2019 Master Class: Bringing the Past Alive (Afternoon)


A workshop on writing historical fiction with Whitney Scharer & Priya Parmar

4 Afternoons:  Monday 11/4 – Thursday 11/7, 1:30-4:30pm

A $100 combination discount will be applied when registering for the conference at the same time.

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Bringing the Past Alive

with Whitney Scharer & Priya Parmar


This class with Priya and Whitney is an exceptional opportunity for writers of historical fiction to hone their craft. It is designed for writers of this genre at all levels of accomplishment. Historical fiction presents unique challenges. It is neither biography nor pure fiction. Subjects’ lives must be meticulously researched, and the knowledge gained has to inspire rather than merely be reported upon. Achieving a distinctive voice for each character is nowhere more important than in historical fiction. Each must come alive on the page with authenticity, remaining always true to their personality. Both Priya and Whitney will inspire their students with accounts of their fascination in immersing themselves in the lives of real people, and extrapolating narratives as plausible as if they were purely factual.

Historical fiction presents its own challenges of point of view, character development, and story arc. Priya and Whitney each deal with these issues in unique ways. You will learn not merely to imitate them, but to adapt the lessons they have learned to tell your story in the way that rings most true to you and your characters.


Priya Parmar is the author of two acclaimed works of historical fiction, Exit the Actress, inspired by Nell Gwyn, an impoverished girl who became the mistress of Charles II, and Vanessa and Her Sister, a story of the Bloomsbury Group from the perspective of Virginia Woolf’s less famous sister Vanessa Bell.

The New York Times Book Review wrote of Vanessa and Her Sister, “Rarely do you encounter a woman who commands as much admiration as does the painter Vanessa Bell in Priya Parmar’s multilayered, subtly shaded novel. . . . Parmar’s fabricated journal is an uncanny success. Its entries, plausible and graceful, are imbued with the same voice that can be found in letters by or about Vanessa. . . . Parmar gives truth and definition to the character of a woman whose nature was as elusive as her influence was profound. She has caught the phantom.”

Whitney Scharer’s first book is due to be published in February, yet she has become one of the most talked-about authors in the publishing world. Her historical novel The Age of Light drew such interest that it was sold at auction for more than a million dollars, arguably the highest price ever for a debut work.

Fellow Kauai Writers Conference faculty member Paula McLain wrote, “Rapturous and razor sharp all at once, The Age of Light fearlessly unzips anything we might know of Lee Miller as model and muse and recasts her as artist, free thinker and architect of a singular and unapologetic life. Whitney Scharer is a stunning new discovery. This novel sparks on every page.”