Which panel will you choose? Crime or research?

You’ll be spoiled for choice with the HNSA Sydney 2019 program. Two parallel streams are running throughout the weekend. Stream 1 is jam packed with authors discussing their inspiration and journeys; the nooks and crannies of history; the psychology of characters, and even a love potion or two.  Stream 2 delves deeper into the craft of writing and researching, the nuances of sub-genres, and the business of marketing.

Apart from our plenary sessions, attendees can pick and choose panels in either stream – every hour. Over the coming months, we’re giving you a heads-up by highlighting options so you can arrive on the day ready to go. There’s no need to reserve your seats in the main weekend program –just move between lecture theatres each session.

If you find yourself still dithering, then toss a coin!

On Saturday 26 October at 2.10 – 3.00 pm, I’m faced with the difficult dilemma of choosing between an examination of the criminal psyche or learning how not to defame the dead.

Rachel Franks, Janet Lee,
Pip Smith & Catherine Jinks

Stream 1: The Criminal Mind: innocence and guilt in historical fiction

A husband poisoner, a transgender man accused of murder, and a psychopathic former highwayman feature in recent books by Janet Lee, Pip Smith and Catherine Jinks respectively. Rachel Franks explores the criminal mind with these authors, the mysteries that surround their protagonists, and the tricky business of determining innocence or guilt from historical sources. 

Stream 2: Respectful Research: the challenge of imagining a dead person’s life

Legally you may not be liable for ‘defaming the dead’ but should an author do so? Depicting the life of a real person can lead to ethical questions as to how to portray their thoughts, motives, and actions, based on historical sources and hearsay.  Catherine Padmore discusses respectful research methods, and the obstacles and dilemmas of biofiction, with Paula Morris, Isobel Blackthorn and GS Johnston.

As a reader, I’m drawn to listening to the insights of authors such as Catherine Jinks, Janet Lee and Pip Smith discussing the psychopathy of their characters and the challenges of researching historical records. Smith’s Half Wild draws us into the murderous deceit of a transgender man in 1938 while Lee presents the inner thoughts of a C19th condemned woman on death row in The Killing of Louisa. Jinks’s recent non-fiction Charlatan is about a mesmerist accused of rape but she has a long history of exploring evil with The Inquisitor and The Notary. Her upcoming novel Shepherd sounds intriguing about a sinister former highwayman who menaces a young convict walking a tightrope between law and crime himself.

GS Johnston, Paula Morris,
Isobel Blackthorn & Catherine Padmore

As a writer, I’m keen to hear Paula Morris, Greg Johnston and Isobel Blackthorn discuss their approaches to writing biofiction, or books based on ‘real’ people. Until now my novels have depicted imaginary characters from the C5th BC. My recent WIP is set in WW2 with historical figures front and centre. I’d like to hear how others approach ‘respectful’ researching and writing about ‘dead people’ whose reputations may or may not be compromised in a narrative.  Learning about a Maori chieftain (Rangitira by Morris), a maligned Esotericist (The Unlikely Occultist by Blackthorn), and an Italian Fascist internee in WW2 Australia (Sweet Bitter Cane by Johnston) will definitely be both entertaining and informative. Morris’ insights into observing Indigenous protocols will also be invaluable for those wishing to tap into Australian and New Zealand history.

My verdict

 As program director, I’m kicking myself that I scheduled these two sessions to compete against each other! It will be the toss of a coin for me. Too close to call.

Which panel will you choose at HNSA Sydney 2019?

This panel spotlight was written by Elisabeth Storrs, author of the award winning Tales of Ancient Rome saga, and the co-founder and program director of the HNSA. She’ll be conjuring spells with Kate Forsyth and Kim Wilkins at HNSA 2019 in Love Potions & Witchcraft.

HNSA Sydney 2019 will be held on the weekend of 25-27 October 2019 at Western Sydney University Parramatta.

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.

Our signature First Pages Pitch Contest returns with $200 prize money on offer. They’ll also be a sword fight or two with our Historical Re-enactments & Weapons display!

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.

Visit our website to purchase your early bird tickets now!

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