Emma Sloley on Exploring Fear and Violence in Intimate Relationships
This Week from The Common Podcast
Emma Sloley speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “The Cassandras,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Sloley talks about writing a story based on the fear of men that women are taught to have from a young age. She also discusses her decision to include a sort of Greek chorus in the story, apocalyptic isolation in her novel Disaster’s Children, and how travel writing has changed in the age of Instagram.
On writing “The Cassandras”:
I’d been thinking about the generalized, low-level fear that women walk around with. We’re taught from a very early age to be wary of strangers and dangerous situations, walking alone, that kind of thing. To always have situational awareness. I thought, What if the danger’s coming from much closer to home? I wanted to explore the idea of a woman whose usual non-specific fear of violence becomes sharpened into a very specific fear: that her partner is a danger to her.
On conflicting desires:
One of the things I love in writing is the idea of a character who’s torn between two conflicting desires: yearning for connection, and a yearning for solitude. I love stories that take place in that weird little space, so a lot of my characters have those conflicts reverberating in their lives. I also love stories rooted in domestic realism, but with something a little off-kilter.
Emma Slowley’s work has appeared in Catapult, Literary Hub, Yemassee, Joyland, Structo, and The Masters Review Anthology, among many other publications. She is a MacDowell Fellow and Bread Loaf scholar. Her debut novel, Disaster’s Children, was published in 2019. Born in Australia, Emma now divides her time between the United States and the city of Mérida, Mexico. Read more about Emma and her work at emmasloley.net.
Emily Everett is managing editor of The Common magazine and host of the magazine’s podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.