Sunday, September 16, 2012

Authors Alive!


I am very much looking forward to this Wednesday. The Sydney Chapter of the Historical Novel Society (HNSS) exists to promote all things historical fiction, and it is so rare that Sydneysiders get together to celebrate this genre.

HNSS is proud that two of its members - two of Sydney’s most authentic and talented novelists - are going to share their passion in Balmain. Completing the list of readers are two authors from other genres (LA Larkin and Stuart Campbell) who will also engage the audience with their talent, and much as we are also looking forward to these readings, we are glad that a healthy serving of historical fiction is to also feature on the menu.  

Authors Alive! An exciting and varied menu beckons
(this Wednesday Sep 19 at 6.30pm, Balmain Town Hall Meeting Room, 370 Darling Street) 

Elisabeth Storrs is kicking off the night with a reading from her epic ‘The Wedding Shroud.’ Having read this novel myself (you can read my review here), I can say hand on heart that anyone who is in love with classical history will not be left disappointed by the intricate detail and human intrigue contained in the pages of her masterpiece. For the uninitiated, this is a drama set in 406BC, in Rome’s pre-Imperial days. Its protagonist is a character torn between two very different worlds, which makes for a very compelling yarn.

Elisabeth is a fellow co-founder of HNSS, and I have witnessed her unstinting dedication and quiet efforts behind the scenes to help create a chapter in Sydney which can benefit all aspiring and existing novelists. So I am glad that the limelight is first to fall on her at this event.
Ursula Le Guin on 'The Wedding Shroud':                                                                                                                                     "All the drama and sensuality expected of a historical romance, plus a sensitivity to the realities of life in a very different time and world"

Next up is Garry McDougall. Be warned that he is a literal mine of information on history, politics and culture, and all historical fictionistas should be rushing to have a word with him after his reading (please leave a piece of him for others!)

'Authors Alive!' is also Garry’s own brainchild, and he has worked hard behind the scenes to create this forum for authors and readers, spicing up the event by attracting different authors with differing styles. Garry is himself going to share a very enticing dollop of Australian history with all attendees this Wednesday.


McDougall's 'Belonging' is based on an eminent photographer and medico, and follows his struggles, loves and dilemmas, climaxing with Federation and the murderous Boer War.

It is clear that anyone who has read to Garry’s novel 'Belonging' has not been left unmoved. The style of writing contained in its pages is said to be very sure and accomplished with a great feel for detail and idiom.

The novel’s protagonist is a doctor who arrives in the legendary Gundagai in 1901. This medico is none other than Louis Gabriel, who is passionate about new medicine and photography, yet who struggles to integrate into his new surroundings since he is new, black and overqualified.

These readings should be quite a treat for all of us venturing to Balmain this Wednesday. We shall revel in the writing of HNSS’s finest, whose voices will make their incredible stories come alive.



James Vella-Bardon is a co-founder of the HNSS.

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