Tinika Ross is a novelist and poet from southern New Jersey. After graduating from high school in 2009, she attended Florida A&M University, where she studied psychology. She is currently a freelance writer who also works in the insurance industry. In her spare time, Tinika can be found daydreaming or enjoying the company of her family and friends.
In December of 2013, she released a novel entitled Madness, the story of two individuals who help one another overcome their respective traumatic experiences. Ross also had a story featured in SuperHERo Tales: A Collection of Female Superhero Stories.
Readers can follow Tinika and her writing at her website, lossforwords360.wordpress.com.
I grew up around a lot of family. When I was young, me, my mom, my uncle, my cousin, and my older sister lived with my grandma. My grandma was a huge influence on me. She was always very loving and kind. She loved to read and do word searches. I would sit in her room and read or do the puzzles with her. She passed away several years ago. I think I was somewhere between 8 and 10 at the time. But I still remember her and how strong and loving she was, and that’s something that I try to carry with me.
My mom worked hard to support us on her own. My dad wasn’t in the picture very much, but I had my uncle to help serve as a father figure. Both of them have been very supportive of me. They’re both strong willed and determined people. Very loving and kind. I’d like to think that I am too, although my stubbornness can get in the way sometimes.
Why do you write? What initially made you want to be a writer, and what do you enjoy about the writing process?
Participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2012 is what made me want to become a writer. When I finished my novel, I felt so fulfilled and happy. It was at that moment I knew that writing was what I was meant to do with my life.
I write because it makes me feel good to know that my words mean something to other people. It feels amazing to have people tell me they enjoyed my work or share their personal experiences with me because they could relate to my words. It’s the best feeling in the world.
My favorite part about the writing process is writing the first draft. It’s fun and the most organic part.
What authors have inspired you over the course of your life?
Edgar Allan Poe has always been a huge influence on me. I love how dark and twisted his stories are. Stephen King, Zane, and Mary Monroe have also served as inspirations.
For you, what distinguishes great writing from mediocre writing?
Great writing grabs a hold of you and never lets you go. It surprises you. It stays with you for years to come. Mediocre writing is predictable and forgettable.
What inspired the story of Madness?
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is always something that has interested me. At the time, I was dealing with similar issues addressed in the book. I tried to reach out to a couple people, but most of them were dismissive. A couple years had passed and a lot of them expected me to be over it by then, but I wasn’t. So I took my frustrations and feelings and poured it into the book.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
It was challenging to find the right mix of seriousness and lightheartedness. Madness addresses a lot of serious issues and topics that can make people uncomfortable. I didn’t want to sugarcoat the traumas the characters faced, but I didn’t want to make it too heavy either. Even when you’re going through Hell there are periods of calm and beauty. I wanted the readers to be aware of the good as well as the bad.
Female superheroes tend to be under-represented in the comic book world. Why do you think that is, and which female superheroes do you feel are the most well-defined?
Although the number of women in the comic book industry has increased over the years, it’s still a male-dominated industry. I think a lot of people in the industry kind of stick to the thought that their demographic is young males, so they do their best to make content that caters to them. Many people are starting to realize that women like comics and superheroes too, so hopefully we’ll see a lot more female superheroes in the future.
I think Marvel’s X-Men has a lot of great female characters. My favorites among them are Jean Grey, Rogue, and Storm. They’re very different women with very different powers, but they’re all so interesting and well-rounded.
What is the most memorable dream you had recently?
This is a tough one. I guess it would be the dream where I was going on a road trip with some friends and we uncovered some ancient evil. The car we were in broke down and we ended up meeting this guy with a dragon and we rode it across a desert. It was really cool.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
There’s this restaurant in Jersey called Cosmopolitan. They make an incredible stuffed mushroom Florentine. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
What are you working on next?
I’m keeping myself pretty busy. I’m working on about five short story submissions for different anthology series. I’m also writing a new novel called Bully. I hope to finish writing it by fall of this year.