The Inspired Mic Spotlight – James Farrell

I asked Inspired Mic presenters to send me a little something about themselves and what they write. I gave them free reign to pick and choose material about themselves that would be informative and promotional. As The Inspired Mic grows, potential audience participants would like to know something about those who steel their nerves and get up in front of a live audience to present their creativity. In the following days leading up to the October 21st event, each of the October readers who send me their info will be In the Spotlight:


James FarrellJames Farrell

I am 72 and I retired in Palm Coast in 2013 after spending almost 40 years in Rhode Island.

I was born in Brooklyn and spent my first 13 years there. At the age of 13, I entered a Roman Catholic seminary and spent the next 11 years studying for the priesthood, two of those years in Rome at the time of the Second Vatican Council. I still had four years of study ahead of me before ordination when I decided to leave the seminary in 1967. (It was the time for final vows, and the vow of perpetual chastity was frightening!)

I was immediately drafted. Instead of entering the army as a private, I signed up for Officer Candidate School (OCS) and increased my commitment to four years in the army. I was commissioned a second lieutenant in Military Intelligence after OCS and ended up spending one year studying Chinese Mandarin and another in Vietnam, where no one, except those in Saigon’s Cho Lon section, speaks Chinese Mandarin.

After discharge I returned to Vietnam to work for Air America and was Manager of Flight Operations when Saigon fell in 1975. I had actually left on vacation at the end of March, 1975, and was in Rhode Island as the North Vietnamese Army rolled south and captured Saigon.

I started work on my first novel, Brooklyn Boy, after discharge from the army in New Orleans and before returning to Vietnam with Air America. I then carried 500 typewritten pages around with me for thirty five years. When I retired I promised my grandson that I would finish the novel to let him know what life was like growing up in Brooklyn and Long Beach in the 1940s and 1950s. As I finished it, it changed. The final product is much different from the original idea.

Before moving to Palm Coast, we visited my wife’s, Marianne’s, brother who was renting a condo in Ormond Beach. Inside the condo was an unlocked closet with a sign on it: OWNER’S CLOSET. DO NOT OPEN. I wrote a short story about how that “DO NOT OPEN” almost ruined a renter’s vacation. I then wrote another 20 or so short stories on various topics and published them as Kiss Me, Kate.

I am now working on a second novel, working title The Extraordinary Banana Tree, about the fall of Saigon. The outline is all done, and about 180 pages have been completed. I am enjoying writing this as much as I enjoyed writing Brooklyn Boy. The hero, of course, works for Air America.

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