Historical Novel Society 2017 Conference

I'm so excited to be attending this year's Historical Novel Society Conference, especially because it's being held right here in my home town of Portland, Oregon. So far, the hardest part has been deciding which of the multitudes of costumes in my closet to wear to Thursday night's costume contest. I'm looking forward to meeting some of my favorite historical novelists, including Stephanie Cowell, Gillian Bagwell, and Mary Sharrat, who has a fantastic new take on Shakespeare and Aemilia Bassano Lanier in her new novel, The Dark Lady's Mask.

There are also workshops and panels on everything from current trends in the publishing world to historical weaponry to women's undergarments through the centuries, as well as an absinthe-tasting and a Regency-era dance party. The Readers' Festival on Saturday afternoon is open to the public, so feel free to come by and say hello!


The author is attacked by angry academics over her Hamlet prequel at ESRA 2013
Haha--just kidding! Actually, that's a picture of me illustrating "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" in the Shakespeare Without Words theatre workshop led by Philippe Goudard for the ESRA conference. Actually, despite my worries, the Shakespearean academics were mostly very genial and my panel, on Shakespearean adaptations and "tradaptations" (where the line between translation and adaptation is blurred) went quite well, I think.

Protean Shakespeare Panel: Adapting, Tradapting, Performing Early Modern Plays

With Frank Brevik, discussing the difference between Conservative, Moderate, and "Lunatic Fringe" productions 

Listening to Klaas Tindemans describe Ivo van Hove's 6-hour Belgian production of the Roman Tragedies
Of course, my trip wasn't all work and no play! I got to spend a few days before and after the conference sightseeing (and shopping!) in Montpellier and Paris.

Self portrait: Hermes at Hermès

My favorite tourist attraction in Paris was, perhaps not coincidentally, the one with the fewest tourists: the Père Lachaise cemetery is (apart from a small crowd more-or-less permanently gathered around Jim Morrison's grave) blissfully peaceful. We took a bouquet of flowers up and spent several hours just wandering through the cemetery laying tribute at the graves of the writers and artists who have been an inspiration to us. Here's me in front of the tomb of one of my favorites, Oscar Wilde:

Taking Europe by Storm!

 I'll be presenting an academic paper at this year's meeting of the European Shakespeare Research Association in Montpellier, France. The theme of this year's conference is Shakespeare & Myth. I'll be on a panel discussing "Protean Shakespeare: Adapting, Tradapting, Performing Early Modern Plays," talking about how prose fiction adaptations of Hamlet (including works by Salman Rushdie, John Updike, and Margaret Atwood as well as my own novel The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet ) can be considered as non-theatrical "productions" of the play, and comparing "traditionalist" and avant-garde approaches to such intertextual fiction. This conference looks really exciting overall, with theatrical workshops and events as well as academic papers, so if you're in striking distance of Montpellier, France between June 26th-29th, come by and say Bonjour!

I won an Oregon Literary Fellowship!

Specifically, the Friends of the Lake Oswego Library William Stafford Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. Which means I'll be spending some time this year working on a memoir about my childhood being raised by...well, the sort of people who would name a child "Myrlin Ambrosia Hermes." You can read a short excerpt from it at the Literary Arts online chapbook, as well as some very kind and insightful words from judge Michael Pearson and a Q&A in which I tried my best to answer both honestly and thoughtfully. My favorite answer, to a question about my creative process:

"Writing, for me, is like trying to remember a vivid and complicated dream. You can see and understand the entire scene in a flash, but it gets slippery when you try to pin down the details." 

Read the entire interview, as well as excerpts from the other honored writers, at the link above. And if you're an Oregon resident with a literary project in mind, there are still a couple of weeks left to get your application in for next year's awards. I've applied for several years running, so it just goes to show that you never know when your work will resonate with the judges. Good luck!