Who’s Who

Chairman and Webmaster

Richard Lee

Richard Lee founded the Historical Novel Society in 1997 after trying to join it, only to find it didn’t exist. The society has since developed in many unforeseen ways, following the enthusiasms of the active membership, with Richard trying to keep as light a hand on the tiller as possible. It is with bemusement but great pride that he regards the society’s robust health fifteen years on.

Richard has been involved with the organisation of many HNS conferences, co-hosted the Cambridge History Festivals, and ran author talks for two years at English Heritage’s flagship Kirby Hall re-enactment event. He has been a judge of the CWA’s Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy and the RNA’s Pure Passion Awards.

Richard studied English at Merton College, Oxford, and has worked for many years bookselling with W.H. Smith and Waterstone’s. One day he will finish his novel of the Crusades. Twitter: @histnovel

Editorial Team, Historical Novels Review

Bethany Latham, Managing Editor

Bethany Latham is an Associate Professor, Librarian, and Managing Editor of the Historical Novels Review. She is also a reviewer for HNR and Reference Reviews, as well as a contributor to NoveList. She regularly publishes book chapters and articles in various scholarly journals. Her latest book, Elizabeth I in Film and Television, was published in 2011.

Sarah Johnson, Book Review Editor

Sarah Johnson has been an editor with the Historical Novels Review since 2000.  An academic librarian and reader’s advisor, she has been reading and collecting historical novels for many years and is an active reviewer for Booklist and CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. Her articles and reviews have appeared in NoveList, the Globe and Mail, Bookmarks Magazine, Library Journal, and other popular and scholarly publications. In 2012, she won the American Library Association’s Louis Shores Award for excellence in book reviewing.  Her most recent book is Historical Fiction II: A Guide to the Genre. For more information, see her blog at readingthepast.com or visit her on Twitter at @readingthepast.

Lucinda Byatt, Features Coordinator

Lucinda Byatt developed a passion for all things Italian as a result of studying, working and marrying in Italy. She has worked as a translator for longer than she cares to remember, and now also teaches Italian Renaissance history at Edinburgh University. Raised on a reading diet of Cynthia Harnett, Rosemary Sutcliff and Anya Seton, she loved history enough to complete a doctorate. She’s fascinated by the lure of historical fiction, but also unashamedly purist: solid research must underpin the flights of fancy. She’s delighted to be part of the editorial team for the society’s newly merged Historical Novels Review, which will continue to offer an intriguing range of features, coupled with its benchmark review section.

Find out more at lucindabyatt.com.

Jessica Brockmole, US Reviews Editor

Jessica Brockmole is pleased to be part of the editorial team for the Historical Novels Review. She’s been enamored with historical fiction since she was old enough to sit still for bedtime readings of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. She writes historical fiction of her own and can often be found cheerfully sifting through old postcards and odd bits of ephemera and calling it “research.” You can find her on Twitter at @jabrockmole.

Andrea Connell, US Reviews Editor

Andrea Connell works as a manuscript editor for the Marine Corps University Press in Quantico, Virginia. She has been involved with the HNS since 2003 in various capacities: reviewer, copy editor, sole editor for Historical Novels Review Online, and managing editor for indie reviews.  She now works with the Historical Novels Review, overseeing small presses.

In her free time, when she isn’t immersing her two-year-old daughter in the world of books, she reviews historical fiction for Historical Novels Review and writes a reader’s blog at The Queen’s Quill Review.

Myfanwy Cook, Features Editor

Myfanwy is a prize winning short story writer, with over 100 historical and romantic stories published in the UK and Australia.   She has also had stories broadcast by the BBC and is currently an Honorary University Fellow of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (Universities of Exeter and Plymouth).  Myfanwy has designed and run historical fiction and creative writing workshops for more than 15 years.  Recently with the kind assistance of Bernard Knight and 50 notable contributors from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand she published Historical Fiction Writing – A practical guide and tool-kit.  Myfanwy is passionate about encouraging aspiring writers to use historical facts, places and events as inspiration to write engrossing and entertaining historical fiction.  Find out more at www.myfanwycook.com or Twitter @MyfanwyCook

Alan Fisk, UK Reviews Editor

Alan Fisk has been an avid reader of historical novels for more than 50 years. He was delighted to learn about the founding of the HNS, and became a reviews editor a few years ago. He has had a few historical novels of his own published, and will resume writing his current novel as soon as he works out how to get himself out of the plotting dead end into which he had blundered.

