We also discuss her term on the board of RWA, which ended late last year, within the limits of what she’s able to talk about. And Farrah shares with us memories of her late sister Tamara, who died suddenly in December 2019. Farrah talks a bit about what happened to Tamara, so if that’s a potentially painful subject for you, skip ahead a minute at 37:15.
Thank you to Farrah for sharing her sister with all of us, and for our lovely conversation.
Get 15% your purchase of Sudio bluetooth headphones using code SB at checkout! And have a look at their new bluetooth earbuds, the Sudio Fem.
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Sarah Wendell: Well, hello there. Thank you for inviting me to hang out in your ears or on a speaker or however you’re listening. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. This is Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, episode number 408, and my guest today is Farrah Rochon.
Farrah is the author of the new contemporary romance The Boyfriend Project, so of course we’re going to talk about that book. It is the first in a series about three women who meet when a date that one of them is on with a serial cheater goes viral and they realize they’ve all been seeing the same terrible man. Then they become close, supportive friends, but no worries, no spoilers. It’s hard to do an interview without spoilers about a new book, but we pull it off!
And we also talk about friendship, creating your own incredible writing retreat, and Broadway musicals, ‘cause if you follow Farrah online you know she likes a little bit of Broadway. We also talk about her term on the board of RWA, which ended late last year, though I have to stay within boundaries of what she’s able to talk about.
And Farrah also shares with us memories of her late sister Tamara, who died suddenly in December 2019. Farrah talks a little bit about what happened to her, so if that’s going to be a potentially painful subject for you, you want to skip ahead a minute at around 37:15.
I want to thank Farrah for sharing her sister with us and for our lovely conversation. I really like this episode, and I hope you do too.
I will have links where you can find Farrah on her website, her Instagram, her Twitter, and her Facebook group, and I’ll have a link to the last interview I did with her many years ago, episode 94. This episode is way overdue, because Farrah is really fun to talk to.
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I have a compliment! I love this part! Okay. [Clears throat] Serious blogger voice – no, serious podcaster voice. Both. Either way. Very serious.
Andi M.: All the most popular tattoos and drawings on Pinterest and Instagram have something in common: your name is hidden inside each one.
Now, if you’re thinking, that was nifty and weird! and you would like a compliment of your very own, please have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches. The Patreon community helps me make sure that every episode is transcribed and is accessible to everyone, and you keep the show going each week, so thank you to the Patreon community. If you’d like to have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches, it would be marvelous if you did.
Hello, Patreon community! You’re all fabulous today!
I have one more thing to tell you about: Sudio has released a new, nifty Bluetooth earbud set called the Fem, and they sent me a pair to try out. I really like them, and I would be wearing them right now except my sons took them and have worked out a sharing plan between them that does not include me: that is how great they are. The Fem are little in-ear Bluetooth earbuds. They’re wireless, comfortable, lightweight; they have excellent sound; and they have microphones on both sides. There’s twenty hours of play time, and the case charges them in between each usage. They’re splash- and rain- and sweat-proof. My older son says the sound quality is really great for his jazz playlists, and my younger son didn’t answer my request because he was using them to play games with his friends online. Sudio also provides free worldwide shipping. I have a discount code! If you use code SB, you will get fifteen percent off any purchase. I will have a link in the show notes where you can take a look at all of their options, including the Fem, but fifteen percent off and free worldwide shipping with discount code SB: super great!
And now, let’s do this interview with Farrah Rochon and The Boyfriend Project. On with the podcast!
Farrah Rochon: Hello! I am Farrah Rochon. I am a full-time writer, but I am also a lover of all things Disney and travel and Broadway and chocolate and sports, and that’s me! I’m also the author of The Boyfriend Project; I guess I should put that in there as well.
Sarah: Yeah, you definitely need to mention The Boyfriend Project. Congratulations!
Farrah: Thank you!
Sarah: It’s out! It’s finally out! The Boyfriend Project’s finally here.
Sarah: Can you tell me a little bit about the book for readers who haven’t, haven’t started it yet? And I try to keep the episodes spoiler free about new books, so we want to tempt people with as much detail as possible. If you just want to start reading it from chapter one, that is also an option.
