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Historical Novel Society Conference 2015

June 30, 2015
Mountain View HNS

A room with a view

On the day the Supreme Court upheld the rights of same-sex couples to marry, the hotel clerk checked me and my female writing buddy in with an unsolicited offer to ensure we had a great view. He had a twinkle in his eye. I’ll take a nicer room under false pretenses any day (or night). We enjoyed sleeping in our separate double beds at the North American Historical Novel Society Conference. The view of the mountains was fantastic.

Humphreys in Costume at HNS - Photo by Sophie Perinot

C.C. Humphreys

The weekend at the conference was unexpected and wonderful in so many ways. I met the amazing, entertaining, knowledgeable, helpful and well-published C.C. Humphreys. I’m a little embarrassed I haven’t read any of his books, but Vlad: The Last Confession and Plague: Murder Has a New Friend are now next up on my reading list. During a one-on-one mentoring session, he offered me solid advice about my in-progress novel and my synopsis. I’m eager to see how that advice plays out in revisions. I have the highest hopes! An hour talking with Humphreys was worth the price of the airfare.

On display through the weekend was the difference between agents and the writing life as viewed from New York City versus the view from everywhere elsewhere in the United States. I’ve been to a few fan conferences (because seriously: George R.R. Martin, Howard Waldrop, and Gardiner Dozois all in one place and telling ribald stories!) but this was my first conference for writers. I came away with more to think about regarding what constitutes success and what kind of writing life I’m hoping for. Everyone seemed to be a bit stressed out about getting published, even the people who had many books under their belts.

Diana Gabaldon at HNS

Diana Gabaldon

I also learned more about writing and reading porn during a session tastefully placed on Saturday night after the historic costume pageant. I understand reading sex scenes is a regular occurrences at the Historical Novel Society Conferences. World-famous author Diana Gabaldon began the readings that also included half a dozen standout submissions read by their authors. I hadn’t given much thought to the fictional erotic encounters of famous characters, but I may be able to do little else for awhile regardless of what I’d prefer. Laughter filled the sex scenes session especially at the end of one particular tale involving Holmes, Watson and a jar of lemon curd.

Costumes at HNS

Costume pageant

Historical Novel Society Conference-goers are some of the nicest, chattiest people I’ve ever met. Everyone I asked had a fascinating answer to the question “What are you writing about?” I heard things like “the longest overland march in the United States,” “paranormal archaeology,” “the Native Americans who met Columbus,” “Tudor England” and “Jack London’s early life.” It was hard not to keep chatting – not just about the subject, but about how they conducted their research. The caffeinated smell of research rapture filled the air.

The conference was great. The 2016 version is in Oxford, England, which will be celebrating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of England. Re-enactors have been promised. I hope they don’t end up on stage Saturday night during the erotic readings. Regardless, it sounds like a fun time.

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