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I’m off to HNS Scotland 18 – the Historical Novel Society’s conference, back to the UK this year – three days of talks, workshops, networking, a gala dinner complete with ceilidh, and even two pitch sessions with literary agents.

This is my second experience with the HNS: two years ago I was preparing for HNS Oxford 16, and I was very excited, but also terrified at the prospect of meeting two agents – and, if I’m honest, a little nervous about the whole thing as well… you know, telling people that yes, I’ve written this novel  in a language that is not my own – oh, your language, incidentally…

Instead, the conference was a fabulous experience. All the good things I’d ever heard and read about writing conferences proved to be true: I learned a lot, had fun, met delightful people – and the agents… what do you know? They not only did not eat me for breakfast, but had encouraging and helpful things to say about my work. Also, after talking with them, and going over the pitch sessions, I had an idea about how this kind of thing works, what I might have done better, I should not have done at all, what to do differently next time…

So, here I go again – excited, somewhat less terrified, armed with a new, and hopefully much better draft of the novel, better equipped to talk about it, and looking forward to meeting again the people I met in Oxford and stayed in touch with through these two years.

Also, I look forward to visit Scotland again after… oh, dear: after almost twenty-five years! I spent two summers in Edinburgh as a shy young thing – learning the language, enjoying the Festival, falling in love with Stevenson, occasionally dancing ceilidh, and picking up my first accent… I have fond memories of the place – and, while there will be little time for sight-seeing, I’ll be glad to see Scotland again.

I’ll let you know. Meanwhile… Scotland, here I come!

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