Farrah: Okay! Well, for one thing, I hate reading my own work, so I probably –
Farrah: – won’t do that! But I can absolutely tell readers about the book. It’s what I call my “romantic women’s fiction type book”? Because, you know, I’m, I’m a romance writer for sure, but there’s definitely something different about this book that kind of made it a romance, but with so much more going into it, so –
Farrah: The Boyfriend Project is a story about three women who actually discover – very early in the book; it’s not a spoiler – that they are all dating the same guy, and it happens through a Twitter, a live tweet. One of the women is on a date, and the date is going so fantastically horrible that she starts live-tweeting it, and the other women discover while, you know, looking at Twitter that, hey, I know this guy, and they all, the other two women show up at the restaurant, and they all confront him, and just this instant sisterhood is born between those three women, and over a bunch of Moscow Mules, they decide that they’re going to team up and start working on themselves, because they all realize that they have been dating because society tells them that, you know, they’re successful, now they need a successful relationship, and they all decide, you know what, forget what society says. We need to work on ourselves and make sure that we have accomplished the goals we set for ourselves, so that’s what The Boyfriend Project, that’s the, the crux of the story. But of course, you know, a hot guy comes into the mix, so one of the women, her Boyfriend Project gets a little derailed when her hot coworker shows up. So the book is really, it’s about – you know, it’s definitely a romance. There’s a romance between Samiah Brooks and Daniel Collins, who, who’s the hero, but it’s also equally about these three women and their friendship, their, their sisterhood, and just navigating through, you know, being young professional women and dealing with what life throws at you.
Sarah: It sounds like it was really fun to write these women. Like, their conversations are so real and lively; like, you feel like you’re eavesdropping on real friends –
Sarah: – and that must have been really fun to write.
Farrah: I totally want to be these, you know, I want to be a part of their squad?
Farrah: I totally do! It really, it was by far the best part of the book to write, once – and, you know, that chemistry between those three women? It just popped off the page. When I started writing the book, I was, it, it was just like my regular romances. You know, I knew it was going to be a series about these three women, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t necessarily plan for their friendship to take such a, a big role on the page. It just happened, because of that first scene when I was writing, where they just, you know, they all, their personalities came out just very early on, and I just knew, okay, this is going to be a little different, because it’s too good not to continue, you know, to, to have more scenes with them just interacting with each other. That just, it just happened! It, it really was, it was so much fun.
Sarah: And I imagine that was, it was really nice to write the kind of friends that you love to have.
Farrah: Yes! Yes. These, these women, you know, I’ve had friendships come and go, and even, you know, groups of friendships. It’s something, you know, after forty-three years on this planet, it’s, you, you can have, you, you realize that there are different things that people are willing to put into their friendships and not, and sometimes you just have to tell yourself, okay, I’m not willing to put any more into this? I think it’s time to just let this end, and that’s happened to me several times, and I’m also open now to knowing that I could have friendships that are absolutely perfect for this time in my life, but it will go eventually? And –
Farrah: – that’s kind of where, you know, I, I drew on that as I was writing, the, the friendship between Samiah, Taylor, and London, because I have had these fabulous relationships with friends all throughout my life, from women that I, I found through the Judith McNaught bulletin board –
Farrah: – almost twenty years ago exactly? [Laughs] Well before I, I, you know, thought I would be romance or anything? I’m, I’m still friends with so many of those women. Some of them have kids graduating from college and high school, friends –
Farrah: – kids that I knew them before their parents even had them? That’s how long I’ve been friends with –
Farrah: Yeah! Yeah! [Laughs] You know, and some I’m, I, I’ve fallen out of friendships with them, but others, yeah, we’ve been friends for twenty years, and we met because we love Judith McNaught. And I have friends that I’ve met through writing, of course, that have become just some of the closest people to me in the world. So, yeah; so those relationships are so important.
Sarah: Because the story is centered on the friendship between these three women, and I know a lot of people often feel, like you said, that friendships come into your life at different times, and it can be hard to make friends as an adult –
Sarah: – when you were writing this, were you thinking about particular friendships that you have in your life? Were there people that inspired these individuals, or were they sort of composites of all of the best things of the people you know?
Farrah: You know, the composite, thinking of them as a composite of others, that’s, that’s definitely those three women. You know, I have, I, I don’t know how popular we are, but I’m sure some people in, in the romance world have heard of my Destin Divas? They’ve kind of made a name for –
Sarah: Yes! I’m going to ask you about that, so tell me all about it!
Farrah: [Laughs] Okay, yes! My Des-, my Destin Divas, I could definitely, you know, we’ve, we’ve shared lots around glasses of wine and, and drinks before, and I definitely pulled from those experiences. My Destin Divas are a group of friends that – it’s funny, because they were all my friends? And I thought that all of these ladies were also friends with each other, ‘cause I guess I’m just, you know, I think, oh, if you’re friends with me, of course you’re friends with all of my friends too. I don’t know where I was thinking.
Farrah: But it’s true! It was actually born out of two, it was myself and another friend who, we discovered that our local RWA chapter, some, some members of it, of it had a retreat, and both of us were, we didn’t know anything about the retreats until after they happened, and, you know, I thought, wow!
