A Day in the Life With Author, Tony G. Rocco


Terrie Leigh Relf: What types – and forms – of writing do you do?

Tony G. Rocco: On my website, I claim to be an author of fiction, memoir, journalism, and personal essays. Most of my writing has been in the non-fiction realm. Fiction has been a recent endeavor. I jumped in at the deep end by writing a novel after having written a few short stories. I guess I’m a generalist.

Terrie: If you’re also an editor, what is your niche?

Tony: I only edit in the context of my role as a technical writer. I edit the bad English of engineers who don’t speak English as a first language, and of engineers who speak English as a first language, but don’t write it very well. In general, I’d rather write than edit, and I don’t try to sell myself as an editor.

Terrie: What is your area(s) of subject matter expertise? How did you discover this niche? What intrigues you about it?

Tony: I’m mostly interested in writing stories about people based on certain themes. The current theme I’m interested in is radical life transformation. I enjoy employing my journalistic skills to interview people and write up a coherent story based on what they tell me, if it’s interesting.

Terrie: How do you know when you have a good story?

Tony: If it seems interesting to me, I assume it will be of interest to at least some others, but I’m never really sure. I guess if it’s a little edgy and out of the ordinary, I assume it’s a good story. For my current book on radical life transformation, I’m looking for the unusual, the dramatic, the extreme. That’s what I find interesting.

Terrie: How do you balance your creative and work time?

Tony: I’ve always made time in the morning to write, before I do anything else. It might be just 20 or 30 minutes, but I find if I put it first, I make slow, but steady, progress. And then I write at other times as the spirit moves me, on weekends, on weeknights, etc.

Terrie: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?

Tony: I take an improvisational and even serendipitous approach to writing, modeled after how improv artists work. An ensemble of improvisers creates a scene out of thin air by making and accepting offers. Offers are just statements or actions that the improv group accepts and builds a scene off of.

This approach can work well for writing, as well, but the offers are made and accepted by just you, the author, rather than a whole group. There’s a great book about this approach for writers, so it’s not a fringe concept. It really mirrors the creative process as an accretive, improvisational process.

I’m not one of those writers who starts a piece with a big concept any more than an improv group stars a scene with a grand idea of what they’re going to do. They just start with one offer, maybe a location or a line of dialogue, and build a coherent scene from there. It’s an amazing process, really.

Terrie: Where have you been published? Upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?

Tony: I’ve mostly self-published stuff, articles on BrooWaha and Medium.com and an eBook memoir on Amazon. My first novel will be out on Amazon in September.

Terrie: What are you working on now?

Tony: The aforementioned book on radical life transformations, if I can find any people to write about.

Terrie: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges, and how did they make you a better writer and/or editor?

Tony: It took a while to develop the discipline and persistence necessary to write on a regular basis and to take it seriously as a life purpose. I joined a Shut Up and Write! group at one point to help develop some regularity and discipline. But now I see myself as a writer and I see writing as an important life purpose, so I’ve developed some stick-to-itiveness.

Terrie: I know our readers would love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips.

Tony: I’m just barely learning the ropes with the business end of writing, so I’m not one offer tips, since I could use a few myself.

Terrie: Your thoughts on self-publishing?

Tony: I’m giving it a shot as I haven’t had much luck marketing my work to agents. It’s a work-in-progress. Ask me again in about a year.

Terrie: Do you belong to any writer’s organizations?

Tony: Writers, Ink in San Diego is about it.

Terrie: Thank you for creating the time for this interview, Tony. Be sure to check out his bio, links, and book below!


Tony is a freelance technical writer and author of fiction, memoir, journalism, and personal essays. He has a self-published eBook, No Regrets: Memoirs of a Punk, that recounts his salad days as a free-spirited punk rocker in the hedonic San Francisco of the 1970’s. His first novel, On the Steps of St. Dymphna, is an absurdist tale of modern-day alienation that will be published on September 14, 2020 on Amazon.

After living in Texas, Louisiana, New York, San Francisco, and Oakland, CA, Tony now resides in sunny San Diego, where he plies his trade as a tech writer to fund a lavish lifestyle traveling to foreign lands, learning Spanish, and hobnobbing with other literary wannabes. Links to his essays, journalism and fiction can be found at https://tonygroccco.com/articles .Tony is hard at work on a proposal for a non-fiction work tentatively entitled, The Day I Changed My Life: True Tales of Total Self-transformation.This biographical thriller will chronicle the desperate lengths to which people go to reinvent their lives, escape their past, and find fulfillment.

%d bloggers like this: