Cai Emmons

Cai Emmons is the author of four novels—His Mother’s Son, The Stylist, Weather Woman, Sinking Islands—and a story collection, Vanishing. She holds a BA from Yale University and two MFAs from New York University in film and from the University of Oregon in fiction. Before turning to fiction, Emmons wrote plays and screenplays. Winner of a Student Academy Award, an Oregon Book Award, and the Leapfrog Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the Narrative Magazine and Missouri Review fiction prizes, she has taught at a variety of institutions, most recently in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

All Books


Cai Emmons

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280752


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

Sinking Islands

Cai Emmons

Publication Date: September 14, 2021

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781597093248


Sinking Islands continues the story of Bronwyn Artair, a scientist who possesses the power to influence the natural forces of the Earth. After several successful interventions, including one in Siberia, she has gone into hiding, worried about unintended consequences of her actions, as well as about the ethics of operating solo. But circumstances call her to action again, and an idea takes shape: What if she could impart her skill to other people? Gathering a few kindred souls from climate-troubled places around the world—Felipe from São Paulo, where drought conditions are creating strains on day-to-day life; Analu and his daughter Penina from a sinking island in the South Pacific; and Patty from the tornado-ridden plains of Kansas—she takes them to the wilds of Northern New Hampshire where she tries to teach them her skill. The novel, realistic but for the single fantastical element, explores how we might become more attuned to the Earth and act more collaboratively to solve the enormity of our climate problem.


“This prescient tale of a not-too-distant eco-dystopia will have readers on the edge of their seats. Shifting between vivid characters and far-flung settings, Sinking Islands spins a potent story about what happens when the unbelievable becomes reality, when the earth goes mad and takes all of us along for the ride. A captivating read.”—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise

“With a dazzling array of characters and locations and just enough magic to surprise and enchant us, Sinking Islands explores how connection, mentorship, and dedication might alter the course of lives and planet. This novel is an ecofeminist gem.”—Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra

Weather Woman

Cai Emmons

Publication Date: October 9, 2018

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-600-3


30-year-old Bronwyn Artair, feeling out of place in her doctoral program in Atmospheric Sciences at MIT, drops out and takes a job as a TV meteorologist, much to the dismay of her mentor, Diane Fenwick. After a year of living alone in Southern New Hampshire, enduring the indignities of her job, dumped by her boyfriend, she discovers her deep connection to the natural world has given her an ability to affect natural forces. When she finally accepts she really possesses this startling capability, she must then negotiate a new relationship to the world. Who will she tell? Who will believe her? Most importantly, how will she put this new skill of hers to use? As she seeks answers to these questions, she travels to Kansas to see the tornado maverick she worships; falls in love with Matt, the tabloid journalist who has come to investigate her; visits fires raging out of control in Los Angeles; and eventually voyages with Matt and Diane to the methane fields of Siberia. A woman experiencing power for the first time in her life, she must figure out what she can do for the world without hurting it further. The story poses questions about science and intuition, women and power, and what the earth needs from humans.


HONORABLE MENTION – 2019 Eric Hoffer Award, General Fiction
SILVER – 2018 Nautilus Book Awards, Fiction (Large Publisher)


“A riveting tug-of-war between science and intuition, doubt and belief, impending devastation and the hope of survival. Even the most rational among us will find wisdom here, wonder, and truth.”—Eileen Pollack, author of A Perfect Life

“How can you not love this beautifully brainy, indelibly moving, knock-your- socks-off novel about a female meteorologist who can control the weather? Grounded in both awe and science, aching with wonder, and written with the dazzling surprise of a double rainbow, Emmons is a brilliant alchemist, making you truly believe that the inexplicable is sometimes the most gloriously possible thing of all. None of us are alone. None of us are alone, none of us should be alone, and we should all realize our connection to the Earth. Like the tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes and perfect blue skies, she’s a natural literary force to be reckoned with.”—Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World and the New York Times bestsellers Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow?


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 […]

Cai Emmons’ SINKING ISLANDS Featured in The Oregonian!

In Oregon author Cai Emmons’ 2018 novel, Weather Woman, an atmospheric scientist discovers that she is capable of controlling the elements she’s long studied: She can shut down a thunderstorm, summon snow, extinguish a forest fire.

SINKING ISLANDS, by Cai Emmons, featured on Hasty Book List

HBL Note: Although SINKING ISLANDS by Cai Emmons is a sequel to Weather Woman, it can also easily be read as a stand-alone novel. In Weather Woman, we meet Bronwyn Artair an MIT dropout who discovers she can control the weather with her mind. In SINKING ISLANDS, Bronwyn struggles to come to terms with what […]

Cai Emmons, author of SINKING ISLANDS, interviewed for Hasty Book List

SINKING ISLANDS continues the story of Bronwyn Artair, a scientist who possesses the power to influence the weather and other natural forces of the Earth. After several successful interventions stopping fires and tornados, she has gone into hiding, worried about unintended consequences of her actions, as well as about the ethics of operating solo. But […]

Cai Emmons Guests Writes for Book Club Babble!

“One of the rewarding aspects of novel-writing is the opportunity it affords to travel the world. Never has this been more true for me than when I was writing and researching Sinking Islands. The premise of the novel grows from its prequel, Weather Woman, in which the protagonist, Bronwyn, has discovered she has the power […]

SINKING ISLANDS author Cai Emmons has Article Featured on Lit Hub!

“In the winter of 2021, I completed a new novel within days of receiving a diagnosis of an untreatable terminal illness (ALS). The novel was written quickly—more quickly than my novels usually take and more quickly than I “approve” of writing a novel. It emerged like come Coleridge-like opium-induced rush of an idea that insisted […]

The Rumpus Book Club chat with Cai Emmons about SINKING ISLANDS!

The Rumpus Book Club chats with Cai Emmons about her new novel, Sinking Islands (Red Hen Press, September 2021), how writing sequel is and isn’t different from writing a standalone novel, the research involved in writing about climate change, and the importance of teaching as a way of changing perspectives.

SINKING ISLANDS author Cai Emmons interviewed on KBOO!

On today’s show, we welcome two Oregon-based writers — Suzy Vitello and Cai Emmons — who have published recent novels, speculative fiction, focused on climate change, its effects on the environment and those of us living under these conditions. Suzy’s book FAUTLAND from Portland’s Ooligan Press, and Cai’s book SINKING ISLANDS from Red Hen Press, while not sparing us the devastation caused by climate change, […]

An article by Cai Emmons, author of SINKING ISLANDS, is featured in the LA Times!

I first notice something off about my voice on a balmy December evening at a reading in Sausalito in 2019 with several other writers. I have always enjoyed the theatrical aspect of reading my fiction aloud. Feeling the rhythms of my sentences coming alive, riding the cadences, inserting pregnant pauses. Read the full piece here!


Enchanted Prose Reviews WEATHER WOMAN And SINKING ISLANDS By Cai Emmons!

Cai Emmons is an extraordinary wordsmith who’s created a two-book series on the magical powers of personal relationships and their interconnected relationships with Nature, and how individuals and groups have the power to change the trajectory of the climate change crisis. Each stands alone; together their strength is multiplied so this review encompasses both. Read […]

Weather Woman revied in Foreword Reviews

Michelle Anne Schlinger from Foreword Review gives an in-depth review of Cai Emmons’ upcoming title WEATHER WOMAN. Taking a close look at characters and plot, Schlinger praises the work of fiction: “The novel may fit the almanac definition of a work of magical realism, but its appeal lies in its deeper truths . . . […]