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  • Author Anton DiSclafani talks horses, Blue Ridge Mountains and Growing Up
Author Anton DiSclafani talks horses, Blue Ridge Mountains and Growing Up
Written by
nicole meier
August 2013
Written by
nicole meier
August 2013

For this week's edition of Travel Reads, I am hosting author Anton DiSclafani:

Congratulations on the release of your new novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. The story has so many enticing ingredients: The Depression era, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and a boarding school for southern debutantes. Which idea came to you first and how?
Definitely the place: I grew up going to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for vacation, and fell in love with the mountains at an early age. I also fell in love with the idea of Yonahlossee as a teenager. My parents have a mountain cabin in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, which is a stone’s throw from the “real” Yonahlossee. It closed in 1985, but the Yonahlossee name is everywhere, up there, and the idea of an camp for girls nearly a hundred years ago, tucked away in the mountains, found a foothold in my brain.

Did you travel to North Carolina for your research?
I spent a lot of time in North Carolina, but not really for research. I decided very early on that I wanted my version of Yonahlossee to be completely fictional, and so to that end I didn’t want to know much about the real place. But I found just being in the mountains inspiring, so I guess you could call that research (an easy kind of research).

What drew you to the idea of an equestrian boarding school? Did you grow up visiting horse camps or attending boarding schools?
I grew up riding horses. It was my obsession, for most of my childhood and adolescence. Thea, my main character, doesn’t want to be sent away from home, but horses are the salve. I was never sent away from home, but horses still acted as a kind of salve throughout my childhood, and those tormented adolescent years. Riding horses, and being around them, was a very pure kind of escape from the bumpiness of being a teenager. And from a fictional perspective, what is more dramatic than an enclave of girls and their horses?

Your main character, Thea, is thrust into a world that’s foreign to her. Do you believe that it’s easier for one to travel or be removed from their element to gain perspective?
That’s an interesting question, and yes, absolutely it’s easier to gain perspective in a foreign world. Actually, it’s the only way, I think. We’re all trapped in our context, in the particular world we live in, and the only way to bump ourselves out of that particularity is to go somewhere new. I think that about traveling, especially outside the US—nowhere do I feel less certain of myself, and my way of doing things, than in a different country.

What are you working on next?
I am unsure, to be honest. I have two ideas floating around in my head: one involves the modern-day south, and a murder; the second idea involves Texas in the 1960s and 70s, and a murder. So either way, a murder.

Thank you, Anton! For more about Anton and her book, visit www.antondisclafani.com

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