Farrah Rochon’s newest story, Passion’s Song is out this month as part of the Harlequin Kimani Febraury Lineup. (I’ve written a DIK review of it for AAR).

A friends to lovers story, this tale is about April Knight, who tutored Damien Alexander in high school. The two have remained in touch, not an easy thing while April was a touring concert cellist. After several years building highly successful careers, they find themselves back in New Orleans, ready to share their success with the city that made them who they are. But they have very different ideas about how to best help their old neighborhood. And they find that their friendship seems ready to grow into something just a little bit deeper. . .

Ms. Rochon is giving away a free copy of the book to one lucky reader. Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a copy of Passion’s Song.


 

I’ve been a big fan of Ms. Rochon’s since I first discovered her back in 2012 through her novel Always and Forever. I’m delighted to be able to talk books with her today:

Maggie: Tell me a little about yourself and how you first connected with Harlequin’s Kimani Line?

Farrah: It goes without saying that I’m an avid reader. I also love to travel–Disney World and New York City are my favorite places on Earth. However, I’m also traveling abroad a lot these days. I also love Broadway (If anyone wants to gush over Hamilton, I’m here!), and I’m a huge sports fan. I’m already counting down the days to the 2016 NFL season. My love affair with Harlequin has been decades in the making. Ever since those days when I would marvel over my Aunt Lois’s 3,000+ collection of Harlequins, it has been a dream of mine to write for them. Back in 2010, I wrote a single-title football story, and even though it was over 90,000 words, my agent still sent it to Harlequin. The Kimani line wanted it! I had to cut over 40,000 words, but it was worth it. It was the beginning of a relationship that spanned over 15 novels and novellas in the last six years.

Maggie: I love your Bayou Dreams series. Can we talk a little bit about the inspiration for those books?

Farrah: I grew up in a tiny town tucked away on the Louisiana bayou, so the Bayou Dreams series is very much connected to my hometown. However, the series was inspired by an episode of one of my favorite TV shows from the 90’s, A Different World. There’s an episode where one of the characters finds a hidden room that is suspected to be a part of the Underground Railroad. I go into a lot more detail regarding that aspect of the storyline in Yours Forever, the third book in the series.

Maggie: I remember that episode! That was one of my favorite 90’s TV shows too.

One of the things that stands out to me about your novels is the courtship aspect of the relationship. I feel like the characters in your books have the charming, sexy special moments that make up the process of falling in love. That really helps me to believe in the HEA at the end of the novel. Can we talk about that a bit? Where do you get the inspiration for the dates? What draws you as a writer to highlight this aspect of the relationship?

Farrah: I love the “falling in love” part. The awkwardness, the sweetness and sensuality; it’s such fun to write. As for coming up with ideas for the date scenes, there are a number of places I look to for inspiration. For example, I love looking at travel blogs. Most will detail the most romantic areas of a particular city. Even if it doesn’t fit my particular setting, I can glean things from them. Other times, it just comes naturally based on the story and what it dictates.

Maggie: Another thing I love about your books are the amazingly independent heroines. Not only do they have their own careers, their own homes and their own friends but they have hobbies and passions independent of the hero. It really makes their relationship with the hero a meeting of equals. A lot of them such as Paxton Jones from Stay with Me Forever had to overcome some hurdles to get where they are. What inspires you to write such amazingly strong women? Do you base them on people you know?

Farrah: Some time ago I was included in a list of feminist romance novelists. I never labeled myself a feminist until then, because, well, I was just being me. These are the kind of women I’m used to seeing in my own life. My mother, aunts, sister, and cousins are all strong women who are very much like my independent heroines.

Maggie:  I hadn’t thought of your stories as feminist either but it does make sense you would make such a list. Your heroines are among the most independent that I’ve read in contemporary romance.

Your newest novel Passion’s Song doesn’t seem to be part of a series. Is it purely a standalone or do you plan to start something with it?

Farrah: Passion’s Song is a standalone novel. I was inspired to write a story during the preparations for the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and Passion’s Song is the result. As someone who has read the story, I’m sure you picked up on my feelings about how New Orleans continues to struggle a decade after the storm. It’s deeply personal, and I’m grateful I was given the chance to express it through my writing.

Maggie: That passion does come across in your story, especially through heroine April.

April Knight from Passion’s Song is a community crusader. I loved her passion for the Ninth Ward and how actively she sought to help the youth of her area. In fact, most of your characters are deeply involved with their communities. Is there a particular inspiration for that? I think it really highlights a compassionate, able to think of others side to the character. Would you agree?

Farrah: Here’s the simple answer: My mother. She retired after thirty-five years of teaching high school, but you’d never know it. She’s still incredibly involved with the school system. She’s also currently the president of our small community’s civic association, an active member of the band booster club, and a number of other civic-minded organizations throughout the area. The importance of giving back to the community has been ingrained in me from childhood, and it tends to show up in my stories. It’s just a part of my makeup.

Maggie: A lot of your characters, like April, have a musical side to them. Are you a musician or just a music lover?

Farrah: I have the least musical talent of anyone I know, but many of my extended family members sing and several play instruments. Also, growing up in the New Orleans area, it’s hard not to love great music. I actually have an idea for another series that centers around music. I’m excited to write it!

Maggie: That sounds like a great idea for a series; I look forward to reading it.

I adore the fact that there is no need to one up the heroine from your heroes. They seem to accept the heroine’s equality from the start, as Damien did with April. How do you feel that affects your writing and the quality of the HEA?

Farrah: Again, it’s something that I’ve seen since birth. My own parents, who have been married nearly 45 years, have always had a relationship based on mutual respect. I’m not sure I would be able to write a love story that doesn’t include that.

Maggie: Passion’s Song is a friend to lover’s story. I’ll admit this isn’t one of my favorite tropes but I absolutely loved this one. What do you think is the appeal of that trope?

Farrah: It happens to be one of my favorite tropes, so it was great to write another friends to lovers story. I think the part I love about it most is that the characters have a history together that serves as a foundation for the eventual romance. In my stories, the friendship is often times built on a shared respect and mutual trust. It makes the romance more believable. 

Maggie: Speaking of love, I fell a little in love with Damien’s brother Kurt in the few glimpses of him I got in this novel. (I pictured him as looking a bit like Deon Cole, a celebrity crush of mine.) Do you plan to do a book about his romance? (Please say yes, please, please say yes.)

Farrah: You’re not the first person to ask for Kurt’s story. I hadn’t considered it, especially because Passion’s Song is a standalone and my final book for the Harlequin Kimani line, but I’ve learned to never say never in this business. Maybe one day I’ll be able to write Kurt’s story. Psst…I love Deon Cole, too!

Maggie: Why the change from Kimani -are you moving to self-publishing or have you found a different publisher?

Farrah: I’m self-publishing for now, but I do plan to eventually move to another New York house if one will have me. I just felt that after 16 books, Kimani had taken me as far as they could.

Maggie: What do you have in the works?

Farrah: I recently published Any Way You Want It, the sixth story in my Moments in Maplesville novella series. It’s a spinoff of the Bayou Dreams series, and has quickly become a fan favorite. I’m currently working on the next in that series. I’m also considering revisiting one of my old series, but I don’t want to say which one just yet. *smile*

Maggie: Thanks for talking with me!

 

Maggie Boyd