I just got back from the amazing Historical Novel Society Conference in San Antonio, Texas! Having just written my first historical novel The Forger of Marseille –pub date one month from now!—after focusing on memoir writing and coaching for so many years, it was amazing and uplifting to be in discussion with other historical fiction writers and authors and to talk about the challenges of the genre. The best part was that we were all so excited about historical fiction and what it demands of us. There’s nothing like hanging out with people who have done years of research and then try to figure out the best way to include it, always keeping in mind that story is king. And our characters guide us on the journey.

Another thing that became clear to me during the conference is that this lifestyle and quest is not for everyone. We writers in all genres engage in deep digging to understand the nature of our characters as well as the historical context they live in. We are curious, and the superficial answers and tropes that society throws at us are not good enough. We need and want to dig deep to understand the world, and ourselves.

We all know that writers are a different breed from most people in the world, and what a blessing. We love to explore and understand, and we are not interested in a superficial view of life. We want to go deep and explore, and I’m grateful to have spent four days with other like-minded people. Not everyone can put up with us! We’re always asking questions and taking life issues down into the depths. As a therapist, that has been my work for years. And memoirists as well take this curiosity and need to understand and find meaning very far to do their work. Memoirists are and always will be my tribe and I embrace both genres wholeheartedly! Authors must give free rein to their explorations, and if others don’t understand—that’s okay. We know who our tribe is: writers who love to explore and expand their awareness of the world and allow our imaginations to forge new paths!

The photo shows Jamie Ford, well-known for The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, during his fabulous keynote the last night of the conference. As usual, I was so busy talking and interacting I forgot to take many pictures! But it was the first in person conference for many of us in years, and there was such joy in that!

Keep writing and exploring your genre, whatever it is. Don’t let the world’s weary view that writers are a little nuts or strive too hard to dig into the dark side of human nature get you down! Write what you know and explore what you don’t!

Jamie Ford–Keynote

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