Friday, November 16, 2018

Save the Date of the HNSA 2019 Conference!


We are delighted to announce that the next conference of Historical Novel Society Australasia will be held in Sydney on 25 to 27 October 2019, in historic Parramatta.

We’re equally delighted to announce our new partnership with Western Sydney University’s Writing & Society Research Centre and the School of Humanities & Communication Arts, which will host the conference on its Parramatta South campus. The Writing & Society Research Centre is committed to fostering public discussion around literature and writing and supports many community initiatives, particularly in western Sydney, including projects that encourage young and emerging writers and writers of immigrant background.

Now in its third year, the HNSA conference will once again feature leading and emerging writers from New Zealand and Australia, in a celebration of historical fiction for readers and writers.
For updates on the program and early bird registrations, sign up for our newsletter,  visit our HNSA website, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or join us on our Facebook Group

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Let’s make a noise about historical fiction!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Shortlisted Stories from the HNSA 2017 Short Story Competition

In addition to the first and second prize winners, there were four shortlisted entries in the HNSA 2017 Short Story Competition. Here (in no particular order), we feature the two remaining stories:

Denise Ogilvie is a short story  writer and novelist. Her children's fantasy,  The Luchair Stones, was published by Phoenix Yard Books (London) in  2014. Denise enjoys writing fictional stories of growing up in Australia during the nineteen fifties and sixties, a time of great change. She is currently writing her first adult novel, Once When We Were Young — a story of conscription,  love and the aftermath of the Vietnam War.  When not writing Denise lives with her husband in Bayside, Melbourne. Here is how her shortlisted story begins:

Fetes de Ramparts

Caen station fills with tourists, all jostling for seats on the train to Pontorson. The July morning is warm, promising another long, cloudless summer day in Normandy. A young man climbs the steps, pressing through the crowded aisle of beleaguered passengers forcing too large bags into too small overhead shelves. He settles into a seat next to the window. An old woman opposite. She perches a large basket on her knee. The smell of fresh, warm bread takes him back to his childhood. Read more...

Before training to be a teacher, Errol Bishop worked as a printer in various locations in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand. Married to Karen, also a teacher, they taught in various locations — from the tip go Cape York, to the Queensland/New South Wales border. Now in semi-retirement, they live in Queensland's South Burnett region. Errol has had a number of short stories published. His historical novel, Ghost Galleon, was inspired by the Stradbroke Galleon legend. Here is how his shortlisted story begins:

Seize the Day

James McFarlane eagerly absorbed the sights and sounds of Australia as the ship made its way up the Mary River, towards the town of Maryborough. Almost three years earlier he had left Glasgow aboard a clipper bound for America but as he travelled westward across the vast continent, he became disillusioned with the mood of the American people. Like James, many Americans wanted slavery abolished, but James feared that wasn't going to happen without conflict. Read more...

Monday, May 28, 2018

Shortlisted stories from the HNSA 2017 Short Story Competition

In addition to the first and second prize winners, there were four shortlisted entries in the HNSA 2017 Short Story Competition. Here (in no particular order), we feature two of them:

"Again" by Belinda Lyons-Lee

Belinda Lyons-Lee is an emerging MG, YA and adult author of fiction inspired by nineteenth century history. She is also partial to adding magic, steam and time travel if the occasion calls for it. Belinda started volunteer work with marginalised young people on the streets when she was seventeen. Since then she’s become an English teacher who enjoys matching children with the right book and then talking about it endlessly when they've finished. She’s been doing this in various secondary schools for over fifteen years. She has a Masters of Writing and Literature (majoring in Children's Literature) from Deakin University and is dabbling in an online course on Bibliotherapy. 

While Belinda has written a number of manuscripts, she has had various short stories published over the years in a variety of forms. Her article titled, ‘What is success as a writer?’ was published in the 2017 August/September edition of The Victorian Writer magazine. She has recently been offered a place in the ACT Manuscript Development Program, Hardcopy, taking place in Canberra during 2018. Travels and connections in the UK and Australia continue to be formative in Belinda’s writing and the history, landscape, architecture and ancient stories of these countries provide ample inspiration. Here is how her shortlisted story, 'Again', begins...

She stood in the octagonal room where she could see, as if in the middle of a spider's web, through the doorways and windows of each of the six rooms to the outside beyond. First at one window, then the next, there he was again, pressing his cupped hand above his eyes to peer in. She stood with each hand on the youngest two children's chests, their backs against her thighs and pressed down hard, willing them to be still. Desperate for them to be quiet. Read more...


"The Letter" by Chris Childs

Chris has a passion for recreating nineteenth century Australian stories that have long disappeared from our memories. Her writing is influenced by academic studies in psychology and history and fuelled by a fascination with mystery and crime. She likes to blend fact and fiction to bring her characters and events to life. Chris has had a number of short stories published in on-line journals and anthologies. She won first prize in the 2015 Henry Lawson Literature Awards and 2017 Words of Wyndham local short story winner. Chris is also an enthusiastic reviewer of Australian historical fiction for Historical Novels Review. Here is how her shortlisted story, "The Letter", begins...

