Announcements – Historical Novel Society Historical fiction reviews, features, guides and member news Sat, 24 Jun 2017 05:22:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 M.K. Tod’s 2015 HF Reader Survey Wed, 06 May 2015 09:50:58 +0000 Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.43.34 AM


Discovering reader preferences, habits and attitudes – Announcing the 2015 Reader Survey

Writers and readers – a symbiotic relationship. Ideas spark writers to create stories and build worlds and characters for readers’ consumption. Readers add imagination and thought along with their backgrounds and attitudes to interpret those stories, deriving meaning and enjoyment in the process. A story is incomplete without both writer and reader.

What then do readers want? What constitutes a compelling story? How do men and women differ in their preferences? Where do readers find recommendations? What are their attitudes to pricing or their favourite reading blogs? These and other questions have been the subject of two previous reader surveys.

ANNOUNCING A 2015 READER SURVEY designed to solicit further input on reading habits, historical fiction preferences, favourite authors and, for the first time, favourite historical fiction. THE SURVEY WILL BE OPEN UNTIL MAY 14.

If you are a reader or a writer, please take the survey and share the link [] with friends and family and on your favourite social media. Robust participation across age groups, countries, and other demographics will make this year’s survey even more significant. Those who take the survey will be able to sign up to receive a summary report when it becomes available.

Highlights from prior surveys:

  • HISTORICAL FICTION IS MAINSTREAM: Less than 2% of participants said they rarely or never read historical fiction.
  • GENDER MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Women and men differ significantly in their reading habits and preferences and their views of historical fiction.
  • AGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Those under 30 have different preferences for genre and time period 
and have different patterns of consumption and acquisition.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA IS HAVING A BIG IMPACT ON READING: Social media and online sites play an increasingly significant role for those choosing, purchasing, and talking about fiction.
  • BOOK BLOGS ARE VERY POPULAR: 1,473 participants listed one, two or three favourite blogs.
  • GEOGRAPHY: Responses to questions such as the use of online tools for recommendations and purchasing and preferred setting for historical fiction varied by geography.
  • PRICING: Sadly, readers are pushing for low prices. For example, 60% want e-books at $5.99 or less and 66% want paperbacks at $10.99 or less.
  • ONLINE BOOK CLUBS ARE GAINING POPULARITY: 21% belong to online clubs while 15% belong to clubs meeting in a physical location
  • VOLUME OF BOOKS READ MAKES A DIFFERENCE: for example, high volume readers have different expectations for book reviews, a higher interest in tracking their books, and higher usage of online tools and social media to augment their reading experience.

Participate in this year’s survey by clicking the link and please share the URL with others

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Seeking a UK-based reviews editor Thu, 16 Apr 2015 19:42:01 +0000 Do you enjoy reading and writing about historical novels and working with others who feel the same?  We’re looking for a UK-based reviews editor for the Historical Novels Review, the quarterly book review magazine of the Historical Novel Society.

Reviews editors are responsible for liaising with a selection of small and large presses, requesting review copies of historical novels and relevant nonfiction, and communicating with reviewers to assign books and edit the completed reviews.  Candidates should have strong writing and communication skills and be able to keep to our quarterly deadlines.

As with other roles within the HNS, this is a voluntary position.  All editors receive free HNS membership during their tenure, reimbursement of mailing expenses, and their first choice of covering incoming review books.  The estimated time commitment is 2 hrs/week, on average.

For more information, write to book review editor Sarah Johnson at sljohnson2 (at)  If you’d like to be considered, please include a brief statement, including your areas of interest within historical fiction and details on your experience with book reviewing.

Finalists for the HNS Indie Award 2015 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 01:01:05 +0000 HNS Indie Finalist 2015 Banner

It is with great delight that HNS can announce the four finalists for the 2015 Indie Award.

And they are:

The Spirit Room by Marschel Paul
Revenge & Retribution by Anna Belfrage
Tristan & Iseult by J. D. Smith
A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter

Our shortlist judge, Viviane Crystal, said:

All nine novels were well-written, but overall I believe these were the best.”