Farrah: You know, I’ve known these people for a long time. They could have at least given me the option to say, oh, thanks but no thanks, but they didn’t? So I decided, I’m going to hold my own retreat –
Farrah: – and I’m going to just, you know, get some friends and ask them if they want to, to join us, and it, it actually was, it was kind of random in the friends that I picked, because I, you know, I just went on Facebook and looked at some people. I’m like, oh yeah, this person probably would come, and others I thought, we were doing it in Destin, so I thought, okay, the people in Atlanta, they would probably be able to drive in, so I just, you know, I just randomly picked some friends, and five years later, we are so close, and they are such a support; you know, they will support you through everything! And like I said, so many of them did not know each other when we got there, to the house that we rented on the beach –
Farrah: – and people were introducing themselves to each other, and I’m like, wait, what? You don’t know her? How do you not know her? [Laughs] That’s when I realized that, oh, wait, these are all my friends! But some of them did not know each other, and now, you know, the Atlanta girls will get together like once a month – well, not in this day and age, but – [laughs] –
Farrah: – you know, before corona came and messed things up, they would get together, you know, just on a monthly basis or so. It’s, so many friendships have come into play because of that, and it makes me feel amazing to know that from something that kind of was, you know, kind of hurt my feelings, being left out of a retreat, could produce something that has become so wonderful and supportive and truly a sisterhood if, if there ever was one. We do, it’s, it’s, you know, there’s so much support, and there’s, there’s some of us who have not been published yet, some who have been in the game for quite a while, some who were published years ago and have been out of the game. It’s all, all, you know, parts of our professional lives you can see there, but it’s just that friendship, and just being able to count on someone and call on them when you need them has just been amazing. So yeah, when it comes to, you know, strong female friendships and the importance of it, I thankfully had a lot to draw upon when it came to writing those three characters. I’m very lucky.
Sarah: One of the things that we talked about when I did an interview with you several years ago –
Sarah: – I don’t know if you remember that –
Sarah: – ages ago – we talked about how everyone deserves to be seen in romance, and now that it’s been six years, there’s been a lot of improvement, and it, and it, and it strikes me that one of the values of the friends that you have is that you see each other authentically, and then all of that authenticity and that love and that, that candor and the way that you support each other finds its way into your characters, so not only –
Sarah: – do you have greater representation of everyone who should be inside the, the romance genre, but you have representation of, of friendship that is built on such love and trust and professional and personal support.
Sarah: Do you look back and think, wow, wow! Look at, look at what we did! Do you look back and think, damn!?
Farrah: Oh, absolutely! Absolutely, you know, and I, I remember when we, when we talked the last time, it was at an RWA conference or something, and it’s probably about five or six –
Farrah: – years ago. And –
Farrah: – you know, the landscape has definitely changed a lot. There’s still –
Sarah: Oh yeah.
Farrah: – a long, long way to go. [Laughs] You know, there’s so, there’s so much –
Farrah: – that can still be done, but yeah, I, I look at how many of just, just with my Destin Divas, how many have been able to sell, you know, and are, are published now because the industry has opened up a bit more for authors of color? And they are, they’re the ones I want to support, because I know how wonderful their books are, and I want people to read those stories and just get another perspective. I want readers to be able to read these stories and give these authors a chance, and I, I think people would be surprised that, you know, that they were missing this.
Sarah: I asked my Patreon audience, and Leigh wanted me to ask you – first of all, she’s very excited for this interview –
Sarah: – and she wanted to know about your research project, bringing a STEM heroine to life, and, ‘cause she loved –
Sarah: – learning about, is it Suh-my-uh?
Farrah: Samiah, yeah.
Sarah: Samiah, thank you. She loved learning about Samiah’s work and her side hustle, and Leigh thought that Trendsetters sounded like such a cool workplace, which absolutely true, so you’re not only inventing, like, wonderful friendship groups, but you’re inventing a most wonderful workplace.
Sarah: What was your research like that, for that like? What, what research did you do?
Farrah: Well, I, I’m one of those people who, I love to research because it’s a way to procrastinate, but I can tell myself, oh, but I need to do this! So the very –
Farrah: You know, Trendsetters really is extremely cool, and there is – I wish I could design buildings like that, that are green and have all of these cool, you know – it, it was just, it was a lot of fun looking into that. But the research and the whole, the STEM aspect, I pulled upon stuff from when I actually lived and worked in Austin, Texas, for a tech company.
Sarah: No kidding!
Farrah: I did, yeah! I worked for, like, all of that, I don’t want to get too tech-y, but, you know, all of that WiMAX integration and all of that stuff, that’s the kind of stuff that my old company used to, and I was actually just the office manager, you know, HR-type person. I did pretty much everything ‘cause it was a small company, but of course I, you know, I had to hear about all of this stuff, so I, I used that as, like, the basis for what Trendsetters did as a company. I absolutely wanted everything to be plexiglass or, you know, like where you can see everything, but then just be able to frost the, frost the walls so that they can have privacy? And if I tell you how much time I spent trying to research just glass walls that can be –
Farrah: – my editor would probably choke me; like, that’s why you were late with this book, because you were researching glass walls? But yes, I spent so much time – [laughs]. I hope she doesn’t listen to this, because it’s true!
Farrah: – this really cool, you know, and everything was so cool, and, you know, the smart boards that they use now, and – it was so much fun. I’d love to work at Trendsetters.
