What: Cai Emmons discusses “Weather Woman”

When: 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sunriver Books & Music, 57100 Beaver Drive, Building 25-C

Cost: free, registration ­requested

Contact: sunriverbooks.com or 541-593-2525

Eugene writer and 2003 Oregon Book Award winner Cai Emmons has been fascinated by weather — extreme weather in particular — since she was a child in New England. However, the elements didn’t take center stage in her writing until her third novel, “Weather Woman,” which was published in October.

Emmons will discuss the book at a Sunriver event on Saturday.

“I often wanted to be able to change the weather if it was so cold we had to wear coats over our costumes while trick-or-treating, or if an outing was canceled because of rain,” Emmons said. “Then when I moved to California, I felt somewhat responsible for the weather when visitors would come and expected it to always be sunny and warm.”

In “Weather Woman,” the insecure Bronwyn Artair drops out of her prestigious doctoral program in atmospheric sciences, moves to a small cabin by a river in New Hampshire and takes a job as a TV meteorologist. Her affinity with nature leads her to begin to feel as one with the elements and in a slow process of discovery, she realizes she can alter the weather and other natural elements. Bronwyn struggles to comprehend and master her incredible abilities and determine how she should use them. Her interventions in Kansas tornadoes and California wildfires have consequences that eventually lead her to the methane fields of Siberia.

While the story may sound like a classic superhero tale, it as much an emotional drama about a woman finding her own identity, realizing the value of friendship and defending her beliefs.

“It’s the story of a meteorologist who has the power to change the weather,” Emmons said. “But except for that element, it’s a realistic novel. The question is how she shares it with the world and what she does with it, so it’s more psychological than sociological. I didn’t think of it as a superpower when I was writing it, and I really didn’t want this story to go there and become a stereotypical battle between good and evil.”

The plot of “Weather Woman” required Emmons to do substantial research into atmospheric science and meteorology, along with neuroscience and physics. But one of the most challenging research subjects was the book’s ending, set in Siberia.

“Of course I’d never been there, and I was hesitant about having such a significant part of the book in a place I didn’t know,” Emmons said. “I came across this wonderful blog written by a young woman who lived there in Piksi. The blog included unbelievable pictures along with the text, which made me feel as though I was there. Just reading about the demographics of a place isn’t sufficient. You really need something atmospheric to give you a sense of the place.”

Emmons holds two Masters of Fine Arts degrees. Her focus was film at New York University and fiction at the University of Oregon, where she has taught fiction and screenwriting since 2002. She began her writing career as a dramatist and also wrote, edited and directed independent films and wrote several teleplays and unproduced screenplays. Emmons’ first novel, “His Mothers Son” won the 2003 Oregon Book Award and her second novel, “The Stylist,” was published in 2007.

While the supernatural aspect of “Weather Woman” may make it seem like quite a departure from her earlier novels, the author doesn’t see it that way.

“I see all my work on a continuum,” Emmons said. “One of the threads that go through them all is a fascination with women’s lives. More than anything, this is a story about female empowerment. It starts with a woman who is very disenfranchised and self-doubting who then discovers this amazing power. This one just takes a different turn than my other books, but I think I’m always really interested in women’s lives as what I really consider to be second-class citizens.”

Surprisingly, Emmons prefers to write longhand on white paper in blue ink. She later transcribes her work in sections using a computer. She finds it freeing not to have any interceding consciousness between herself and the initial work. Something as small as spell check or a notification popping up on the screen makes her aware of another presence with her.

“Also, I have asterisks everywhere,” Emmons said. “No computer program has been able to replicate what I do on the page.”

Emmons is currently on leave from the University of Oregon and recently submitted her resignation, which will take effect in fall 2019. She wants to focus more on her writing. She has a short story collection due to be published next year and has already drafted a sequel to “Weather Woman.”

“When I’m working on a new novel, I don’t want the mental distractions and want to focus on the writing,” Emmons said. “The time is so precious, and you don’t get it back.”

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