From Spen to South Asia!

Author James Farrell
Author James Farrell

A journalist working in Thailand has had his first novel published that draws on his experiences growing up in Spen.

James Farrell, 39, who grew up in Gomersal, is now the editor of a news service in Thailand, and his book, Angry Birds, is out now.

James said his novel focuses on some of the problems that affect some of West Yorkshire’s communities, such as unemployment and drug-addiction, while remaining optimistic.

He added: “It’s a hopeful book that goes back to my experiences of growing up in Cleckheaton.

“Many of my school friends succumbed to hardships too young, and this has compelled me to try and help through writing fiction.”

The novel focuses on a schoolboy with a gambling problem, and how his idealist teacher attempts to help him and his classmates.

James grew up on Thorseby Drive, before leaving the area aged 22 to travel the world.

He said: “I left school without many qualifications and had let’s say quite a colorful life before I educated myself. I wanted adventure.”

After ending up in Thailand, he rose through the ranks at the Chiang Mai City News, the largest news service in northern Thailand, before becoming the editor.

But James said he still sometimes misses the scenery and people of Spen.

He said: “I’ve been back (to Spen) a few times and not much changes, the streets look almost as I imagine them.

“It’s different here in Thailand. The city where I live is changing by the week - trees are felled for glitzy malls all the time.

“I don’t think Gomersal has changed in the last century! But I think this is a good thing.

“I have so many fond memories of the UK, of those parks, of traipsing around country lanes all night with friends. People don’t do that in Thailand.”

He also holds a special place in his heart for the Spenborough Guardian, as he did work experience at the paper in 1993.

He said: “I was 19 and it was a small office, with just me and lots of women – I felt shy all the time and blushed for about two weeks!

“I didn’t have much writing experience then, but I knew I would write and, with practice, as in any trade, I improved.

Angry Birds is available now on