“Crossing Paths: Novel Writing and Historical Research” to be Held November 2 at Providence Public Library

The free event will feature a panel of five local writers & librarians

Providence Public Library is proud to host “Crossing Paths: Novel Writing and Historical Research,” presented by the HiFi (Historical Fiction) Collaborative – A Providence Writing Group.  This free event will be held Sunday, November 2, from 1:30-3:30 at the Providence Public Library, 150 Empire Street, Providence (Meeting Room, 3rd Floor).  The speakers’ books will be available for sale and signing at the event through the Brown University Bookstore.

This event will bring together authors of historical fiction, a special collections librarian, and a historian to discuss the intersections of past and present, history and narrative, research and writing in historical storytelling and in their own works. Panelists include Taylor Polites (The Rebel Wife, featured author in Knitting Yarns), Padma Venkatraman  (A Time to Dance, Climbing the Stairs, and Island’s End), Jordan Goffin (Providence Public Library Special Collections Librarian), and historian Robert Geake  (A History of the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island, Historic Taverns of Rhode Island, and A History of the Providence River). Tom O’ Donnell, actor and Director of the West Warwick Library, will moderate.

The participating panelists have each engaged with history, historical fact, and storytelling in very different ways. Taylor Polites’ novel tells the engaging and suspenseful story of a young widow in post-reconstruction-era Alabama; Padma Venkatraman is the award-winning author of books for young adults dealing with gender, disability, and multiculturalism; Jordan Goffin is the Special Collections librarian at the Providence Public Library, where he oversees several distinct collections of over 40,000 books, manuscripts, ephemera, newspapers, maps, and artifacts; Robert Geake is a local author and historian exploring New England from its maritime history to its and to its taverns and its indigenous peoples.

In this conversation the panelists will engage with each other and audience members as they tackle questions of history, research, process and readership, including how to balance loyalty to historical fact with creative license? How often does a historian rely on archives, special collections, and rare books? What about a novelist? What role does a Specials Collections librarian play in the research process? What can the novelist and historian learn from one another about storytelling? What does an archivist have to teach writers? How do facts or the absence of them impact historical storytelling and storytelling in historical fiction?

The panel will challenge the writers and audience members to think about the ways in which cultural memory is created, collected, preserved, shared, and re-created in history books and novels.

The HiFi (Historical Fiction) Collaborative is a local writing group in which participants critique each other’s writings and explore the challenges of historical fiction writing.  The group meets monthly, alternating between the Providence Athenaeum and the Providence Public Library. “Crossing Paths: Novel Writing and Historical Research” is a step forward in the group’s ongoing effort to involve local authors, artists, historians and scholars in the continuing conversation about history and story-telling.

“Crossing Paths: Novel Writing and Historical Research is co-sponsored by the Providence Public Library and the Providence Athenaeum, and is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information, please contact Ilene Weismehl, iweismehl@yahoo.com or 401-451-9036.