HNS UK 2024

The biannual UK conference of the Historical Novel Society for readers, writers, publishers, agents, booksellers, and librarians who are interested in historical fiction. This is the page for the onsite conference.

The onsite conference is fully booked. You can join the waiting list at the bottom of this page.

Alternatively, you can register for an online ticket here:


You can see details and book for the HNS UK 2024 Online conference here:

We are also running a pre-conference online programme in May and June. If you book for one or more of the pre-conference sessions, you are eligible for a 15% discount on the HNS 2024 Online Conference Ticket.


See the Pre-Conference Online Programme and book here:


Location Information

  • Dartington Hall
  • Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EL GB


Thursday 5 September 2024 3.00pmDartington Accommodation Opens

From 3pm onwards - check in to Dartington accommodation at the Welcome Centre, The Arch, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY8

Thursday 5 September 2024 4.00-6.00pmEarly Arrivers Registration

Holand Room, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY

Thursday 5 September 2024 5.00-6.00pmRosemary Griggs, Dartington Gardens Tour

Meet at The Arch, outside the Welcome Centre, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY8

Friday 6 September 2024 9.00amExcursions

a. Agatha Christie's Greenway (9.00am-2.00pm). Meet coach at 9.00am.
b. Powderham Castle (10.00am-5.30pm). Meet coach at 10.00am.
c. Exeter Cathedral (10.00am-5.00pm). Meet coach at 10.00am.
Or arrange your own self-organised excursion.

Friday 6 September 2024 3.00pmDartington Accommodation Check-in Opens

Check-in from 3pm onwards at the Welcome Centre, The Arch, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY8

Friday 6 September 2024 3.00-6.00pmConference Registration

Holand Room, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY

Friday 6 September 2024 4.00-5.30pmRosemary Griggs, Dartington Gardens Tour

Meet at The Arch, outside the Welcome Centre, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY8

Friday 6 September 2024 6.00-7.30pmWelcome Reception and Quiz

One free drink and pay bar.
Historical fiction quiz with Adam Honeyman.
Great Hall - Map CY2

Friday 6 September 2024, 7.30pmIndependent dinner options


Saturday 7 September 2024 9.45-10.00amRichard Lee and Conference Team, Welcome

Welcoming you to the conference, introducing the team and stewards who can help if you have any questions throughout the conference

Saturday 7 September 10.00-10.45amBernard Cornwell, Opening Keynote

Great Hall - Map CY2

Saturday 7 September 10.45-11.30amWriting Medieval Fiction

Podcasters, Derek Birks and Sharon Bennett Connolly in conversation with Elizabeth Chadwick, David Gilman, and Matthew Harffy
Great Hall - Map CY2

Saturday 7 September 11.30-12.00Coffee Break

Coffee served in the White Hart - Map CY9.
The conference bookstall is open in the Holand Room.
Maps, Maps, Maps exhibition in The Ship, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6.

Saturday 7 September 12.00am-12.45pmIan Mortimer, Free History: How to Ride the Waves of Time

Great Hall - Map CY2

Saturday 7 September 12.45-1.30pmParallel Sessions

You can choose which session you want to attend on the day

Anna Neima, Dartington's Modernist History
Great Hall - Map CY2

Michael Jecks and Pip Vaughan-Hughes, Writing Historical Fiction in Devon
Studio 1, Lower Close - Map CY4

A.D. Rhine, Co-Writing Historical Fiction
Studio 3, Lower Close - Map CY4

M.J. Porter and Michael Cooke, Maps, Maps, Maps exhibition continues in The Ship, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6

Saturday 7 September 1.30-2.30pmLunch Break

Buffet lunch served in the White Hart - Map CY9.
The conference bookstall is open in the Holand Room.
Maps, Maps, Maps exhibition continues in The Ship, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6.

Saturday 7 September 2.30-3.15pmKate Quinn, In conversation with Katherine Mezzacappa

Great Hall - Map CY2

Saturday 7 September 3.15-4.00pmAgent/Publisher one to ones and Booksignings

Holand Room, Great Hall Courtyard

Saturday 7 September 4.00-4.30pmTea Break

Tea served in the White Hart - Map CY9.
The conference bookstall is open in the Holand Room.
Maps, Maps, Maps exhibition continues in The Ship, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6.

Saturday 7 September 4.30-5.15pmParallel Sessions

You can choose which session you want to attend on the day

Deborah Swift, Sparkling Settings and Convincing Costumes
Studio 1, Lower Close - Map CY4

Hazel Gaynor, Gill Paul, and Heather Webb, Screen Queens
Studio 3, Lower Close - Map CY4

Jules Larimore, Michele Callard, and Keira Morgan, The Allure of French Historical Dramas on Screen and in Novels,
Ship Studio, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6

Saturday 7 September to 6.00pmConference Bookstall

Bookstall is open until 6.00pm in the Holand Room, Great Hall Courtyard.

Saturday 7 September ThroughoutRock, Paper, Swords! Roving Podcast

Matthew Harffy and Steven A. McKay's roving podcast throughout the two days of the conference.

Saturday 7 September 6.30-11.00pmGala Dinner

Competition judges, Kate Quinn and Lisa Highton, will award certificates to the category winners of the HNS 2024 First Chapters Competition. The judges will announce the overall winner of the HNS 2024 First Chapters Competition and award the competition trophy.
Further details to follow.
Great Hall - Map CY2

Sunday 8 September 9.45-10.30amDiana Gabaldon and Chris Humphreys, Adaptation: Should a Novelist Even Attempt to Adapt Their Work Into Another Medium ... or Leave it to the Pros?

Great Hall - Map CY2

Sunday 8 September 10.30-11.15amParallel Sessions

You can choose which session you want to attend on the day

Alison Morton, Ruth Downie, Kate Quinn, Taking the Romans Public
Great Hall - Map CY2

Katherine Mezzacappa, Dickens on Screen
Studio 1, Lower Close - Map CY4

Heather Webb, Finola Austin and Kris Waldherr, Authors as Adaptors
Studio 3, Lower Close - Map CY4

M.J. Porter and Michael Cooke, Maps, Maps, Maps exhibition
Ship Studio, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6

Sunday 8 September 11.15-11.45amCoffee Break

Coffee served in the White Hart - Map CY9.
The conference bookstall is open in the Holand Room.
Maps, Maps, Maps exhibition in The Ship, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6.