Sarah: This book is in trade and hardcover for Book of the Month Club!
Sarah: How does that feel? Were you excited about that?
Farrah: Oh my gosh! I screamed when they told me –
Farrah: – when they told me that it was, that Book of the Month had picked it, you know? Because, I mean, come on! How cool? How cool is that? And it’s such a lovely hardcover. They really have stepped it up from when my mom used to get those Danielle Steeles from the Book of the Month Club. They are gorgeous, gorgeous covers! So yeah, I, you know, it’s gorgeous, and it’s been so much fun looking at everyone’s Instagram that they tag me in with their Book of the Month Club pick, you know. It’s, it’s –
Farrah: Yeah. My Instagram is so happy right now, because everyone’s tagging me in their pretty pictures that they, they put up. So yeah, it’s, it’s amazing. And this is my first trade.
Sarah: Oh, mazel tov!
Farrah: Yes, yes! This is the first time I’ve, I’m coming out in trade, and that too is, you know, it’s so cool. I can’t wait to mask up and go to Target and see the book, you know, out there in the streets?
Farrah: I want to be –
Sarah: Yeah, a bit of a different launch experience this time around.
Farrah: Yes, yes. Definitely.
Sarah: I also want to ask about the next books in the series. This is a trilogy, right?
Farrah: Yes! Yes.
Sarah: So are you, are you done with book two? Are you working on book three?
Farrah: I am done with book two as of a week and a half ago or so? [Laughs] Yeah.
Farrah: But believe me, I, I cried like a baby when I finally did it, because it was due back in January, honestly.
Sarah: Oh dear, no!
Farrah: I know! I know, but life has been kind of, like, crazy. So thankfully my publisher has been very accommodating. They gave me a bunch of time to finish the book, and I finally finished. It will be Taylor Powell, who’s the young one of the, the trio. It’s her book that will be next. I have a title, but I’m not sure if I can say it, because I’m not sure if it’s the final title. [Laughs]
Sarah: You mentioned that this, this book was due in, in January –
Sarah: – and some, some things happened before that.
Sarah: Really shitty things on multiple, multiple levels, and I wanted to ask you a little bit about some of them. I know that there are many, many things pertaining to RWA that you are not permitted to talk about, so I don’t want you to think that I’m going to put you in a position where you have to be like, I can’t answer that, I can’t answer that.
Sarah: So I, I understand the position that you are in, and you have all of my empathy for that position.
Farrah: Thank you.
Sarah: I cannot imagine having to end your board service that way.
Farrah: Yeah. It was my fifth, I was in the middle of my fifth term on the national board. Yeah. And it was –
Farrah: – it was kind of insane, but also very disappointing in how it all ended. Yes.
Sarah: Are you still a member, or have you resigned your membership as well?
Farrah: I am still a member, and it’s because my membership, you know, my date is in June, I think, so I still have –
Farrah: – a few weeks? Yeah, I just, it’s amazing how, you know, I’ve been a member for RWA for eighteen years. I, I remember when I joined back in 2002, it was like two months before the conference, and I went to Denver to that first conference, and I have not missed a single conference since? I’ve gone to all of them. It has such a big part of my life, and at this point it’s like, oh, okay, yeah. RWA, I remember that. It’s just such –
Farrah: – I, I don’t, it’s just not a priority right now, so I’m not really sure if I will, you know, pay my dues and remain a member?
Farrah: I am pulling for –
Farrah: – this new board, absolutely –
Farrah: – and the new executive director, Leslie Scantlebury, is the absolute best person they could have put in that position, and I am, I’m rooting for them. But, you know, with the, it’s, it’s kind of crazy with the way that the coronavirus has, you know, changed so much, because I was interested to see what would happen, like, with the conference and all of that, but all, everything –
Farrah: – is just on pause now, so it’s very, it’s such a weird time right now. But I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure if I’m going to pay, pay my money and remain a member? I guess it’ll come up when I get those five hundred emails telling me, you know, you’re about to expire! I don’t –
Farrah: – that I have not made up my mind yet. It’ll depend on how I feel.
Sarah: I think that makes a lot of sense, and it also, it reflects something you said earlier about how there are relationships that come to an end in your life –
Sarah: – and, and for me, speaking personally, I, I resigned my membership. I renewed on December 31st at 4:59 p.m. with a lot of anger –
Sarah: – because I wanted to preserve my vote –
Sarah: – and then as things continued and continued, I was like, I, I can’t do this anymore and I, I, I resigned my membership and got a refund, which I was very grateful for –
Sarah: – but I looked at it and I thought, I think my time with this has to come to an end. Speaking solely for myself, I was exhausted. I cannot imagine how exhausted –
Sarah: – you were at that time. Like, my exhaustion was a tiny, tiny, infinitesimal piece of what other people were going through –
Sarah: – and I was like, this is a lot, and I need to be done now.
Sarah: And it’s, it’s hard to make that decision with commitments and relationships. It’s really hard to make a decision to say, okay, I, I need to, I need to pause. I need to be done for a while.
