Monday, January 8, 2024

The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.


bio pictures of emma

Today we are speaking with Emma Pech, a senior undergraduate studying English and Creative Writing, and Screenwriting. She is the Programming Director for Bijou Film Board and a member of the English Honors Program. As a freshman, she was Web Editor for InkLit magazine, and a member of the Iowa Writers LLC. Her writing has been published in InkLit and earthwords. She often stalks the halls of FilmScene or the AJB with a chai latte, writing on a laptop that desperately needs a new battery.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what brought you to the University of Iowa?

I always wanted to become a novelist, and I figured I would either go big or go home. Iowa is the place to be if you're serious about making writing your life. Not only are the professors and course offerings absolutely fantastic, but there are infinite opportunities for you to get practical experience outside the classroom. If you really throw yourself into the writing program, by the time you graduate you'll feel like you know everything about writing, because you've looked at it from every angle. Nobody really knows everything when they graduate college, but you should at least feel like you know everything. You gotta have confidence.

I think it's also worth noting that Iowa had the most student-focused, liberal arts mentality of any other school I looked at. The advisors and professors here want you to have the opportunity to branch out and explore, and find what you're really, truly passionate about. It's super easy to add, change, or drop majors and minors, or just take classes in other departments. And because of that, I ended up discovering that screenwriting was what I had been looking for all along. Iowa gives you the room to develop your art as rigorously and in-depth as you can, but it's also very relaxed here and you get so much freedom.

2. What is the inspiration for your work right now?

My main screenwriting inspirations are Diablo Cody, Charlie Kaufman, and Todd Haynes. Diablo Cody has some of the most vivid screenplays I've ever read; she's just so funny and wild and she really pushes the boundaries of the form, specifically in Jennifer's Body, which might be my favorite script of all time. Charlie Kaufman balances humanity with the surreal and cerebral, and I love the way he blends sci-fi with reality in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—the script I'm writing right now is the equivalent of writing my own Eternal Sunshine. And as most people know, I'm obsessed with Todd Haynes' Safe. I like my movies like baked goods: dense and you can sink your teeth into it.

3. Do you have a daily writing routine?

No, and that's okay.

4. What are you reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

I have a lot of books around, but I never read them, which makes me feel guilty. I mostly just rewatch my favorite movies. I've been gravitating to The Worst Person in the World lately, I think because it pertains a lot to what I'm writing right now. It has this riveting, exciting energy, especially in its opening sequence, that gets me excited about creating. For me, there's no difference between research and pleasure. I'm like a database constantly seeking new uploads. I read and watch things because I want to learn from them. Every time I watch a movie, I need to discuss it in-depth for the next 3 hours.

5. Tell us about where you are from - what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?

I am from Wisconsin, where there are more trees than an Iowan could possibly imagine. Lush, green forests, shimmering lakes and rivers, and so much wildlife. I like to go for hikes and see garter snakes scurrying off the paths into the dirt.





Thank you for talking with us today, Emma!