Imaginary Mother or Real Mom? Hybrid Memoir to be Released on Memoir Day, August 31st

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Paul Alan Fahey’s book debuts as haunting, unusual memoir with non-fiction & fiction, prose & poetry, narrative voice & scripted dialogue.

Memoir is one of today’s hottest genres in an era when truth-telling is more rare, and more prized than ever. Award-winning author tackles themes of memory and imagination, courage and regret, and the challenging quest for “home” in a nomadic life.

What is memory? How much of what we remember actually happened? How much is wishful thinking, added to and embellished over the years? These are questions you’ll be asking yourself while reading The Mother I Imagined, The Mom I Knew. In the tradition of Patrick Dennis, Truman Capote, and of Tennessee Williams’ memory play, The Glass Menagerie, Paul Alan Fahey’s memoir recounts a son’s loving yet often maddening relationship with his mother over four decades. Told in a hybrid mix of memoir, short fiction, and poetry, the author tells of their nomadic existence in the 1950s; his mother’s four-month visit in Africa while he completed his teaching contract; and the last decade of her life.

Paul Alan Fahey ( wrote about his mother for years. Sometimes a scene would begin to play in his imagination—not quite a memory, but dialogue and setting inspired by real events. Sometimes only a poem could capture the otherwise illusive quality of recollection. And sometimes only the rigor of non-fiction narrative could expose truths and untangle ancient snarls.

Now an accomplished author with multiple titles—and multiple awards, as a seven-time winner of the Lillian Dean First Page competition, and two-time winner of the Rainbow Award—to his name, Fahey sat down to review these pieces, and realized he had a gem in the rough. Could the segments be brought together as a whole? Yes, and triumphantly so.

The book has a dual-universe theme as boldly announced in the title itself: one mother is imagined; one is real. And the theme is carefully wrought throughout the book’s visuals, too. The front cover offers a fictional depiction of a female traveler; the back cover shows a photograph of the author’s mother on one of her trips with her son. The interior is set in two different, carefully chosen typefaces.

Several publishers were interested in the book, but Fahey wanted to find the right team to work with to cut, polish, and set the jewel. Enter Mindprints Literary Press—a re-boot of a press he founded while a professor at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. In its first incarnation, the press published the writings of students in the Learning Assistance Program. But by the early 2000s, the press was publishing an annual journal that won two consecutive awards from Writer’s Digest. “It’s a thrill to resurrect this wonderful press with its rich history,” Fahey commented. “But even more exciting to create a dynamic new independent press.”

Fahey was able to attract an A-List of Associates for the newly reestablished press, including Victoria Zackheim (, who edited the new book. “Being the editor of Paul’s memoir has been an honor and a joy. He writes the way he speaks: with warmth, humor, and that self-effacing manner that will make his friends smile knowingly, and make strangers want to know him,” remarked Zackheim, herself a well-known author, editor and teacher. “This is not your standard memoir,” she added. “Paul has taken his short stories and poetry, his travel notes, excerpts from his mother’s journal, and his own observations, weaving them together to form a collection that is both tender and entertaining. His mother would have loved it!”

For the Associate Publisher position, Fahey sought out Mara Purl (, best-selling author of the Milford-Haven Novels, national speaker and performer. Purl has also served as co-founder of two previous presses, and on the boards of several publishing organizations. “What an honor it’s been to work on this project,” Purl said. “Collaborating with Paul and with this hand-picked group of accomplished colleagues has made this a joy from start to finish. I’m excited about Mindprints Literary Press as a new outlet for authors. And I couldn’t be more proud of our first title.”

To design the book cover, Fahey and Purl tapped Jessica Bell, whose Australia-based publishing company Vine Leaves Press ( had published Fahey’s 2016 book "Equality." “Paul’s memoir was so inspiring, I decided to donate creation of the book cover,” said Bell. “Paul and Mara had clear ideas of what the book needed visually, and we all enjoyed working together.”

For the final polish, proofreading, fact checking and interior layout, Purl invited her long-time colleague Jean Laidig onto the team. "Invited to leaf through the virtual scrapbook of Paul's mementoes, I felt, by the time we had any direct communications, that we were already comfortably well acquainted. And I believe I'd recognize his mother, too, wearing a floppy orange sun hat and dancing on the edge of a precipice."

