James Duncan Connolly is an Australian writer and artist/ painter of Irish descent. He grew up in a Christian family, in country Queensland. From early in his life, he questioned the realities around him, and his internal and external struggles led him on a quest to understand himself, people and life. His journey as a young man led him to the Bahá’í Faith and has been a member of the Bahá’í community since then.
His driving interest has been the nature of the human creature, and this life. It has led him to many sources from psychology to history to religious texts. He also believes in the wisdom of nature, and in human inner vision, as great sources of joy and understanding; but believes that only by living life can anyone really hold knowledge.
James is a symbolic artist and his art work has been used as covers for all his three novels. While he is a writer and an artist he has been in business for over thirty years. He played both rugby league and rugby union as a young man, and had a very adventurous youth. Since becoming a Baha’i, he has given many years of dedicated service to others. He has worked with children, youth and adults, but mainly worked as a facilitator for training and coordination of spiritual education. He is no stranger to life and so his writing and art, while philosophical, are grounded in life experience, and are greatly influenced by his Faith.
James has also been writing philosophical realizations and poetry, under the acronym JDC for a number of years, and are a reflection of his understanding of life.
All Things Baha’i was privileged to interview Baha’i and author, James Duncan Connolly about his passion for writing and his trilogy featuring the life of Jack Johnston and his magnificent quest for The Department of Truth. I really enjoyed reading the trilogy and was very excited to know more about the author that inspired the novels.
All Things Baha’i: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I had been writing reflections and poems for many years, but one day when I read parts of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the sheer beauty and joy of the English language and storytelling, wafted past my soul. I knew I wanted to write a book. I also saw clearly the great opportunity, which the melding of symbolic story and science fiction would allow me; that being, the freedom to explore as well as represent spiritual themes and meaning. I remember the phrase, “A new mythology” dancing around in my head. Anyway, the idea of writing wandered around in the background for a time, until the title “The Department of Truth” came to me. The title catapulted me into writing, but I would say that it was in the process of writing this trilogy itself that made me realize fully that I wanted to be a writer.
All Things Baha’i: Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a fairly standard human being. I’ve lived in various places, but mostly in country Australia. I was brought up working cattle, loved playing football, and had a wild early adulthood. I have a basic education and have worked all my adult life, and now have two grown children. They are one of the two great loves of my life, the other being the Baha’i Faith. After I found the Faith, so much opened up to me, and I found talents and abilities I did not know I possessed. I am really Baha’i trained, although I have looked into, and explored, the human condition from various sources; but it is in the University of Life that we are all educated really. The Faith has permeated my being, and I have involved myself as deeply as I could in its work over 30 years now.
All Things Baha’i: What gave you the idea for the trilogy?
I started to write the first book, and what I loved naturally poured into it. It was not by design that the book was going to share Baha’i concepts and culture, but I soon realized it was going to be a teaching book. The second two books evolved from the first, and consist of what I gathered in the years between writing the first book and actually publishing it. Things I just had to share, to complete the picture for those who might be seekers of the Faith. So, the idea of the trilogy was something that evolved, just like my finding that I wanted to be a writer…and to be quite frank, the depth of the well of this Faith, and its constant evolution, is an endless ocean of books just waiting to be written.
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All Things Baha’i: Can you tell us about the main character?
Jack is the main character, and people can wander with him through his experiences, and take what they may. He travels to a future Baha’i world in the first book, and goes on pilgrimage for example, and the reader can tag along. Jack is a non-threatening channel to share the beauty of the Faith to the reader.He is also simply a person who is taken by his heart, and his longing, into deeper places; a very standard person seeking to understand things far beyond him. He is always in learning mode. He is like all of us, learning, growing, being challenged, getting lost, trying hard, getting tired, but he is taken by his journeys to greater knowledge of our reality, and the reality of existence. He is part of the trilogy’s aim to put the Faith on the ground for people, even though the stories wander in imaginative places.
All Things Baha’i: What do you hope the reader takes away from reading the trilogy?
I hope that people take away some inspiration, new ideas, and a love for story. This trilogy encourages the reader to explore their own understanding of life, Faith and the search for the Truth. I hope that readers can identify themselves and relate to the various characters in the trilogy. The books have much deeper meaning in the story line, and I would be very happy if readers would want to revisit the books a number of times, catching little fish they did not notice, and even studying parts of it with others, to glean more from their own shared interaction with the stories, or parts of them. My greatest hope though, is that people may be able to re-link with God, religion and the Holy Word, through this non-threatening and gentle way; through story. I hope the books will create some need to search, and start many elevated conversations if they are shared.
All Things Baha’i: Where can one purchase the trilogy, as a set or individually?
These books can be purchased individually and as a trilogy. The main book of course is the Department of Truth which sets the stage for the characters in all three books. I have provided links to each book on my website jamesdconnolly.com ,and are available in soft cover and E-books. Readers in Australia can buy soft cover copies directly from me by sending me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of All Things Baha’i, I want to extend our gratitude to James for his time and openness to share aspects of his life with us. We send our love and warmest regards to him and his family. May God continue to bless all his efforts.
Finally, a special heartfelt thank you to Lubna Sid for helping coordinate our interview with James. Our loving regards to her and her family.