Panel Presentation on Zoom

October 17, 2023

4 PM PDT | 5 PM MDT | 6 PM CDT | 7 PM EDT

What—you mean that women didn’t just start breaking society’s rules in the 20th century?

Join us for a wide-ranging panel discussion on women in historical fiction, living larger than life stories and breaking the rules set out for them.

As authors of feisty women in historical fiction, we wanted to celebrate the courage and skills of women in history who lived, or might have lived, in a way that was not acceptable in regular society. Through each of our books, we explored the psychology and the emotional and physical courage of our women heroines and we have a lot to say about the power of this kind of writing that is relevant and important in today’s society, where women are still punished for breaking the rules and speaking out.

Our presenters—Esther Erman, author of Rebecca of Salerno, Rebecca D’Harlingue, author of The Map Colorist, Colleen Peterson, author of Lucia’s Renaissance, and Linda Joy Myers, author of The Forger of Marseille—will discuss how the stories embedded in history grab us all and whisper in our ears as we write our novels. A sense of purpose and courage traditionally seen as belonging to men inspires our heroines.

Esther’s Rebecca escapes being burned at the stake, leaves the England of Ivanhoe, and follows her passion to study at the uniquely tolerant medical school at Salerno — where medieval women really could become physicians.

Colleen writes historical fiction set in late 16th-century Italy, where heresy is fatal and only a suicidal zealot would even whisper the name of Martin Luther. In her first novel, Lucia’s Renaissance, Luther’s ideas ignite Lucia’s faith, so she must choose—abandon her beliefs or risk arrest and execution by the Roman Church’s Inquisition.

The heroine of Rebecca D’Harlingue’s The Map Colorist is set in 1660 Amsterdam. Having learned the skills of cartography, she carries out a bold secret project, and has to come to terms with the unexpected outcome of her choices.

Sarah, the heroine of Linda Joy’s The Forger of Marseille, is a young Jewish artist in danger in Berlin, escapes to Paris with her violinist father where the drumbeat of war finds them. With her Spanish Republican lover they escape to Marseille where she and risks her life to become a forger and joins Varian Fry and others in the early resistance of Vichy France.

For writers and fans of historical fiction, we’ll discuss the following topics:

  1.  Discovering your characters—where, when, and how do they come into being?
  2. Choosing a time in history—what factors go into our choices.
  3. The historical context and expectations for women characters—and real people.
  4. How our own past as women, and authors, equip us to write these risky tales.
  5. Getting inside the character—how each writer finds her way to the interior of her character’s motivation and decisions.
  6. The risks and rewards for breaking the rules throughout history.
  7. The best sources of research for our novels— books on the history of the period, academic articles, the Internet, travel, and more!


Esther Erman

A refugee like her heroine Rebecca, Esther developed a passion for language when she had to learn English at age 5. With a doctorate in language education, she exercises this passion as a teacher and a writer. Esther lives in the Bay Area and travels often as possible to be with family in England and New Jersey. At home she writes, bakes, quilts, and adds to her monumental stash of books.

Colleen Peterson

Renaissance history came to life for C.L.R. Peterson during a semester of study in Italy. She has pursued that passion ever since, returning to Italy to read heresy trial transcripts in Venice’s archives. Her research led to a PhD in Early Modern European History at Stanford University and her novels, Lucia's Renaissance and the forthcoming sequel, Lucia’s Odyssey

Rebecca D'Harlingue

Rebecca D'Harlingue credits her high school English teacher with sparking her love for literature, leading to her study of Spanish Literature in graduate school. Rebecca’s love of language led her to a job teaching English as a Second Language to adults. . A member of the same book club for decades, you'll often find a book in Rebecca's hand. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, where they are lucky enough to frequently spend time with their children and grandchildren. Photo here

Linda Joy Myers

Linda Joy has always been deliciously haunted by the power of the past to affect people in the stream of time and combines her passion for history and the understanding of intergenerational trauma into her work as a writer. The power of the truth to educate current generations about the past led her to explore the little-known history of WWII and the fall of France.

The author of two memoirs, Don’t Call Me Mother and Song of the Plains, and four books on memoir writing, Linda Joy founded the National Association of Memoir Writers.


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