Featured Interview With Tom Fargnoli
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I am a retired engineer, teacher, magician, and ex-deacon in the Catholic Church. I grew
up in a small, one square mile, a town in South New Jersey, called Magnolia. I had a great
childhood growing up in the sixties. I lived on my bike and enjoyed so much freedom across
the entire town, walking to school, to church, buying candy at a nearby candy store, making
money with a paper route, and buying a hoagie for 35 cents and a huge milkshake for 60
cents at the nearby deli. I loved my high school years tremendously, playing football and
lifting weights, and driving my 1954 Chevy.
After college, I married my high school sweetheart and had two beautiful children who have
children of their own now. I was married for forty years, lived in a beautiful rancher for 40
years, and worked as an engineer for over forty years. Four years after my wife passed
away, I remarried. I am now living a small town called Clarksboro, also in New Jersey. I
would love to have another Golden Retriever, but my wife and I plan to travel a lot, so we
will postpone a pet for now. Together, we have 17 grandchildren.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
As an engineer and teacher, I was always writing to simplify complex material. I was rather
successful at this and traveled across the country teaching my visual and simplification
methods. My first book grew from this effort and was called, A Bridge to Simplicity through
Diagrams. I never marketed this book outside the engineering community but the book
could certainly be useful for anyone who wants to simplify the material for learning, teaching,
My first attempt to write a novel was inspired by a series of unexpected and unfortunate
events that happened to me over a four-year period. Through all of these events. my
psychologist kept telling me to write things down, so I did! I wrote about my grieving, about
my wife’s suicide, about the hardest decision I ever had to make, about the rejection that
resulted, and about the peace, I found through it all. So what began as a cathartic exercise,
thanks to the Holy Spirit, and being shut in by the Covid-19 virus, my novel was born!
I would say I am a new writer and plan to continue. Because of the letters, I’ve received from
readers of The Deacon – An Unexpected Life, I am starting to create notes toward a new book – a fictional book with a focus on reaching out to those who are yearning to be heard
and loved, showing them that, despite their pain, through it, they can grab glimpses of
hope, faith, peace, and love.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
Some of the books that I enjoyed and have inspired include:
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
The Shack, by William P. Young
The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham
Illusions, by Richard Bach
Seeds of Contemplation and The Seven Story Mountain, by Thomas Merton
Joshua, by Joseph Girzone
I am currently reading a book called, The Graveyard Book, a novel by and Neil Gaiman. What
is interesting about this book is that I am taking an on-line writing class taught by Neil
Gaiman and am learning various writing techniques, such as character development and
ways to move my readers. I hope to utilize these new skills in my new book.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My current book, The Deacon – An Unexpected Life, represents my life over the last five
years. I was happily married for 40 years and, studied to become a deacon for over 5 years,
and enjoyed serving as a deacon for 5 years. It was my dream to be a deacon in my
retirement. Life was good – wife, home, children, grandchildren, health, retirement, and an
amazing ministry. But then, unimaginable tragedy and horror came to my family.
First and foremost, my wife, suddenly and tragically, took her own life. Grieving the loss of a
spouse, or any loved one, is devastating but as I quickly learned, grieving is much more
complex when it involves losing your loved one to suicide. Secondly, when a deacon loses his
wife, he cannot pursue another loving relationship that could lead to marriage. I had to
commit to a life of celibacy and, essentially, to a life alone. I actually made this commitment
before I was ordained, but now, the reality of the rule was like cutting my arm off. I simply
could not make a decision and it drove me crazy. – I knew about this rule! This battle went
on for almost 2 years – I couldn’t decide. It drove me crazy –in fact, it landed me in the
hospital for open-heart surgery.
My faith was truly being tested, but I managed to hold onto it. But with that decision, came
something I never expected. Something worse than loneliness – Rejection – rejection from
the church, from some priests, even from some of my brother deacons.
After publishing the book, I was amazed to see how many people were touched by my story
and wrote letters to me. People who related to grieving and isolation, people who lost loved
ones from suicide, people who struggled with surgery and recovery, people who have faced
tough decisions, and people who have experienced rejection.
This book is my true story with a touch of fiction to make the story more moving. My goal
was to make sure my story moved the reader in the way it moved me. In other words, I
wanted the reader to feel my pain, my loneliness, my turmoil, and to relate to it. But I also
wanted the reader to experience my faith and my hope and to help them see glimmers of
faith and hope despite what they may be going through in their lives.
My message is that it is important to focus on those glimmers of light and together
with faith, it is possible to journey from the darkness to the light. In my book, I leave the
pain and loneliness behind as I journey with God to find my peace and light. In so doing, I
find love again and marry again. My wife, Dorothy, also lost her spouse tragically and
suddenly. We are both convinced that God, as well as our late spouses, brought us together.
All proceeds of this book go to Suicide Awareness.
My book is available on Amazon and Barns & Noble.
On my website, www.thomasfargnoli.com, you will find more about me and more about
my current book. In addition, I started a page of me performing some of my favorite
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