Farrah: You know, with RWA, it is, it’s, it’s weird, because I was so excited; I think about how excited I was when I left our in-person board meeting back in November –
Sarah: Oh my gosh.
Farrah: – because it was such a great meeting, and we had so much that we were planning. You know, the – of course, I probably would be even more upset knowing that we would have to cancel the conference if it had, you know, come to pass and we had the conference that I thought we were going to have back in November?
Farrah: Because we had, it was just so much that we had planned, and we had this program that Pintip Dunn and a task force came up with called RAMP that was kind of like a Pitch Wars for, you know, romance, and it was just so much! It was so many great things that we had coming up, and it just seemed like, you know, some people lit a match and decided to blow it all up!
Sarah: Oh no.
Farrah: And I think back on the last five years and how much of my time and just mental energy that I put into it. You know, when I joined the board, someone told me, and I can’t remember who, said that it’s like giving up a book a year with the amount of time that, you know, you have to spend. So I sacrificed a lot for RWA, especially in these last five years, and I still vacillate between anger and sadness when I think about, you know, how much of that just seems like it meant nothing now because of the actions of some people that I can’t talk about. But it’s kind of upsetting, you know, to think about it, and I, I haven’t had the chance to mourn RWA in the way that I know I will eventually have to, because after eighteen years and, you know, everything it has meant for my career, I will tell people, I’ll, I’ll always say that RWA is, it may not be the reason that I’m published, but I don’t think I would have gotten, I know I wouldn’t have gotten published as quickly as I did or made these connections that, it, it was a huge part of what has made me a person and an author, definitely. And I know I still have to mourn losing that, especially in the way that we lost it.
But other things happened that – actually, on that same day that I resigned from my position as a board member – that kind of just put RWA on the back burner for me, so – but eventually, eventually, I know I will just have to, to mourn the loss of it, because it was, it’s been such a huge part of my life for almost half my life, and you, you don’t just lose that without, you know, having to go through a lot of emotions for it and work through those emotions.
Sarah: Looking at RWA and how excited you had been at the end of that board meeting, do you think that – well, no, I can’t actually ask you, ‘cause you can’t answer that question. Let me back up.
What do you wish to happen with RWA going forward? Is that something you can talk about?
Farrah: Oh, absolutely! I mean, I, I hope that RWA can be more welcoming, of course, to more authors, but I also hope that it can continue its advocacy, because that was the, that was the thing for me, for RWA.
Farrah: You know, of course it was a place that I made so many different friendships and such, but I think – and it wasn’t until I became a member of the board that I realized how powerful RWA really could be, when it –
Sarah: Oh yeah!
Farrah: – came to advocating for authors. You know, it’s, there are so many things that happened behind the scenes that as just a general member –
Farrah: – that I did not know about, and I think back on so many instances where publishers, you know, maybe were doing things that were not the best, and because RWA was there to, I won’t say threaten them, but give them pause – [laughs] – you know, that they changed course, and what scares me –
Farrah: – you know, without having a healthy RWA, I just think about what this could mean for authors and their careers. You know, we were making headway into Facebook and Amazon and, you know, to, to be able to advocate for authors on authors’ behalves to those companies too, that make such a huge difference in the careers of authors, and that’s the thing that scares me the most about RWA not being what it was prior to December?
Farrah: And to lose that, it just scares me. So, you know, on a, on a grander scale, I want RWA to be the type of organization that I know it can be, where it is welcoming to every person who wants to be a member, but also –
Farrah: – that that advocacy work, that they can build themselves up to where that can be even stronger than it was.
Farrah: Because, you know, writers, it’s not as if writers can unionize or anything like that, and RWA was not a union, it was a trade association, but it really did help, you know; it worked on behalf of authors. And authors need that. Even people who were not members of RWA still, they benefitted from the things that RWA did within this industry, and, you know, we haven’t really had enough time to see what, what it would mean in the publishing industry without RWA being that, you know, that presence yet.
Farrah: And really, I fear what that, what that would mean for, for us as authors, those of us who are authors, so yeah. I want it to, to continue to be an advocate.
Sarah: Yeah. I – that’s the thing that I was thinking about the most too. Like, the, the loss of negotiating power –
Sarah: – with entities like Facebook, like publishing houses, with –
Sarah: – with Amazon. That’s –
Sarah: – like, like, RWA could call Amazon, and there was a person there who would answer that call; like, actually –
Sarah: – pick up the phone and say hello. Like, that’s amazing!
Farrah: Exactly! Same thing with Facebook! You know, we’ve authors who –
Sarah: That’s a big loss.
Farrah: – you know, when you think about what it would mean, you know, if, if someone cannot run Facebook ads.
