Farrah Rochon has come a long way from writing between her classes as a psychology major at Xavier University in New Orleans. And she left behind her days working in human resources at Shell Oil and other day jobs.
Now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than 40 books to her credit, Rochon turned to another challenge: her first book aimed at young adults.
And it’s not just any YA story – it’s #13 in Disney’s “Twisted Tale” series, and it’s called “Almost There,” after the popular song from the feature film” The princess and the Frog”.
The “Twisted Tale” series is cleverly designed to bring young readers back into the movie universe, with the basic premise being that the heroine makes a different choice and changes everything.
In Tiana’s case, the choice is to make a deal with the Shadow Man to bring her father back to life so they can share the restaurant her family has dreamed of all her life. But such choices, as always, have consequences.
And when Tiana realizes that her deal with the Shadow Man is to add an evil potion to his famous gumbo, she begins a race against time to put her world back in order, painful as that may be.
“She was a different princess from the start,” Rochon said in a recent interview. “She had a strong work ethic, a strong will.
“A lot of people don’t realize she was based on Leah Chase, who was kind of glossed over in the movie. But Leah Chase was such an icon in the civil rights movement, I felt a special responsibility for to do things well. “
Rochon, already a Disney fan, first approached the company with the idea of writing for one of its franchises, after a tip from a writer friend. When an editor asked her if she could write YA fiction, she didn’t hesitate. “Sure!”
And “Almost There” hasn’t been his only successful release lately. In August, the third novel in his series entitled “The Boyfriend Project” was published. Like all of the books in the series, this novel, “The Hookup Plan,” features a strong black professional woman who is determined to have it all – love, success, family, and joy.
When Rochon writes and speaks, she beautifully and powerfully models black success.
“That’s what I know,” she said. “My grandparents had 11 children, 10 who survived, and they said to all 10, anyone who wants to go to college, can go to college… My aunt is a doctor. And my dad was an electrician for Monsanto and my mom was a teacher for 35 years.
When Rochon creates her characters, she keeps them strong and independent. “You know that line in ‘Jerry Maguire’, ‘Do you complete me?’
“Oh, no,” she said. “I don’t like the idea of a woman needing a man. You can complement me very well, but I would do just fine if I was on my own. I like to create women who can do very well on their own.
After various part-time jobs, Rochon is now a full-time writer, living in Gramercy.
“I treat it like it’s a day job,” she said of her writing. She uses a particular method – the Pomodoro technique, where you write for 25 minutes, then take a break for five minutes. The rhythm suits him well.
“I’m at my computer at 8:30,” she said. “And I try to do 10 intervals a day.” Which would explain how she was able to produce over 40 books in 10 years.
Rochon sees the literary community as another important source of support. “I belong to a group – there are 25 of us, and every year we get a house in Destin and get together.
“Now 90% of us are published,” she said. And that’s what success looks like.
Susan Larson hosts Reading Life on WWNO-FM.