Finish your novel and get ready for publication

with our six-month online programme for historical fiction writers.

Writing a novel can be daunting. Writing about the past – with all the historical research and pressure to 'get it right' – can be especially challenging. Many talented writers fail to finish a novel or see their work published. Perhaps they struggle with self-doubt, lack time or discipline, or are overwhelmed by the world of publishing, which can seem confusing and out-of-reach.

We can help. Our new six-month programme combines online lessons, supportive feedback, and advice from top industry experts, all designed to help writers of historical fiction take their writing to the next level.

Supported by the world’s largest organisation for readers and writers of historical fiction, and delivered by published authors and experienced tutors, our specialist course is the only one of its kind.

Whether you are just getting started or have a novel-in-progress, our Historical Fiction Masterclass will help you write stories that captivate readers and learn how to get your work ready for publication.

Our programme is for you if…

  • You want to tell authentic and compelling stories set in the past

  • You want to get your novel-in-progress ready for publication

  • You struggle to make time for your writing, or you’re stuck midway through a project

  • You’ll benefit from working with a supportive group of fellow writers and expert tutors with a wealth of industry experience

  • You’re ready to dedicate time to your writing and learn from the best in the business

Our inaugural programme runs from June 1 2020 to December 4 2020

Deadline for applications is 12pm on Friday May 22 2020 (GMT).

What's included?

  • Course Content

    Exclusive online lessons on aspects of writing historical fiction, plus a host of tips and exercises to help you put your learning into practice. Work through the course at a time that suits you and join your fellow writers in a private discussion space.

  • Monthly Masterclasses

    Live masterclasses each month with bestselling and prize-winning authors and industry experts on everything from research to publication. Guests include Emma Darwin, Bernice L. McFadden, Andrew Taylor and Suzannah Dunn.

  • Writing Workshops

    Fortnightly group feedback sessions to hone your editing skills in a friendly and supportive environment. You’ll get two workshops dedicated to your work-in-progress and you’ll give feedback for others in return.

  • One-to-One Coaching

    During your programme you’ll have two private coaching sessions with lead tutor, Katherine Clements. Use these sessions to get feedback on your writing or discuss anything to do with your writing goals.

  • First Page Feedback

    A first page can make or break a story. You’ll submit the first page of your novel or short story and receive insightful written feedback from best-selling novelist and leading writing teacher, Suzannah Dunn.

  • Literary Agent Q&A

    Live Q&A with two top literary agents from the UK and US. Ask your questions about the market for historical fiction, submissions and what will and won’t get you a publishing deal.

Course Tutors

Our programme is led by author and writing coach, Katherine Clements, with masterclasses from bestselling authors Emma Darwin, Suzannah Dunn, Andrew Taylor, Bernice L. McFadden and more.

Lead Tutor

Katherine Clements

Katherine will be your lead tutor, guiding you through the programme from start to finish. She is the author of three historical novels published by Headline. Her latest book, The Coffin Path, was an Amazon bestseller and was nominated for the HWA Gold Crown Award. Katherine has worked in training and education for over two decades: she was lead developer on the UK’s first A Level in Creative Writing, coaches university students as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow and mentor, and became a Fulbright Scholar in 2018. For several years she was editor of Historia, the magazine of the Historical Writers' Association; she now edits the RLF online magazine, Collected.

Guest Tutor

Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor has written over 45 books, mostly crime and historical fiction novels. He is the author of the ground-breaking Roth Trilogy, which was adapted into the acclaimed drama Fallen Angel, and the historical crime novels The Ashes of London, The Silent Boy, and The American Boy, a No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and a 2005 Richard & Judy Book Club Choice. He has won many awards, including the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award (the only author to win it three times) and the CWA’s prestigious Diamond Dagger. Andrew teaches for the Arvon Foundation and regularly hosts events at literary festivals, bookshops and libraries, as well as serving as a judge for numerous literary prizes. His latest novel, The Last Protector, was released in April 2020.