Sunday 8 September 11.45am-12.30pmJane Johnson, Real Life to the Page: Breathing Life Into History

Great Hall - Map CY2

Sunday 8 September 12.30-1.15pmParallel Sessions

You can choose which session you want to attend on the day

Helen Steadman and Christine Mackie, Resurrecting Seventeenth-Century Women Accused of Witchcraft
Great Hall - Map CY2

Gillian Bagwell, All the World's a Stage
Studio 1, Lower Close - Map CY4

Elizabeth Fremantle, Transition from Book to Screen
Studio 3, Lower Close - Map CY4

Alex Weston, Voices from the Past: How to Write Dialogue in Historical Fiction
Ship Studio, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6

Sunday 8 September 1.15-2.30pmLunch Break

Buffet lunch served in the White Hart - Map CY9.
The conference bookstall is open in the Holand Room.
Maps, Maps, Maps exhibition continues in The Ship, Great Hall Courtyard - Map CY6.
Bookable Author Photo Shoots.

Sunday 8 September 2.30-3.15pmS.G. Maclean in conversation with Lisa Highton

Great Hall - Map CY2

Sunday 8 September ThroughoutRock, Paper, Swords!

Matthew Harffy and Steven A. McKay's roving podcast throughout the two days of the conference.

Sunday 8 September 3.15-3.30pmClosing

Richard Lee and the Conference Team


Friday 6 September 2024

£40 each excursion including transport to and from Dartington Hall.

Greenway - this excursion is full


Group leader: Tracey Warr

At Greenway: 10.15am-1.00pm, guided tour

Greenway is a Georgian house with a large, romantic woodland drifting down the hillside to the River Dart estuary. It was purchased in 1938 by Agatha Christie who spent summers and Christmases here. The house was requisitioned during WWII and used for child evacuees and also used by the U.S. coastguard. The walled gardens include a peach house and a vinery. The Boathouse was the scene of the crime in Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly. The house has a large collection of artefacts from the travels of Agatha Christie and her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan. There is a second-hand bookshop. The onsite Barn cafe has a range of hot and cold drinks, light meals, cream teas and cakes. Hot food is served from 12-3. The shop sells the Greenway souvenir guide, items for the home and garden, gifts, local produce and Agatha Christie books and memorabilia.

Powderham Castle - this excursion is full


Meet the coach at Dartington Hall Archway at 10.00am. Coach will depart at 10.15am. 

Group leader: Richard Lee

At Powderham: 11.30am-4.00pm

12.00pm Guided tour with the Earl of Devon

2.00pm cream tea in the Coach House

Powderham Castle has had a colourful history since the Middle Ages. The manor appears in the Domesday Book. It came into the Courtenay family in the dowry of Margaret de Bohun on her marriage to Hugh de Courtenay, son of the first Courtenay Earl of Devon in 1325. The Courtenays came from France in the reign of Henry II and acquired considerable lands and power in south-west England by judicious marriages to wealthy heiresses. The building had the typical medieval long hall layout with six tall towers, only one of which remains today. Several members of the family were attainted, beheaded, died in battle, were restored, imprisoned and exiled during the Wars of the Roses and the turbulent reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Powderham was besieged by Roundheads during the Civil War. The house was restored during the Georgian period. Gothic renovations were carried out during the Victorian period. In the 19th century, Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the South Devon Railway running through part of Powderham Park. The current earl Charlie Courtenay and his family are the 28th generation to live at Powderham. Price includes cream tea.

Exeter Cathedral 


Group leader: Katherine Mezzacappa

Please select one of the following tours:

1. Cathedral Ground Floor Tour

Experienced guides lead you on a journey through Exeter Cathedral. Discover the characters who have shaped its history, learn about the development of one of Europe’s finest cathedrals and uncover some of its fascinating secrets. 60 minutes.

2. Kings and Queens Tour

A tour following one-thousand years of royal connections to Exeter Cathedral. Learn about a princess baptised in Exeter, water conduits running with wine to celebrate a coronation and a king who came to pass judgement on murderous citizens. 60 minutes.

3. Stones and Bones: The Cathedral Precinct Tour

Delve into the history of the Cathedral Green and explore the surrounds of Exeter Cathedral, by tracing their history from Roman time to the present day. Discover the secrets of Exeter’s cemetery (you may be surprised) and uncover the medieval murder of a local priest. Learn about the buildings of the Close and the evolution of the Cathedral over the last 900 years, on this fascinating 90–minute tour of history and archaeology.

There will be free time in Exeter to have lunch and explore beyond the cathedral.

Self-Organised Excursions 

Potential self-organised excursions include Totnes Castle, Totnes Museum, Exeter Walking Tours, Exeter Museum, Totnes-Dartmouth Boat Trip, Sharpham Vineyard, South Devon Steam Railway to Buckfast Abbey, The Mayflower Museum in Plymouth, Saltram (Georgian), Torre Abbey (Medieval), Compton Castle (Medieval), Coleton Fishacre (1920s), Cotehele (Tudor), Dartmoor Prison Museum. 

Or you might need to find out about the history of gin and rum with the Devon Gin and Rum School at Dartington. 

The nearby Devon coast has fabulous beaches and walks. 

For further details and suggestions see

Speakers in order of appearance

Rosemary Griggs Dartington Gardens Tour

Discover the history of Dartington Hall and its Grade II* Listed Gardens on a tour with local historian Rosemary Griggs. In this gentle stroll round the gardens, Rosemary will introduce some of the people who, over the centuries, created the Dartington we see today and will point out the heritage, beauty, and historical features of the magnificent buildings and gardens.

With its early beginnings in ancient times, Dartington has been a Royal Manor; the home for more than 400 years of one of Devon’s most prestigious families; the site of a utopian experiment linking agriculture, education, the arts and social justice; an innovative institution for arts education, and is now a visitor destination and charity supporting learning in arts, ecology, and social justice. The gardens we see today, developed with input from a stellar cast of 20th-century garden designers, are rich in history and home to some of the most impressive champion trees in the region.

* The tour lasts around an hour to an hour and a half.

* Meet at the archway.

