Tamara Rokicki is a Dark Urban Fantasy & Paranormal author. She is also the owner and founder of The Otherworld Community, a vibrant literary platform for indie authors and readers. Her mission is to connect authors and nurture readers, by creating services, clubs, and resources that bring them together in a loving and kind manner.
Her love for writing began at a very early age, together with her love for reading. Struggling with an anxiety disorder since a young age, Tamara relied on books and the shelter they provided from her daily struggles. She has been published in Anthologies, wrote as a columnist and acquisition editor, contributed to magazines and local publications, and taught writing workshops at local libraries. Born and mostly raised in Italy, she developed a deep appreciation for different culture and traditions, and this love often shows itself in her fictional work. She now lives in sunny Florida with her husband, three daughters, and three naughty mini-schnauzers.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
I'd love to! I have two major books recently published. One is The Dark Palace, which was released in December 2018. It is the second book of The Ashar Prophecies Trilogy, by far my favorite book I've written. The Ashar Prophecies is a dark urban fantasy that many readers have deemed as "a reinvented vampire genre with a refreshing change of pace." The series focuses on psychic vampires, a new breed that feeds on human energy in order to survive. This series has been a long ten years in the making, went through several drafts and story changes, even being a dark angel draft at one point! A few years ago, during my research, I was introduced to the world of psychic vampires, an underground faction that believes energy is the core of their existence. My creative mind went to work immediately, crafting a story around these mysterious and fascinating people. Adding elements of witchcraft and some of the traditional blood vampires lore, I gave life to The Ashar Prophecies.
The second book is A Hauntingly Romantic Winter. This is a collection of short stories I've published through my community, The Otherworld, in November 2018. The storybook is an adult-themed fairytale collection, where several authors contributed their stories. (link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0999679627/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0) The process of publishing this anthology both humbled me and fascinated me. I had the pleasure to work with some truly talented authors, and the stories are magical, dark, empowering, heart-breaking, and absolutely marvelous.
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
Comparison and impostor syndrome. It's very easy to look at another indie author and wonder why they may be more successful than you. I tend to look at others and see their great accomplishments, and often wonder if I am making progress, or if I'm as good as them. I've become better at stopping and looking at the whole picture. I remind myself that it's all about my own, personal journey, and that it doesn't matter about other people's level or accomplishments. I only have control of myself and my career, and as long as I'm being authentic and working hard, there is no need to compare myself.
As far as impostor syndrome, I often can't believe the success I've had in building an amazing community and publishing my books. Part of me often wonders, "Who am I to think I'm an author? Maybe I'm not that good at all, and it was just luck? Or Do I really have something to offer?" Again, with a lot of self work, I've learned to stop these thoughts when they first begin, reminding myself I am worth it, I am talented, and that I can and will leave a mark in the world.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Sticking with one project at a time. My brain is SUPER creative, and literally never stops thinking about the next story to write, or next idea to implement in my community. Sometimes, it gets to be very overwhelming. I love my creative drive and passion, but I need to learn to slow down, and focus on one thing at a time.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Sleep, lol! Which is something I've already started to do. I get up at five in the morning so that I can get more writing done. I find that the extra two hours on the early morning produce my best writing. I credit the quiet and dark house, where I can focus all of my attention on writing instead of everyone else.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It took me nearly ten years to publish my first book, The Forest House. That is something I will NEVER do again. I am a believer that everything in life happens as it's meant to, and when it's meant to. But I do believe that often we are our own worst enemy. I procrastinated for many years, trying to find the "right" time to write; the "right" inspiration; and the "right" people to help. Truth is, there is no perfect timing, but just the time you're willing to put in. One mistake I've made with my first book was writing without an outline. I hate outlining because I feel it obstructs my creative flow, however, it also sacrificed ten long years, when I could have published sooner. Once I realized I needed an outline, I wrote and published The Dark Palace within six months.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
