Interviewed by Sommer Schafer

Read Emily Pavick’s fiction piece, Caveman

Sommer: There is disparity between the humans and the natural environment in this story. In the natural world, there is a sense of beauty and life (“Indigo flowers sprung from granite boulders covered in lichen. In the mountains, even the rocks buzzed with life.”). Sadly, it’s not quite the same in the human world, which is littered with death and dysfunction. What does nature mean to you in this story? In what ways has it affected your writing overall? 

Emily: In this story, nature often reflects the main character’s state of mind, or else causes him to consider his current situation. I feel at peace in nature, but also recognize that it is wild. Spending time in the forest is a great way to feel connected. I often incorporate elements of nature into my writing because of that connection I feel spending time outdoors.

There’s something compelling to me about the vast, silent, beauty of the wilderness in parts of rural America, and the fact that humans often do ugly things in it because they can go undetected there. We see this in your story: the meth labs remain hidden in the Montana mountains. There’s an interesting friction between the beauty of rural America, and the ugliness of its poverty (both economically and spiritually). Is rural America a theme in your writing? Do you have any favorite authors who write about it? 

I tend to place my writing in settings that strike me for whatever reason. Rural America is one of those settings, alongside urban and suburban America, the desert, and the coasts. Some of my favorite writers use their settings almost as characters in their stories. A few modern writers that come to mind are Hannah Tinti, George Saunders, and Joyce Carol Oates.

What are you working on these days? Do you have a writing routine? 

I am wrapping up draft one of a science fiction novel this fall. Like most of us, I’m a busy person, so I write when I can—before I go to bed, midday on a weekend, or in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep.

Do you have any advice for writers on handling rejection? 

Keep on writing, keep on sending, set realistic, achievable goals for yourself, and readjust them as needed.

Thank you for doing this interview with me, and congratulations! 

Absolutely my pleasure and thank you!