Rosemary Griggs is an historian and author and has been researching Devon's history, with a particular focus on the sixteenth century, for years. She tells the stories of the forgotten women—the women beyond the royal court; wives, sisters, daughters and mothers who played their part during the tumultuous Tudor years: the Daughters of Devon. Her novel, A Woman of Noble Wit, tells the story of Sir Walter Raleigh’s mother. The Dartington Bride, the extraordinary story of Lady Gabrielle Roberda Montgomery who came to Elizabethan England to marry into one of Devon’s most prominent and well-connected families will be published in spring 2024. Rosemary creates and wears sixteenth-century clothing, a passion which complements her love for bringing the past to life through a unique blend of theatre, history and re-enactment. Her appearances and talks for museums and community groups all over the West Country draw on her extensive research into sixteenth-century Devon, Tudor life and Tudor dress, particularly Elizabethan. Out of costume, Rosemary leads heritage tours of the gardens at Dartington Hall.

Adam Honeyman Historical Fiction Quiz

Adam Honeyman is the Production Technician at Dartington Hall and is providing technical support for the conference. He is also an avid quizzer.

Richard Lee Conference Organisation Team

Richard Lee founded the Historical Novel Society in 1997 after trying to join it, only to find it didn’t exist. The society has since developed in many unforeseen ways, following the enthusiasms of the active membership, with Richard trying to keep as light a hand on the tiller as possible. It is with bemusement but great pride that he regards the society’s robust health twenty-six years on.

Richard has been involved with the organisation of many HNS conferences, set up the HNS New Novel Award and the HNS Indie Award, co-hosted the Cambridge History Festivals, and ran author talks for two years at English Heritage’s flagship Kirby Hall re-enactment event.

He has been a judge of the CWA’s Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy and the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. Richard studied English at Merton College, Oxford, and has worked for many years bookselling with WH Smith and Waterstone’s. One day he will finish his novel of the Crusades.

Tracey Warr Conference Organisation Team

Tracey Warr is writing historical fiction set in early medieval Europe and centred on female protagonists. Almodis: The Peaceweaver is set in 11th-century southern France and Catalonia. The Viking Hostage is set in 10th-century France and Wales. Her Conquest trilogy - Daughter of the Last King, The Drowned Court, and The Anarchy - deal with the turbulent life of the Welsh noblewoman, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Norman king, Henry I. Tracey is currently working on a new medieval series about a female troubadour sleuth. She is a member of the HNS UK 2024 organisation team and of the HNS Author Interview team. She was born in London and lives in south-west France.

Rebekah Simmers Conference Organisation Team

Rebekah Simmers is the author of the Metzlingen Saga, which includes her first novel The King's Sword. In addition to being a military spouse and special needs parent of five children, she is a member of the HNS UK 2024 organisation team and the HNS Author Interview team. She loves research of all kinds, and has been trotting the globe since birth. She has recently moved with her family to Italy (her twenty-first move).

Katherine Mezzacappa Dickens on Screen and Conference Organisation Team

Katherine Mezzacappa's presentation examines the visual nature of the fiction of Charles Dickens, as a writer who worked in serial form, hand-in-hand with illustrators and asks how successfully his vision transposes to large or small screen. She will make reference to the following:

- From engraving and letterpress to the episodic novel: the tragedy of Robert Seymour and The Pickwick Papers

- An angelic child of the workhouse? How George Cruikshank’s conception of Oliver Twist shaped modern adaptations

- George Cukor’s David Copperfield (1935); the debt to Hablot Knight Browne

- Screening to a different audience: how the Dickensian ‘child bride’ (Dora Spenlow, Little Dorrit) ages for the modern audience.

Katherine Mezzacappa is Irish but lives in Carrara, Italy. Writing as Katie Hutton, she is the author of The Gypsy Bride, The Gypsy’s Daughter, Annie of Ainsworth’s Mill and The Maid of Lindal Hall, published by Bonnier Zaffre. Writing under her own name, The Virgin of Florence, will be published by Fairlight Books in 2024 and The Ballad of Mary Kearney is in press with Addision & Highsmith. Her historical short fiction has been published in Aspects of History, Erotic Review Magazine, The Copperfield Review, Turnpike Magazine, Asymmetry Magazine amongst others, and, as Katie Hutton, in Yours and My Weekly. Katherine has been awarded residencies by the Irish Writers Centre and by the Danish Centre for Writers and Translators (at Hald Hovedgaard). She is an assessor for The Literary Consultancy, London, a committee member of the Irish Writers Union and a regular reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. She holds degrees from University of East Anglia, Durham and Canterbury Christ Church. Katherine is represented by Annette Green Authors’ Agency in the UK.

Bernard Cornwell Opening Keynote

Bernard Cornwell was born in London in 1944 – a ‘warbaby’ – whose father was a Canadian airman and mother in Britain’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted by a family in Essex who belonged to a religious sect called the Peculiar People (and they were), but escaped to London University and, after a stint as a teacher, he joined BBC Television where he worked for the next 10 years. He began as a researcher on the Nationwide programme and ended as Head of Current Affairs Television for the BBC in Northern Ireland. It was while working in Belfast that he met Judy, a visiting American, and fell in love. Judy was unable to move to Britain for family reasons so Bernard went to the States where he was refused a Green Card. He decided to earn a living by writing, a job that did not need a permit from the US government – and for some years he had been wanting to write the adventures of a British soldier in the Napoleonic wars – and so the Sharpe series was born. Bernard and Judy married in 1980, are still married, still live in the States and he is still writing Sharpe.

Derek Birks, Sharon Bennett Connolly, Elizabeth Chadwick, David Gilman and Matthew Harffy Writing Medieval

A Slice of Medieval Podcast co-hosts historian, Sharon Bennett Connolly and historical fiction author, Derek Birks interview a panel of three authors who write historical fiction set across the medieval age. The focus will be on how each author writes stories set in the middle ages and how they attempt to create an authentic medieval world and present its beliefs and values – especially regarding the roles of women - which is accessible to the modern reader. The authors will offer some insight into their writing process and how their work might transfer to the screen.


Elizabeth Chadwick (pictured), David Gilman & Matthew Harffy

Elizabeth Chadwick is a UK million selling historical novelist with 28 novels in print translated into 18 languages between them. She won a Betty Trask award for her first published novel The Wild Hunt and the RNA prize for Historical fiction in 2011 with To Defy A King. Her novel The Greatest Knight is a New York Times bestseller and has been optioned for film and TV together with several others in the same series. Specialising in the medieval period, she occasionally lectures on the academic circuit and gives talks on historical tours. Elizabeth is also a member of The Royal Historical Society. When not writing, Elizabeth enjoys sharing historical discussions with readers.

