Highlights from HNS North America 2019

D9mdEGEXoAApYJlMy second historical fiction conference, HNS North America, came and went, and it was quite a ride. It was held at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, just across the Potomac from Washington, DC from June 20-22, 2019.

With over 70 sessions, the panels ranged from discussions of craft to the state of the publishing industry, to hands-on workshop on historical textile making.

Textile making workshop
Textile making workshop. Credit: Wendy Long Stanley

My favorite panel was the talk on Dual Timelines, where authors Kate Quinn and Beatriz Williams discussed the challenges and opportunities of crafting narratives set in alternating time settings. Links that sustain dual narratives can be a person at different points in their life, objects/artifacts, locations, and family ties.

The authors made a good point saying that one of the biggest benefits of writing dual timelines is the ability of your book to be shelved under multiple categories. What is more, they said, they are a way to trick your publisher into letting you write what you want to write, even when one part of it is not “commercial enough.”

Dual timelines
The panel of Dual Timelines with Kate Quinn and Beatriz Williams

One of the surprises was a session on writing a focused plot that turned out to be an hour-long analysis of the structure of Gone With The Wind. Not exactly what I had expected, but anytime I get to watch clips from the classic movie is a good day.

The Keynote speaker on day two, Jeff Shaara, author of bestelling novels on American wars, offered us this advice: “You can write about anything you want, as long as it is a good story.”

Just as I did last year during the HNS UK conference in Glasgow, I did a fair amount of sightseeing in my spare time. I went to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, and visited Alexandria, Virginia. More on that in my next post.


My upcoming historical mystery Silent Water, set at Queen Bona’s court in Cracow in 1520, is available on pre-order and will be released on August 6, 2019.


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