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All About Selina Rosen

Selina Rosen Cherryh Says Yard Dog Press

        So... now that you've looked at all that other crap, let's talk about a truly fascinating subject.  ME!  I was born the eldest of four girls on the second of February, 1960, to parents who have never even been separated, much less divorced, and who loved their children.  This of course doomed me to be a way-too-far-out weirdo to fit in anywhere.  I dressed in weird clothes and did weird things.  I frequently beat the hell out of people who made fun of me or got my ass kicked trying.  I was the token weirdo of the not-too-popular-but-not-total-geek group, and as such I was not without friends.   However, I was never invited to their houses or parties because they didn't want either their parents or the "popular" kids to know they hung out with me at school.

        At the age of twelve I went from weird to super freak in sixty seconds when, finally realizing that I couldn't change the world around me, I started to write.  Thereby re-creating, if you will, the world in my image.   As I grew older I got still stranger, and so did my writing.  So, like almost every other writer I have ever known, I started writing as an escape from my real life.   The worse things got, the more I wrote (I did a hell of a lot of writing in the late eighties.)        

        I married a much older man when I was way too young, and had my son Meyer when I was twenty-one.  At that time we lived on a small farm in the Ozarks in a house we had built from salvaged lumber.  We had no electricity, no phone, and no running water.  (By choice.  We were "back-to-the-land" nuts.)  I milked nine goats and tended an acre of garden, cut wood, hauled water, and washed all our clothes (including the baby's diapers) by hand.  During that time I also worked outside the farm hauling hay, helping to brand cattle, doing construction, timbering with a tractor and a pair of mules, running chicken houses, etc., etc., etc.   In other words, anything to make a buck.        

        When I finally divorced my son's father we had been married twelve years.  I got custody of our son; he got custody of all our assets -- including the farm.  So I left the marriage with a six-year-old child, an old Isuzu pickup truck loaded with tools, all our earthly possessions, three milk goats and a dozen chickens.  I was working at a pallet mill at the time running an industrial plane and making between $60 and $100 a week.  With my earnings I bought a three acre piece of land with a creek running through it from a fellow for $5,000 and started building another house.  This house was also built with scrap and some native materials.          

        After the divorce I started submitting more stories but wasn't having any luck.  Still, I kept plugging away.   I worked all day and wrote all night.  I had already started going to SciFi conventions, where I met many new people.  Some of these new acquaintances would become life-long friends, and many would change my life forever.  Among other things, I discovered the SCA.  I got involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism and started sword fighting when I was twenty-seven.  Within a year I was the local Knights Marshal -- a position I held till I resigned seven years later. 

        During my time in the SCA I won a couple of small tourneys, received an Argent Shield, and was squired.  I trained countless fighters and made dozens of suits of armor before I was run out of the organization on a rail because I said the queen was rude.  When they called me on it, I pointed out that I was in my own home, the meeting was adjourned, and a few "friends" and I were visiting when I made my comment.  I also said something to the effect of, Get a life!  This is all just a GAME! She's not REALLY the queen.  Hell, she probably works at McDonald's.  Besides, she WAS rude!  She refused to acknowledge the fighters on the field and spent most of the event in her cabin.  

        I guess it's obvious that I quit the SCA, although I still fight on occasion with friends who understand that we aren't REALLY medieval knights and we aren't REALLY trying to kill each other.  However I owe the SCA a lot.  I learned loads about medieval history and armored combat -- knowledge I use in my writing constantly.  I also met the woman who would make me finally have the guts to crawl out of the closet -- which I did when I was thirty-two.  I'm still with her today. 

        I know this sort of jumps around my life like a psycho beach ball, but I really hate writing bios, and this is the only serious one I have ever done. So bear with me, please.