I try not to retch at the sickening stench of boiled cabbage. The queue is moving slowly but no one complains. Nightmares of starvation, and worse, still visit us in our sleeping hours, even though many years have passed since then. Food at Broadmeadows migrant camp is bland and stodgy; generally a combination of overcooked mutton, lumpy mashed potatoes and my old enemy boiled cabbage, but it is enough to keep us alive. Read more...


Monday, May 21, 2018

Transit - by Lauren Chater, which won second place in the HNSA 2017 Short Story Prize

Today we shine a spotlight on Lauren Chatter's short story, "Transit", which won second place in the HNSA 2017 Short Story Competition and was recently published in Swinburne University's literary journal Backstory.  

"Transit" was inspired by the actions of two men, Jeremiah Horrocks and William Crabtree, who were the first to record the transit of Venus which took place in 1639. Chatter's story takes the focus away from the men and places it on an unknown woman, a servant within Carr House. Recently orphaned, she’s had no choice but to write to her family and beg for a position. Exhausted and unfamiliar with manual labour, she little realises this amazing moment in history is unfolding in the dim little attic at the top of the stairs. 

"I love that idea – that history can be taking place right in front of us but we’re so concerned with our own problems we miss the significance.' Chatter explained when asked about the story. 'I think it’s comforting to know that the world goes on no matter how bad things can seem."

A poignant story of poverty and missed opportunity, Transit conveys the drudge and weariness of it's young protagonists' life and reminds us of the unique and oft times overlooked perspective of women throughout history. Here's how it begins:

Carr House, Lancashire — 1639
"Eliza Stone was hot. Moisture pricked beneath her arms. A bead of sweat inched its way down her neck, coming to rest in the small of her back. The flames in the kitchen furnace writhed. She felt their breath upon her face, melting her skin. It made her think of hell and of Papa. He had talked a lot about hell in his final weeks. Eliza had done her best to comfort him, assuring him that the fears were merely fancy but by the time he died, his face bloated and swollen, she felt so exhausted by grief that she did not much care where he went at all." Read more...


Lauren Chatter writes fiction with a particular focus on women's stories. After working for many years in a variety of media roles, she turned her passion for reading and research into a professional pursuit. In 2014, she was the successful recipient of the Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction scholarship. In addition to writing fiction, she established the Well Read Cookie, a blog which celebrates her love of baking and literature. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. The Lace Weaver, her first novel, was published by Simon & Schuster. She is currently working on her second novel, Gulliver's Wife, and Well Read Cookies, a non-fiction book based on her popular blog.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Call of Stars - Eleanor Limprecht's winning entry in the HNSA short story competition

Today, we shine a spotlight on the winning story in our HNSA 2017 Short Story Competition. 

Eleanor Limprecht's short story, "The Call of the Stars", was originally written as part of Long Bay, a novel based on the true story of a young woman named Rebecca Sinclair who ended up in Long Bay Women’s Reformatory in 1909 for manslaughter. Rebecca Sinclair was - with her husband Donald Sinclair - performing illegal abortions. 

"The Call of the Stars" was originally a chapter in the novel written from a different perspective - one of the other characters whose life was affected by Rebecca and her husband’s actions (we don’t want to give too much away here). Limprecht became fascinated by this character and his profession as a linotype operator for the Sydney Morning Herald. She spent weeks researching linotype machines, which are now obsolete and was a tiny bit devastated when everyone who read Long Bay told her the chapter didn’t fit. Eventually she reworked it into a short story and submitted it to the HNSA short story prize. She was delighted when it won. 

"I often write my way into a story, and end up with quite a bit that goes unused," Limprecht explained, 'so this was a rare instance of that unused writing finding a new life elsewhere."

"The Call of Stars" is a tragic, deeply affecting story that brings to light the tension between poverty and unwanted pregnancy and women's lack of choice before reliable contraception. It was recently published in Swinburne University's literary journal BackstoryHere's how it begins...

"He woke at the usual time, before dawn. Andrew closed his eyes again, pulling the coverlet beneath his chin. When he woke the second time he could hear Lucy and the children trying to be quiet in the other room. He sat and stretched, rubbing his eyes, smelling the urine from the chamber pot and the smoke from the woodstove. He stood and opened the window, breathing in the salt air from the harbour and feeling a breeze ruffle his hair." Read more...


Eleanor Limprecht is the author of three novels: The Passengers, Long Bay and What Was Left, which was shortlisted for the 2014 ALS Gold Medal. She also writes short fiction, book reviews and essays for various publications, including Best Australian Stories 2015. When not writing or reading Eleanor teaches as a casual academic at UTS. She was born in the United States and lived many places including Germany and Pakistan. She now lives in Sydney with her husband and two children.