Wednesday, September 4, 6:30-8:30: Mid-Valley Willamette Writers Speakers Series. This month features Cai Emmons speaking to the topic “The Evolution of a Novel.”
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Cai Emmons is the author of the novels His Mother’s Son (Harcourt), The Stylist (HarperCollins), and Weather Woman (Red Hen Press). A sequel to Weather Woman, called Sinking Islands, is forthcoming, as is her story collection Vanishing, winner of the 2018 Leapfrog Fiction Contest. His Mother’s Son received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, was a Booksense and Literary Guild selection, was translated into French and German, was reviewed by O Magazine and The Economist, and won an Oregon Book Award (the Ken Kesey Award) for fiction. About The Stylist, one of the earliest novels featuring a transgender character, Booklist said: “With family relations as twisted as a French braid and language as vivid as a platinum dye job, Emmons’ potent novel features magnetic characters and complex and compelling secrets.” Weather Woman, Emmons’s most recent novel, about a meteorologist who discovers she has the power to change the weather, has been featured in such places as LitHub, The Rumpus, Book Riot, Montana Public Radio, Aspen Public Radio, The CCNY Grad Center, among others (see more coverage under “News”). The novel won a Nautilus Book Award and has been shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize.
Emmons’s short fiction has appeared in such periodicals as Narrative, Arts and Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture, TriQuarterly, The Santa Monica Review, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The New York Post, and Portland Monthly. A story of hers was a finalist for the Missouri Review Editor’s Prize; another was a finalist in the Narrative Fiction Contest. She has been awarded fellowships at The Albee Foundation, Ucross Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Playa, and Moulin a Nef in France.
Before Emmons began writing fiction she was a dramatist. Her early plays (Mergatroid and When Petulia Comes) were staged in New York at Playwrights Horizons, Theatre Genesis, and The American Place Theater. She studied film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where her “thesis film” won a Student Academy Award. In New York she wrote, directed, and edited independent and industrial films, then she moved to Los Angeles where she wrote feature-length screenplays (optioned but unproduced) and several teleplays for the CBS series “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill.”
Emmons holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, and two MFAs, one in film from New York University, one in fiction from the University of Oregon. She has taught at various colleges and universities, including the University of Southern California and the University of Oregon where she taught fiction and screenwriting from 2002-2018. She is now a full-time writer.