Imagining the Past: Episode 5: The Feminine Mystique

This week’s episode of Imagining the Past is in memory of Elizabeth Jane Corbett who passed away earlier this year. She was a wonderful author and dedicated member of the HNSA Committee. Liz featured in our Feminine Mystique: Writing Strong Female Protagonists panel in HNSA 2019 chaired by Sophie Masson with Kirsty Murray and Juliet Marillier.

I’m also pleased to announce that HNSA is honouring Liz’s memory by introducing the HNSA Elizabeth Jane Corbett Mentorship Contest to provide an opportunity for an unpublished author of young adult historical fiction to have the first draft of their manuscript developed by Wendy J Dunn. It’s a great chance to walk in Liz’s shoes, so please visit the contest page for more details.

I hope you enjoy this recorded live session from the HNSA 2019 conference program, and don’t forget to subscribe to Imagining the Past to catch future episodes.

Elisabeth Storrs, HNSA Chair

The feminine mystique: Writing Strong female protagonists

Ensuring a female protagonist’s thoughts and actions remain true to the norms of by-gone eras and cultures causes headaches for writers – and readers. How does an author maintain immediacy if limited to second hand observations of male dominated history? Should women of the past be depicted with more power and influence than would have been afforded to them? And how do you treat a young heroine in an age where girls were restricted, and children expected to be ‘seen and not heard’? Sophie Masson will examine how to portray plausible female protagonists with Juliet MarillierElizabeth Jane Corbett and Kirsty Murray.

Juliet Marillier, Elizabeth Jane Corbett, Kirsty Murray and Sophie Masson

About our speakers

Elizabeth Jane Corbett worked as a librarian, taught Welsh at the Melbourne Welsh Church, and was the Social Media Coordinator for HNSAustralasia. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. Her debut historical novel, The Tides Between, was named a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book for older readers. She liked red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far away.

New Zealand born, Australian resident Juliet Marillier writes historical fantasy for adult and young adult readers. Among her works are the Sevenwaters and Blackthorn & Grim series, plus assorted short fiction. Juliet’s lifelong love of mythology and folklore is a major influence on her writing. Her work is published internationally and has won many awards. Juliet’s new novel, The Harp of Kings, first book in the Warrior Bards series, will be published in August 2019 by Pan Macmillan Australia and Penguin Random House US. When not writing, Juliet tends to a small crew of rescue dogs.

Kirsty Murray is a multi-award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her eleven novels are studied in schools and universities around the world. Kirsty has been a Creative Fellow of the State Library of Victoria and an Asialink Literature Resident in India. Her acclaimed series of historical fiction Children of the Wind follows the lives of four Irish-Australian children whose lives intersect across 150 years. In 2011, her YA novel India Dark won the NSW Premier’s History Award for Young People’s History.

Sophie Masson AM is the award-winning author of over 60 books. Her historical novels include War and Resistance (Scholastic Australia, 2019), Black Wings (The Greystones Press, 2018) and Jack of Spades (Eagle Books 2017), shortlisted for the 2018 Davitt Awards. Sophie is also a founding partner and Publishing Director of acclaimed boutique publisher, Christmas Press. A former Chair of the ASA and current Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre, Sophie received an AM award in the Order of Australia this year, for significant service to literature as an author, publisher and through service to literary organisations.

G.S. Johnston is the author of three historical novels – Sweet Bitter Cane (2019), The Cast of a Hand (2015), and The Skin of Water (2012), and a fourth novel set in contemporary Hong Kong, Consumption (2011). The novels are noted for their complex characters and well-researched settings. After completing a degree in pharmacy, a year in Italy re-ignited his passion for writing and he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. Feeling the need for a broader canvas, he started writing short stories and novels. Originally from Hobart, Tasmania, Johnston currently lives in Canberra, Australia.

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