David Gilman lives in Devon. He was a firefighter, soldier, photographer, then award-winning screenwriter and writer of an acclaimed adventure series for young readers, before turning to writing his much-loved and bestselling Master Of War series full-time. Head of Zeus have sold more than 700,000 copies of David Gilman’s novels in English, and his work is translated into more than a dozen languages. The Master Of War titles featuring Thomas Blackstone has been widely reviewed as a must-read for Bernard Cornwell fans, with more than half a million copies sold in English. Titles have featured several times on the Der Spiegel bestseller lists in Germany, where sales by 2022 stand close to 300,000 copies. The Last Horseman, a standalone novel following Irish involvement in the Anglo-Boer War, was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize and his new contemporary thriller series, The Englishman, starring ex-Foreign Legion soldier Dan Raglan, was longlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize as well. He is also the author of a popular WWII espionage thriller, Night Flight To Paris. The Englishman: Resurrection, the third title in The Englishman series was published in 2023, with the 8th Master of War title, To Kill A King, to be published in February 2024. AGC Studios have optioned The Englishman for development as a feature film in the vein of the Jason Bourne franchise with an excellent scriptwriter and director attached.

Matthew Harffy lived in Northumberland as a child and the area had a great impact on him. The rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline made it easy to imagine the past. Decades later, a documentary about Northumbria's Golden Age sowed the kernel of an idea for a series of historical fiction novels. The first of them is the action-packed tale of vengeance and coming of age, The Serpent Sword. Matthew has worked in the IT industry, where he spent all day writing and editing, just not the words that most interested him. Prior to that he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator. Matthew lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.


Sharon Bennett Connolly is an historian and the best-selling author of four non-fiction history books. Sharon is the author of Heroines of the Medieval World, Silk and the Sword: The Women of the Norman Conquest and Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England. Her fourth book, Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey, telling the story of the Warenne earls over 300 years and 8 generation, was released in May 2021. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Sharon has studied history academically and just for fun – and has even worked as a tour guide at a castle. She writes the popular history blog, Sharon regularly gives talks on women's history; she is a feature writer for All About History magazine and her TV work includes Australian Television's 'Who Do You Think You Are?'

Derek Birks was born in Hampshire in England but spent his teenage years in Auckland, New Zealand, where he still has strong family ties. Derek taught history at a secondary school for many years before taking early retirement to write.

He writes action-packed historical fiction which is rooted in accurate history and his debut book, Feud was the first of the successful Wars of the Roses series. More recently, he has written the bestselling Last of the Roman series set in 5th century Britain. Derek has also produced many non-fiction podcasts on medieval history for those interested in the real historical background to his books. Apart from his writing, he enjoys walking, archaeology and travelling – sometimes, but not always, to carry out research for his books.

The Slice of Medieval Podcast

Sharon and Derek started the Slice of Medieval Podcast in Autumn 2022 and have since interviewed many leading historians and authors of historical fiction. Their brief is to present medieval history and historical fiction in an informal, but historically robust, way. Guests have included: Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jones, Ben Kane, Elizabeth Chadwick, Michael Jecks and Anne O’Brien – amongst many others.

M.J. Porter and Michael Cooke Maps, Maps, Maps: An Exhibition

MJ Porter makes great use of historical maps in writing her historical fiction. Her father, Andrew Cooke, has a wealth of knowledge and a vast array of maps and an abundance of knowledge about them. An exhibition of some of these maps, encouraging others to see the value in making use of this valuable resource to bring the physical landscape of the past to life.

M J Porter is an author of historical novels set in seventh-, ninth-, tenth- and eleventh-century Saxon England, and now also, a little further afield, in Viking Age Denmark, and tenth-century East and West Frankia. She has also written three twentieth-century mystery books.

Michael Cooke spent much of his working life in the former Soviet Union and America from the 1970s and by necessity relied on maps for getting around. That requirement resulted in him building a large collection of historical maps starting around 1600 AD alongside the attendant knowledge of cartographers and their body of work.

Steven A. McKay and Matthew Harffy Rock, Paper, Swords! roving podcast

Steven A. McKay and Matthew Harffy will be the dedicated podcasters at the conference with “Access All Areas” passes. They will capture the buzz and atmosphere of the event with behind-the-scenes chats, candid interviews with attendees, reports on the sessions and interviews with the fabulous speakers.

Matthew Harffy is the author of action-packed, historically accurate novels. He has published nine novels in the Bernicia Chronicles series, set in seventh century Britain. The Times called Matthew’s standalone novel, Wolf of Wessex, “a treat of a book”. His newest series, A Time for Swords, is set at the dawn of the Viking Age and follows the adventures of monk-turned-warrior, Hunlaf. Matthew lives in Wiltshire, with his wife, their two daughters and a slightly mad dog.

Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977 and always enjoyed studying history. He decided to write his Forest Lord novels, which rebooted the Robin Hood legend, after seeing a house called “Sherwood” when he was out at work one day. Since then he’s started a new series, the Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles, and is currently working on a trilogy about Alfred the Great. In 2021 the Xbox/Playstation game HOOD: Outlaws and Legends was released, heavily featuring Steven’s writing, a project he called a “dream come true”. He lives with his wife and two children at the western end of the Antonine Wall and used to be in a heavy metal band although he usually just plays guitar in his study these days. Apparently the neighbours love him…

Ian Mortimer Free History: Riding the Waves of Time

Free history is free in the sense that free verse is free of all the rules that traditionalists placed on poets – that their work must rhyme, must balance, etc. History that is written according to rules, like poems that have to rhyme, is less able to conjure up the essential meaning of the past. Form is given priority. Educational objectivity is a mantra that drowns out the meaning.

Considering different perspectives on the past, for example, present-tense approaches, fictive as well as fictional approaches, subjective approaches, metaphorical approaches. Ian states: 'We break things too neatly into the extremes of fiction and non-fiction whereas there is a whole gamut of different perspectives in between those two poles, and really no hard-and-fast line between them. Absolute ‘historical fiction’ is impossible – just as complete ‘historical non-fiction’ is impossible (unless one is talking about a single, isolated, well-evidenced fact) and there is a great degree of shading from one into the other.'