Farrah: For a lot of authors, you know, that’s how they’re, how they get the word out. To have, to be able to go to RWA and say, look, Facebook has stopped me from being able to do this, this, and this; it’s the way I get the word out, and have someone at RWA call Facebook and say, hey, I need to go look at this, and within a few days have that turned on, that is, that was worth, in my opinion, the ninety-nine dollars someone paid to belong to RWA. You know, and now, I’m not sure Facebook will listen! [Laughs] You know? And it, it really is such a loss, and to think of why it was lost, it just, it’s infuriating in so many ways.
Farrah: But it is, it’s, it is where we are right now. I just, I hope that it can build itself up. I, you know, I’m pulling for this board so much. Because we need it! I, I have always, it’s a, the reason I remained a member for so long, because I think it, it did some good! It did a lot of good. Yeah.
Sarah: Yeah, it really did.
Now, I know that the past six months have been exceedingly painful for you personally.
Sarah: And I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. I am so very, very sorry. Would you like to talk about her and share some of your favorite memories of her? Would that, would that be something you’re interested in doing? Because I know you had a very, very wonderful relationship.
Farrah: Yeah! I, you know, she was my best friend. It is, it’s no – she was so much more than just the best friend, though. My sister Tamara, I should say Tamara, she’s four years older than me. We lived together for the past eight years. She, when I returned from Austin –
Farrah: – to, at the time, take care of my mom, who was sick, she, you know, she invited me into her home, and she made it so comfortable that I did not leave! So –
Farrah: And she was just fine with that, because that’s how, you know, she was my big sister, and that’s just how she is. She, she’s also, you know, my biggest cheerleader when it came to writing as well. She was actually the writer. She’s the reason that I belong to RWA, actually, because we, years ago, went to see a local writer who was at a local library, and that’s where I learned of RWA, but it was, I just tagged along, because it was really my sister who was writing a book, and she, she is the reason so much of my, everything in my life –
Farrah: – is because of my big sister. And yes, it was, it was the same day that I resigned, like I, when I, I said that, you know, what happened on the 26th, it was December 26th, 19-, 2019, will go down as one of the most consequential days of my life, because –
Farrah: – I resigned from RWA that morning, and then I learned that that afternoon, that’s when my sister passed away at her desk at her job, and I didn’t learn of it until later that night when she, I realized, hey, she’s not home yet! What’s going on? But yeah, she, her, her very last text message to me was a text that two of her coworkers had decided to take the rest of the day off, so she had the office to herself, so yay! And because of that, she was alone when she had a heart attack and died at her desk. And it has been, you know –
Sarah: Oh no!
Farrah: Yeah. That’s what happened, and it, it makes you, you know, you wonder, you know, if there were people who were there, you know, could they have called the ambulance or something, but those things will drive you crazy if you think back on it, so, you know, these past, over four months now, almost, almost five, I’ve just been very thankful that we had her for forty-six years and that I had –
Farrah: – such an amazing relationship with her? You know, because, like I said, she was my, my only sister; she was my best friend, my housemate, my Disney travel buddy, and, you know, every –
Farrah: You know, we just, we did everything together. We had, we went out for dinner, you know, once a week. We went to – we just did everything, and I just feel so blessed to have had such an amazing relationship with her. We rarely fought. We just, she, she was just, she was just my, my best friend. And it’s been, it’s been very hard. I still, I live in her house, even though she left the house to her daughter. She, I know that she would want me to take care of it until her daughter’s ready for it, so even though it’s very hard most –
Farrah: – days to be here, you know, and not have her here, it’s also a comfort. So it, it just all depends on how the day, I know if I’m going to have a good day, you know, when I wake up in the morning, but sometimes it also just changes if I, you know, go in her room and see her tennis shoes there. I never know when things are going to change for me, but I’m just, I’m just learning how to, learning how to live in this world without her and just remembering, remembering how much fun we’ve had and just being thankful, thankful for every single day that I had with her, because she truly, she was, she really was my absolute best friend. She was. Yeah.
Sarah: Did she read The Boyfriend Project? Did she read your books?
Farrah: She did not read The Boyfriend Project because I wouldn’t let her until it was – she has read – yeah. You know, I wouldn’t let her read it!
Farrah: And she has read – well, she also, she knew all about it, because when I, you know, it’s like, oh, I need, this is happening, you know. I need to think of something, she – she collaborated with me a lot, just, I would always text her at work when I found myself in a pickle, and she would help talk me through it and things like that. And, you know, with this book in particular, so much of what’s happening, it’s just kind of bittersweet?
