Sometimes the world just jumps up and hands you an enormous gift. That's how I feel this morning. As most of you know, I have made the transition from being a college history professor to writing historical fiction. But all along the way, I've been beating my own path through the publicaion jungle because I didn't know anyone else who had done the same thing. With one successful novel out there, I'm now getting ready to publish my own anecdotal account of the problems I've faced and the solutions I've found. But I certainly don't feel like an expert, and I've been hungry for some sort of validation--someone who could say that what I am doing is important.
Suddenly, here it is! The following announcement from The Institute of Historical Research appeared on my Facebook wall this morning, and I'm so excited about it that I'm copying the pertinent information here for all of you who might be interested.
Novel Approaches: From Academic History to Historical Fiction
November 21-25, 2011
The relationship between academic history and historical fiction is a subject of great interest to historians. Major academic conferences, for example the American Historical Association gathering last January and the Leeds Medieval Congress this July, have included papers and sessions on the subject, and they are proving among the most lively and well attended. There are numerous examples of historians who have successfullymoved into the sphere of fiction, and conversely of authors whose fiction is underpinned by rigorous research. The large and growing public interest in history in Britain takes in both historical fact and historical fiction. And it is clear that many historians were at least in part inspired to pursue historical research by novels that they had read, or indeed are currently either planning to write or are writing their own works of fiction.
The IHR’s first virtual conference, ‘Novel approaches’ seeks to explore this phenomenon. It brings together a wide range of speakers, including academic and public historians, authors and publishers. They will be examining such questions as: Why have historical novels become ‘respectable’, and why anecdotally are historians being encouraged to write them? What is the difference between historical fiction and academic history, and how rigid are the boundaries between the two? How good are readers at differentiating between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ and how much does it matter if they don’t? Does the success of historical fiction benefit or threaten academic history, and what can literary authors and academics learn from each other?
The online conference takes place for one week and is free to all. Among much else it will cover the following themes:
• The popularity of historical fiction
• The differences and similarities between historical fiction and academic history
• Does the success of historical fiction benefit or threaten academic history?
You can register now FOR FREE by going to: http://ihrconference.wordpress.com/
The schedule of events is already up, and starting on November 21, when the conference goes live, you'll be able to access podcasts, book reviews, articles, bibliographies, and opinion pieces from the participants.
I'll be there! Hope you'll join me.