This represents my notes on the presentations at the 2019 Historical Novel Society of Australia conference. They should not be taken as a precise record, and any mistakes are mine. There are gaps in some of the discussions because of my hand-writing speed, or because I took a note but couldn’t remember the context around it. I hope you enjoy reading about this conference as much as I enjoyed observing it. This blog uses affiliated links.
Content warning – casual suicide reference
We need to talk about Bette and Joan – the challenge of writing about famous figures.
Linda Funnell chaired this panel with Jane Caro and Ali Alizadeh.
I missed the start of this panel and the discussion with Alizadeh about his Joan of Arc book.
When asked about why she decided to write about Queen Elizabeth I, Jane Caro said, “women in history tend to all end badly, except Elizabeth I.”
When asked about her decision to write fiction, Jane Caro insulted genre fiction, saying, “I couldn’t write detective stories, I’m not clever enough. I wouldn’t write chick-lit or romance. I’d rather kill myself. So I wrote historical fiction.”
I spent much of the rest of this panel listening, but not writing any notes. Generally, there wasn’t much of note to write down. Mostly they spoke about the specifics of their two famous people they wrote about.
“But really, why do historical lit-fic thinks there is room for yet another fictionalized account of a monarch’s life?”