If I had spare time, and spare cash, this conference is where I would go. Two days of biography heaven.
For an international organisation, the key speakers do seem to be heavily weighted towards US writers writing about US-focussed topics but the breakout sessions sound relevant and interesting:
Sessions will focus on topics such as research and writing techniques, market trends, book promotion, working with an agent, and short-form biography. In addition, a wide range of issues will be covered, including “Civil War Women,” “Biography as History,” “Diagnosing Your Subject’s Medical Condition,” “The Rewards and Challenges of Writing Lives of Color,” “Writing About Writers,” “Privacy and the Biographer,” and “Writing About Someone You Know.”
The conference itself isn’t even expensive, it’s just the getting there that is the problem. And no, I can’t wrangle a work trip to Washington. Marrakech yes, Washington no. Sigh.
Until I heard about this conference, I’d not heard of BIO. But it looks promising. The late Hazel Rowley was an early supporter of BIO and the organisation now contributes a biannual prize to the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship. The BIO prize is for the best proposal from a first time biographer. The BIO prize is, however, only open to US and Canadian citizens. Again that seems odd for an organisation with ‘International’ in its title. And odd for the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, which is an Australian organisation.
BIO is a non-profit founded in 2010. According to the BIO website:
If you write biographies, or are thinking of writing one; if you make biopics, or are thinking of making one; if you produce radio documentaries on people’s lives, or are thinking of producing one; or, if you simply are a devoted reader of biographies, Biographers International Organization is the place for you. It is the only organization of its kind, completely devoted to all aspects of the art and craft of biography. With your membership you will receive our popular monthly newsletter, The Biographer’s Craft, you will be linked to others who share your interest around the world as well as in your town, and you will get a discount to our well-attended annual conference, where you will meet the best practitioners, network with editors and agents, and—best of all—get together with other biographers.
The BIO site has an interesting blog (to which I can’t work out how to subscribe or follow). It doesn’t cost much to join BIO and receive the newsletter, so I think I’ll give it a try. I’ll let you know how it goes.