Elizabeth Hawksley, UK Children’s Reviews Editor

Elizabeth Hawksley joined the HNS on its inception, having been an avid of reader of historical novels since childhood (she wrote six historical novels between the age of ten and sixteen). She has had twelve historical novels published, together with a non-fiction punctuation guide for adults with Jenny Haddon, Getting the Point. She also lectures and teaches Creative Writing and has taken workshops at a number of HNS conferences.

She became a book reviewer shortly after she joined and took on the UK Children’s Book Review editorship in 2012.

Edward James, UK Reviews Editor

Edward James lives in Cheltenham, England, where he has retired after being successively a university lecturer in Britain and America, a civil servant, an EU official and an international consultant.  He has published books on social policy and local history and hopes to publish two HF novels next year, both set in the Age of Discovery.  He is also editor of the Cheltenham Writers’ Circle anthology, ‘Hillside Voices’.

Arleigh Johnson, US Children’s Reviews Editor

Arleigh JohnsonArleigh Johnson has worked in the book industry for more than a decade and is an active member of the book blogging community with her websites Historical-Fiction.com and Royal-Intrigue.net. She has been reviewing books online for 8 years and with Historical Novel Society since 2011. She’s currently working in Marketing & Online Sales at an office supply wholesaler, and lives with her husband and two daughters in Georgia. Follow her on Twitter @histfic & @royalintrigue.

Doug Kemp, UK Reviews Editor

I have been a UK Reviews Editor since 2007, having first joined the HNS in 2000. A keen and horrendously amateur historian, my main interest is in the Restoration Court and politics of Charles II. But I have an enthusiasm for good writing of any kind and a passion for books (witness the crammed shelves of our library and covetous visits to two large spare newly-vacated rooms now that the children have moved out, gauging potential wonderful shelving space that is available….)

I am a senior civil servant in Whitehall, and when not reading, can be found keeping fit by running, trying to tame a garden that seems to think it is clever to grow weeds at sub-tropical pace or, best of all, actively following the fortunes and misfortunes of Leicester City – very possibly the best football team in the world – who I have supported since the age of 7.

Jane Kessler, US Reviews Editor

Jane Kessler is an academic librarian and, not surprisingly, an avid reader whose main interest is historical fiction.  She traces her love of historical fiction back to high school, when a beloved English teacher introduced her to the novels of Anya Seton.  She has been a reviewer for HNS since 2005 and a reviews editor since 2010.  She lives in upstate NY with her husband and two children.

Ilysa Magnus, US Reviews Editor

Not having had enough to do in her absurdly busy life as a Manhattan family law attorney, Ilysa Magnus became a U.S. reviews editor in 2000 after having been (happily) sucked into the Historical Novel Society as one of its reviewers. Growing up surrounded by books and reading since her earliest memories, Ilysa was an English teacher in her earlier incarnation, obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English literature with a specialty in Chaucer and the Middle Ages, and finally petered out as a doctoral student as she hunkered down to her dissertation on Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend. Perhaps that Ph.D. was never awarded, but Ilysa still fancies herself driven by that divine combination of history and literature that defines historical fiction — and knowing what constitutes compelling writing is certainly a help in her life as a litigator!

Tamela McCann, US Reviews Editor

Tamela McCann has been reading historical fiction since the first time she picked up The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, longer ago than she cares to admit, and her love of the genre has only grown since then. By day she spends her time teaching middle schoolers how to use technology but retreats into reading and reviewing at every opportunity. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, daughters, and three incredibly spoiled cats, and is working on several writing projects of her own. She is an Amazon Top 500 reviewer, writes a blog found at www.taminator40.blogspot.com, and can be followed on Twitter at @taminator40. She is proud to have joined the HNS editorial team in August 2011.

