Panel at 2017 Historical Novel Society Conference Portland, Oregon

Four authors of historical fiction with Pacific Northwest settings got together to offer a panel at the 2017 Historical Novel Society Conference held this year in Portland, Oregon. From left to right: me, Kirby Larson, Libbie Hawker, and Janet Oakley. We called it “Historical Fiction through a Pacific Northwest Lens,” which seemed appropriate since the UK-based Historical Novel Society was coming to Portland. They meet in the UK every other year with North American sites in the opposite years.

The idea for our panel started with Janet Oakley and her writer friend in Washington State Carole Dagg. I had met Janet at a couple of PNWA conferences in Seattle, and she invited me to be part of a panel. The three of us put together a proposal which was accepted. We cheered our good fortune. Then Carole learned she’d be unable to attend so Janet found not one replacement but two. And Kirby Larson and Libbie Hawker joined us Janets.

For our session we had a lively discussion about what led us to write about this region and some of the challenges, like writing realistic history without offending 21st-century readers. We also discussed the pleasures of researching and the thrill of discovering actual documents from the times of our stories, about finding the untold stories, about the people who populated this land before the Europeans, and about other facets of history on America’s far northwestern frontier.

As we said in our proposal, “The region holds a unique position as the continent’s last frontier. When nearly every coastline in the world had been mapped, America’s northwest remained a mystery to explorers, a blank wilderness. That untamed edge resonates in the land’s character.”

Libbie served as moderator, and she kept us on our toes with some unexpected questions among the ones planned. We had a good Q & A afterward with an enthusiastic audience. A fun time.

Thanks to Stephanie West Allen for taking the picture.


To the Coast and Beyond

I’m heading for the coast tomorrow, September 24, as a participant in the popular Florence Festival of Books to sell and sign my books, The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own. This annual book fair is held at the Florence Event Center in Florence, Oregon, just minutes down Highway 101 from scenes like this, which I visited with my family last month before my grandson Alex went back to college.

web-thors-well-touristsPhoto by Robin Loznak

That’s Thor’s Well at Cape Perpetua, where the big waves slip through holes in the nubbly lava rock and explode with a huge whump at the well’s opening, occasionally giving a quick shower.

So the book festival offers a great opportunity for folks to spend some time exploring the work of local authors, then taking in some of the magnificent sights along Oregon’s famed coast.

And Beyond

The “beyond” in the title of this blog post relates more to time than space. To be clear, I have no immediate plans to go out to sea beyond the rugged shore. But I am developing plans for book events a ways out in the future. I just got word today that I’ll be a presenter next June at the Historical Novel Society 2017 Conference, which will be held in nearby Portland, Oregon. I’ll be co-presenting with authors Janet Oakley and Carole Estby Dagg, in a panel entitled “Historical Fiction Through a Pacific Northwest Lens.” We’re very excited about that.

More to come, though, much sooner, when I’ll return to the coast with a presentation at the Coos Bay Public Library October 6, then down to Bloomsbury Books in Ashland October 10. I’ll be posting additional events to my sidebar and Events page as schedules firm up.

So with that news, I’ll share one more look at the coast near Florence from a family trip last winter while Alex was home. Robin caught this scene on the beach below the Heceta Head Lighthouse. As the sun sets and light fades, it must be time for a steaming bowl of clam chowder.

sunset-at-heceta-headPhoto by Robin Loznak