Let’s be honest — for most authors, good research is never easy.
For Cai Emmons, however, it was vital to have an in-depth understanding of meteorology and weather to properly write her most recent novel, “Weather Woman”. She explained this to a small audience of writers in the Nevada Wolf Shop during her visit to the University of Nevada, Reno, on Thursday, April 4.
“Weather Woman” centers on a 30-year-old atmospheric science student named Bronwyn Artair, who drops out of graduate school to become a weather forecaster for a news station in New Hampshire. After spending a year at her detestable job and being dumped by her boyfriend, she discovers supernatural abilities to influence the weather. The book details her journey as she learns how to use her abilities for good, and harness a power — both physical and internal — she’s never had before.
Although the supernatural elements in the book were envisioned by Emmons, there were still elements of science that were vital to the main character’s story. To illustrate this, Emmons read an excerpt from the book in which Bronwyn purposefully uses her powers for the first time, and uses scientific terminology to describe the experience.
“So, I think the research there kind of shows,” Emmons said, chuckling, after reading the excerpt. “It’s kind of integrated in the way she [Bronwyn] thinks about things.”
In order to achieve such a deep comprehension of meteorology, Emmons researched and read up on various weather patterns and phenomena. She also took trips with scientists to icy locations where global warming has become increasingly apparent. In doing this, Emmons was not only able to write about meteorology in an efficient way, but she was also able to underline the dangers of global warming and how much our planet is in need of environmental reform.
Emmons also commented on the challenges of writing about a place she’s never been before. At one point in “Weather Woman”, Bronwyn takes a trip to a town in Russia to visit methane fields, which are notorious for contributing to global warming. In writing about this Russian town, Emmons read a blog by a Russian woman who documented one of the towns she once lived in. The blog was inundated with beautiful scenic photos, which Emmons showed to the crowd, and allowed her to channel the atmosphere and characteristics into the town in her novel. There were also several shots of a young Russian girl, who Emmons inserted into the novel as a minor character.
Finally, Emmons explained her struggles with translating Bronwyn’s powers into words for readers to envision, the way she envisioned them.
“I worked out that she sort of galvanizes this feeling in her gut,” Emmons said, “and she lifts it up, and when it gets to her head, she sort of blooms it forward. And as she does so, she has this sensation of merging with the weather, or merging with the atmosphere, and all of a sudden there’s this sense of identity.”
Emmons went on to read another excerpt where Bronwyn does this. Afterward, she told the audience of a neuroscientist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who attended one of her readings and said that Bronwyn experiencing her powers were similar to how patients described epileptic seizures.
Emmons is currently working on a new book called “A Rare Thing”, and says she finished a sequel to “Weather Woman” and is waiting for it to be released.