For creation of the new website, Purl chose Modern Alchemy (, a company of young professionals in Los Angeles who are specialists in graphic and web design, product marketing and client-base development. "We really enjoyed working on this project and are thrilled with the outcome," commented Hanna Henry, part of the graphics team led by Kevin Meyer, founder of the company.

Purl chose August 31st as the launch day when she discovered “We Love Memoirs Day” (, which was established as a national day of recognition by two memoir authors—New York Times best-seller Victoria Twead and series-creator Alan Parks—who wanted to create a place where memoir readers and authors could come together. The date was the perfect launch date for Fahey’s latest work.

Paul Alan Fahey ( earned his Masters in Learning Disabilities at DePaul University, and his Doctorate from the University of San Francisco. As a professor at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, he established a learning disabilities curriculum that included founding of the publication Mindprints. He's a long-time member of the Central Coast writing community, frequent faculty member of the Central Coast Writers Conference, and contributing member of SLO Nightwriters. He writes a weekly blog for and feels mentoring and helping other writers is the natural outcome of his forty years of teaching.

Praise & Endorsements

"A web of memories as delicate as the perfume of a flower, and yet as strong as the currents in the sea. It is joyous, funny and sad, and speaks not only of love but of infinite understanding.”
    -- Anne Perry, International Best-Selling Historical Novelist
    Author of three acclaimed Mystery Series: Thomas & Charlotte Pitt; Monk; WWI

“Paul Fahey is a master story teller, and his latest book brings his usual charm to the page. In The Mother I Imagined, The Mom I Knew, he creates a unique and delightful “hybrid” of memoir, fiction, and poetry . . . flawlessly interwoven, and rich in insight and filled with love. . . another joyful read for Fahey-followers.”
    – Anna Unkovich (co-author with Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen)
    Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom

"Fahey's gambit in mixing fiction and memoir pays off with dividends. The result is a layered, intimate but never sentimental, fascinating portrait of a remarkable woman and of a parent-child relationship that went beyond that and might have been the most crucial in both of their lives."     –
    – Felice Picano, award-winning author of Nights at Rizzoli

"Paul Fahey’s mother, Mary Eileen Smith, comes off as part Auntie Mame, part Joan “Mommie Dearest” Crawford, and part Mama Rose. She has a wickedly funny wit, sharp survival skills, and great poignancy and vulnerability. Fahey captures all of this in this unusual memoir that combines the art of fiction with the even deeper art of remembrance."
    -- Perry Brass, author of King of Angels, and The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love

"In his unique hybrid memoir, Paul Fahey artfully blends the lines between reality and memory. Part tribute, part confession and all parts sincere, the author lovingly recalls an often transient childhood with a strong, independent mother from whom he no doubt inherited his tenacity. Thinly-veiled short stories combined with snippets of their evolving relationship underscore the immutable truth of a complex mother-son relationship. In the end, The Mother I Imagined, The Mom I Knew is an earnest examination into human resilience, the power of love and ultimately, the gifts of forgiveness and self-acceptance."
    – Eldonna Edwards , Author of best-selling memoir
    Lost in Transplantation and forthcoming novel This I Know

"This is as much an autobiography of the author as it is the story of his mother, and as such is an intimate and revealing view of all that influenced him. Included are some fascinating short stories that in many ways parallel both his and his mother’s life together. Fascinating reading."
    – Marilyn Meredith, author of Deputy Tempe Crabtree Mysteries

"Fahey’s strong writing and quirky characters unite to create a beguiling coming-of-age tale set in 1950’s San Francisco."
     –Sue McGinty, author of Bella Kowalski California Central Coast Mysteries

“A rewarding ride through the unique life journey of a mother and son. It’s all here, with a stunning precision of details: the joys, the sorrow, the confusions, and above all, the deep and abiding love. The mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and commentary lets you see inside the unfolding relationship from all sides. A powerful and memorable read!”
    – Barbara Jacksha, author of
    Vision Pages: a vision journal for imagining your dreams to life

"Paul Fahey uses his superb talent for entrancing the reader with the sights and sounds of places from Burbank to Ethiopia in this compelling account of his relationship with his vagabond mother and her Auntie Mame lifestyle."
    – Diane Broyles, Out of Time on Santorini

"A fantastic read--poignant and funny and hair-raising all at once.”
    – Anne R. Allen, author of the Camilla Randall Mysteries

"A compelling read about the changing relationship between a mother and son over time.”
     – Ruth Harris, New York Times bestselling author

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Reya Patton
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