Farrah: Because she, I remember when, when it sold, it sold at auction, and my sister and I were on a road trip together, and I was getting these calls from my, my agent all day, you know, with, okay, this house has offered this, and they were going to counter. It was just, you know, this great thing had never happened to me before, and like with so many other things, it was the two of us in the car together, just, you know, so excited about it, and she was such a huge part of every aspect of this book that it’s just bittersweet to –
Farrah: – you know, to have all of this happening. I know, and she would be ready to strangle me, you know, to not enjoy every single aspect of all these things that are happening with The Boyfriend Project, but it’s also, it’s hard to go through it without her –
Farrah: – because she’s always been such a cheerleader for, you know, for everything, you know, not just with my career, but every single part of my life. She, she’s my big sister. But, yeah, she, she has not, she did not read The Boyfriend Project, the completed version of it, but, you know, it’s one of those, that’s another one of those things where I can’t, can’t regret it. I know she’s still there in a lot of ways, but it is, it’s, it’s hard. I won’t tell anyone that it’s, you know – I, I suspect this is probably the hardest thing. I know losing a family member is hard for, you know, anyone.
Farrah: And I now realize that I’ve lost, you know, others, but when it comes to an immediate family member, especially one that you’re so close to, I didn’t know what true grief was –
Farrah: – until then. I, I, you know, I’ve lost really close family members and experienced such sadness, but this, what I’ve gone through these last four months, is so beyond anything else that I’ve ever felt, and then I think about my parents, you know, and I think –
Farrah: – this is what I feel; you know, imagine what they’re going through. Mother’s Day was hard. Mother’s Day was very hard for us in so many ways, but it’s, it’s, it’s something people go through all the time, and until you do, you really do not, you can’t understand it, ‘cause even as a wordsmith, I cannot come up with the words to describe, you know –
Farrah: – the emotions that I have gone through the la-, the last four months, but I’m learning. I’m learning, and it, it is getting better. Very slowly.
Sarah: Yeah, grief is slow.
Farrah: It, it’s, it’s a, it’s a brutal teacher. That’s what I’ve, I’ve said to myself: grief, it’s a very brutal teacher. It will teach you what you can go through. It will teach you, you know, that you can’t control everything?
Sarah: [Laughs] Oh no!
Farrah: I – [laughs] – I’m a, I’m a, I’m a bit of a control freak! I realize that, and this has taught me that I cannot control my emotions, because I’ve had times where, you know, I am not going to cry! I am not – and then the next thing you know, I’m, I’m on her bed crying my eyes out, and I’ve just learned that just get through it. You know –
Farrah: – don’t try to fight it, just get through it, and once I learned that lesson, to just let myself cry and let myself mourn her, it’s been, it’s one of those things that’s helping me to heal. I’ll never be the same person ever; that’s been hard to, to accept as well, but –
Farrah: – how can I ever be the same person when she was such an integral part of my life? So just knowing that, you know, yeah, I had the before and after. You know, I’ve –
Farrah: – we’ve all those, you know. I lived through Katrina; there’s always that pre-Katrina, post-Katrina; same thing with 9/11. Now it’s like Farrah pre-Tamara, and now Farrah after Tamara. That’s just, that’s my life from now on, so.
Sarah: Did she go to musicals and plays with you? Because you have the most active theater life of anyone I know, including most Broadway actors.
Farrah: [Laughs] She actually did. One of the last pictures on her Instagram is a picture of us at A Christmas Story, which was –
Farrah: I know! It was the, it’s one of our favorite movies together, that we would watch even when it wasn’t Christmas, and I dragged her when there was – you know, Broadway Across America would come to New Orleans – I always dragged her to see shows, but this is the one that she dragged me to see –
Sarah: Oh, wow.
Farrah: – and she wanted to make sure we had, she was like, we are not getting tickets up in the balcony! I want good tickets! So we were on the floor, and –
Farrah: – I remember we went out to eat, and it was great. But yeah, we went there that Friday, the Friday before she passed away, we went to see A Christmas Story, and she wore an ugly sweater, and it was just, it’s going to be one of my favorite memories, ‘cause we had so much fun.
Farrah: But yeah, I, I dragged her to, to theater all the time, because, yeah, that is kind of an obsession for me, and I’m missing it so much these days!
Farrah: Yes, I’m missing it.
Sarah: Well, Elizabeth in my, in my Patreon community wanted to know what musical you have seen the most.
Farrah: Hmm! That would be Wicked. I was –
Farrah: I, my friends used to call me a Wicked whore, and for people who did not know that they meant that I was a whore for the show, you know, I’d have to explain, when they call me a Wicked whore, they mean that I would do anything to see the show Wicked. That’s what that means, because, yes, at one point Wicked was like just everything for me. I’ve seen it nineteen times.
Farrah: And – I know, it’s ridiculous.
Farrah: I’ve seen it nineteen times, but I’ve seen, I’ve seen it, you know, with the, I started with the original cast. I saw the original cast twice.
Farrah: And I’ve been seeing it, you know, I, I’ve seen it in so many cities? I would travel to see it in different cities. It’s ridiculous, Sarah! This addiction of mine is absolutely ridiculous! Seriously, it’s an expensive addiction, especially for someone who doesn’t live in New York, but I absolutely love it! So yeah, I’ve seen Wicked the most at nineteen, but Hamilton is a close second, which is not good, because those tickets are still very expensive! But I’ve seen that one twelve times.
Farrah: I know. I know!
