Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Historicals for All. Melinda Hammond on the joy of the Historical Novel Society Conference

I love conferences: a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones. As part of a recent trip to America I attended the Historical Novel Society Conference in Albany, NY. The Conference was held at the beautiful Desmond Hotel, and after getting in the mood with a tour of historic Albany on the Friday afternoon, I joined the crowd of historical novelists and readers registering for the conference. From that moment on it was non-stop action! The two guest speakers, Bernard Cornwell and Diana Gabaldon, (pictured above) not only entertained us with after-dinner speeches but also joined in with the workshops and talks that were held throughout the weekend. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to other writers, whose fields of interest varied from Celtic Ireland to the Crimea (with, naturally enough, a great deal of American history as well). When we were not listening to or taking part in the excellent discussion sessions, there were the receptions and dinners where we could get to know the rest of the attendees. There was even a talent review on the Saturday night!

The talks ranged from historicals with English settings (I was one of the panellists, along with English editor jay Dixon plus Pat Wynn - pictured right - and Kathy Emerson, two American authors) to an extremely frank discussion of how much sex is too much (this was one of the last sessions of the Conference, and had a kind of last-day-at-school ebullience about it).

The next US conference for the Historical Novel Society is in two years' time, but in the meantime a UK conference is planned for next year in York. Personally, I can't wait!

My thanks to the Historical Novel Society for allowing me to use their photos. The picture below shows Kathy (right) and me during our lively discussion session. You can find more details on the Historical Novel Society at their website, www.historicalnovelsociety.org

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