaskell Denvil and Jane Caro will explore the world’s appetite for historical fiction set in Tudor times.

In Intrigue, Mystery, Fantasy and Timeslip, Posie Graeme-Evans, Kate Forsyth, Sulari Gentill, Belinda Murrell and Felicity Pulman enlighten us as to why readers are drawn to tales of characters who travel across time, or enjoy a blend of genres.

The Path Less Travelled is chaired by ‘hybrid’ author, Elisabeth Storrs, who discusses how and why Prue Batten, GS Johnston, Goldie Alexander and Felicity Pulman chose to go off the beaten track to find their readership.

In Pathways to Publication, Irina Dunn talks to agent Tara Wynne and publishers Alison Green and Louise Thurtell on the expectations of agents and publishers when looking for the next big thing in historical fiction. 
And you will not want to miss out on our concluding In Bed with History panel where Kate Forsyth, Colin Falconer and Jesse Blackadder will read some of their saucier excerpts!

Social Events

The opening night reception will be held at the prestigious State Library of NSW on Friday 20 March where attendees will celebrate the launch of Felicity Pulman’s Unholy Alliance. There will also be a lively round table debate in which Kelly Gardiner will moderate a discussion between Rachel Le Rossignol, Gillian Polack, Jesse Blackadder and Deborah Challinor on the topic: ‘What can historical novelists and historians learn from each other?’

At the conference dinner on Saturday 21 March, attendees will have opportunities to mingle with leading authors and join us for the launch of Sherryl Clark’s, Do You Dare – Jimmy’s War, and listen to our after-dinner speaker, Kate Forsyth.

Super Sessions

There are three skills-based super sessions that are being run concurrently with the main conference program. Manuscript assessments will be conducted by industry expert, Irina Dunn. Dr Gillian Polack is offering two small group workshops focussed on how to weave research into compelling and authentic historical fiction. The third session will focus on how to use social media to build an author platform with author Elisabeth Storrs and review blogger, Margaret Bates. In addition to the super sessions, the HNSA is pleased to be partnering with Swinburne University of Technology to provide the opportunity to submit an academic paper to a special edition of The Australian Journal of Crime Fiction on the theme ‘Phryne Fisher and Other Fantasies: The Female Detective in History’.

Free Book Offers
The HNSA is offering some great deals! The first forty ticket holders to purchase a Standard Whole Conference Ticket will receive a free copy of either The Lace Balcony  by Johanna Nicholls, The King’s Shadow  by Barbara Gaskell Denvil, The Island House  by Posie Graeme-Evans or My Holocaust Story: Hanna by Goldie Alexander. The first fifty fully paid ticket holders to the conference dinner will receive a free copy of Sherryl Clark’s, Do You Dare – Jimmy’s War. And all ticket holders to the opening night reception will receive a free e-book bundle of Felicity Pulman’s Janna Chronicles!

So why not register for the HNSA Conference. 
There are some great free book offers, 
and also the chance to dine with an author. 
You can buy tickets here!

More information about the conference program and speakers can be found at

Help us spread the word about the conference. Here’s a tweet you could use:

Register for #HNSA2015 Conference for some great #historicalfiction and #giveaways!

Follow us on Twitter @hnsaustralasia 

Join our mailing list to obtain advance notice of all our announcements.

Helen: I would like to add my personal thanks 
to everyone involved with organising and 
supporting this event


  1. Helen, thank you so much for allowing HNSA2015 to visit your blog. A wonderful chance for writers and readers of historical fiction to get together. The sad side, I cannot buy books and get them home. Will have to take an autograph book.

    1. I think an autograph book is an excellent idea - or what about acquiring some self-adhesive bookplates for yourself? Keep them in a small flat box to stop them getting crumpled and ask authors to sign them?

  2. Helen I've nominated you for a Versatile Blogger award on my blog today.

    Hope you enjoy it!


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