James Harris

Local author James Harris is scheduled for an Author Talk at the South Portland Public Library on Jan. 21at 2 p.m.

Harris, a patron of the library, wrote “Tales from the Hayloft,” a collection of memoir stories about his life on a southern Maine farm and beyond.

Author Talks are a series run by the library’s Marie Plouffe. The series has been run for the past six years and features local authors. The writers visit the library and usually talk about their latest work, read from their book, talk about the creative processes, and often end with a question-and-answer session. Books are usually available for purchase at the sessions.

When Plouffe heard Harris had written a book, she asked him about doing the event.

“(Harris is) a patron at the library,” Plouffe said. “I believe it was before COVID, he mentioned he wrote a book, and he brought me in a copy to read. I ended up putting it in the library collection and I was just like, ‘Oh would you mind talking about it and doing an Author Talk here?’”

Harris was born in York County. His parents had a farm in Dayton: Harris Farm.


“By the time I was about 9 years old we had progressed and had a real tractor, and probably dad was milking 16 or 20 cows and the farm grew,” Harris said. “We all worked really hard to grow the farm. Today, the farm is around between 600 and 700 acres. My younger brother stayed on the farm and runs the farm. It’s the only farm left in Dayton that’s producing milk as far as I know.”

Author James Harris will visit South Portland Public Library on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. to discuss “Tales from the Hayloft: A Maine Farm Memoir.” Courtesy image

Harris graduated college in 1962 with a degree in automotive technology from Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute. He worked as a mechanic in a gas station, then as a diesel mechanic, before getting drafted into the military. He worked as a food inspector for the military and did inspections in stateside factories. He returned to Maine where he lives with his wife.

Harris worked as an independent claims adjuster for over 40 years and has been in the repair business for the last 25. He specializes in restoring antique collectible boat engines. At 82, Harris still spends three or four hours a day in his engine repair shop, The Engine Room.

The book is drawn upon this lifetime of experiences. “My book is about 35 different short stories about my experiences from 4 years old on,” Harris said.

Harris began writing when his wife, Nancy, joined a writing group in South Portland.

“My wife had joined a writing group maybe eight or nine years ago, that was supported by the Dempsey Center in South Portland,” Harris said. “She invited me to join the group, and I started doing a little bit of writing. And that’s how I got going with material that wound up in my book.”

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