Farrell Mason wears many hats: mother of five, writer, pastoral minister, Vanderbilt Divinity grad student and more. Her two books, Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree and The Angel and the Raven, have received critical acclaim. We applaud Farrell for her many accomplishments, and we welcome her today as our FACE of Nashville.
How did you get started writing?
Over 10 years ago my first child, Charlie, was diagnosed with cancer. During his treatment I sent out emails sharing my journey. The writing was a very healing experience for me. When we moved from New York to Nashville, I entered the Divinity School at Vanderbilt. I had this amazing professor named Victor Judge who introduced me to Flannery O’Connor and Rilke. I was so inspired by how those authors used writing to reflect and study their faith. That is how Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree came to life! After my son finished treatment, I dedicated my life to raising funds and awareness for kids with cancer. So, it just made sense that all the proceeds from every book sold would go to helping kids like my son have a chance at life.
Can you give us a brief overview of your books?
Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree is a magical tale of a cooking school set on a French hilltop. Under the tutelage of Alma Gloria, more happens than just learning how to make the perfect cherry chocolate soufflé: lives are changed, bread is broken and shared, and love abounds.
The Angel and the Raven is a love story between a French baker and a chocolatier in Paris. Gabrielle arrives in Paris to work at the Levain Bakery, which turns out to be much more than a famous pastry shop — it is the earthly home of angels. She must accept her destiny or lose all that matters in the world. It beckons the question, “What does it mean to be an angel on Earth?”
Where do you draw inspiration for your books?
I once heard an interview by J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, where she said she writes to understand what she believes. This spoke to me. If you read my books, underneath the story there is a spiritual thread. I write to understand what I believe about love, hope, healing and redemption. The world in which we live can be such a struggle. We need stories that make us believe that the light defeats the darkness, that there’s always hope and that love endures all things!
As for inspiration, France is a big love of mine. It’s the place where my eyes, my tummy and my heart light up!
Tell us about your blog, Bread and Honey, and your mission with it.
I created Bread and Honey as a place you could come every Monday morning for a cup of hope. We all live such busy lives. I believe our spirits pay the heaviest price. My mission is to feed the soul! I write prayers, spiritual reflections and book reviews, and I post my favorite recipes — anything that might nourish the mind, the body and the spirit. In many ways, the blog reflects my own pilgrimage of faith. It’s really special; I hope you’ll check it out!
Is there a quote you have relied on that you can share with our readers?
“Prove yourself worthy of the miracle of your life.”
With all that you’ve been through and accomplished, do you have any fears?
Once you have had a child with cancer, you don’t sweat the small things. That said, you also are keenly aware of how the world can go terribly wrong in the blink of an eye. Writing has been one of the greatest blessings in my life because it allows me a safe place to air my fears. Somehow when I bring them to life in a story, they lose their power.
Is there a person who has provided you guidance in writing or served as a mentor?
I would say my greatest mentor is my mom. Not only is she my trusted editor, but she also has given me the most important advice for writing and life: Love is the purpose, it allows you to do things you never thought possible, and it always wins in the end!
Where do you go to recharge in Nashville?
That’s easy: Radnor Lake. It’s the best-kept secret in Nashville!
What is your favorite indulgence?
Trader Joe’s Pain au Chocolats. Trust me when I tell you, these chocolate croissants are the next-best thing to sitting in a Paris café.
What books are on your nightstand or e-reader?
I have just returned from a retreat at The Abbey of Gethsemani and picked up Thomas Merton’s A Book of Hours. Also, on the nightstand you’ll find The Alchemist, Rumi’s Little Book of Life, Cinnamon and Gunpowder and the cookbook The Little Paris Kitchen. Nothing like going to bed dreaming of a chocolate soufflé!
Where was your most recent, best meal in Nashville?
A nutella and banana crêpe at The Perch in Green Hills!
Is there any event you are especially looking forward to?
Celebrating my big 40th birthday on the Snake River in Jackson Hole, WY, this summer with friends and family.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends.
- A cup of Matcha tea with honey, a jug of olive oil and a crusty French baguette.
- Yoga with Raquel Bueno.
- Nutella, lots of it!
Thanks, Farrell! If you are interested in either of her books, stop by Parnassus Books on order online here.
Special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for the gorgeous photos each week of our FACES of Nashville: ashleyhylbert.com