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UA authors Sanchez, Devlin featured at the Tucson Festival of Books

Tani Sanchez, a UA professor, is promoting her book Didnt Come From Nothing: An African American Story of Life, at the Festival of Books this year.
University of Arizona
Tani Sanchez, a UA professor, is promoting her book “Didn’t Come From Nothing: An African American Story of Life,” at the Festival of Books this year.

UA Author Feature — Dr. Tani D. Sanchez

Tani D. Sanchez, associate professor of Africana Studies at the University of Arizona, will be a featured author at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books and will present on her historical biography “Didn’t Come From Nothing: An African-American Story of Life.”

Published in 2017, Sanchez’s book is based on 30 years of academic research and oral history. 

In this genealogical narrative, she illustrates the experiences of her great-great grandparents, a Union soldier from Maryland and a former slave in Lake Charles, Louisiana, who chose to marry each other despite the odds. Over a century later, Sanchez’s grandmother, Mary Louise Wright-Euell, would embark on a great migration from Louisiana to Northern Arizona along with her husband and children. 

“As a child, my grandmother would tell stories of the Civil War and the experiences of her grandparents,” Sanchez said. “They really moved me. I listened to the stories of relatives who experienced slavery and other incredible things and was able to reach back in time and discover the importance of this oral history.”

With her book, Sanchez wants readers to understand the connection between black and contemporary history. She explains that oral history and culture can provide much-needed insight into the successes and failures of past interactions and experiences. 

“It’s a treasure trove, that you can go back and hear their voice, and understand how it applies to you and contemporary culture,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said she also wants readers to apply this understanding to today’s society and all the controversy surrounding race in the United States.

“I want readers to understand the black perspective,” she said. “A lot of people see divisiveness and hatred and ask why black people are so dissatisfied. They say, ‘why Black Lives Matter, it’s All Lives Matter.’ After reading this book, you will not have those questions.”

Sanchez will speak on a panel during the Tucson Festival of Books at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 10 at UA Library Special Collections. The discussion will look at the struggle of marginalized populations to reclaim their stories. At 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, she will also present on her own research, family history and the forgotten contributions made by people of color who shaped the Old Pueblo.

UA Author Feature – Jacob Devlin

Jacob Devlin, a senior admissions counselor and alum of the University of Arizona, recently published the final chapter of his young adult fantasy trilogy The Order of the Bell and will present at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books.

The trilogy, which includes The Carver, The Unseen and The Hummingbird, follow the children of Pinocchio, Alice and Peter Pan, and their battle with dark forces in the fairytale world that want their parents back.

“I wrote these books to show people that there is wonder in the world around us,” Devlin said. “In these books, they’re going to these different worlds and they’re hopping from Neverland to Wonderland and all these literary worlds that people know already, but I also want them to think about the world around them and how there’s so many beautiful things and good people even in these dark times that we’re in right now. There’s just something beautiful to see every day.”

Devlin began writing the first of his three books, The Carver, while in graduate school at the UA in 2015. Contracted under Blaze Publishing, LLC, he has published one book per year since then. 

“It was such a validating moment for me to know that somebody thought I was talented enough and that the story was good enough to be shared with the rest of the world,” Devlin said.

Although Devlin has found success as a published author for the last several years, his love for storytelling began as early as kindergarten.

“My elementary school used to put on this competition every year called the Young Authors Project, and every student at that school would have to come up with their own picture book,” Devlin said.

Devlin was also diagnosed with lymphoma when he was in kindergarten and believes that this difficult experience inspired much of his love for books.

“My mom used to read me a lot of books when I was in my hospital bed and it was such an escape for me,” Devlin said. “It helped put my mind in a different, happy place, and it was something I decided as early as back then, that I wanted to be somebody who created these escapes for other people, too.”

Now that his trilogy is finished and released, Devlin hopes to publish a new spinoff series, which will be dedicated to junior high-level readers. 

Devlin will speak in a panel during the Tucson Festival of Books at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 10 at the Nuestras Raíces stage in the Pima County Public Library. Panelists will discuss urban fantasy and each of their unique approaches to this genre. 

For more information on Devlin and The Order of the Bell, visit his website.

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