Dr Ian Mortimer is the Sunday Times-bestselling author of the Time Traveller's Guides to Medieval England, Elizabethan England, Restoration Britain and Regency Britain, as well as four critically acclaimed medieval biographies. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1998. His work on the social history of medicine won the Alexander Prize in 2004 and was published by the Royal Historical Society in 2009. He has published three historical novels writing under the author name of James Forrester He lives with his wife and three children in Moretonhampstead, on the edge of Dartmoor.

Anna Neima Dartington's Modernist History

Dartington Hall was a social experiment of kaleidoscopic vitality, set up in Devon in 1925 by a hugely wealthy American heiress, Dorothy Elmhirst (née Whitney), and her Yorkshire-born husband, Leonard. It quickly achieved international fame with its progressive school, craft production and wide-ranging artistic endeavours. Dartington was a residential community of students, teachers, farmers, artists and craftsmen committed to revivifying life in the countryside. It was a socio-cultural laboratory, where many of the most brilliant interwar minds lived or visited, testing out their ideas about art, society, spirituality and rural regeneration. This talk will focus on the people behind the early years of the experiment, on their vision for a transformed society, and their experiences trying to turn these dreams into a reality – all illustrated by some of the sumptuous pictures from the Dartington archive.

Dr Anna Neima is a historian and the author of The Utopians: Six Attempts to Build the Perfect Society and Practical Utopia: The Many Lives of Dartington Hall. She is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick. She lives in London, but her heart remains in Devon.

Michael Jecks, Pip Vaughan-Hughes, Historical Fiction and Devon

Michael Jecks is the author of over 50 novels. He was born in Surrey and lives in a small village in northern Dartmoor where he walks regularly looking for inspiration for his books or painting. Often he will walk the ancient tracks with a book, researching and reading while he walks (with the unfortunate result that he was once witnessed walking into a telegraph pole). His The Templar Series, published by Headline is, at 32 titles, the longest-running crime series by any living author. From 1999 to 2001 Michael was the organiser of the Crime Writers’ Debut Dagger. He has been a judge for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and many other awards. In 2004/5 he was elected Chairman of the CWA. He formed the performance band of authors, The Medieval Murderers, and worked with the other authors on a series of collaborative novels. He worked on the committee of the Historical Writers’ Association. More recently he has worked with the BBC interviewing authors based in Devon, talking to them about their writing and where they find their inspiration. He also spent two years with the Royal Literary Fund as a Fellow, advising and helping students at Exeter University. In 2016 he was elected as Hon. Secretary of the prestigious Detection Club. In 2005 Michael became one of the founders of a new Morris dancing side, Tinners’ Morris, which has become noted for its eccentric and hazardous style. And ability to drink copious quantities of beer.

Pip Vaughan-Hughes is a novelist with eight published titles. As Pip Vaughan-Hughes, he wrote four books for Orion Publishing: Relics, Vault of Bones, Painted In Blood and The Fools' Crusade. As Philip Kazan, he wrote Appetite and The Painter of Souls for Orion, and for Allison & Busby, The Black Earth and The Phoenix Of Florence. He has worked in literary agencies in London and New York, as a reader for several literary agents including Christopher Little. He has ghost-written a book, edited several others, written book reviews, cover copy and restaurant reviews. He lives in Devon.

A.D. Rhine Co-Writing Historical Fiction

From epic television adaptations, such as Outlander and The Last Kingdom, to historically-rooted fantasy series, such as Game of Thrones, there is plenty of evidence that sweeping historical sagas are ideal for the ‘golden age of streaming’. Given the scope and complexity of such stories, co-writing is a strategy that can help authors create immersive worlds that translate well to the screen. Should all writers at least consider co-writing as a possible part of their career path? Ashlee Cowles and Danielle Stinson—the author team behind an epic duology set in the ancient world—provide a realistic overview of the pros and cons of co-writing, along with strategies for making the experience successful and rewarding. A number of bestselling co-author teams suggest this approach is becoming more common thanks to the technological tools that make collaboration easier than ever before. Creativity feeds creativity, and current narrative trends in historical fiction and film incentivise collaborative projects that allow for a wider range of POV characters and story scopes that are multifaceted and cinematic. When authors combine their skill sets and knowledge bases, they can accomplish together what might be out of their reach individually. Writing with a partner can provide powerful motivation, a built-in support system, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. Co-writing may help authors write faster, cleaner drafts while broadening book marketing reach through a pooling of resources and platforms. However, most writers are self-professed ‘control freaks’. Is it possible to join forces and remain friends by the end of the process? We are living proof that it can be done, though that doesn’t mean co-writing is easy. But the rewards are immense. This session equips you with practical knowledge on how to find an ideal partner and come up with a writing plan that results in an epic story fit for the screen. We aim to leave you with a better sense of whether or not co-writing is for you.

A.D. Rhine is the co-author team (Ashlee Cowles and Danielle Stinson) behind Horses of Fire (Dutton/Penguin-Random House, July 2023) and Daughters of Bronze (Dutton/PRH, 2024). This epic and historically-rooted retelling of the Trojan War sets the familiar story in the less familiar period of the late Bronze Age collapse, resulting in a cinematic duology that bestselling historical author Kate Quinn said was ‘destined to stand out, spinning a fresh take on classic themes with mesmerizing energy’. Ashlee holds an MLitt in medieval history from the University of St. Andrews and Danielle holds an MA in law and diplomacy from Tufts University.

Kate Quinn In Conversation with Katherine Mezzacappa

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with The Alice Network, The Huntress, The Rose Code, and The Diamond Eye. Her books have all been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband live in San Diego with three rescue dogs.

Deborah Swift Sparkling Settings and Convincing Costumes

This session draws on what working as a set and costume designer for the stage and TV has taught me about the craft of writing a historical novel.

• Every setting must help a character fulfil a purpose

• Entrances and exits – making the most of them

• Suggestion – the use of the setting as a symbol

• Historical detail – stage props and techniques for specificity

• How to make settings move, change and grow with the character

• Avoiding clichéd costuming

• How to let the clothes determine how a character moves

• How to let small details of clothing illuminate a character

• It’s not just about how they look – but about sound, weight, smell, texture

• Wear and tear – clothes have a life-story too.

In this session I will outline tips and tricks to increase the reader’s enjoyment by paying more attention to setting and costume, without overwhelming the reader with too much detail.

