The Things We Don’t Know versus Dispossession and Betrayal

I’m stuck! I still haven’t decided what to do about my clashing Saturday panels and now I’ve come across the same issue on Sunday!

Dispossession and Betrayal: recovering the erased history of First Nations. 

The Things We Don’t Know: research challenges across eras.

I don’t know what to do.

Recovering erased history is a broad area that I’m interested in. To hear about specific First Nations experience is vital. I’ve read a few books around this and am keen to learn more. Madison Shakespeare will talk about suppression of Aboriginal history with Lisa Chaplin and Tom Moody. Historical fiction can play such an important role here.

Lisa Chaplin and Madison Shakespeare

Then there’s the Stream 2 panel on at the very same time! The Things We Don’t Know panel could be intrinsic for my fiction research. I include a lot of early history in my novels and I like to be as accurate as possible. Listening to Isolde Martyn discuss the challenge of finding reliable primary sources with Ilka Tampke, Gillian Polack and Pamela Hart, would be fascinating. I’d need an entire notebook for this one panel.

Although her debut novel historical novel didn’t have indigenous themes, Lisa Chaplin’s contemporary crime and romance fiction (written under the pseudonym Melissa James) have both Aboriginal main and minor characters, dealing with issues such as The Stolen Generations and PTSD. Added to which, her journey towards better understanding her Koori heritage is fascinating. It would also be a shame to miss Madison Shakespeare discussing the impact of Colonisation in Australia.

I love to research my own stories and could do with a notebook full of tips and ideas. Also I own most of Gillian Pollack’s books and know she’s a great researcher.

Gillian Pollack, Ilka Tampke, Pamela Hart and Isolde Martyn

I wonder how close the two panels are to each other? Perhaps I could stand in the hallway in between and listen to both, or sneak from one to the other every few minutes… no, that won’t work at all. I’ll have to make a decision.

Let’s take a closer look at the speakers involved. Indigenous artist, film maker, poet, and novelist, Madison Shakespeare, seeks to live her life as a Custodian of Country where education founded on creative, open-teaching and learning forums provides contextually meaningful ways to understand and address the impact of Colonisation. This sounds amazing. There’s so much misconception about indigenous culture which in turn feeds the ignorance and fear so obvious in our media, and right across social media (just read some of the comment threads in news articles).

On the other hand, Ilka Tampke’s latest book, Songwoman, is so right up my alley it’s almost like we’re psychically linked. I’ve visited her website – all her books are now on my to be read list. #welshmythology #preliteratesocieties. I have quite the soft spot for stories set during World War 1, so Pamela Hart’s, The Desert Nurse, also sounds like a must read.

I’m tearing my hair out! I can’t decide which panel to go to! Is there someone else in my indecisive state? We could each go to one of the panels and then meet afterward to discuss and compare notes. That might work. My only other option is to leave it up to the fates on the day. Not making a decision is also making decision. Right?

Patricia Leslie

Patricia Leslie is a member of the Social Media Team for HNS Australasia. Her novels mix known and hidden history with magic and myth. Her 2018 release, Keeper of the Way, mixes it up in Sydney 1882 exploring social history, magical traditions brought to the Colony from Scotland and Ireland, and the destruction of the Garden Palace. Learn more at

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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