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HNSOxford16I’m off to the HNS Conference in Oxford – leaving tomorrow morning, for  three days of talks, workshops, networking, a gala dinner complete with costume pageant, and even two pitch sessions with literary agents.

This is my first writer’s conference ever – because there seems to be no such thing in Italy (much less dedicated to historical fiction), and I’ve never had a completed novel in English I felt confident about. But now is the time: the novel is finished and polished, the conference is comparatively close by, and so here we go.

I must confess I’m the tiniest bit aflutter about the pitches. I’ve read all sorts of considerations about these sessions – among them the complaints of quite a few agents who hate them. Ouch. If the prospect of peddling my novel to a stranger in seven minutes (and a language not my own) is enough to make me jittery, the idea that, all the short while, said stranger may be dearly wishing me to Jericho makes it all a tad daunting. Perhaps, had I known this back in October last year, when I reserved my place at the Conference, I’d have skipped the pitch sessions altogether. Which is just as well, perhaps, because I’m sure not all agents hate the practice (or why would they keep at it, after all?) and it will be a learning experience and a chance anyway. Why miss it out of timidity?

So, here I go, armed with my novel, a Moleskine notebook with a good deal of notes, and a pretty dress for the gala dinner. I don’t expect these three days to change my life – but to give me plenty to learn, people of my tribe to meet, and an overall good time.

Oxford, here I go.