         The week I became knight marshall my arm was broken in a bastard sword fight.  It was a compound break which caused me to have a six-inch plate and six screws put in my left arm.  It cost me so much money that I literally just paid it off early this year (2001), and it also cost me my job at the pallet mill.   I had a five pound weight limit with the arm, and the insurance at the mill wouldn't cover me.  I had to have money because I had this huge hospital bill and an eight year old boy who had this bad habit of eating.  It was at this time that I found out how screwed up our country really is.  You see, because I had no outstanding debts and had always worked, I was not eligible for any kind of government assistance whatsoever.  That's right -- NOTHING!  Finally, after six weeks, they decided that I was eligible for unemployment because I hadn't actually quit my job voluntarily.  Meanwhile, I wound up working in construction hanging ceilings -- with my arm in a cast -- using the old T-brace principle.  I also started doing odd jobs again.  I had a job for about two months at a salvage yard until they got low on cash and had to let someone go.  I was the only person there who wasn't family, so out I went.  Then one of the people I went to temple with (a poor Jew, go figure!) asked me to clean her house.  I needed the work, so I did it.   Before I knew what was happening, I had a house-cleaning business.  A business I kept long after the arm healed.  What the hey?  It's a living, and it meant I could keep writing and be home when my son was home. 

        That's what kept me going.  See, by then I was an internationally published short story writer, thanks largely to another young writer I had met at one of the first conventions I attended -- Mercedes Lackey.   Misty took a short story I had written, polished it up a little (I can't spell -- live with it), stuffed it in an envelope and shipped it to Marion Zimmer Bradley -- who bought it.  Then she bought another, and then I sold to an anthology -- you get the picture.

        Meanwhile, back at the day job.  Is there anything more demeaning than cleaning toilet bowls?  Yes! and I found it when I started taking care of a ninety-seven year old man.  Yes, home health care.   It's the job you want to do if you're looking for a reason to kill yourself.   I finished my last day in January of 2000.  Hopefully, with your help I can now write for a living -- having done my time in hell I think I deserve it. (Note: As of July 2002, she still hasn't gone back to her day job! You're doing a great job as fans!)

        Among some of the more eclectic things I have done are: teaching not just one, but two Torah classes -- one to adults and one to pre-barmitzvah aged boys (lost that when I came out, what can I say? It's a reform temple, but we're still in the South); doing stand-up comedy routines opening for a drag show (still do that one occasionally); entering and winning a nail-driving competition; holding the unofficial women's arm-wrestling championship of Northwest Arkansas (it's what happens when you beat the woman who holds the title three times in a row at a party).

        Mercedes (Misty) Lackey introduced me to CJ Cherry and Jane Fancher, who have since become two of my closest friends.  CJ has been a constant source of help and inspiration to me since we met.  In return I have helped her with her "schlep" work.  I have also received help and/or encouragement from Lynn Abbey, Edward Bryant, Lee Killough, Gary Jonas, Bill Allen and Suzette Hayden Elgin, just to name a few.  Does this mean that I write like any of the people whose names I've just dropped?  No, I can't truly say that I do.  I have my own style, just as they have theirs.  Suzette, for instance, would never use the kind of language that I use in my books.

        Lynn Abbey was instrumental in selling my first novel, Queen of Denial.

        I currently live with my partner on two acres in a semi-rural area in a house we own and have completely reinvented.  We still have goats and chickens, but we've added rabbits, ducks, and worms.  We also have cats, dogs, fish, finches, a love bird, and a parrot whose previous owner named "Ricky."  We also raise a garden and have fruit trees.  Now that I've quit my "day job," I plan to spend my days writing, running the publishing house, getting in some more sword fighting, hanging out with my friends, helping my son with his place (next door -- a Jewish mother's dream!), and taking care of the farm -- literally. 

        Several years ago I allowed Elizabeth Moon to talk me into fencing, and it's become my new passion.  It's not as hard to dress for as armored heavy-weapons combat, and the injuries aren't as bad.  I will be fighting again this year in the SFWA Musketeers Demo at World-Con, so if you get a chance come watch us.  We put on one hell of a show.

       Do you have any idea how hard it is to sum your life up in a few pages?  Or how discouraging?  I think I need a drink now.

Selina


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