Conjuring the Past: Writing Historical Fiction

with Kim Taylor Blakemore

Application deadline extended to March 15!

4 Saturdays: April 6, 13, 20, 27
Time: 10am to 12:30pm
Location: PDX Writers Studio, NE Portland
Cost: $345 due upon application acceptance

Please read application process below for workshop registration.
Application and questions will be sent to

*Participants in this workshop will receive a $30 discount to a Hammer & Nails individual conference.

All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Sisters Brothers. Circe. Historical fiction transports readers to unfamiliar worlds and cultures, immersing us in times that may be past but resonate in the present.

This workshop is for writers just starting a historical novel, those currently in the midst of a work-in-progress, or those who feel their novel is stuck in neutral. Through lecture, writing and research exercises, group feedback, and facilitator critique, we will work to create memorable and rich stories that bring the past to life.

In each session, we will look in-depth at our own manuscripts, focusing on the following subjects:

  • The Big Picture: World Events and Afternoon Tea – weaving great events with small
  • Research: Its All About the Primary Source – how to find it, what to take away
  • Character: My World, Not Yours – authenticity in worldview and action
  • Setting: Beyond the Castle and into the Privy Room – mining setting for voice and drama
  • Dialogue: Speaking in Tongues – how to convey historical speech
  • Voice: Watch Your Genre – using narrative voice
  • The Daily Wear: Buttons and pockets and zippers and bodices – who wore what when
  • Pass the Mutton Stew: Food and manners
  • I’m Sorry It’s Inconvenient: Historical accuracy and modern mores

The workshop is limited to 8 writers. In order to create the strongest mix of experience, you are asked to apply and submit the following:

  • Short 1-3 sentence blurb of your premise (no need for a synopsis – just the time period and general idea)
  • 1,000 words MAXIMUM from your work in progress or a previous work.
  • Applications are due by March 15th. If you are accepted, you will receive an email by March 20th.

Please submit material in the body of the email. No attachments. Applications should be sent by email to 

​In addition to the in-person workshops, you will each have the opportunity to submit 20 pages for my feedback and critique – this includes a half-hour video conference call with me to review the material and to talk through any questions you have about the piece.

YOUR FACILITATOR: Kim Taylor Blakemore is the author of three historical novels: THE COMPANION (Antebellum New Hampshire); BOWERY GIRL (Gilded Age New York City); and CISSY FUNK (Depression-era Colorado). Her work-in-progress, ALICE IN LIMBO, is set in post-Civil War New England, and features an insane asylum, a spiritualist séance, and phrenological findings. For more info: