Tuesday, September 9

My Historical Novel Society Conference 2014

Okay, it's finished. I'm back from HNS London 2014. I'm over-tired and fractious plus very cranky that it's all over. A bit like a toddler post-birthday party, except perhaps not quite so sticky. Perhaps.

In order to keep the magic alive, I'm posting my highlights. There could conceivably be hundreds but I'll confine myself to these few.

Highlight #1: The Poppies at the Tower of London

I made some time to go and see the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower. It's one of the commemorations to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. It is truly inspiring and moving. These are words that have had their currency severely devalued in recent years. In this case, they properly apply.

Highlight #2: Imaginary Friends:

We writers all love our social media, don't we? We warble on for hours to each other, directing our warbling to a photograph of a person whom we hope is real. 

Anna Belfrage @Anna_Belfrage
Mark Patton @markpatton1
& Lisa J Yarde @lisajyarde

But guess what? You go to an event like #HNSLondon14 and find out that THEY ARE!

And they're even nicer in real life than they are in cyberspace. That's a tall order, for in cyberspace they are unfailingly generous and supportive in their sharing and tweeting and mentioning of my stuff.
Derek Birks @Feud_writer
Mary Tod

Michael Dean @MichaelDeanAuth
& Stephanie dos Santos @ByStephRenee
Charlie Farrow manages to do this while also organising and running the conference. And she was always charming and smiling like this:
Charlie Farrow @charliefarrow1
All weekend. Personally, I would have been throwing furniture by Sunday p.m.

Highlight #3: Meeting Cathy Rentzenbrink (@CathyReadsBooks)

Cathy is well known as director of adult literacy champions Quick Reads and associate editor of The Bookseller. During her fascinating Reaching Out to Readers workshop, she talked about being the first reviewer for major titles. That responsibility would have me sitting in a comer with a towel over my head, but she was utterly modest.

I also had the good fortune to speak with her writer-to-writer. She has the most heart-breaking memoir coming out in 2015. It's about the catastrophic injury suffered by her brother as a teenager and the unimaginable decisions her family had to take about ending his life. No, it's not historical, and no, it's not fiction. But I'll be reading it.

Highlight #4: Being a Loser:

Yes, I was long listed for the Short Story award. No, I didn't win. Lorna Fergusson was the very worthy recipient. I was just happy to be among fellow losers (heh) Christopher W. Cevasco and Laura Purcell. 
Mr. Cevasco does not possess a Twitter handle. Call the writing police!
Laura Purcell @Laura_D_Purcell

Highlight #5: Gin & Syphilis:

For the panel 'My Era is Better than Yours', the audience voted for the Georgians. One strongly suspects that a fondness for gin and syphilis is some kind of mass wish-fulfilment on behalf of authors. 

Highlight #6: Happy Pitchers:

This has to be the best part of the whole conference. I met so many writers who had pitched to editors and agents and who had had a 'yes' for fulls, partials and proposals. In an industry that can be 'no', 'no' and 'no' for years, getting the Y-word is such an achievement and an enormous confidence booster. I can't wait to hear how everyone gets on!

Till next time, all. I'm going for a lie-down...

The Fifth Knight is a #1 Bestselling historical thriller. Find it here on Amazon.com and here on Amazon.co.uk. The sequel, The Blood of The Fifth Knight will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1st 2015. Find it here!


  1. Aw thank you Elaine for the shout out! So happy to have met you - enough to make anyone smile!

  2. Elaine, it was wonderful to meet you and so many others. I'm still in London for another two days, so I'll take that recommendation and see the poppies at the Tower as well.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. And if you've not been in the Tower, as a fellow medievalist, it really is worth a visit. The Medieval Palace within it has recreations of Edward I's 13th century rooms. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

  3. I wish we'd had more time to talk...But it was excellent finally meeting you in person. I hope you gleaned something helpful from the panel-talk "Art and Artists in HF". I'm curious to know if and how you may be incorporating art/artists in you next release!? Do share, if you can! Best!

    1. Stephanie, I wish that, too! Sadly, I am no artist. I attended because I'm trying to get inside the heads of those who wrote and coloured medieval manuscripts. I believe many of those individuals were really artists. The insights from the panel helped a great deal. Thank you!

  4. Great write-up and photos Elaine. What a fabulous weekend it was. Sorry didn't get to meet you and chat, hope to next time! The poppies at the Tower of London look beautiful.

  5. Thanks Anita- and it was a marvellous weekend!


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