Southeastern Magazine

Happily Ever After

An Alumna’s Journey to Becoming a Best-Selling Romance and Disney Author

Sheri Gibson

May 16, 2024

Farrah Roybiskie

Many people dream of becoming a professional author, landing on the New York Times Best Sellers list and doing what they love from the comfort of their home—or from exotic locales around the world. However, it’s a dream that few are ever able to capture.

But through a combination of great talent, insight, and determination, alumna Farrah Roybiskie (’01) has been able to make this seemingly storybook scenario a reality.

Farrah, who writes under the pen name Farrah Rochon, has been writing stories ever since she can remember, first falling in love with the idea of getting to make up elaborate stories as a child. As she grew up, she discovered other passions, including psychology and digging in to how people think, but a love for writing always stayed with her.

Farrah Roybiskie

After the St. John the Baptist Parish native graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans, where she started working on her first novel on the side, she enrolled at Southeastern for a master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in industrial/organizational psychology.

When it came time to pick a grad school, Farrah knew Southeastern was the place for her upon touring the campus for the first time. “The campus was gorgeous, everything was laid back, and I just thought, this is a better fit for me. And it was; it turned out to be great—the professors, everything about it,” she said.

It was in the warm atmosphere of Southeastern that she kept working on her debut book.

“I was in the library all the time at Southeastern. And sometimes I would just go out on campus with my little notepad and allow myself to just be.”

“It was one of the best moves that I could have made,” she added. “Some of the classes that I took, like comparative psychology, were the best classes I’ve ever taken.”

And while at first glance psychology may seem disparate from writing, Farrah’s studies actually play a significant part in her career as a novelist.

The author reports that her process for coming up with the stories and characters is one area that is particularly enhanced by this.

She first plots out everything that will happen before even writing a single word, thinking through everything. Then, she fully delves into fleshing out the characters. “The characters will come in very quickly because, again, I’m always interested in how people think, so I spend a lot of time on characterization,” she said. “I use a lot of psychology methods, such as Myers-Briggs and different personality tests. I will get in the character’s head and answer those tests in their heads, because you have to know their personality in order to make them authentic. My biggest thing is always making sure I am having them react the way the character with that personality would react and not the way I would react.”

By the time she graduated from Southeastern, Farrah knew that she wanted to pursue writing as a fulltime career. She was picked up by a small New York publisher, who helped get her work onto shelves at Borders and Barnes and Noble—the big leagues at that time. After a few books, she moved to Harlequin, which published another 14 of her works.

“People love to make fun of Harlequin novels,” she said with a smile. “I used to make fun of them when my aunt would read them. But Harlequin turned out to be such a great thing for me. People buy them more for the book itself instead of the author, so it’s a great way for new writers to find an audience. And a lot of readers discovered me because I started writing for them.”

When Kindles first became must-haves for many readers and independent publishing really began to take off, Farrah tried publishing through this route and found great success.

Eventually, though, she came up with a high concept book idea and knew that partnering with a major agency would be her best bet moving forward.

Farrah's book The Boyfriend Project

“I knew that I had something special when I came up with the idea for my Boyfriend Project series about five years ago, and it was another one of those business moves where I had to go with my business sense instead of my heart. I realized that my little independent career wasn’t enough for this idea. It was bigger than that. So, I decided to go back to New York publishing, and it was the best move I could have made. The first book [in the series] was my 39th book, but a lot of people thought it was my first because they had not heard of me before it came out. It really put my career into a different stratosphere.”

This book, The Boyfriend Project, released in 2020, become a USA Today Bestseller. The third book in the series, The Hookup Plan (2022), is Farrah’s all-time favorite that she’s written, and it was chosen by The Today Show as a recommended summer read.

Since that move, Farrah has also begun writing official Disney novels, starting with the New York Times Best Seller Princess Tiana book Almost There: A Twisted Tale.

Not only was making that ranking a bucket-list achievement for Farrah, but so was working with Disney. “When they talk about the Disney adult, that’s me. It’s basically my personality,” she said.

“It was something that I did not know was even a dream that could come true, because I did not think that I could write for them since I wrote adult romance,” she said of being asked to write for Disney. “And it’s been something that has stretched my creativity and brought me places that I never thought I would be as a writer. It’s amazing. I’m having the most fun that I’ve ever had in the 17 years that I’ve been doing this job.”

Farrah's recent Disney books - Almost There, Fate Be Changed and A Twisted Tale Anthology

Farrah’s most recent Disney book, which is about Princess Merida and titled Fate be Changed: A Twisted Tale, dropped April of 2024, and she is a contributing author of A Twisted Tale Anthology, which will be available October 3. Her next romance book, Pardon my Frenchie, drops June 4.

In addition to making the top bestseller lists, her books have been featured in other media including O, The Oprah MagazineCosmopolitan magazine; Entertainment Weekly; NPR; and Shondaland.

In order to accomplish so much and meet deadlines for multiple projects at once, Farrah keeps a very strict regimen, writing 2,000 words a day. To achieve this and avoid burnout, she again pulls from her psychology training, utilizing the Pomodoro Technique by working in timed 25-minute increments interspersed by 5-minute breaks.

Even while traveling, which Farrah loves to do, having recently visited locales such as Disneyworld, Egypt, Australia, and New Zealand, she usually keeps up the work. “I like to travel a lot,” she said. “It’s the one benefit of being able to work wherever you are. I will bring my laptop, or sometimes write on an iPad. But if I’m on a deadline, if I can get 2-300 words in while I’m at the airport, I will do it.”

This dedication, from delving deep into the psychology of characters to putting in the work time in the most effective ways, combined with a natural talent, have paid off, helping Farrah to live her best life. And while she still has goals of hitting #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, she’s happy with where her path has led her.

“I really am so satisfied and content with where I am now,” she said. “If I can just continue to write and go out and meet the readers, which I love, I will be satisfied.”

Farrah Roybiskie
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