2nd-4th September 2016

Oxford, UK

Home » The committee

Organising committee

Carol McGrath

Carol has been a reviewer for HNS for many years. She is the author of the best-selling trilogy, The Daughters of Hastings set in the aftermath of 1066 and published by Accent Press. She has an Mphil in Creative Writing from The Royal Holloway, University of London. In her previous teaching career, she headed a History Department and worked in private and state schools. She has lived in the US and in England. A graduate of Queens University Belfast, she lays claim to have been taught by a master, Seamus Heaney.

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 nineteen years on. Richard has been involved with the organisation of many HNS conferences, set up the HNS New Novel Award and the HNS Indie Award, 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 Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. Richard studied English at Merton College, Oxford, and has worked for many years bookselling with WH Smith and Waterstone’s. One day he will finish his novel of the Crusades.

Jenny Barden

Jenny is an artist turned lawyer turned author of Elizabethan adventures Mistress of the Sea and The Lost Duchess (Ebury Press, Penguin Random House), both shortlisted for the Festival of Romance Best Historical Read. Obsessed with history, Jenny has trekked across the Andes to find the lost city of Vilcabamba, negotiated the jungle-hidden remains of the Camino Real, and given talks in Elizabethan dress in the hold of the Golden Hinde. She is a stalwart of HNS conference organisation!

Lorna Fergusson

Lorna Fergusson lives in Oxford, where she runs Fictionfire Literary Consultancy. In addition to her own workshops, she teaches on various Oxford University creative writing programmes. Her novel The Chase, set in 1989 and including historical vignettes from pre-history through to World War II, was originally published by Bloomsbury. Having retrieved the rights, she has reissued it. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and longlisted for the Fish Prize. Her unpublished children’s novel Hinterland reached the shortlist of four for Pan Macmillan’s Write Now Prize in 2013. She won the HNS London 2014 Short Story Award with her story ‘Salt’, set during World War I.

Anita Chapman

Anita Chapman has been Social Media Manager for the HNS since August 2014, when she promoted the September Conference in London on Twitter and Facebook. Anita manages the HNS Twitter and HNS Facebook accounts, and also works as a Freelance Social Media Manager at neetsmarketing.com. She is writing her second novel, set in the UK and Italy during the eighteenth century, and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. Anita tweets at @neetswriter and @neetsmarketing.

Alison Morton

Alison writes Roman-themed alternative history thrillers with strong heroines. Two of the series, Successio and Aurelia, have been selected as HNS Indie Editor’s Choices.  A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has misspent decades of holidays clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. Holds a MA History and administers the HNS Facebook group.

Nikki Fine

  • Role: Treasurer

A former English teacher with a maths degree, Nikki is now focusing her efforts on writing prose, poetry and drama, in addition to singing and directing theatre and operatics with local groups. Her first novel, ‘Moses in Chains’, a fictional autobiography of Michelangelo, is available for kindle. Relaxation is with killer sudoku or a good book. She studied for The Oxford Cont. Ed. Diploma in Creative Writing.

Antoine Vanner

  • Role: Conference manager, Pitches

Antoine Vanner has lived long-term in eight countries and has travelled extensively in every continent except Antarctica. He has particularly relished his exposure to developing countries where there are few certainties as regards security or social stability. This gave him a particular interest in situations of moral ambiguity, as is reflected in his adventure novels set in the Late-Victorian Era.

Mary Fisk

  • Role: Front of House and Pitches

Mary Fisk is Subject Librarian for History and Religions at SOAS (University of London) and a member of the Historical Novel Society’s reviewing team. She is also a National Trust volunteer at Sutton House in Hackney, north London (the home of Ralph Sadleir).

Ouida Taaffe

  • Role: Pitches, Front of House, Short Story Reader/Judge

Ouida is a financial journalist and has been a member of the Historical Novel Society for a number of years.

Liz Harris

  • Role: Library Co-ordinator, Bookshop Co-ordinator, Pageant Co-ordinator
  • Website: lizharrisauthor.com

Liz Harris is the author of the historical novels The Road Back, A Bargain Struck (shortlisted for the RoNA Historical 2013), and A Western Heart. In addition are her contemporary novels, Evie Undercover and The Art of Deception. Her latest historical novel The Lost Girl, set in SW Wyoming in the 1870s and 1880s, came out in October 2015. In addition, Liz has had several short stories published in anthologies. Her interests are theatre, travelling, reading, cryptic crosswords.

Charlotte Betts

  • Role: Front of House, Pitches, Sponsorship

Charlotte Betts is a multi award-winning author of historical novels: The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Painter’s Apprentice, The Spice Merchant’s Wife and The Chateau on the Lake. The House in Quill Court will be published in January 2016. A daydreamer and a bookworm, Charlotte has enjoyed careers in fashion, interior design and property. Currently researching the Regency era for Book 6, she lives in Hampshire in a seventeenth century cottage in the woods.

Clare Flynn

Clare is the author of A Greater World, set in Australia in 1920 and Kurinji Flowers, set in India in the 1930s and 40s. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in West London.

Helen Hollick

Helen Hollick lives on a thirteen-acre farm in Devon, England. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science-fiction and fantasy, and then discovered historical fiction. Published for over twenty years with her Arthurian Trilogy, and the 1066 era, she became a ‘USA Today’ bestseller with Forever Queen. She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, pirate-based fantasy adventures. As a supporter of Indie Authors she is Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, and inaugurated the HNS Indie Award.

Dee Swift

  • Role: Short Story Co-Ordinator

Deborah Swift used to work in television and is the author of seven historical novels, including two for young adults. She has an MA in Creative Writing and runs classes and courses in writing from her home near the beautiful Lake District. Deborah has eclectic reading tastes and reads everything from the cereal packets on the breakfast table to Booker Prize winners. She is very much looking forward to reading the entries for the HNS Short Story Competition.