The Winner and Runner-up will be announced at the HNS 2015 Conference in Denver.



“Reviewing books is one way of treasuring and developing the craft of great writing! I began avidly reading at a very young age and began my reviewing life with special interest in Arthurian literature. That’s the background of my reviewer’s name, ‘Viviane Crystal’. I now review all genres with equal passion, with a special affection for historical fiction, on my review blog.

I’m a proud mother and grandmother, have a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in English education, have been a high school English teacher for many years and have also earned a Paralegal certificate.

During my teaching career, I created and directed a Writing Across the Curriculum Center. I now work in a legal office and teach in the evenings. In my free time, I love reading, taking early or late-day walks along the ocean shore near my home, listening to all types of music, going to art museums and concerts or just enjoying a cup of coffee in a (where else? *grin*) bookstore alone or with friends.

I am absolutely passionate about quality writing or in meeting a new challenge, whether that be working to teach better, write a better review, or helping someone else to discover his or her gift of creative, purposeful expression.


“I am a lover of the written world and obsessed with the historical fiction genre. I blog about and review historical fiction at the book blog, Passages to the Past, and I am the owner and tour coordinator at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, a virtual marketing company that caters exclusively to the historical fiction genre. I lives outside of Atlanta with my husband and three amazing kids.”

Our thanks to the judges and sponsors
Geraldine Clouston, CEO of Indie B.R.A.G
and Orna Ross, author and Founder/Director of ALLi

HNS Short Story Award Winner 2014 Announced Wed, 20 Aug 2014 07:11:42 +0000 The first winner of the $2000

Historical Novel Society Short Story Award

The House of Wild Beasts
Anne Aylor


• Emma Darwin, author of The Mathematics of Love and A Secret Alchemy, judged it “A lovely, crystal-clear voice, in a story which has real richness and human sympathy – as well as humour – in the subject. Everything technical is well-judged and deftly handled, and the writer has the confidence not to ladle in historical facts or writerly extras, but let the story stand, satisfyingly, on its own terms.”
• Ian Skillicorn, founder of National Short Story Week and Director of Corazon Publishing said “This was an original and gripping read.”

ABOUT the winner, Anne Aylor:

Born in New Mexico, Anne Aylor is an award-winning writer and teacher. She is part Cherokee and the author of two novels, No Angel Hotel and The Double Happiness Company. “The House of Wild Beasts” is a chapter from her novel-in-progress set during the Spanish Civil War, The Witness from Salamanca.
She has had short stories published by the Arts Council of Great Britain, The Literary Review, London Magazine and Stand Magazine. An excerpt from her first novel was a winner in the BBC Radio 3 Short Story Competition. Her work has been shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize and the Fish Short Story Prize. Her play, Children of the Dust, was co-produced by the Soho Theatre and the Theatre Warehouse Croydon. Since 2004, she has taught over 100 courses in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, France and the US.






The runners up for the Historical Novel Society Short Story Award 2014 were:

2nd place:

Souvenirs from Kiev, by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

• Emma Darwin described Souvenirs from Kiev as “Another thoughtful and unusual take on an established subject, with a beautifully-rendered sense of the relationship of human creativity to human life – and the loss of it. Lovely ironies in the details of the embroidery.”
• Ian Skillicorn described it “A moving story which stayed with me after I had read it.”

ABOUT Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an American writer and communications coach living in Austria. She’s worked as a journalist and managing editor in the United States and has been writing fiction, poetry and travel narrative for over 30 years. After moving to Austria, where she completed her first historical novel, fate took her on another route entirely. She founded a communications coaching firm and has managed, taught, wrote training materials and developed learning games for 12 years.
In 2010, she took her creative writing seriously again when a lesser-known historical event would not let her go. She has since managed to align her two passions so that her writing now takes priority. She’s nearing the finish line with her second novel and will soon present both manuscripts to the market.

