2015 Program (Archive)

Program Highlights

See the list of conference speakers

Read about the academic panel

Our wonderful volunteers

The workshops offered.




20 MARCH 2015


Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW, Macquarie St, Sydney at 6 – 9 pm

Join us as we officially launch the inaugural HNSA Conference. Meet other attendees as canapés and drinks are served then enjoy our program.

6.00 pm – COCKTAILS

6.30 pm – WELCOME
Welcome Address by Sophie Masson, award winning novelist

7.00 pm – BOOK LAUNCH
Celebrate the launch of Felicity Pulman’s Unholy Murder
To be launched by Gillian Polack.


Enjoy a lively round table discussion with Kelly Gardiner (Chair), Deborah Challinor, Jesse Blackadder, Rachel Le Rossignol and Gillian Polack as they ponder the question: ‘What can historical novelists and historians learn from each other?’

Tickets to the Opening Night reception and round table must be purchased prior to the event. Register here.

Speakers’ details can be found here.



21 MARCH 2015:

Balmain Town Hall (Library)

370 Darling St, Balmain

8.30 am Registration opens

9.00-10.00 am Session One

Welcome Address by HNSA’s Patron, Kate Forsyth

Keynote Address: ‘The ANZAC Tradition as Inspiration: Imagining the Past; Claiming the Present’

In commemoration of the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign, international bestselling author, Colin Falconer, will address the changing attitudes towards the ANZAC tradition which has inspired Australian historical fiction over the past 100 years.

10.00-10.45 am Session Two

Personal Histories: In Conversation with Peter Corris and Sulari Gentill

What inspires authors to write historical fiction? Join Linda Funnell’s conversation with respected novelists Peter Corris and Sulari Gentill as they give insights into the inspiration for their novels, writing processes and careers.

10.45-11.15 am Morning tea

11.15-12.15 pm Session Three

Tall Tales and True: How Story Tellers Imagine History

How do historical novelists weave history into fiction? What draws an author to choose a particular era, and what research do they undertake to bring past times to life? Jean Bedford talks with Isolde Martyn, Johanna Nicholls, Juliet Marillier and Craig Cliff about these choices.

12.15 -1.15 pm Session Four

Can Children’s and Young Adult Fiction Compete with Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies?

In a world where the Twilight and Hunger Games series dominate the CYA shelves, how can historical novelists capture young readers’ imaginations? Sophie Masson explores the issue with Belinda Murrell, Sherryl Clark, Pamela Rushby and Goldie Alexander.

1.15 – 2.15 pm Lunch

2.15-3.15 pm Session Five

War-torn Worlds: Historical Fiction in Times of Conflict

Vashti Farrer joins Nicole Alexander, Toni Jordan, Kim Kelly and Sophie Masson in discussing why World Wars I and II inspire their fiction, and the challenge of depicting characters who must either overcome, or succumb to, the turbulence of war.

3.15-3.35 pm Afternoon Tea

3.35-4.50 pm Session Six

At First Glance: What Initial Words Attract a Publisher’s Attention?

Come and hear ‘first page’ pitches of aspiring authors to industry experts who will provide a critique of chosen submissions. The session also will give other attendees a chance to learn what attracts the attention of agents and publishers when seeking new historical fiction.

Details on submitting to the First Pages Pitch session can be found here. Preference will be given to early bird registrations.

Irina Dunn (Australian Writers’ Network), Alison Green (Pantera Press) and Louise Thurtell (Allen & Unwin)

Day One Closes 4.50 pm


Saturday 21st March


6.00 pm

Royal Oak Hotel, 36 College St, Balmain

Join us to celebrate the launch of Sherryl Clark’s Do You Dare – Jimmy’s War.

To be launched by Goldie Alexander.

Dinner speaker: Kate Forsyth

Tickets to the Conference Dinner must be purchased prior to the event. Register here.


