Interview with Emma Sloley, Author of Disaster’s Children

Yay for Emma Sloley, author of Disaster’s Children, a gripping dystopian novel recently published by Little a! An accomplished writer of short fiction and creative nonfiction, Disaster’s Children is Emma’s first book. She has the endorsements of some of the most prominent writers of literary fiction today. Jinmin Han calls Emma’s novel “lush” and “mesmerizing.” Rebecca Makkai says, “Sometimes a new author will sidle up and whisper in your ear, and sometimes she’ll grab you by the neck. Emma Sloley is in the latter camp.” #TBR, right? ASAP. I’m so excited to share this interview with you. Read on for the inside scoop, as well as a chance to win Emma’s novel. 

Photo by Adam McCulloch

Emma Sloley’s fiction and creative non-fiction has appeared in Catapult, Literary Hub, Yemassee Journal, Lunch Ticket, Structo, and the Masters Review Anthology, among many others. She is a MacDowell fellow and her debut novel, DISASTER’S CHILDREN, was published in November 2019. Born in Australia, Emma now divides her time between the US and the city of Mérida, Mexico. You can find her on Twitter @Emma_Sloley and

Read through to learn more about Emma AND get your chance to win Disaster’s Children

You can follow Emma online at:

Her website


And now, on to the interview!



Talk about one book that made an impact on you.

I read Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion when I was quite young and impressionable, in my early 20s, quickly followed by Written On The Body and then in a gluttonous rush, the rest of her books. It had never occurred to me that one was allowed to write like this—in this joyous, queer, lyrical way that was also structurally and stylistically unconventional. Her pages were the first time I ever met a genderfluid character, the first time I was exposed to Napoleon’s obsessions, the first time I truly felt like I received an insight into romantic love. Winterson’s prose just sings right off the page, and I can still quote some of her lines verbatim. She has this sly wisdom and wicked sense of humor that kind of conceals the tragic undercurrents of her stories, and I have spent the rest of my writing life seeking to capture some of that magic. My style is so different from hers, but I think often a writer’s greatest influences aren’t direct but instead happen through a sort of osmosis.

What time of day do you love best?

Mornings are my favorite time for writing, when the day is fresh and anything seems possible. Dusk is my favorite time otherwise, when the light begins to fade and I can relocate to the rooftop with a glass of wine and my favorite person to debrief about the day.

Do you have a regular first reader?  If so, who is it and why?

My husband, Adam McCulloch, who’s also a writer, is my first reader, my biggest fan, and my harshest critic, and I feel incredibly lucky to have access to all that enthusiasm, constructive criticism, and wisdom – without even leaving the house! Along with being a great writer, he has such incredible insights into craft and story design, and I’ve often found a story or novel taking a different direction after discussing it with him. I learn so much from listening to him (and occasionally arguing with him!) and I like to think I’ve had a positive effect on his writing as well.

 In what fictional place would you most like to spend a day? What would you do?

I think the ranch on which my characters live in my novel Disaster’s Children is a pretty fascinating place. Because it’s supposed to be a utopia, I intentionally created it as a place that felt like that to me. Of course, everyone’s idea of the perfect place differs. For me, there needed to be a wealth of unspoiled natural splendor, beautiful and sensitive architecture and design, libraries full of books, a well-stocked wine cellar, happy animals, organic food grown on the property, and stimulating intellectual company. If I were to spend the day there, I’d get to know the residents and their backstories, and see if I could uncover a few more of their secrets!

If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?

Stop procrastinating. Savor the small writing joys. And when something called social media is invented, ignore it forever.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!! Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter and SHARE OR RETWEET the interview for a chance to win DISASTER’S CHILDREN by Emma Sloley.


Learn more about DISASTER’S CHILDREN.

Set in the very near future, Disaster’s Children tells the story of a young woman living on an idyllic ranch among wealthy survivalists while the planet teeters on the brink of catastrophe, as she grapples with the decision of whether to stay in hiding or escape to the outside world, which the ranchers call “The Disaster.”


Disaster’s Children is available pretty much anywhere books are sold, AND it’s included in Kindle Unlimited.





Author: Kathleen West

Kathleen West is the author of the forthcoming novel, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes, out 2/4/20 from Berkley. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

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