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April Third Thursday: “Bringing the Past to Life: Writing Historical Fiction and Nonfiction”

April 20, 2023 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM CDT

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WLT hosts Third Thursday each month, featuring discussions focusing on specific topics of interest to writers and readers, bringing together distinguished panelists for conversations moderated by a WLT staff member.

For our April Third Thursday, join us for a conversation with three writers about how they bring the past to life in their fiction and nonfiction. 

A large part of what makes reading historical fiction and nonfiction so compelling is the opportunity to experience a different time and place. Whether we’re returning to the Victorian era, 1700s Scotland, the Salem Witch trials, Ancient Egypt, or a more recent time and place, it’s the writer’s job to make sure readers find themselves transported. But how do we accomplish this effectively? How do we accurately capture a time and place we’ve never been to before or that we can never return to again?

During this panel discussion, we’ll dive into what it takes to bring the past to life. We’ll discuss everything from research, dialogue, the details that make it all feel real, and more, guided by three writers – Sarah Bird, Kate Winkler Dawson, and David Wright Faladé – who each bring a unique perspective to the topic. This conversation will be moderated by WLT Program Director Sam Babiak.

RSVP to receive your link to the live webinar. 

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Buy our panelists’ books and support indie bookstores! You can find our April Third Thursday booklist here.

Featured Presenter(s)

Called “the finest living Texas writer" by Texas Observer Magazine, Sarah Bird is a bestselling novelist, screenwriter, essayist, and journalist. She has published eleven novels and three books of essays.. Sarah has been an NPR Moth Radio Hour storyteller; a nine-time winner of Austin Best Fiction award; a finalist for The Dublin International Literary Award; an ALEX award winner; Amazon Literature Best of the Year selection; a B&N’s Discover Great Writers selection; a New York Public Libraries Books to Remember; an honoree of the Texas Writers Hall of Fame, and a Dobie-Paisano fellow. She has written for O Magazine, the NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Texas Observer, Texas Highways, Slate, and Salon among others and was the back page columnist for Texas Monthly for six years. A ten-year career as a screenwriter when she wrote for such companies as Warner Brothers and Paramount led to her selection for the Meryl Streep Screenwriters Lab. Sarah co-founded The Writers League of Texas, is the 2021 winner of the University of New Mexico’s Paul Ré Award for Cultural Advocacy, and is the “hologram” greeter at Austin Central Library. She is currently working on a book of the photos she took in the late 70s at Black rodeos to be published by UT Press in June 2024 under the title “Juneteenth Rodeo: Let’s Go! Let’s Show! Let’s Rodeo!”

Kate Winkler Dawson is a seasoned documentary producer and crime historian whose work has appeared in The New York Times, WCBS News and ABC News Radio, PBS NewsHour, and Nightline. She is the creator of three hit podcasts: Buried Bones, Tenfold More Wicked, and Wicked Words. She is the author of All That Is Wicked, American Sherlock, and Death in the Air. Her most recent work is the nonfiction audiobook The Ghost Club. She is a professor of journalism at The University of Texas at Austin.

David Wright Faladé is the author of three books: the narrative history Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers, and the novels Away Running and most recently, Black Cloud Rising. The New Yorker chose Fire on the Beach as one of its notable selections, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch named it one of its Best Books of 2001. Away Running was named an Outstanding International Book by the US Board on Books for Young People and was selected by the Junior Library Guild and the Texas Library Association for its high school reading lists. An excerpt from Black Cloud Rising, entitled “The Sand Banks, 1861,” appeared in the New Yorker. A former Fulbright Fellow to Brazil, David Wright Faladé is the 2021-22 Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow of the NY Public Library’s Cullman Center for Writers. His work has been recognized by the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Texas Institute of Letters. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of Illinois.
Sam Babiak earned a B.A. in English Literature with a certificate in Creative Writing with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining Aevitas Creative Management as the Operations Assistant in 2023, she was the Program Director for the Writers’ League of Texas. She loves talking to writers about their craft and has moderated panels and conversations with the WLT, the Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Book Festival, HavenCon, and BookPeople. Originally from Laredo, Texas, she is based in Austin, Texas.    


April 20, 2023
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM CDT
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Online via Zoom