Emma Sloley speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “The Cassandras,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Sloley talks about writing a story based on the fear of men women are taught to have from a young age. She also discusses her decision to include a sort of Greek chorus in the story, apocalyptic isolation in her novel Disaster’s Children, and how travel writing has changed in the age of Instagram.
The cemetery where she meets him after work is both vertiginous and claustrophobic. The graves are crowded closely together, like huddled children cowering from punishment, then there is a short stretch of lawn tilting to the cliff’s edge, and beyond that a sickening void she imagines rushing out to meet her. Why would it occur to someone to build a cemetery on a steep escarpment above the Pacific Ocean? The weed-hemmed tombstones are cracked and bleached. No one has been buried here for ages; they’re all in the fashionable new cemetery out near the airport. The paths are strewn with shards of glass, the torn petals of sad plastic flowers, scraps of trash, and shriveled cigarette butts, and the whole thing might have an air of tawdriness if not for that view: blinding blue sky sliced horizontally by the cliff edge, the wild ocean below. The audacious, swaggering drama of it.