3rd place:

Cutthroat, by Katrina Carrasco

• Emma Darwin described Cutthroat as “Very successful in covering a relatively large amount of narrative ground, and a strong subject, in a beautifully-proportioned and measured arc of emotional change. The care and precision that shows in the language also shows (as it so often does) in perfect presentation: attention to all the details of the writing process can’t be faked, and makes all the difference.”
• Ian Skillicorn described it “A vivid and uncompromising tale.”

ABOUT Katrina Carrasco
Katrina Carrasco is a graduate student in the Portland State University MFA Fiction program. She moved to Portland from Southern California in 2009, and enjoys delving into the Pacific Northwest’s rich history to find inspiration for her writing. Katrina has completed two historical novels set in Oregon and Northern California, and is working on a third that takes place in Port Townsend, Washington. She loves discovering great new books, powerlifting, and going on outdoor adventures with her husband and two dogs.

Long list for 2014 HNS Short Story Award Wed, 04 Jun 2014 09:19:59 +0000 We have a long list!

Historical Fiction Survey: the results Sat, 11 Jan 2014 08:14:55 +0000 M.K. Tod’s second historical fiction survey ran from October 16 to November 11, 2013 and reached 2,440 participants from different parts of the world.

Available on Mary’s blog, A Writer of HistoryFrom the World of Historical Fiction is the initial summary of survey results. The data sheds light on preferences and habits of readers in topics from general reading habits to historical fiction preferences, sources of book recommendations and pricing attitudes.

Over the next few weeks, Mary will assemble further information on topics such as favourite authors and favourite blogs and online sites. She will also ‘slice and dice’ the survey data to generate additional insights.

Numerous posts from Mary’s 2012 survey are also available on A Writer of History.

Young Quills Historical Fiction Awards 2013 Tue, 19 Nov 2013 12:16:56 +0000 images-1The Historical Association is now accepting books for the Young Quills Historical Fiction Awards 2013.  Books will be going out to schools for review in December. The winners will be announced in the spring. Reviews of books entered for the award will be posted on the HA website. Reviews of 2012 entries can be found at:

Publishers should send their entries to Alf Wilkinson, c/o 59a Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4JH.


The Young Quills Historical Fiction competition is held annually, in part to recognise good historical fiction writing, and in part to encourage youngsters to develop a love of history and a feel for the period they are studying. The Young Quills is, we think, unique in that it is the readers – young people – who decide the shortlist.

Why Young Quills?

One of the strengths of writing historical fiction is that historical knowledge can be learnt at any age and in many different ways, from real life testimony to fictional accounts. One of its weaknesses is that myths and untruths about historical events or people can be become just as accepted as real facts. That is why authors who write historical fiction and do it well should be acknowledged and promoted. If those authors also help capture the imagination of young audiences, making the past real and accessible they and their work should be celebrated.

That is the purpose behind the Young Quills, an award that is all about historical fiction that is enjoyed by young people. New publications of historical fiction written specifically for a younger audience are selected each year to be reviewed by young people themselves. From their reading and discussion two shortlists are made, the best of primary historical fiction and the best of secondary historical fiction

The Prize

This prize has two separate categories; Young Fiction (for under 11 year olds), and Older Children (11+years old). The selection procedure of the shortlist is believed to be unique as it is determined on reviews written by child reviewers in each category. Most importantly young people nominate, review and shortlist the publications they have enjoyed. Only then do adult judges get involved with the final decisions – just to make sure on historical accuracy and to bring together the views of the young reviewers.

In order to qualify for the shortlist the submitted works had to conform to two criteria:

  • That the children reviewers enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
  • That the review contained evidence that ‘the history was good’ and that the reviewer had both learnt something and was keen to find out more.

 The Young Judges

10 copies of each book are sent to primary or secondary schools across England and a Library Reading Group to review and shortlist the books.

Previous Winners

Previous winners include Jacqueline Wilson, Jill Harvey and Theresa Breslin  

Awards are made at the Historical Association Awards Evening in June.

