Horses, Sex, and Southern Belles: Anton DiSclafani on The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Anton DiSclafani’s debut novel seems poised to become the breakout hit of the summer, with coverage already in Time, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly — and now, Scribbler. The book releases on June 4th, but until then, Anton’s publisher Riverhead Books is offering a free preview of the e-book, in which you can travel alongside the novel’s protagonist, Thea Atwell, on her first visit to the secluded equestrian school that gives the novel its name: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. These seductive first pages will give you some idea why Kirkus (in a starred review) called the novel “an unusually accomplished and nuanced coming-of-age drama.” We’re very lucky to be hosting Anton Disclafani for a reading and signing of her novel on Wednesday, June 5th, 7:00 at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library.

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(Thanks to Sarah Bruni for forwarding these questions.)

What is the working title of the book?

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My family has a cabin near the “real” Yonahlossee, in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, so I knew, and loved, the area.  But the main character—Thea—and her story arrived in a sort of thunderbolt moment that hadn’t happened before, and hasn’t happened since.  Maybe you only get one.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a book you’ll like if you’re a person who likes books.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I don’t like how movies give faces to characters (I prefer them featureless) so I will abstain from doing that here.  But the horses will all be beautiful and fearless.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Girl sent away to a new world.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Two years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My lack of success with short stories.  I tried to place a few short stories in literary journals, after graduation from my MFA program, and failed; I decided to focus all my attention and energy on writing a novel.  It felt safer, in a way—there wasn’t the near-constant rejection of the short-story world (at least that’s how I experienced it) and safer also because there wasn’t going to be anyone critiquing my work along the way (I decided early on not to show anyone the manuscript until it was finished).  That’s the boring, practical answer, and the more romantic version of that is less articulable:  I felt compelled to write this book, to chip away it every day until the story revealed itself.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Horses.  Sex.  Southern belles.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The book will be published June 4, 2013 (so soon!) by Riverhead.

My tagged writer for next week is:

Dave Schuman

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