Hello, lovers of Historical Fiction of all stripes and Welcome to Denver 2015,
I’m Ann Chamberlin, Chair of the upcoming conference. I enjoy the support of a great board with diverse talents and interests that will help us put on a weekend with broad appeal:
Daniel A. Willis–Venue Chair
Theresa Guzman Stokes–Marketing Chair
Meenoo Mishra–Program Chair.
Each of these workers has a team of helpers, and as usual we are always on the look out for more volunteers willing to share their talents.
In spite of my mathematician parents, who remain dubious of fiction to this day, and a high school creative writing teacher who didn’t think girls could write, I knew that’s what I wanted to do since before my mother broke down and got me my first dictionary so I’d stop sitting in her way in the kitchen asking how to spell every other word. By the time I was in Junior High, we had spent two years in Europe, me drenched in history, and I had read Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Mara, Daughter of the Nile, so I even knew what genre I wanted to write. Devouring the Mary Renault canon in High School–against said creative writing teacher’s glower–clinched the deal. I still want to be Mary Renault when I grow up.
College writing classes were hardly more supportive, with the single glowing exception of the complete fluke of a workshop I had the privilege of taking from E.L. Doctorow. “Historical fiction is okay,” he told me, having just earned a million dollar advance for Ragtime. Otherwise, I found Middle Eastern anthropology and archaeology a better major for what I wanted to do.
Once I started publishing, editors told me I needed to go to conferences. I went to fantasy/science fiction cons and romance conferences. I learned a lot from both genres. If you’ve been active in either of these genres, you will recognize conference tropes we’ve incorporated, hoping to include the best of several worlds.
As much I as enjoyed and continue to enjoy the community of these writers and readers, my heart remains with historical fiction. And sometimes, yes, I was treated like the ugly stepsister because I didn’t always have enough dragons or the history I was writing did not always provide the perfect romantic ending. I rejoiced and joined the Historical Novel Society as soon as I discovered it on the web.
Then, in 2005, Sarah Johnson and I started the first North American conference in Salt Lake City–because that is where I live. I’ve been involved in every North American conference since and am looking forward to attending the London conference in September. Living in Salt Lake, I’m 500 miles in any direction from any other member of the society. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the large and active Arizona chapter, but eleven and a half hours in each direction is a long drive for every-other-month meetings.
I’m looking forward to meeting with old friends and making new ones next June in Denver for our long weekend celebration of the genre we all love.
author of The Sword and the Well 2014 and The Fair Maid and the Pirates 2014