An Interview with Emma Slolely


Your piece centers on an ostensibly anti-social couple who feel an obligation to host a party, a most highly social experience...how did these characters and the premise come into being? 

I don't mind confessing that there's an autobiographical aspect to the story! Like so many writers, I am fairly introverted and guard my private time fiercely. But there's no getting around the fact that humans are hard-wired to socialize, to enter however occasionally or reluctantly into the social contract. So I was drawn to this idea of a couple who are victims of these contradictory desires, who treasure their solitude but also feel a yearning for social connection. And what better way to torture this reclusive couple—whose ideal life involves spending time only with one another—than to force them to throw a party? I knew how I wanted to end the story before I'd even started writing it—the way they end up resolving their self-inflicted predicament felt pre-ordained.

Which writers or work(s) have influenced your writing? 

Writers like Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Edith Wharton, Vladimir Nabakov and Annie Proulx, while all writing within fairly different eras and frameworks, have always seemed to me to possess an almost superhuman ability to interrogate and reveal what it means to be alive and searching for meaning. If there's a common denominator to the books I love, I think it would be that there's this commingled sense of melancholy and hopefulness. I love stories that are sad but not bleak, if that makes sense.

Read Emma's story "The Day Of.