Sybil White Brown returns from Boston to the small West Coast city where she once lived, hoping to heal after a terrible loss. Summoned to jury duty, she is dismayed to be assigned to the jury of a murder trial alongside her ex-husband with whom she had a rancorous divorce. As the trial progresses, she and her ex tiptoe around each other but eventually become disastrously entangled. Meanwhile, Sybil obsesses about the female defendant, whom she believes is innocent. The situation explodes during jury deliberations when Sybil comes face-to-face with her own unexpressed rage.


“Emmons’ story pulls in the reader from the very first chapter: a woman, a lawyer, is accused of murdering and mutilating her husband. A second woman sits on her jury, alongside her ex-husband, a man she hasn’t had contact with for several years. What follows is a riveting, provocative tale about women, and anger, and how nothing is ever what it truly seems to be. Mostly though, the novel is a classic page-turner that riffs on the nature of guilt and love and trust and truth. It’s a book you find yourself thinking about long after reading the final page.”

— Whitney Otto, best-selling author of How to Make an American Quilt

 “Cai Emmons has an exquisite ability to delve into the inner life of her characters. Sybil the narrator has a confiding voice that we trust, even as we recognize that she is both perceptive and blinkered. The murder trial for which she is a juror has stirred an obsessive fascination with the defendant, and the stakes are further raised when Sybil’s former husband is also seated on the jury, hurtling her into a vortex of memories and feelings. The vivid and precise writing from one surprising page to the next is a rare treat. Hair on Fire is as nuanced and graceful a novel as I have read in a long while.”

—Katharine Weber, author of Jane of Hearts and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Dark red cover featuring a single pair of scissors with one half black and one half gold, with white text stating "Livid, a novel by Cai Emmons"

Cai Emmons ( Author Website )

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Genre/Imprint: Fiction

$18.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 9781636280752

Download the Press Kit Here


Cai Emmons, Author of LIVID, Interviewed on WriterCon Podcast!

Bestselling authors William Bernhardt and Rene Gutteridge discuss the latest news from the book world, offer writing tips, and interview Cai Emmons, author of two new books this month, Livid and Unleashed. In this interview, Cai Emmons discusses:1) the importance of a regular writing habit;2) why writing is an act of courage;3) her writing process;4) […]

Cai Emmons, author of LIVID, Interviewed by Fellow Red Hen Author Aimee Liu in LA Review of Books!

THROUGHOUT HER LENGTHY writing career, Cai Emmons has returned again and again to the topic of catastrophe. Three of her most recent novels, including her 2022 groundbreaker Unleashed, have wrestled with the psychological, emotional, and physical impacts of the climate crisis. Her other novels, like Livid (also published in 2022), revolve around the persistence of danger in the wake […]

Hasty Book List Features LIVID by Cai Emmons!

HBL Note: Cai Emmons, who I first featured when she published Sinking Islands, has not one but two books coming out in September! Cai was diagnosed with bulbar onset ALS in 2021, a disease that causes the degradation of the body and voice (she is now mute)—but not the mind. Cai wrote about this experience […]

Cai Emmons, author of LIVID, discusses women’s rage in The Millions essay

When my mother and I used to ride the New York City subway together, she would look at the men sitting across from us with their legs splayed and launch into a rant about the entitlement that allowed them to take up so much space. Couldn’t they squeeze their knees together as we women did […]

CAI EMMONS featured on KBOO podcast with Ken Jones

On today’s episode, we welcome Cai Emmons, author of the new novels Unleashed from Dutton, and LIVID from Red Hen Press. She is a fiction writer, playwright, and screenwriter, whose work includes the story collection Vanishing and the novels His Mother’s Son, which won an Oregon Book award for fiction, The Stylist, Weather Woman, which was a Nautilus Book Award winner, and Sinking Islands, […]

Cai Emmons on fear, drugs, and her fatal diagnosis

It suddenly occurred to me: I had taken a risk, invited an experience I was scared of, and I’d survived it. I could—and would—take such a risk again. And it made me remember how it’s always been like this. Something terrifies you, but you do it anyway because you wouldn’t respect yourself for backing down. […]

Cai Emmons reflects on humor and her fatal diagnosis in Today

I imagine most people, like me, receive a fatal diagnosis with surprise. We all know intellectually that we will die, but no one really feels death as a certainty. We tend to live as if we’re immortal, feeling our expiration date as an unreality we can push indefinitely into the future. Maybe our lives will […]

LIVID author Cai Emmons ponders the beauty of silence in LitHub essay

At eight years old I began writing poetry. I loved the sounds of words, and I loved stringing them together, often nonsensically. I liked the solitude of writing, the secrecy, the fact that I was in control. I did it knowing that poetry carried little weight in the noisy world, but I didn’t care. Over […]