Deborah Swift was a set and costume designer for stage and BBC TV and is the author of 18 historical novels, one of which has been optioned for TV. She has been published by Harper Collins, Headline and Pan Macmillan and has published a series of books independently. Her most recent novels are the Aqua Tofana series set in Renaissance Italy, and The Silk Code and The Shadow Network set in WW2. Deborah has an MA in Creative Writing and teaches classes and courses in writing from her home in the Lake District.

Hazel Gaynor, Gill Paul, and Heather Webb Screen Queens

Hollywood's Golden Era of film offers many tantalising prospects for the historical novelist, but how does an author successfully develop the life of a well-known Hollywood star in the pages of a novel, or reimagine some of the screen's most famous fictional characters on the page? Having written about Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, and many more famous women, three internationally bestselling historical novelists, Hazel Gaynor (pictured), Gill Paul and Heather Webb, will share a lively and entertaining discussion about the challenges and delights of bringing some of our best known stars of the screen - and their often troubled and turbulent lives - to the page.

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning New York Times, USA Today, and Irish Times bestselling author known for her deeply moving historical novels which explore the defining events of the 20th century. Her debut, The Girl Who Came Home, won the 2015 RNA Historical Novel award, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown, and several of her books have also been shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. Her latest novel, The Last Lifeboat, was an Irish Times bestseller, a Times historical books of the month pick, and is shortlisted for the 2023 Irish Book Awards. Her co-written novels with Heather Webb have all been published to critical acclaim. Hazel’s work is translated into 20 languages to date. Originally from Yorkshire, she lives in Ireland with her family.

Gill Paul is the bestselling author of twelve historical novels, many of them about real 20th-century women who led remarkable lives. Her novels are USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Toronto Globe & Mail bestsellers, and have been translated into twenty-three languages. Her latest novel, A Beautiful Rival (2023), is about the infamous feud between beauty tycoons Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. Gill lives in London where she swims year-round in a wild pond, and speaks at libraries and literary festivals on topics ranging from Tutankhamun to Taylor and Burton.

Heather Webb is an award-winning USA Today and Globe and Mail bestselling author of nine historical novels, including her most recent, Queens of London, about the all-female gang, the Forty Elephants. Strangers in the Night, a novel of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, as well as Meet Me in Monaco, a story of Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, offer a view of the lives of screen and stage actors. Her co-written novels with Hazel Gaynor have all been published to critical acclaim. Heather’s works have been translated into 17 languages to date. She lives in New England with her family, a mischievous kitten, and a wily rabbit.

Jules Larimore, Michele Callard, and Keira Morgan The Allure of French Historical Dramas on Screen and in Novels

Are you dreaming of seeing your novel come to life on the silver screen or as a captivating TV series? Then you will want to join our panel as we delve into the rich tapestry of historical fiction set in France. For many in the United Kingdom and the United States, France remains mysteriously attractive with a ‘je ne sais quoi’ that represents an unattainable ideal. Historical dramas based on French history feed the desire to escape to a dazzling world where power, passion, and betrayal collide to create a gripping story. We will explore this fascination—an enduring allure that bewitches readers and viewers alike. Michèle Callard, Jules Larimore (pictured), and Keira Morgan are representing France’s Splendid Centuries, a collaborative of international authors with a deep passion for and expertise in crafting historical fiction set in France. Drawing from our collective experience, we will explore the parallels that contribute to the success of French historical dramas in three mediums—film, television, and print—and might improve the odds of a novel becoming a candidate for screen production. We will ask: With the success of English-language French historical films and series, why haven’t more English-language French historical novels been published? As part of the session, we provide tips and tools, such as a list of successful French historical novel adaptations, primary and secondary research sources, and French translation tools to set you on the right track for writing a historical novel set in France that is primed for screen adaptation.

The members of our French historical authors’ collaborative contribute articles to France’s Splendid Centuries Facebook page, a place to share our passion for French history previous to the 20th century and encourage followers to share their interest in French historical figures and places. In addition to the three presenters, the collaborative also includes Rozsa Gaston, author of the four-book Anne of Brittany Series and several other historical fiction works set in France, and Ann McClellan, a published non-fiction author of books about trees and their stories, whose fiction projects focus on Renaissance France.

Michèle Callard, a native Parisian, lives in England. She is the author of The Wolf’s Legacy, a multiple-timeline novel set in Paris and the Cévennes, along with two other novels set in French regions and drawing on their unique heritage. The first in her Vine Saga series is planned for publication in August 2024.

Jules Larimore currently focuses her writing on notable ancestors from royal lineage in the Occitanie region of France. The first book in The Cévenoles Sagas series, The Muse of Freedom, was released in late 2022 with the second, Find Me in the Stars to be released in early 2024.

Keira Morgan has published two of her four-volume series, The Chronicles of the House of Valois, including The Importance of Pawns and The Importance of Sons. The third, The Importance of Wives, will be released in spring 2024.

Diana Gabaldon and Chris Humphreys Adaptation: Should a Novelist Even Attempt to Adapt Their Work Into Another Medium ... or Leave it to the Pros?

Novelists rarely make the transition to screenwriting. Even if they are optioned, very few get the right to adapt their own work because producers don’t trust novelists to be able to write a coherent script, and also don’t want the author of the story interfering with their version—which is often very different. Yet who knows the work, its characters, themes and subtexts better than the person who originally created them? Is adaptation simply a matter of learning a new grammar and applying it? Can that be harder than writing the novel itself? Join Diana Gabaldon (pictured), whose Outlander series has been so successfully adapted for television, and who indeed writes scripts for the show, and Chris (C.C.) Humphreys who adapted his novel Shakespeare's Rebel for the stage and saw it produced at a major Canadian theatre company—with mixed results! Come hear the war stories, as well as the frustrations, the joys and the many pitfalls that lie between the initial creative spark... and Hollywood calling!

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling Outlander novels, described by Salon magazine as ‘the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics’. Her books have sold 50+ million copies in 39 languages and 114 countries, and she was given a Thistle Award in 2019 by VisitScotland for ‘services to Scottish Tourism’. In addition, Sony/Starz have created a popular original television series based on the books, also called Outlander—filmed in Scotland and presently sold in more than 187 territories. Season 7 premiered in 2023. There will be an eighth and final season, and also a prequel show, dealing with Jamie Fraser’s parents, Brian and Ellen. Diana is a Consulting Producer for the show and has written several scripts. (Gabaldon is pronounced (in English) GAA-bull-dohn—it rhymes with ‘bad to the bone’. If you’re speaking Spanish, it’s gah-vahl-DOHN.)

