Who’s Who

Chairman and founder

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 ways, following the enthusiasms of the active membership.

Richard has been involved with the organisation of many UK HNS conferences and co-hosted the Cambridge History Festivals. He 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, the RNA’s Pure Passion Awards and has established the HNS New Novel Award and Short Story Award.

Richard studied English at Merton College, Oxford, and 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 a Professor, Librarian, and Managing Editor of the Historical Novels Review. She is also an Associate Editor for the Journal of Academic Librarianship, as well as a reviewer for HNR and Booklist, and a contributor to NoveList. She regularly publishes book chapters and articles in various scholarly journals. Bethany is also the author of three works of nonfiction.

Sarah Johnson, Book Review Editor

Sarah Johnson has been an editor with the Historical Novels Review since 2000. An academic librarian and readers’ advisor, she has been reading and collecting historical novels for many years and also reviews 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. She has authored three nonfiction books, most recently Historical Fiction II: A Guide to the Genre.

For more information, visit readingthepast.com

Ben Bergonzi, UK Reviews Editor

Ben Bergonzi has had various jobs related to history, as a museum curator and a manager of historical document digitization. He currently works at a university in an administrative role not dissimilar to the allocation of books to reviewers. Many years ago he did his ‘national service’ in the Sealed Knot Society, and remains convinced that experience of re-enactment is a great help to historical story-telling. He has published a non-fiction book on an area of antiques and collecting, and is an active member of Verulam Writers Circle, St Albans, having had stories published in their recent anthology Covidity. He is a regular reviewer on NetGalley and Goodreads. His favourite historical eras are: the 14th Century – because of Katherine, his favourite historical novel –  the 18th Century, because of Barry Lyndon, his favourite historical film – and (sorry!) any time around 1888, because of his favourite historical serial killer.

Lucinda Byatt, Features Editor

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 Historical Novels Review.

Find out more at lucindabyatt.com

Kate Braithwaite, US Reviews Editor

Kate has been reviewing and writing feature articles for Historical Novels Review since 2012, and is excited to join the editorial team. She’s the author of three fact-based historical novels: Charlatan, The Road to Newgate, and The Girl Puzzle – A Story of Nellie Bly. Particularly fascinated by stories of exceptional and sometimes forgotten women from the past, Kate spends most of her time with her nose in a book (or kindle). Beyond the world of historical fiction, Kate has reviewed for BookBrowse and BlueInk and supports other authors with a developmental editing service. When not reading or writing, she’s usually busy with her kids, walking the dog, or zooming with family back in the UK. Find out more at www.kate-braithwaite.com.

Myfanwy Cook, New Voices Column Editor

Myfanwy CookMyfanwy is currently an Honorary University Fellow at two British universities. A prize-winning short fiction writer, she is passionate about encouraging aspiring writers to use historical facts, places and events as inspiration to write engrossing historical fiction. In order to introduce novice writers to the joy of writing, she designs and runs historical fiction and creative writing workshops and courses for universities, medical schools, museums, libraries, community groups and companies. Based on workshops and with contributions from 50 writers, Historical Fiction Writing – A practical guide and tool-kit was published in 2011 and Creative Writing Cocktails in 2018. She has initiated and overseen numerous community writing projects and anthologies, the most recent being ‘Go Gothic’. www.myfanwycook.com or Twitter @MyfanwyCook.

J. Lynn Else, Reviews Editor

J. Lynn Else photoJ. Lynn “Jessi” Else is a Minnesota author who’s self-published two historical fiction novels set in ancient Egypt, The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen (an HNS Indie Editor’s Choice book for 2016) and The Forgotten: Heir of the Heretic, as well as a sci fi novella, Strangely Constructed Souls, about a human zoo on an alien world. Through Inklings Publishing, she’s authored the “Awakenings” YA fantasy trilogy, which includes Descendants of Avalon (2018), Lost Daughters of Avalon (2019), and Prophecy of Avalon (2021). She’s been a reviewer with the Historical Novel Society since 2016, and loves reading about awesome women from antiquity. Besides history, she also gets nerdy with Star Wars, Star Trek, MST3K, and X-Files. She believes in unicorns and practicing random acts of awesome. You can find her at www.teasippinnerdymom.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teasippinnerdymom, on Twitter @JLynnElseAuthor, or Instagram at JLynnElseAuthor.

Alan Fisk, UK Reviews Editor

Alan has returned to being a reviews editor. After a wide variety of careers including being a supermarket floor cleaner, office clerk, fruit picker, Air Force officer, and benefits claimant, he took late retirement a few years ago from his last job, as a technical editor. He published five historical novels before abandoning writing, but he is still an avid reader of historical fiction. His website is at https://www.alanfisk.com

Sarah Hendess, US Children’s Reviews Editor

Sarah HendessSarah Hendess has reviewed books for the Historical Novels Review since 2018. By day she teaches U.S. History to middle- and high-schoolers. Her alter ego is an active member of the Florida Writers Association and a four-time finalist for the Royal Palm Literary Awards. With any luck, someday she’ll win. She holds a B.S. in Professional Writing and an M.A. in History, so reading, writing, and reviewing historical fiction seems like the natural thing to do. She lives in Florida with her husband, son, and too many pets.

