4 September 2012

HNS Conference Guest - Julie Rose

Julie Rose
Today's HNS Conference Guest

representing all those who want to attend but can't:

I love historical fiction. I read it voraciously and write it as well; my latest novel, Oleanna, is set during the separation of Norway from Sweden in 1905. I am a longstanding member of the Historical Novel Society, co-chair of the Northern California chapter, and a former reviewer for the Historical Novels Review.
And as much as it kills me to write these words, it's the sad truth: I'm not going to HNS '12.  I would love to be in London for the HNS '12 conference.
Of course, I would always love to be in London. But that's another post entirely.
As you well know, writing and reading are by nature solitary pursuits. When you write or read, you're in another world—a layered place that neurological research shows is literally immersive, transporting, and transformative. You can experience so much of life through the magic of a book.
But even so, it's important to spend time outside your own head. And although HNS '12 will provide a wealth of incredible learning opportunities, there's something even more important going on there: the chance to spend time with people who get it. People who get that it is vitally important to know the precise arrangement of the dashboard in a 1934 Crossley Torquay; or the shape, size, and variety of women's underthings in 1896; or the expanding role and influence of the Cluny monks in early 12th century France.
They get it not only because they seek verisimilitude in their writing, or to enrich the pleasure of their reading experience, but because these facts are intrinsically interesting. We are all history geeks after all. And anyway, there's only so many times you can run out to the kitchen and exclaim to your significant other/parents/friend/the plumber "Listen to this! This is so cool! Did you know that in France in 1120, they—"
You know the drill, don't you?

So, for the benefit of your spouse/parents/friend/the plumber, it's good for you to get out now and again and spend time with like-minded people. For every one of the fortunate 300 (This! Is! SpartaLondon!) who will be attending HNS '12, there are literally scores more who can't be there who desperately wish they could (and probably a few significant others who wish they could, too).
And for good reason. The HNS team have really outdone themselves this year: the conference is bringing together so many of the luminaries of the historical fiction world for incredible workshops, panels, and keynotes, as well as enviable excursion opportunities (Greenwich and the Museum of London…be still my heart!).
But even more exciting is the opportunity for readers and writers to come together: to have a chat over a cup of coffee with your favorite author, to finally get a chance to spend time with a friend you've come to know over Twitter, to find you're seated at a workshop next to someone who also has a passion for Patrick O'Brian or 14th century Persian politics.
So for those of us who can't have those experiences with you in London, I say: dang it! And also: have fun! The rest of us will be there with you in spirit—and many of us will be with you on Twitter thanks to the #HNSLondon12 hashtag.
Thank goodness we only have to wait nine months until HNS '13 in Florida. See you in St. Petersburg!

 Julie's Banquet Guests

My dinner would be held at a farmhouse table under the sky, during the spring in Sonoma, when the hills are still green and the fruit trees are blossoming and fragrant--maybe out at one of the wineries along Westside Road in the Russian River Valley. We'd sip Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley, or maybe a nice tart AlbariƱo from Mendocino, and chat until the warm afternoon turned into a soft twilight turned into a star-skied evening.

My first guest is Patrick O'Brian. Not only is he one of my writing heroes, I expect he would be quite the raconteur and conversationalist, even if a bit prickly at times. I would corner him and demand to know exactly how he traveled in time to write his Aubrey/Maturin books.

I'd have to include Abbot Michel Dubay from my book The Pilgrim Glass, because he is charming, amusing, just angsty enough to be very attractive, and he knows his way around a wine list.

I would love, love, love to include my great-great-aunt Oleanna in this little soiree. I never met her while she lived—though she lived to the grand age of 95—but there was always something about Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth that intrigued me (enough so that I wrote a book based on them). I'd love to know if what I imagined she was like in my novel was actually true.

Living in Northern California for most of my life, John Muir has been one of my heroes.  Founder of the Sierra Club, father of our National Parks, and a bright star in the universe, I would love to ask him about his travels and life in California before the freeways.

Speaking of bright stars, Jeanette Rankin was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress, a prominent suffragist who helped gain the vote for Washington in 1910 and her home state of Montana in 1914. Can you imagine the stories of trailblazing she and John Muir could share?

14th century Persian mystic poet Hafez  would be a wonderful addition to the group (and of course there would be some kind of translation device so we could understand each other in real time). I imagine he would be at turns raucous, blissful, charming, amusing, and willing to be amused.

I could sit and listen to Joseph Campbell talk for hours, and I think he could probably talk for hours. Can you imagine the stories he and Hafez could swap?

Thomas Jefferson is another hero of mine, an intellectual and dilettante in the best sense.  We all know he was a complicated and problematic dude, but that is part of what would make him so fascinating. I went to the University of Virginia for grad school, so it's kind of in the contract that we have to include TJ in these kinds of things.

Plus, I'd love to see him interact with another hero of mine and my final guest, Doctor Who

He privileges romance and intellect over brute force and cynicism (thank you, Craig Ferguson) and isn't afraid to be exactly who he is. Plus: time travel. Right? TIME TRAVEL. I'm pretty sure the Doctor loaned Patrick O'Brian his TARDIS at some point. I still look out my window at night, hoping I'll see that blue box materializing…

Julie Rose - Books

If you ask me next month, I'll probably have a completely different list that might include Tolkien, and Carl Sagan, and Sigrid Undset, and and and…Now let's work on the technology to make this amazing dinner under the stars a reality!


  1. I wanna come to your party. Sounds wonderful.

    1. Come on along! The more the merrier!

  2. Way to represent (all those who will not be sitting on a cushion at London 2012) Julie! Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and guest list. Patrick O'Brian and Doctor Who, oh my!

    1. Thanks! We'll have to have a Twitter party during the event to hold us over until HNS '13!

  3. What a fantastic guest list! Scintillating conversations would abound. And if you ever see that blue box, please do let us know. :)

    1. I just think it would be fascinating to pop around and listen in on the different pairs and groups chatting. Lots of story ideas would come of it, I'm sure :)

  4. It's just as well that the TARDIS is big - I think there'll be quite a few of us to squeeze in!

    1. Yes, exactly! An historical fiction author's dream!

      Thanks again for including me; this was a blast!

  5. Great list! Great post. Wish you could be in London...

    1. Thanks! I really wish I could be there too. You guys are going to have a great time.


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