Guest Tutor

Bernice McFadden

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of The Book of Harlan (winner of the 2017 American Book Award and the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.) She has written eight other critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a four-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the BCALA. Her latest novel, Praise Song for the Butterflies, was nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2019. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University in New Orleans.


Are you ready to write a historical novel that captivates readers, agents and publishers? You have two payment options...

One payment of £800 or six payments of £150 (£900)

HNS Members' 10% discount: One payment of £720 or six payments of £135 (£810)

(Payment will be in GBP and prices in other currencies will depend on exchange rates.)

Ready to apply?

  • Send your application by email to [email protected] by 12pm Friday 22 May 2020 (GMT), following the instructions below.

  • Attach up to 3000 words of your writing as a separate Word or PDF document. Make sure you add your name to your document.

  • Include a brief synopsis of the project you wish to work on during the programme (just a paragraph or two is fine).

  • In your email, tell us briefly why you think this programme is right for you.

  • Make sure your submission reaches us by 12pm on Friday 22 May 2020 (GMT).

  • We'll let you know if you've been selected on or before Wednesday 27 May 2020.

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What people are saying...

'I've made huge progress with my writing'

Monique M., Manchester University Student

Working with Katherine has been invaluable. I've learned how to make my writing so much better and have made huge progress as a result. What a great resource!

'An eerily gripping novel'

The Sunday Times on The Coffin Path

A striking combination of Brontëan romantic melodrama and gothic ghost story… Clements has written an eerily gripping novel in which the ghosts of the past haunt the present in more ways than one’

'Inspiring, engaging and professional'

Dr. Eileen Angelini, East Carolina University

With students, Katherine's experience and expertise as a writer really shined through and her generous, informal teaching style created a safe space for participants to experiment with new ideas.

'A seductive blend of history, mystery and the macabre'

The Lancashire Post on The Coffin Path

A stunning 17th-century ghost story that puts Yorkshire gothic firmly on the reader’s map… Written with an almost elegiac elegance that belies the subtle but persistent air of menace, and with an impressive sense of time and place at its core, this is a spine-tingling and seductive blend of history, mystery and the downright macabre

'I could not recommend her more!'

Anna M. Manchester University Student

Katherine is especially warm, friendly and highly motivated to bring out the best in everyone’s writing! Could not recommend her more!

'A carefully built world packed with period detail'

SFX Magazine on The Coffin Path

You can almost feel the wind whipping through the pages of this clever gothic horror, which mixes a Wuthering Heights-esque love story with a MR James-esque fire-side frightener... The Coffin Path conceals its many secrets to the last, culminating in a wintry finale that chills to the bone.


  • What counts as historical fiction?

    We're sticking with the definition of historical fiction used in the HNS reviews policy: novels (or short stories) set at least 50 years in the past.

  • I write short stories. Is this programme right for me?

    Yes! The programme has been developed with longer works in mind, but the content will be equally useful for those working on short stories or novellas set in the past.

  • I live in the US/Australia/Timbuktu. Can I join the programme?

    Yes! You can take part from anywhere in the world. You are free to work through the content in your own time, joining dedicated discussion days for each learning module/workshop session.

  • How much time will the course take?

    We expect you to dedicate a few hours each week to working through the lessons and taking part in group feedback. Of course, you'll need to put time aside for your own writing too. There will be three week-long breaks over the six months.

  • What if I can't make live classes?

    All live events will be recorded, so nobody will miss out.

  • I want to publish my novel independently. Will this programme teach me how?

    This programme will support you as you get your novel finished and edited so you are ready to publish. It won't cover the practicalities of self-publishing.

  • What is the price in US$/AU$?

    Payment will be in GBP and prices in other currencies will depend on exchange rates. You can find out more about Paypal exchange rates for your currency on the Paypal website.

  • How does the payment plan work?

    Payment will be by Paypal or credit card. If you are offered a place you'll receive full details of how to pay. Your place will be confirmed when we receive your payment, either the full amount or your first monthly payment.

  • Can I join the HNS now and get the members' discount?

    Yes! Please join the society here:

Are you ready to hone your writing craft, finish your novel and get it ready for publication?