Edward James, UK Reviews Editor

Edward JamesEdward James lives in Cheltenham, England, where he has retired after being successively a university lecturer in Britain and America, a British civil servant, an EU official and an international consultant in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He has published books on social policy and local history and two historical fiction novels, The Frozen Dream and Freedom’s Pilgrim, both set in the Age of Discovery. Plus a personal memoir, Collateral Damage. He was also editor of the Cheltenham Writers’ Circle anthology, Hillside Voices.

Doug Kemp, UK Reviews Editor

Doug has been a UK Reviews Editor since 2007, having first joined the HNS in 2000. A keen but amateur historian, his main interest is in the Restoration Court and politics of Charles II. But he also has an enthusiasm for good writing of any kind and a passion for books. Doug has had a number of short stories published in various anthologies.

He took early retirement in 2013. When not reading or writing he can be very often found looking after his granddaughter, playing golf or following the English football club, Leicester City.

Peggy Kurkowski, US Reviews Editor

Peggy KurkowskiPeggy Kurkowski is a professional copywriter for a higher-education IT nonprofit association by day and major history and historical fiction reader at night. She writes for multiple book review publications, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, BookBrowse Review, BookTrib, Historical Novels Review, Open Letters Review, Shelf Awareness, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and the Independent Book Review. She also hosts her own YouTube channel, The History Shelf, where she features and reviews history books (new and old), as well as a variety of fiction. She lives in Colorado with her partner and four rambunctious and ridiculous little dogs.

Ann Lazim, UK Children’s Reviews Editor

Ann Lazim was Librarian at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in London for 29 years, retiring in 2021, and having previously worked in school and public libraries. She has an MA in Children’s Literature and continues to be involved in promoting children’s books, mainly through IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People). Ann has always had an interest in ‘hidden histories’ and local history, especially linked to East Yorkshire where she grew up and to the Peckham and Dulwich area of south London where she lives.

Janice Ottersberg, US Reviews Editor

Janice Ottersberg

Janice has been a reviewer for the Historical Novels Review since 2016.  An avid reader all her life, she began a deep love of historical fiction at a very young age with her discovery of authors Norah Lofts, Winston Graham, and Anya Seton.  Ever since, she has mined libraries and bookstores in the quest for her next favorite historical fiction author.  In 1999, using her computer science degree, she worked as a technical editor, formatting eBooks for netLibrary, a company in Boulder, Colorado that did pioneering work converting books to electronic format.  In 2021 she retired from the accounting field as a CPA.  Now she devotes her time reading from her vast library, honing her writing skills, and continuing as a reviewer for HNR while stepping into the role of a reviews editor.  She lives in Arizona with her husband and is owned by a dog and two cats.

Misty Urban, US Reviews Editor

Misty UrbanMisty Urban fell in love with King Arthur at a young age and has been a historical fiction fan ever since. After getting her Ph.D. in medieval literature and publishing academic scholarship, short fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, and creative nonfiction, she has turned to penning historical romance—her favorite guilty pleasure. A former college professor, she runs an editing and coaching business, Madwriters, and founded femmeliterate, a website for women in/and/of books. Find her online at mistyurban.net.

Fiona Sheppard, Proofreader

Fiona Sheppard

Fiona stumbled across the Historical Novel Society in 2014, and began compiling the first lists for forthcoming novels for children and young adults. From there she gradually took over the adult forthcoming lists, which can be found on the HNS website. She works under the expert guidance of review editor, Sarah Johnson, and proofs the quarterly magazine review pages. She reads almost exclusively historical novels, set in various parts of the world. She’s been reviewing for HNR since 2014. She enjoys what she does for HNS, and loves getting a jump on what’s new in the ever-tempting world of historical fiction. Fiona is a British ex-pat who currently resides a little northwest of Toronto, Canada, but she has lived in other times and places in her head since childhood.

Website Features

Claire Morris, Web Features Editor

Claire 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.

HNS Sponsored Interviews Team

M.N. Stroh

Fueled by her love for storytelling and history, M.N. Stroh writes Christian Historical Fiction with an edge, to inspire the downtrodden and outcasts through adventure-laden escapes that lead them back to their First Love. Her debut series, Tale of the Clans, releases in Fall of 2021. M.N. serves as Director of Communications for Serious Writer Inc. affiliate, Writers Chat. She is also the director of Serious Writer Book Club and a member of ACFW and Historical Novel Society.

Rebekah Simmers

Rebekah Simmers is the author of The King’s Sword, the first novel of The Metzlingen Saga. Largely inspired by medieval and renaissance periods and her own family history, Rebekah loves to incorporate details into her writing from her years living, researching, and traveling abroad. As a military child and spouse, former public servant, and special needs parent of five children, Rebekah strives to honor the unique voices and perspective – the perseverance, resilience, struggles, experiences, and grace – of those who live a life of service both inside and out of the home. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and co-admin for a private group of international writers.

Tracey Warr

Tracey Warr divides her time between France and the UK. She has published five novels set in early medieval Europe and based on the lives of real women who earn brief mentions in chronicles and charters. Almodis the Peaceweaver (Impress Books, 2011) focuses on an 11th century countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. The Viking Hostage (Impress Books, 2014) is based on the true story of a French viscountess kidnapped by Vikings. The Conquest trilogy – Daughter of the Last King (Impress Books, 2016), The Drowned Court (Impress Books, 2017), and The Anarchy (Impress Books, 2020) – centre on the tumultuous life of the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys. Tracey’s writing awards include a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary and an Author’s Foundation Award.