A French Affair versus Intertwining Lives – which one will you choose?

It’s Sunday morning, the final day of the conference. You’re exhausted from the previous day’s packed program, yet strangely exhilarated, and wanting to make the most of the few remaining hours of HNSA 2019. You’ve made a host of new friends and you are huddled together, in the foyer, balancing coffee cups, while trying to decide which of the 11.10 panels to attend.

‘A French Affair, definitely,’ one of you friends says, folding her program and shoving it in her bag. ‘I love Kate Forsyth’s books. She’ll be great in this afternoon’s Love Potions and Witchcraft session too.’

Jackie Ballantyne is a fantastic chair.’ Someone else adds. ‘Yesterday’s conversation with Jackie French, was great. And Natasha Lester’s The French Photographer is teetering at the top of my to-be-read pile.’

Natasha Lester, Jackie Ballantyne, Kate Forsyth

You have to agree. I mean what is there not to like about a book set in France? A country that exerts such a powerful pull on the imagination. You’ve adored Kate Forsyth’s, Bitter Greens and can’t wait to read The Blue Rose. You’ve just bought a copy of the The French Photographer. Natasha Lester is in fact one of your “newly discovered” authors from the 2017 conference – one of the manifold benefits of attending literary conferences being the chance to hear the stories behind the novel. As a language learner, you are also interested in these women’s experiences of researching historical narratives that have unfolded and largely been recorded in a language other than English.

But the Intertwining Lives Revealed panel is also starting at 11.10. Dianne Murray is on the HNSA committee and you know she’ll be a great chair. Added to which, you’ve always had a sneaky admiration for people who write narratives from different eras that somehow – either subtly or overtly – intersect. You’ve often wondered which comes first the historical, or contemporary character’s voice? Whether the author knows from the beginning? The opportunity to hear Tea Cooper, Emily Madden, and Carla Caruso discuss these and other questions exerts a magnetic pull. Especially as they are also on your “newly discovered” conference authors list. You wonder whether attending this panel will send you scuttling to the bookshop. Again. Whether it will in fact break your budget.

Carla Caruso, Emily Madden, Dianne Murray and Tea Cooper

As your friends gulp down the dregs of their coffee and start heading in their chosen direction you hover, uncertain, staring down into your empty cup, realising you want to hear both panels, but you’re going to have to choose. You reach into your bag and pull out your purse. Damn, you’re going to have to toss a coin for this one.

Elizabeth Jane Corbett is the Social Media Coordinator for HNSAustralasia. Her debut novel, The Tides Between, was named a CBCA Notable Book for older readers. At HNSA 2019, she will be on the Feminine Mystique panel. She will also be revelling in some Regency Madness.

Once again, historical fiction writers and readers can gather for a three stream program on the weekend of 26-27 October including our extended Academic stream on Sunday 27 October. This time there’s also a Craft & Publishing program on Friday 25 October with craft workshops, masterclasses and manuscript assessments with top class tutors. Our Guest of Honour is Jackie French. Keynote speaker Paula Morris will address our theme: History Repeats.

Among the 60 acclaimed speakers are patrons Kate Forsyth and Sophie Masson, Catherine Jinks, Ali Alizadeh, Lucy Treloar, Pamela Hart, Nicole Alexander, Jane Caro, Alison Goodman, Kelly Gardiner, Michelle Aung Thin, Meg Keneally, Majella Cullinane and so many more.

Enjoy a delicious meal at our conference dinner on Saturday 26 October where Anna Campbell will entertain us. You’ll also hear who’s won this year’s ARA HNSA Short Story Contest with a $500 prize, and the HNSA Colleen McCullough Residency.

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