Every Third Thursday panel this year seems to raise the bar, but Writers’ League of Texas Program Director, Jennifer Zeigler, outdid herself again while moderating the March panel. The topic, “Cross Genre Crushes” was ambiguous to the point that even one of the panelists, Sarah Bird, wasn’t sure what to make of it. Of course, with her eclectic background she had no trouble adapting. Though she identifies herself as a writer of mid-list literary novels, she began writing for True Confessions and True Romance under a pseudonym while honing her skills. This on-the-job training helped her create the award-winning works she is known for such as The Yokota Officers’ Club and The Gap Year.
Once Jennifer explained that “Cross Genre Crushes” explored writing outside one’s chosen genre, Margo Rabb shared her real life experience with crossing genre lines. She submitted a collection of linked adult short stories which her editor insisted on releasing as a young adult novel. Cures for Heartbreak won the Teddy Book Award and a best YA novel nod from Kirkus and Booklist.
Michael Noll shared how his experience in the bucolic back roads of rural Kansas had a complex underbelly that outsiders rarely see. His writing crosses lines of both genre and form as he writes short stories, novels and essays in the fantasy and horror genres.  He also teaches and edits. He describes writing as “the the business of making words on paper feel alive”.
Austin’s favorite local writer, and self described genius, Owen Egerton would be hard to place in any one genre. His recent How Best to Avoid Dying includes humor, horror, romance, criticism and political and religious satire within the cover of a single volume. He encourages us to establish our voice and comfort zone. Then we must decide to remain there or expand our scope. Guess which one he advocates?
The panel not only responded to prepared questions, but worked from each other’s ideas to give thoughtful, in-depth analysis of exploratory writing. They had an almost illicit amount of fun doing it.
After an enlightening and raucous discussion, the standing room only crowd was treated to a brief Q&A. Writers I spoke with felt the event was inspiring. The word is getting out. You should arrive early on April 17th for the next Third Thursday panel to secure a seat. These free panel discussions are open to the public. Join us at 7:00 PM on the third floor of BookPeople, every month (except December) to have your mind blown.
See you there,
Tony Burnett has been a member of the Writers’ League since 2011. His short stories and poems have been published in over 30 national literary journals. He lives in rural central Texas with his trophy wife, Robin, where he is working on the manuscript for his second novel.
Photo courtesy of Martha-Gail Moore

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