Ann Pedtke, US Children’s Reviews Editor (through August 2014)

Ann PedtkeAnn Pedtke has served as U.S. Children’s Review Editor for HNR since 2010, and has been a reviewer since 2009. In her “day job,” Ann works with young people as New York City Outreach Coordinator at the Student Conservation Association and cultivates her love of the outdoors. Her environmental and science writing have appeared in publications including the Conservationist, the Hudson River Almanac, Home Education, Conservation Nation, and the San Francisco Chronicle online. Ann has also published her own children’s historical fiction in Cricket and Cicada magazines, and manages the online teen writing forum The Slam. She holds a double B.A. in English and Classics from Kenyon College and is currently pursuing graduate work in nonprofit development at NYU.

Indie Editorial Team

Helen Hollick, Managing Editor & Reviews Editor (UK)

Helen HollickHelen is a hybrid-author (Indie and traditionally published) in the UK and the US with her books about King Arthur and the 1066 Battle of Hastings, officially making the USA Today bestseller list with her novel Forever Queen. She also writes a series of seafaring adventures inspired by her love of the Golden Age of Piracy. As a firm supporter of independent authors she has recently taken on the role of Managing Editor for the HNS Indie Review for self-published historical fiction. Helen lives in the beautiful countryside of North Devon, England, with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and a variety of pets including a dog, cats, horses, chickens and ducks. Visit her website at www.helenhollick.net.

Steve Donoghue, Reviews Editor (US / Worldwide except UK)

Steve DonoghueSteve Donoghue is a writer and editor living in Boston with two dogs (one good, one very bad) and uncounted thousands of books (a good many of which are historical novels). He writes regularly for The National, Kirkus Reviews, and The Washington Post, reviews frequently for Open Letters Monthly (where he’s also the Managing Editor), and is the US/Worldwide editor for the Indie branch of the Historical Novels Review, where he’s thrilled to come in contact with a steady stream of promising authors and interesting novels.

Janis Pegrum Smith, Assistant Editor

Janis Pegrum SmithAuthor of the acclaimed Klondike adventure More Than Gold and the romance Marigolds in Her Hands, Janis’ third work The Book Ark – Black on White will be published in August 2014. London born, Janis is generally known for her historical fiction, despite the odd foray into other genres; she has also written many screenplays, short stories and plays. Passionate about history, writing and indie publishing, she is also the creative force behind Wilton End Publishing, through which she not only publishes her own work but also seeks to help and encourage others along the indie writer path. She became a reviewer for the indie section of the HNS in 2013 and had the great honour of becoming an assistant editor for the HNS Indie Reviews in 2014. She resides in Norfolk, UK, living her happily ever after with her husband and soul mate, the wildlife photographer Nicholas T Smith, and their pack of rescued sighthounds. For more about Janis please go to her website at www.janispegrumsmith.co.uk or www.wiltonendpublishing.com

Website Features

Claire Morris, Web Features Editor

Claire MorrisClaire Morris started reviewing books for the HNS in 1998, and became managing editor of Solander in 2004. She helped organize the first North American conference in 2005, and coordinated the marketing and communications for the second conference in 2007. In 2009 she left the HNS to focus on other things; five years later she has returned as web features editor. Claire works as a professional writer and editor, and is the principal of Claire Morris Strategic Writing & Editing.


Georgine Olson, US Membership Secretary

Bio to come!

Conference Chairs

Jenny Barden, UK Conference Co-ordinator

Jenny Barden is an artist-turned-lawyer-turned-writer whose debut novel, Mistress of the Sea, a Caribbean-set Elizabethan epic adventure, was published by Ebury Press in September 2012. She has written for magazines and non-fiction publications and has been shortlisted for several national awards. She has co-ordinated the last three Get Writing Conferences, and moderated the Reader Awards for the UK’s inaugural Festival of Romance. Often threatening to go on holiday (but rarely achieving it), Jenny has a reputation for exciting enthusiasm, particularly after a G&T! She is represented by Jonathan Pegg of JPLA, and in the US by Marcy Posner of Folio Literary Management. More about Jenny can be found at jennybarden.com and Twitter @jennywilldoit