HNS Conference “Off-the-Beaten-Path Panel”

BEA has now passed- 2013 will be a stellar year for historical fiction; I mailed two full boxes of books home, and my shoulders were killing me from carrying all that around the exhibit hall. The best thing I did, though, was attend the Speed Dating session for Book Groups, where one could hear about the upcoming releases targeted to this market face-to-face with publicists from more than 20 publishing houses. Here is the link to the slide show that accompanied the session; I hope you will find it helpful, too:

Now, on to the swiftly upcoming HNS Conference in Florida. The dates are June 21-23. I will be on a panel on Saturday with the lovely Julie Rose (, Audra Friend (, and Heather Domin ( discussing why readers should consider off-the-beaten path hf, along with giving recommendations of our favorite reads and upcoming titles that might be of interest.

What do we mean by “off-the-beaten-path”?

“There’s nothing wrong with popularity! But with so many books out there and only so much time and space for promotion, the most popular themes naturally get the most attention, while others remain out of the spotlight. In this panel we will explore current themes and trends in historical fiction and take a look at some books that veer off these paths. Our goal is to show readers the wide variety of historical fiction available to them, and to show writers that there is an audience for every story. If you’ve ever asked, ‘Doesn’t anyone write (…)?’ this panel is for you.”

“In this panel, ‘mainstream’ refers to the most well-known settings, eras, characters, and/or styles in current historical fiction.”
“What our definition of mainstream is NOT:
 – A method of publishing
 – A list of targeted topics
 – Overdone (aka ‘popular = bad’)”


If you are attending the conference and are interested to learn what type of books are out there for those with a wandering imaginations, please join us! I look forward to meeting you.

Historical fiction at Book Expo this month…

It’s Book Expo America season once again, and I’ll be heading to NYC in less than two weeks. A copious amount of historical fiction will be offered this year and I am looking forward to meeting with publicists of some of the independent presses I work with, attending a few educational sessions, especially one called “All’s Fair? Book Reviewing and the Missing Code of Ethics.” Ethical and intelligent book reviewing on blogs just happens to be one of my interests…LOL. And then there’s the speed dating for book clubs session, which I find very helpful for locating historical novels that are targeted for a more specific audience. As always, I’ll bring my rolling suitcase and will pay out extraordinary amounts of money to ship home all of these books…

A couple of historical fiction novels have caught my eye as either having the perfect elements of an absorbing tale to sweep readers away, or by falling into the category of being “outside the mainstream” themes…

hild-beaWith its stunning teal cover, Hild looks to be a good old-fashioned HF prototype; just the perfect mix of biography, history, and fiction in a popular historical place and time, Anglo-Saxon England. (literary biographical novel of St. Hilda of Whitby in 7th-century England, from a multi-award winning writer.  To be released in November)




Iceland is not a location I have seen portrayed  in HF-mainstream or Indie-and I am intrigued by the premise of Burial Rites,  about a woman accused of murder in 1829 Iceland, based on a true story. It is one of the books I may talk about during the panel “Off the Beaten Path: Reading and Writing Outside of the HF Mainstream” at the U.S. HNS conference coming up in June. I’ll write more about that later.


tan-beaAmy Tan’s new offering, The Valley of Amazement, follows three generations of women from 19th-century San Francisco to turn-of-the-century Shanghai and after, and looks to be a familiar and comfy treat for historical family saga fans.





The Mountain of Light, an epic novel about diamond hunters in Victorian India, piques my interest, too, as I amsundaresan drawn to stories set during the time of the British Raj. This locale and period seems to have dropped off the popularity scales lately–it might be that this older trend is now attempting to revive itself…


For details on publishers’ booth locations and signing schedules, see Sarah Johnson’s annual BEA post at (book descriptions borrowed from this post).