Volunteers needed – planning the 2015 US conference Mon, 23 Sep 2013 14:10:13 +0000 The 2013 North American Historical Novel Society Conference was a huge success and loads of fun! If you missed it, if you were there, if you’re hoping to be at the next one—we invite you to step up and become part of the team that will make it happen!

HNS 2015 will take place in a U.S. location soon to be decided. We’ve left a few pages up on the US conference website from the 2013 conference in case you want to get a feel for some of the activities.


We have a Program Chair and a Hotel Liaison in place from the 2013 Board of Directors, but we need to fill the FIVE other Board positions as soon as possible: Conference Chair, Venue Chair, Marketing Chair, Treasurer/Finance Chair, and Secretary/Communications Chair. The chart below shows a brief overview of their responsibilities.

2015 Board Structure Chart

Please note:  The Chair for any position does NOT have to do all the work her/himself! Recruit your friends and colleagues! Have virtual meetings and conference calls to get the work done!

Also note: All Board members must be a member in good standing of the Historical Novel Society.

Volunteer to be Part of a Committee

If you don’t think you can take on a Chairship, think about volunteering for some category of work as listed in the columns in the chart – you could be in charge of the Blue Pencil Café, or the Website, or helping recruit Agents & Editors for the pitch sessions, or manage some Social Media.

The HNS Conference needs your creativity, new ideas, dedication and work! Please take a look at the by-laws and the position descriptions by clicking here. The current Board members will review all responses and appoint new Chair positions – and we’ll let the new Chairs know about all the other volunteers who want to help out in the various categories of activity. Please use the REPLY box on the conference site to let us know if you’d like to volunteer to help put on the next great conference. Thanks!

Walter Scott Prize Masterclass Series 2013 Mon, 03 Jun 2013 17:55:29 +0000 The Walter Scott Prize shortlisted authors are at the pinnacle of contemporary literary historical fiction. We have asked each of them how they approach language in their writing. The resulting series of articles is a masterclass for aspiring writers and critics of this form of the novel.

Walter Scott Prize Masterclass Series 2013: the shortlisted authors speak about their work.

Sunday June 2nd: Rose Tremain on ‘musicality’

Tuesday June 4th: Pat Barker on the ‘deepest drives’

Thursday June 6th: Anthony Quinn on ‘astonishing disparities’

Saturday June 8th: Hilary Mantel ‘like some inky clerk with a quill, scratching to keep up’

Catch up with the rest of our articles on the Walter Scott Prize 2013 here, or read our series on the WSP 2012 here, or follow the Borders Book Festival coverage of the award here.


Meet the Historians 2 – Bristol’s Maritime History Wed, 15 May 2013 14:19:46 +0000 “The best Port of Trade in Britain”: Bristol’s Maritime History

26 October 2013, 2-4 pm
The Studios, M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 4RN
Free entry

Unknown-54Historical novelist Julian Stockwin, Bristol author Lucienne Boyce, historian Adrian Tinniswood and Dr Steve Poole, University of the West of England offer advice on researching Bristol’s maritime past. This open discussion will be of interest to writers and readers of historical fiction, and anyone with a passion for Bristol’s maritime past.

Julian Stockwin is the author of the exciting Kydd novels, set in the Great Age of Fighting Sail. Local writer Lucienne Boyce’s novel, To The Fair Land, centres on a voyage from Bristol to the South Seas. Adrian Tinniswood is a historian who has recently published Pirates of Barbary, Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean. Dr Steve Poole is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural History at the University of the West of England, and editor of and contributor to A City Built Upon the Water: Maritime Bristol 1750-1900.

To the Fair Land by Lucienne BoyceThe event, organised in partnership with Bristol’s M Shed, is part of the Historical Novel Society’s exciting new initiative “Meet the Historians” which aims to bring together members of the public and experts such as historians, archaeologists, genealogists, librarians, archivists and fiction and non-fiction writers.

This is a free event but please book your place by emailing