The Next Chapter

Farah Heron on why conflict is key when writing a romantic comedy

The Toronto author on how she wrote novel The Chai Factor.
The Chai Factor is a novel by Farah Heron. (HarperCollins Canada)

Toronto-based author Farah Heron says she was raised on three things: Bollywood, Monty Python and Jane Austen.

The Chai Factor is a romantic comedy that combines these elements. It features an ambitious grad student who's trying not to be distracted by a handsome man who moves into the basement apartment of her parents.

Heron dropped by The Next Chapter to discuss writing The Chai Factor.

A rom-com romp

"I got the idea for The Chai Factor when I was in a writing workshop on how to write romantic comedies. I'd never written a romantic comedy and I was trying out different genres and coming up with premises. The instructor was talking about how if the two characters have conflicting goals then the laughs are just going to happen. So that's why I decided on an engineer and a singer who are completely different. She's looking for quiet in order to work on her grad school thesis and he's practicing for a barbershop quartet competition."

In the mood for love

"I love romance because it's optimistic. You know it's going to end happily ever after for the characters. I love going into it and knowing that that's going to happen. But also I'm really into character-driven stories — and romance in itself has to be character driven to understand the characters enough and to understand their motivations and falling in love. You have to know them really well. And I love exploring those characters as their lives get turned upside down because of love."

Farah Heron's comments have been edited for length and clarity.