Interview with Courtney Farrell

Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself…?

I’m basically a biology nerd! I taught science courses at the community college level for ten years, which was a blast. I loved my students, and now that I’m writing full time, I miss them. Now I live with my family on a little ranch in the middle of the Pike National Forest, and it’s very quiet. My whole life has become a huge writer’s retreat. I’m an extrovert, so I have lots of friends and I’m in a couple of different critique groups.

What’s your idea of a relaxing day..?

To me, going and doing things is more relaxing than sitting around. I like sports like skiing and scuba diving, and I ride my horse a lot too.

What was your families’ reaction when you told them you wanted to be a writer…? Were they supportive or did they think you were crazy…?

I started writing when I was between jobs, so it was supposed to be a stop-gap measure to keep some cash coming during the job search. I placed my first article almost immediately, and then writing gigs started pouring in. My science background helped a lot with that. My husband was very supportive. He writes college level Biochemistry textbooks for Cengage, so he’s in the business too-only his audience is a captive one. J

Who’s your favorite Author…?

Jim Butcher

What about Film? Any particular one…?

Lord of the Rings

TV Show…?


Have you ever read a book, then later saw the film, and thought “Oh man, they screwed it all up…?”

Most of them are as good as can be expected, considering how much more content there is in a novel compared to a film. I thought the Harry Potter movies were quite well done, and Hunger Games too. But have you seen the Dune movie they made in 1984? Ooh. Yeah. That’s what you’re talking about. J

I do have high hopes for the Ender’s Game film, though. I hear OSC’s contract stipulated that they can’t make Ender older, or give him a love interest, so the movie should be fairly true to the book.

Tell us about your book…?

My new novel, Enhanced, is a mash-up of two YA genres–dystopian science fiction and romance. The story is about a teenage girl born into an institutional eugenics program, where one powerful doctor decides which kids get to grow up, and which will disappear. Sixteen-year-old Michelle has beaten every test and survived every purge, and it looks like she’s about to win the prize: a luxurious life as a breeder. Then the doctor banishes her brother and her boyfriend, and she throws it all away.

Tell us a bit about the main Character… Is she based off of any one in particular…? What inspired you to create this character…?

Teens are pushed so hard these days, and everything about their lives involves competition and testing. As unfair as it may seem, their performance in high school affects them forever. All I did was take the truth and push it farther out along the spectrum. What if the stakes were higher than just making the team, or getting into college? What if this became a life or death situation?

Michelle, the main character in Enhanced, is one of these stressed-out high-achieving teenagers. We get to watch what happens when they push her too hard and she blows up. She freaks herself out, changes her life, and rocks her entire society.

Where did you did you get the idea for your book…? What inspired you or caused you to say “Ah ha…”

I once worked in a lab where we genetically engineered bacteria. How long do you suppose it will be before they can engineer people, too? Of course, experiments on humans are highly regulated, but if there’s cash in it, somebody will try it—legal or not.

What would parents pay to be assured that their baby will grow up gorgeous and athletic, and a genius too? What if only the wealthiest could afford this? Their children would be the Enhanced, and they’d outcompete Normals in everything. Well, almost everything. That’s the idea behind my book.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book…?

I’ve written fifteen traditionally published books, but all of them were nonfiction. Enhanced is my first novel. I wrote it without outlining, and the first half was excellent. The second half wandered. The writing was good, but the plot needed to be reworked. That cost me six months, but the result was well worth it.

Let’s chat for a minute about your writing process… Do you outline, or are you one of that that just sits and starts writing by the seat of your pants…?

I outline now, that’s for sure!

Do you write in the morning, evening, or are you a graveyard writer…?

I write during the day, when my husband is at work and my son is at school. Having a quiet house is really helpful.

When you write, what are the biggest challenges you encounter…?

I do that stupid thing where I revise each sentence as I go. Never do this! I can’t seem to break the habit and it really slows me down.

Do you know much about your characters when you start, or do you get to know them as you go along…?

I have a sketchy mental outline of each person. For example, one of my characters, Jeanette, started out as a classic beautiful bitch who made life miserable for the shy girls in her high school. She changed. It was like the character came to life and showed me that she had interesting and complex motives, and could be selfless too.

If you could write in a genre different than the one you are writing in now, what would it be and why…?

I can’t really see myself writing mystery, since I rarely read it. Would it be cheating to step from science fiction into fantasy? Maybe a good urban fantasy, without vampires.

What novel or series would you recommend that everybody read…?

What, you mean aside from Harry Potter and the Hunger Games? Let’s see…maybe Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, or something by Deborah Coonts.

Who stands out as being your favorite writer…?

Right now I’m in a Jim Butcher phase, but I think I’ve read everything he has out so far, so I need to move on. Sorry, Jim, we had a lot of good times…but it’s over. Who’s next? I don’t know. Maybe your readers will email me suggestions.

If you had the chance to sit down and talk to any writer dead or alive for one hour who would that be and why…?

Robert Heinlein. I’d love to have a few drinks with him and give him grief about why so many of his stories feature an older man adored by a gorgeous young woman who calls him “boss.” What’s this, Robert? Wish fulfillment? LOL.

What can we expect next from you…?

I attended a class with Orson Scott Card last spring, and he taught us his method for coming up with plot ideas. I tried it and hit pay dirt. One idea is for another YA book that OSC helped me brainstorm (shameless fangirl moment here –how cool was that?) and I got a second idea too. This one is something I’ve never done—a middle grade boy book. Since most readers are girls, good boy books are hard to find. My sons are avid readers and they scour bookstores for them.

Courtney Farrell

author of Enhanced








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