Nancy Rommelmann is a long-form journalist whose work appears in the LA Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, among other publications. Her award-winning articles include features on the actress Jena Malone, the literary hoaxer Laura Albert, aka, JT Leroy, and a cross- country road trip with a pen pal of John Wayne Gacy’s, to interview the serial killer weeks before his execution. Rommelmann is the author previously of several books of nonfiction and fiction. She grew up in New York City and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Her new book, To the Bridge: a True Story of Motherhood and Murder will be published by Little A, the the literary fiction and nonfiction imprint of Amazon Publishing, on July 1.
What do I do best?
At the risk of coming to blows with half the people reading this: I make the best chocolate-chip cookies you have tasted. Many small things make this so: mixing technique (less), salt (more), baking juju. I invite you over to judge for yourself.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Curiosity, enthusiasm, tenaciousness/being chill as warranted.
What are my aspirations?
A. To be a good mother, wife and friend; to explore and stand tough through good times and hard ones. B. To put good work in the world and have that work lead to more good work.
My Biggest Success?
Pushing through to research, write and finish my new book, To the Bridge: a True Story of Motherhood and Murder. I was warned off the project by the people directly affected by the crime, by law enforcement, by strangers who claimed that writing about the murder of a child by his mother was ghoulish. I knew I was trying to tell the story without sensationalism; that, yes, it’s a hard topic to spend time with, but that understanding how something like this happens is better than not understanding. I undertook the project for seven years without an agent, without a publisher. Once the book was finished, the very people I had wished to ally with were the ones who bought it and have seen it through. It will be published by Little A, the the literary fiction and nonfiction imprint of Amazon Publishing, on July 1.
My Most Challenging Moment?
When my daughter was four years old, I was given the opportunity to drive cross-country with a young pen pal of John Wayne Gacy’s, and to write the story of meeting with the serial killer weeks before his execution. It would be my first feature article. My daughter, who lived only with me most of the time, would be looked after while I was gone by my sister-in-law. When I came home, my daughter told me she had had a dream, that I had gotten in a big car without her, and she was running after the car, trying to grab onto the bumper, as I looked at her out the back window. That was more than twenty years ago and still I see that image, of her running after me, and my impassively watching, which is 100% not our relationship and never was. And still, and yet, I never considered not going on the story.
I don’t have one but I think it’s never a bad idea to keep noticing. I also think there is some truth to the Latin phrase Solvitur ambulando, “It is solved by walking.”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
My daughter is a wonder to me, curious and goofy, watchful and smart in the right ways. She has an amazing eye – she is a photographer and production designer – and is a magnet for other creative people. Her crew in New York...I am in awe of how accomplished and at the same time easy these kids are. They let me hang around. Sometimes we work together.
There are too many writers I admire to name them all, but a few: Katherine Boo, Robert Kolker, Nick Flynn, Matt Welch, Zach Baron, Inara Verzemnieks, Mikal Gilmore, Terrence Holt. That some of these people are my friends, I am very lucky.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
New York City, where I was born and raised and spend a few months a year. Manzanita, Oregon, where my best friend lives and where I wrote half the book. Martha’s Vineyard, Up- Island. The places the book will take me.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
I am notorious among family and friends for throwing everything away and wanting as few possessions as possible; both my ex and my husband have taken pairs of my shoes – which I tend to wears for years and years, until they look like some form of botulism – and thrown them on the roof so I would buy a new pair. That said: a few pieces of art my daughter has made me; a brass beetle my late stepfather, the great caricaturist and painter David Levine, used to keep on his desk and which I now keep on mine; the rings my husband has given me.
My Current Passions?
Seeing where to go next.