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an award-winning novelist, playwright, actor and teacher, Chris Humphreys has written 22 novels, including The French Executioner - runner up for the Steel Dagger for Thrillers, UK; The Jack Absolute Trilogy; Vlad–The Last Confession, and A Place Called Armageddon. Chris adapted his 12th novel, Shakespeare’s Rebel for the stage and it received its premiere in 2015 at Bard on the Beach, Vancouver, Canada. His novel Plague won Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel in 2015. Chasing the Wind follows the daring adventures of 1930s aviatrix, Roxy Loewen. His novels for young adult readers include, The Runestone Saga Trilogy published by Knopf, as well as The Tapestry Trilogy. His latest novel is Someday I'll Find You, a WW2 epic romance, published by Doubleday. His novels have been translated into thirteen languages. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from the University of British Columbia, has been keynote speaker and Guest of Honour at several conferences, including the HNS North American Conference in Denver 2015. A busy audiobook narrator, as an actor Chris has performed on stages from London’s West End to Hollywood.

Alison Morton, Ruth Downie, and Kate Quinn Taking the Romans Public

A conversation about bringing Roman historical fiction to the public based on experience at public events, especially Roman festivals, library talks, and social media. The session aims to broaden the view of ‘Rome’ beyond battles and ‘the Classical period’. Ideas for bringing the Romans to the public beyond Gladiator, I Claudius, Britannia and HBO’s Rome will be discussed. We will look at ways to increase the use of video and visual media.

A ‘Roman nut’ since the age of eleven, Alison Morton (pictured) writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Former army captain, city worker and translator with an MA in history, she turned to writing twelve years ago. In her ten-book Roma Nova series, Successio, Aurelia, Insurrectio and Julia Prima have been selected as Historical Novel Society’s Editors’ Choices. Successio was also picked by The Bookseller as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review. Alison lives in Poitou, France, where she is writing the sequel to Julia Prima.

Ruth Downie (pictured) is the creator of Roman Army medic Gaius Petreius Ruso – a man whose desire for a quiet life is thwarted by unwanted murder investigations and by his British partner, Tilla. Medicus, the first book in the series, was a New York Times bestseller and has been followed by a further seven novels and a novella. Absolutely none of the medical advice in the Ruso books should be followed. Roman and Greek doctors were very wise about many things but they were also known to prescribe donkey dung and boiled cockroaches. Ruth spends the occasional joyous week grovelling in mud with an archaeological trowel.

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with The Alice Network, The Huntress, The Rose Code, and The Diamond Eye. Her books have all been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband live in San Diego with three rescue dogs.

Heather Webb, Finola Austin, and Kris Waldherr Authors as Adaptors

From Mary Shelley and Charlotte Bronte to popular stage productions and fairytales, retellings of classics can make for a compelling subject in historical fiction. They also pose considerable challenges: portraying the beloved canon in a new light, managing audience expectations, and breathing life into characters through a modern lens while maintaining authenticity. Join American and British authors Heather Webb (pictured), Kris Waldherr, and Finola Austin, all of whom have used classics as a springboard to create their own unique tales, as they share tips of their craft and current market trends.

Heather Webb is the USA Today and Globe and Mail bestselling author of nine historical novels, including her most recent, Queens of London, about the all-female gang, the Forty Elephants. Her novel, The Phantom's Apprentice, is a retelling of Phantom of the Opera told from the fresh perspective of Christine Daae.

Kris Waldherr is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books for adults and children including The Lost History of Dreams, a Victorian-set gothic inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Her most recent novel is Unnatural Creatures, which retells Mary Shelley's

Frankenstein through the eyes of Victor Frankenstein's mother, bride, and servant.

Finola Austin is an England born, Northern-Ireland raised, Brooklyn-based writer of historical fiction. Her first novel, Bronte's Mistress (Atria Books, 2020), was inspired by the lives and works of the Bronte siblings. She is currently working on a novel that reimagines the romantic ballet Giselle. She has two degrees from the University of Oxford and, by day, she works in digital advertising.

Jane Johnson Real Life to the Page

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for 30 years as a bookseller, publisher and writer. For many years she was responsible for publishing the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and later worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew (she wrote the official visual companions to the films). The authors she publishes include George R.R. Martin (creator of A Game of Thrones), Dean Koontz, Robin Hobb, Stuart MacBride, Mark Lawrence, Raymond E. Feist and S.K. Tremayne.

She writes historical fiction set mainly in Cornwall and Morocco. Her novels include The Tenth Gift, The Salt Road, The Sultan’s Wife, Pillars of Light, Court of Lions, The Sea Gate, The White Hare and The Black Crescent. While she was in Morocco in 2005 to research The Tenth Gift, she met her soon-to-be husband Abdellatif, a Berber tribesman from a village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Returning home, she gave up her office job in London, sold her flat and shipped the contents to Morocco and they were married later that year. They now split their time between Cornwall and Morocco, and Jane still works remotely as a Fiction Publishing Director for HarperCollins.

Helen Steadman and Christine Mackie Resurrecting Seventeenth-Century Women Accused of Witchcraft

Uncover the secrets of bringing historical characters to life in audiobook form with this spellbinding conversation between narrator Christine Mackie and author Helen Steadman. Join us for an hour-long discussion as these two creatives reveal the magic behind The Widdershins Trilogy audiobooks. From the imaginative side of character creation and narration to the practical processes of auditioning, production, and audio-proofing, you'll learn everything you need to know about bringing historical fiction to life on the page and in the studio.

If you are a fan of listening to historical fiction, or want to find out how to turn your own story into an audiobook, this event is sure to bewitch and inspire. With plenty of time for Q&A at the end, you'll have the chance to learn from Christine and Helen and get your own burning questions answered.

The Widdershins Trilogy was inspired by the little-known Newcastle witch trials, where fifteen women and one man were hanged for witchcraft on a single day in August 1650. Together, Widdershins, Sunwise, and Solstice tell the story of three women's struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world.

Christine Mackie has been an actor for over 40 years, working extensively in theatre, TV, and radio. Her best-known roles include Daphne Bryant in Downton Abbey and Mrs Harvey in The Grand. For the last ten years, she has played genial Weatherfield GP, Dr Susan Gaddas in Coronation Street. Christine recently played the title role in King Lear at the Shakespeare North Playhouse. She has also written two plays, Best Girl and Kin, and she has recorded a number of historical audiobooks.