Oh my...too many to count! There are probably at least a dozen books I started writing and never finished (again, I didn't outline, hence the reason they're collecting dust!) One that jumps to mind is a steampunk novel I began writing two years ago. I actually wrote a good amount of chapters, and I hope to finish the book one day. The story focuses on Petro, an adopted girl who lives with her father, a renowned inventor. The novel focuses on herbal magic mixed in with a steampunk flare, and Petro's quest to find her biological mother while the town goes through a mysterious ban from using magic. When her father disappears one day, she must embark on a journey to find herself, save her father, and find out why magic is suddenly being siphoned from a neighboring kingdom.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read them, but I'm not fanatical about it. Sometimes, months go by where I completely forget to check my review. Luckily, I haven't dealt with terrible ones, but here's my approach when I deal with reviews: I value them, I respect them, and I move on. Good or bad, I try to remember that I did something most people only talk about and then never do. Publishing a book is no small feat. It takes guts, energy, sweat, and tears. I try not to let one bad review strip all of that away. I look at it this way: have you ever loved a movie that someone else hated? Did it make you like the movie less? Did you get mad about it, or did you just brush it off as someone having a different taste and opinion than you? It's no different when you're an author. There are always going to be people that don't like your work. It only means that the book wasn't written for them, and that's okay.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
It's not really a secret, but I do have some elements of anxiety in my series. I thought it was very important to write a fictional character who was meant to be very powerful, but that ultimately felt broken due to her anxiety disorder. I never really promo my book as such, but I really did want to craft a character who could be strong, whole, and empowered, even when they felt their anxiety made them weak. Mental health is very important to me, and I hope to send the message that you can still accomplish great things, and are an amazing person, despite what you perceive to be a flaw or weakness within yourself.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am so blessed with many author friends, and the list is long. Thanks to my community, The Otherworld, I have the chance to know many indie authors who inspire me every single day. A few that come to mind are Whitney McGruder, who recently debuted her book Destiny Seeker, and is a very humble and sweet person. Celeste Thrower, whose debut story was published in the anthology, is someone who inspires me every single day with her sweetness, her ethics, and her kindness. There are other special author friends who have helped my writing with their support: D. Fischer, Audrey Hughey, Jackie McCarthy, Ashley McLeo, Danika Stone, Erin Casey, Carol Marshall, and Lexi Aidyn. These ladies are hustlers and are making a name in the indie author community, and I'm proud to know them.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Get your butt in a chair and write! Stop the excuses and stop wasting time. You got this. Now write! My younger self, as you can see, needs some tough love.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
When I talk to newer authors or aspiring ones, I always find they're modeling their writing after other authors. They believe that in order to be liked or successful, they need to write just like some writer they look up to. It's fine to look up to them, because role models give you the confidence and inspiration to learn and grow. But you shouldn't want to write just like them. You are a unique individual, with your own story to tell, in your own voice. Readers don't want a copy cat. They want an authentic writer who is so confident and at peace with themselves, that it shows in their work. If you really want to be successful, write from the heart, be yourself, and don't compare your writing to others.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
I'm still trying to learn the whole marketing process, but in my experience, there are different ways to promote your work, and what works for one author may not work for authors. Personally, building a tribe and camaraderie has been the best way to showcase what I do and who I am. Being authentic and trying to connect with readers on a human level, not only helped market my books, but also introduce me to some great people who became my friends. So far, the best platform to reach readers and build a rapport with them, has been Instagram. A rule of thumb I try to follow is the 80/20 approach. I try to educate, connect, inspire, sympathize, befriend, and advise as my most authentic self 80% of the time. The remaining 20% is dedicated to marketing my books. I find that connecting with others without the pushy "buy my book" gimmick, is a much better experience for both the reader and myself.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
I was an avid reader, and so many books touched my heart. But one, in particular, is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was the first time in my life a book caused such strong emotions within me, to the point of tears. The characters imprinted in my heart, and long after I'd finished the books, I continued to think about their lives and the message embedded in the novels. To this day, Little Women, is the one book that gives me goosebumps just thinking about it, reminding me of my childhood days and the pivotal moment when my love for reading created a long-lasting effect. I credit that feeling, the shivers down my back while remembering a powerful book such as that one, with my decision to write and make an impact in readers' lives.
Social Media Links:
Tamara's website: www.TamaraRokicki.com
The Otherworld Website: www.TheOtherworldCommunity.com