by Toni Pacini
I am delighted to be returning to Sanger to share my southern gothic memoir, Alabama Blue. I lived in Sanger from 2007 until 2012 and made many special friends. Having published my book nine months ago, I felt compelled to return to Sanger and share my excitement with my friends.
I have been told that as an author, I broke all the rules, and certainly there are folks in Sanger that will say, “That’s no surprise!”, but being self-taught I did my best. Having been raised in a cotton mill village in Alabama and out on my own at fifteen, I never had a chance to attend high school. But at about nineteen years old, I started needing to write about where I had been, what it was like, and the struggles I endured in order to escape time and time again when the life I saw laid out before me appeared inhabitable and inhospitable.
One reviewer of Alabama Blue, Viga Boland a teacher of writing memoirs, had this to say about my unusual writing style.
“As someone who runs memoir writing workshops, I’ve always maintained that memoir, just like fiction, needs dialogue to reveal character, move the story along quickly, and sustain reader interest. In Alabama Blue, Toni K. Pacini has shown that isn’t always true. Hence, I’m still slightly shocked at how skillfully Toni K. Pacini wrote her long memoir relying 95% of the time on narrative minus dialogue, yet somehow kept me riveted!”
Without education to guide my craft or pen, I did what came natural and told each experience as a separate story shared with written word. I wrote one story at a time, often over and over again, for over thirty years. Thirteen years ago I decided it was time to pull the stories together into a book. It took a few years, but I did it, and I am told I did it well. You can find reviews on Amazon, Audible, and Goodreads.
I never wanted Alabama Blue to be just another coming of age story, or poor girl survives diatribe. I wanted to create hope from the sorrow and replace the tears with laughter. Two months after I published Alabama Blue, I was in a studio for three days in Denver, Colorado, where I narrated my own audio book. For those of you who attended the group we had for three years at the Sanger Library, Sanger Open-Mic Group, you know I am a storyteller first and an author second. So my audio book was a dream come true for this small town, considered white trash, mill village girl.
But that’s the past… Two years ago, at sixty, I decided it was high time I went to school and enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas in the fall of 2014. Now, two years later, I am thrilled to be halfway to my Creative Writing Degree, and to my absolute shock, I’m an A & B student. In the dysfunctional life I lived as a child, I brought home Ds and Fs. No one noticed, no one cared, no one thought to tell me that I was smart and could do better, so I accepted the grades as an example of who I was and always would be—assuming “D” stood for Dumb and “F” for Failure.
Today between semesters at CSN, I travel and share Alabama Blue. I am so grateful to be returning to Sanger. It will be one of the greatest days of my life, sharing my dream come true with my Sanger friends.
I will be at the Sanger Library at 1812 7th St. on Friday, January 12 at 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday, January 14, I will be reading and signing at Sunnyside Library at 5566 E Kings Canyon Rd. in Fresno at 2 p.m.
You can learn more about Toni on her website and Goodreads.