Historical fiction is alive and well
Last Saturday I attended a “launch” gathering of historical fiction writers, part of the Historical Novel Society’s effort to establish small sub-chapters in various parts of the country (HNS is based in England).
This first meeting, held at the Hotel Rex in San Francisco, proved exciting. The 25 gathered members did decide to establish an HNS chapter in northern California; they also decided to meet four times a year with various agendas, including workshops, readings, critique sessions, and speakers; and they decided to establish a Facebook page.
But the best part for me personally was the people who attended! I met authors I admire, including Cecelia Holland (The King’s Witch; Great Maria; The Secret Eleanor); C.W. Gortner (Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Tudor Secret; The Last Queen); and long-revered writer Persia Woolley (Child of the Northern Spring and 2 other works in her Guinevere trilogy).
Following the meeting, a roster was sent to all attendees listing writers, their email addresses, city where they lived, and - most important to me - the historical time period of interest for each writer. These include a wide array of eras: 11th century England (a book about Queen Emma and King Cnut), 16th century France, Tudor-Stuart Britain, the Crusades, Civil War, Viking Age, 12th century Japan, World War II, the Great Depression, Biblical times, pre-revolutionary Russia, the Mongol Empire, Ancient Crete, Classical antiquity, musicians (Hildegard of Bingen), early California, and the American west.
None of the attendees, except for myself, identified their genre as “historical romance,” but I know from my reading that romance is most definitely represented.
If any of you are interested in the Historical Novel Society and/or their proposed San Francisco-area meetings, contact Mary Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org). Annual dues for the society are $50 and that includes a very fine quarterly magazine with articles of interest and reviews of current historical fiction (including romance), along with a magazine called Solander, which contains articles, essays, and short fiction.
Last but not least was lunch! I was privileged to enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine at a tiny place called Persimmon, just steps from the Hotel Rex, in the company of four other writers of historical fiction, including Persia Woolley and Melanie Spiller, who is writing about Hildegard of Bingen and other medieval musicians. The “shop talk” alone was worth the price of the entire day’s events.