The Irish branch of the Historical Novel Society were back in Belfast at the Europa Hotel on Saturday afternoon for our quarterly meeting. We alternate each quarter between Dublin and Belfast. It certainly isn’t a chore to organise these meetings – except for our inaugural meeting I’ve never needed to set an agenda. We’ve never run out of topics to discuss and our two or three hours together fly past.
Our membership is a mix of writers and readers but writers were in the majority this time, including a couple people who are working on their first novels. So, what to do when a manuscript is finished – how do you get an agent and publisher and how do you market the book once it is published – was a topic we were eager to discuss. Our seasoned published writers also found the marketing discussion beneficial. The conversation flowed to other topics, including whether to write a prologue or not (how do you set a novel clearly into its time period so readers understand where it fits into the events of the era), how do you write dialogue that is believable but still easy for modern readers to understand, and tips about where to find research materials. With our members’ mix of skills and experience, we were not short of suggestions and ideas to deal with the questions we raised.
Each quarter, since our first meeting, new people have joined us at our meetings. It’s great to meet with others who share our interest and enthusiasm for historical fiction – writing and reading it. I leave the meetings fired up to continue writing (and reading too – the to be read pile grows after every meeting as new titles are suggested to me) Our next meeting will be in Dublin in November (date to be confirmed). Readers and writers who share our passion for historical fiction are welcome to join us.