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RoseMarie London

RoseMarie London is a fiction writer living in Wyoming; managing an independent bookstore in the University town of Laramie. She is a native New Yorker and before decamping west, worked as assistant to the publisher at Little, Brown and Company. She is the recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, and received honorable mention for the 2005 Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award.

How did you begin writing?

There is a collection of essays compiled by Will Blythe called Why I Write. Among the contributors is author Amy Hempel. In her essay Ms. Hempel says that once she wrote because "it was an act of seduction," that sentences were for her "her lipstick, her lingerie, her high heels." She says that "before she knew better, she wrote to settle a score." I believe my answer is very close to that.

What did you do before you started writing?

I can tell you what Iíve done, not so much "before" but "during." I was a cocktail waitress at a notorious night club in Queens, New York, I was for a while a personal assistant to an infamous music mogul. I had a job supervising the reception staff at the corporate headquarters of Barnes & Noble, Inc. I was Publisherís Assistant at Little, Brown and Company and now I manage an Independent Bookstore in a university town in Wyoming and lecture on the "biz" at writerís conferences. All the while I wrote and soon began to publish.

Have you found a publisher for your work?

I am shopping a novel around both for a publisher and an agent, so Iím not there yet.

I did recently however put together a collection of some of my short stories called The Search for an Inappropriate Man. I published an essay called "Red, Blue and the WWE" in a journal called Matter. The editor of the journal invited me to read at the release party for the book. Afterward people were asking me if I had anything else they could read. "Well of course, but not like you think," I said. "Thereís plenty of my work on line in literary e-zines, and in some now out-of-circulation literary quarterlies," I went on to blank and slightly apologetic stares. Hmm, the bookseller in me thought later, those were missed sales. Those were easy hand-sells, if indeed I had a product to hand-sell. And you know how these things go some times; the next Sunday in The New York Times Book Review there was a long article about the albeit slow and reluctant lifting of the taboo against self-publishing, and Print on Demand. I knew from my experience working in traditional publishing that this wasnít the most attractive route. I bounced the idea of POD around some of my friends in the business and got the mixed messages I expected. But I couldnít help thinking: Why shouldnít a bookseller sell her own book? The bookstore I run does after all, report sales to The New York Times bestseller list. So I did it and part of me is glad.

What would you say has been your life's biggest dare?

Moving from my Native New York City to a small town in Wyoming and without a doubt putting out The Search for an Inappropriate Man.

What are some challenges you encounter daily?

As a bookseller who is surrounded by books and in charge of buying for the store I wonder, is there any room left for what I write? The business of writing often stands in the way of the actual writing. Is that writerís block? I think it is.

Any advice for other Daring Females who would like to write and get published?

Stick to your guns and write what you love to read.

Below is a short story by RoseMarie.

The Woodworker from Long Island

It is Christmas-time and they arrange to meet on a thirty-degree Friday night in front of the Tree. This is Jasonís idea, this first date kitsch, and Anna knows that she will have to circuit Rockefeller Plaza to find him standing where he considers in front of the Tree to be.

Jason lives with a roommate in a one-bedroom, mother part of a mother/daughter mortgaged to his parents. During the day, he works with wood at Creative Kitchen in Bayshore. Before leaving Penn Station, Jason buys Anna a rose. It suffocates in hard cellophane. The stem is squeezed by a plastic Santa.

Jason pays for dinner with cash. Later Anna learns it is the money his mother has given him to supplement his Christmas shopping. Woodworking, does not pay well.

Love Shack, Baby.
Jason drives fifty-two miles through an icy rain in a Ď74 Beetle with no heat to pick Anna up for their second date. It is New Yearís Eve. East on the LIE, he vigorously rubs her thigh to keep her warm. Anna is less concerned with hypothermia than she is with the tin-can construction of the car.

Jason takes her to a neighborhood with no sidewalks and few street lights. There are plastic reindeer on the front lawn, beer in an ice-filled avocado-green American Standard bath tub and two six-foot subs spanning the kitchen sink. Jason is the life of the party so there is some commotion when he arrives.

Jasonís friends are kind enough, more curious of Anna than invested.

MTV supplants Dick Clark and after the countdown and the confetti, the first video of 1991 is Love Shack. The particular way he kisses her at midnight confirms the wisdom of what has been the unlikely decision to stand some of her friends up in Tribeca.