Most of Helen Steadman's books are set in the seventeenth century. Alongside the Widdershins Trilogy, her novel The Running Wolf follows the adventures of the real-life Shotley Bridge swordmakers who defected from Solingen, Germany in 1687. For The Widdershins Trilogy, Helen trained in herbal medicine at Dilston Physic Garden and went on to grow, harvest and make her own remedies. For The Running Wolf, she trained in blacksmithing, which culminated in making her own sword.

Gillian Bagwell All the World's a Stage

Author and actress/director/producer Gillian Bagwell draws on her extensive theatre experience in this workshop that will teach you how to use acting tools to create fully developed characters by:

• Putting yourself in your characters’ skin, experiencing their sensory impressions and physical reactions

• Using point of view and narrative voice to deepen characterisation and strengthen emotional connection with the reader

• Creating a detailed imagining of the physical world of your story through your characters’ eyes

• Examining how motivations, circumstances, and inner and outer conflicts affect your characters

• Writing dialogue that illuminates character and relationships

• Putting readers in characters’ heads and hearts

• Giving the flavour of accents and the period speech while being believable as speech.

Participants will receive handouts on Shurtleff’s twelve guideposts; novels, plays, films, and television with effective historical dialogue; using thee and thou; titles and forms of address, and more.

Gillian Bagwell’s first three novels, based on the lives of real Englishwomen of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were praised for their vivid and lifelike characters and richly textured, compelling evocation of time and place. She’s currently at work on a novel about Dame Flora MacLeod, the first woman to head a Highland clan, who was chief of the Clan MacLeod from 1935 until her death in 1976. Gillian is a professional actress with credits on stage and screen and many years of experience in theatre as a director and producer, and has put her experience to use in classes and workshops at US and UK HNS conferences on topics, including writing effective historical dialogue, using acting tools to bring characters to life on the page, and giving effective public readings.

Elizabeth Fremantle Transition from Book to Screen

Elizabeth Fremantle is the critically acclaimed author of four Tudor historical novels: Queen's Gambit, Sisters of Treason, Watch the Lady and The Girl in the Glass Tower. As E.C. Fremantle she has written two gripping historical thrillers: The Poison Bed and The Honey and the Sting. Her novel, Disobedient, about the artist Artemisia Gentileschi, was published in 2023. Her Sunday Times bestseller Queen’s Gambit was turned into a feature film this year, renamed Firebrand. Alicia Vikander starred as Catherine Parr and Jude Law played Henry VIII – it received a standing ovation at Cannes and rave reviews in the press. The film goes on general release in June 2024. She lives in London.

Alex Weston Voices from the Past: How to Write Dialogue in Historical Fiction

Dialogue brings our characters to life but writing it can be one of the hardest skills for the historical fiction writer to master. This session explores how to write dialogue that is convincing for the historical period but still easy for readers to understand. We will look at tips and techniques from screenwriting to help find our characters’ voices and get them talking. The session will be practical and interactive so bring a notebook and expect to write!

Alex Weston is an experienced creative writing tutor. She currently teaches for RNA Learning (the learning arm of the Romantic Novelists Association) and the University of York. She has run workshops exploring the interpretation of historical objects through creative writing for a diverse range of organisations, including York Archaeological Trust and Grimsby Fishing Heritage Museum. Alex delivers practical, fun and interactive sessions designed to engage writers of all levels and experience. She runs Green Man Words, which provides mentoring and editing to early-stage writers. Alex writes contemporary fantasy and steampunk as Alys West. She is working on her first historical novel set in the glamorous world of 1930s Hollywood.

S.G. Maclean and Lisa Highton In Conversation

S.G. MacLean (Shona) (pictured) was born in Inverness and brought up in the Scottish Highlands. With an MA and PhD in History from the University of Aberdeen, she started writing historical fiction while bringing up her four children. She is the author of both the Alexander Seaton and the Damian Seeker series of historical crime, and the standalone thriller, The Bookseller of Inverness, Waterstone's Scottish Book of the Year 2023. She has twice won the Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger.

Lisa Highton joined Jenny Brown Associates as an Associate Agent in 2022 and represents S G MacLean. In

2023 the agency held its inaugural Debut Novel Over 50 Award with over 1700 entries. Until 2021, Lisa was

Publisher of Two Roads, an imprint of John Murray Press/Hachette where she published authors including Kirsty

Wark, Sally Magnusson, Monty Don, Ruth Hogan and Janet Ellis. Over a long career in publishing both in the UK

and Australia where she was publishing director of Doubleday, HarperCollins and then Hodder, Lisa has published

many bestsellers. Her passions are distinctive storytelling (often historical) finding those hidden stories with

emotional heart and then connecting those stories with readers.


The courtyard accommodation at Dartington Hall is full. They have hostel-style single rooms available, which are NOT ensuite. They are priced £40.25 per night including breakfast. 

Dartington has a beautiful campsite with double glamping pods, campervan and campsite pitches available.

Email [email protected], quoting HNS2024 delegate, to book one of these rooms or the campsite. 

If you need further advice on accommodation, please contact us on [email protected].

Join the Conference Waiting List

The onsite conference is currently sold out. You can join the Waiting List below. A few additional tickets may open up between now and August. Tickets will be allocated in strict order of the date of joining the Waiting List. You will need to tick the Refund Policy box below and complete the dietary and access boxes and the personal details and credit card details to join the Waiting List but no payment will be taken at this point.

Note that the programme may be subject to change. We aim to minimise any changes and to let you know as soon as possible.

You can book an online ticket (for the weekend or for Saturday or Sunday) which will give you access to the live stream of all sessions in Dartington's Great Hall. You can book an online ticket here:

If you need to change or cancel your registration, please email us at [email protected] and we will issue a refund. Changes and cancellations for the conference and for Royal Seven Stars Hotel can be made up to 5 August 2024. After 5 August 2024 no refunds can be made on those bookings. Cancellations or changes for Premier Inn must be made by 12 July 2024. After 12 July no refunds can be made for a Premier Inn booking.

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  • £180 - HNS Members Two-Day Conference Ticket includes Fri 6 Sept Reception and Quiz, Sat 7 Sept and Sun 8 Sept all sessions, lunch, tea and coffee
    £220 - Non-Members Ticket


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