'The danger you have to negotiate is not the dimpled coyness of the past – it is its obscenity.' So argued Hilary Mantel, taking aim at ‘grumbling’ in literary circles about historical fiction. ‘Chick-lit with wimples’ it ain’t, she says. Taking up the debate are Melissa Ashley and Liam Pieper, who have written about periods ranging from Nazi Germany to 19th century Ireland. They talk to Ashley Hay and tackle the question: can we engage with the present without revisiting the past?

Please note: Annabel Abbs and Hannah Kent will no longer be appearing at this event.

Melissa Ashley (Australian)

Melissa Ashley is a fiction writer, poet and academic who teaches creative writing workshops at the University of Queensland. Melissa is the author of the historical fiction, The BirdmanÕs Wife about the extraordinary life of 19th century bird illustrator, Elizabeth Gould, wife of John Gould, the ÔfatherÕ of Australian ornithology. Melissa has published articles and stories in The Lifted Brow and The Age among other publications. She is currently working on a historical novel based on the life of a 17th century French fairy tale author.