Sarah: That’s amazing.
Farrah: Not only that; I’ve also, like, bought tickets to, for other people to see it, ‘cause I’ve dragged so many family members to see it, I’ve spent way more money on Broadway tickets than anything else, I think, in my life. [Laughs]
Farrah: It is my addiction, for sure.
Sarah: Okay. So if the world was opened safely right now, what’s the first thing you would go to see?
Farrah: Oh gosh! There’s so many great shows that are on Broadway right now that I want to see? If I had to pick a first – huh! – it would probably be Jagged Little Pill.
Sarah: Oh, good call!
Farrah: I –
Sarah: ‘Cause we’re the same age! It hits you right in that –
Sarah: – nostalgia, right? It hits you –
Sarah: – right in the nostalgia feels!
Farrah: You know, you, you, you listen to – I remember I had, I’ve had like three copies of that CD, I think, over my life –
Farrah: – because at one time I just had to make sure I had one for the house and the car, and then I lost one – I mean, it’s just, I want to, I want to see that show sooo badly. But there’s so many! It’s, it’s – probably one of the first things I will do when things are safe is go on one of my theater trips where, you know, I get there on a Tuesday evening so that I can have a matinee on Wednesday and then a night show and then just see it all through Sunday; I’ll see like six or seven shows, and it’s all, my, my whole time in New York is just going from theaters to restaurants and sleeping in between. It’s ridiculous, but it’s, it’s one of the joys of my life. I can’t wait. [Laughs] So I really want to see, I want to see Jagged Little Pill and Tina, the Tina Turner story that just came from the West End in London, and is now –
Sarah: Oh, heck yeah!
Farrah: – going to be on Broadway, and yeah! There, there’s so many, there’s so many great shows out there. I cannot – I need them to survive. I’m so afraid that some of those productions may not come back or may not –
Farrah: – be able to get off the ground?
Farrah: Yeah, but, you know, the Broadway community, everyone’s been hit, but I think when it comes to entertainment, not too many people think about, you know, how, how hard Broadway has been hit, because it’s one of those where, yeah, you can’t really go into a theater and social distance all that well.
Farrah: And they kind of need those seats to be filled in order for, for the companies to survive, so.
Sarah: So I always ask this question: what are you reading that you want to tell people about?
Farrah: The book that I’m reading right this second is Pintip Dunn’s upcoming, it’s a YA, a contemporary YA that she’s doing, and it’s called, I think it’s picture, Dating Made Perfect? Oh gosh, Pintip, don’t, don’t kill me. I think it’s Dating Ma-, Dating Makes Perfect? Yes, Dating Makes Perfect, and it’s coming in August. It has the best cover, it is so wonderful, but it is a YA about two Thai heroine and hero. It is so much fun! I’m enjoying it, and it makes me want to eat Thai food nonstop, but it’s, it’s such a cute YA. I’m about halfway through, and to say that I started it like only two nights ago, that is huge, because in this time of COVID, I have not been able to read – I’ve been reading, like, old books –
Farrah: – because I could not concentrate on anything. And when she asked me –
Farrah: – if I could read it, I thought, you know, I’ll give it a try, but I haven’t been able to really get into anything, and I started that book, and it just sucked me in.
Farrah: So yeah! It’s just been, it’s so cute, and the, the hero Mat is just, like, ohhh, he’s swoon-worthy! I love it. So yes, Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn is what I’m reading right now. And even before, I, you know, I did read, like, the, I’ve been telling people about The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel?
Farrah: It’s a de-, she’s a debut author. I read that a couple of months ago? It just came out a few weeks ago, I guess, and I just love it. It’s set in Texas, but it is two South Asian characters, and it’s just, it’s so funny and just really, there’s so much depth to it. I absolutely loved that book. So those are two that I can –
Farrah: – you know, that I’m really enjoying right now.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this episode. Thank you to Farrah for hanging out with me. I will have links to, of course, the books we talk about, especially The Boyfriend Project, which is on sale now, and I will have links to where you can find Farrah online and join her newsletter.
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Hello again, Patreon community. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now, as always, I end every episode with a really, really bad joke. This one is particularly terrible, because that’s how I like them. [Laughs] I really enjoy finding these! [Clears throat] So here’s this week’s bad joke for you to really, really make everyone around you annoyed, because that’s what I do! I presume that’s what you do too.
Did you hear about the vegan who was too firm in his beliefs?
Did you hear about the vegan who was too firm in his beliefs?
Even his opinion could not be suede.
[Laughs] It’s so dumb! I love really dumb pun jokes. That is from Reddit, /virtual_no_body. Could not be suede! [Laughs more] All right, I think my cat just rolled his eyes at me. Yeah, he totally did; okay, great.
On behalf of everyone here, including Wilbur, who’s really not impressed with me right now, have a wonderful weekend. We wish you the very best of reading, and we’ll see you back here next week.
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find really excellent podcasts to listen to at frolic.media/podcasts!
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.