Mothers begin vanishing from homes around the globe in Lynch’s debut, The Forbidden Territory of a Terrifying Woman (Catapult, June).

What sparked the novel’s central idea of these mysterious disappearances?
My own feelings of discomfort with things happening in the world. At some point I started imagining that uneasiness playing out in some other woman in an extreme way. It begins one summer night when she walks into a park and hears insects screaming. She feels a collision between the urban space and the dirt and trees and gets pulled deeper into that natural place, away from the human one. If that tension could manifest as something external, like a vibration, it might also affect other people. Soon after I started writing, I knew that the protagonist wouldn’t be the only one to feel it.

The protagonist’s life is, on paper, pretty enviable. What’s eating at her?
This gets at a central question in the book: how you can live in an environment that you’re also destroying? If you spend time looking directly at any of the problems in the world—cruelty, pollution, our love of money and power—it might feel debilitating, especially if you can’t subscribe to a religion that redeems humanity. I’m interested in finding ways of looking at the bad things and not running away, not becoming anesthetized, not becoming heartbroken or debilitated. For me, that tension is generative. It’s part of learning what it is to be a human and also a source of creativity.

Talk about your choice to invoke the Greek goddess Artemis throughout the book.
I could say a lot about the novel’s idea of an unforgiving goddess of the wilds, but the one thing I’ll share now is this: she’s the terrifying woman in the book’s title.

Why do you concentrate the book’s magic in the forest near the protagonist’s home?
Scraps of urban forest feel uncanny to me. I’m suspicious of the idealization of nature as something pure. It’s possible to read the thing that the protagonist feels drawn to as something she’s projecting. And as we learn in the story, there’s naivete, even danger, in thinking of nature as a space of salvation.