22 MARCH 2015:

Balmain Town Hall

8.30 am Registration opens

9.00-9.45 am Session One

Personal Histories: In Conversation with Toni Jordan and Posie Graeme-Evans

What attracted Toni Jordan to historical fiction after writing acclaimed contemporary novels? And why did Posie Graeme-Evans change careers from being an enormously successful television director, producer and executive to an historical novelist immersed in distant times? Join Kelly Gardiner in learning these story tellers’ own histories.

9.45-10.45 am Session Two

What is it about the Tudors?

The world’s appetite for historical fiction set in Tudor times continues to grow. What is it about this particular royal house that is so compelling? Are publishers ‘playing it safe’ by not encouraging novels set in other eras? What impact has Tudor fiction had on the popularity of historical fiction as a genre? Rachel Le Rossignol joins Natalie Grueninger, Wendy J Dunn, Barbara Gaskell Denvil and Jane Caro will explore the phenomenon of Tudorphilia.

10.45-11.15 am Morning tea

11.15 am-12.15 pm Session Three

Historical Fiction Sub-genres: Intrigue, Mystery, Fantasies and Time-slip

Blending different genres within historical fiction is an increasing trend. What challenges do authors face when intertwining mystery or fantasy with history? And why are readers drawn to tales of characters who travel across time? Posie Graeme-Evans joins Kate Forsyth, Sulari Gentill, Belinda Murrell and Felicity Pulman to enlighten us.

12.15-1.15 pm Session Four

The Path Less Travelled: Indie Publishing and the Freedom to Explore

The self-publishing revolution has given authors the opportunity to reach readers directly and break through the constraints of writing about eras that are only deemed ‘marketable’. Linda Funnell discusses how and why Elisabeth Storrs, GS Johnston, Felicity Pulman and Goldie Alexander chose to go off the beaten track to find their readership.

1.15-2.15 pm Lunch

2.15-3.30 pm Session Five

Pathways to Publication: What do Agents and Publishers Look for in Historical Fiction?

What are the expectations of publishers and agents when assessing the manuscripts of aspiring historical novelists? Irina Dunn talks to agent Tara Wynne and publishers Alison Green and Louise Thurtell about the preparation needed to take your first step onto the pathway to publication.

3.30-3.50 pm Afternoon tea

3.50-4.35 pm Session Six

In Bed with History: Sexy, Saucy and Sizzling Bedroom Scenes – A Romp!

Prepare to get hot under the collar as Kate Forsyth, Jesse Blackadder and Colin Falconer break down closed bedroom doors and read their racier scenes.

Conference closes 4.50 pm


Super Sessions

Super Sessions are intended to assist you to take your writing to a new level. These sessions will be delivered in parallel to the main Conference sessions.


Do you struggle with blending research into your writing? Dr Gillian Polack will provide an analysis of the first 50 pages of your manuscript as well as guidance on how to write compelling and authentic historical fiction.


Do you want your manuscript assessed? Irina Dunn, Director of the Australian Writers’ Network, will hold one-hour one-on-one sessions to provide detailed feedback on the first 1,500 words of your manuscript.


How do you build a reputation as an historical novelist? Learn how to build an author platform with author Elisabeth Storrs, and review blogger Margaret Bates.


First Pages Pitch Submissions

The pitch session will take the form of a ‘First Pages’ recital where successful applicants will have their submissions read aloud to industry experts. All Conference attendees are welcome to attend to Pitch session. Ticketing is required only for those authors wishing to enter their work into the session. Details on submitting to the First Pages Pitch session can be found here.


Phryne Fisher And Other Fantasies

A panel of academics will discuss at length the theme ‘Phryne Fisher And Other Fantasies: The Female Detective In History’, the subject of a forthcoming special edition of ‘The Australian Journal of Crime Fiction’. A call for academic papers is now open. Click here to learn more.

For more information about this Academic Panel Session, click here to read more.

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