When Anna gets back in the Bug, there is a stuffed animal on her seat. Anna has never received silly courtship gifts before and becomes momentarily overwhelmed.

"I thought weíd go back to my place," Jason says.

"Donít you have a roommate?"

"He sleeps on the couch."

"Does he get a discount in rent?"

"Yes, actually."

The animal sits in her lap as he drives. She smokes a cigarette over its head.

The door to his apartment is in the back yard and is kept unlocked. There is a path of landscape lights to follow. He takes her hand and brings her past a shadowy heap on a sofa bed to the bedroom. Annaís heels clap against the linoleum. Jason closes the hollow-core door behind him. There is a mattress on the floor. Anna hears the whisper of his clothes and a click. An electric blanket dial glows orange in the dark. The cord disappears between the mattress and the sheet. The baseboard heating costs too much to run.

Jasonís body is sinewy. Annaís fingers find grooves that in the light she will discover are traces of growing pains. She is less quiet than he, but right before he comes Jason warns, "Iím gonna squirt." He seems shocked. Anna is a little horrified by his word choice.

Jasonís New Girlfriend
As Jasonís new girlfriend, Anna becomes one of those weekend travelers who clog the great room of Penn Station on Friday nights. Itís all a surprise to her. She rides the Babylon line, the only one not flashing the conductor a monthly ticket with a patent look of exhaustion and inconvenience.

Massapequa, Massapequa Park, Amityville, Copaigue, Lindenhurst, the conductor says. It is the melody and not the word which prompts Anna to rise, slide out of the row and ride the gentle rocking in front of the doors. She watches her reflection in the glass, and the people behind her.

Jason will be waiting under the platform at the foot of the stairs, inside the Beetle which will be enveloped in white exhaust. One Friday night he presents her with a wooden sculpture of a dinosaur, laminated like counter top. The gift comes in two-parts. Herbivore and a dialog bubble that reads: you make me feel primitive.

Sunday Macs with the Parents
Jason brings Anna home for dinner. There is a cloying mix of tomato sauce on simmer and steam seeping through the vents of a perpetually cooling dishwasher. Anna climbs a few stairs and meet Jasonís parents in the kitchen. Jasonís father stands, slips out from behind the table to greet her. Jasonís mother wipes her hands on a terry cloth apron to watch.

Halfway through the ziti, his mother puts down her fork.

"Sheís not at all like Trisha, Jason." Her small fingers are curled into her palms, her wrists rest on the edge of the table, the heat from her dish adds more color to her face.

"Ma," Jason says.

"I miss her Jason. What can I tell you?"

"Pardon me," Anna says. "Whoís Trisha?"

"Trisha was my girlfriend for eight years," Jason says to her.

"She was only here two weeks ago, Jason."

"Ma, we broke up. Sheís not dead."

"Itís just, you two have broken up before and youíve never done this."

"This?" Not-Trisha says.

"This?" Jason says too.

"Selina, stop it," Jasonís father says and then turns to Anna. "This must be very uncomfortable for you. I guess what my wife is afraid of, well, they were very well suited, Trisha and Jason. And you, well, are you here to see how the other half lives?"

Anna chokes. "The other half?"

"Weíre very proud of Jason," his father says. "Donít misunderstand me. But, arenít you casting your line in the wrong pond?"

They go to Spit to drink and sometimes dance wildly. They come home drunk, taking back roads, avoiding the cops. They have sloppy sex. Parts of them are embarrassingly stuck together in the morning. And at dusk, they stop at IHOP to feed the hangovers made by Rumple Minz, his, and Fuzzy Navels, hers, before Jason drives Anna back to the City.

It takes a whole month of dirty dancing at Spit - where sometimes Anna thinks she sees her ex-boyfriend Eric, the one who died of cancer - for her to realize that the point where Jason slows down on the back route, across disused train tracks and over some marshy spots, is beneath the window of Trishaís apartment.

When Anna realizes it, she doesnít say anything. But Jason surprises her at the 7-Eleven one night on the way to Spit, when he stops for a pack of cigarettes, he donates a dollar to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and fills out a paper heart in his and Annaís name which hangs over the beer case well past Motherís Day. It is the 7-Eleven nearest Trishís window.

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