Friendship. Mystery. Scandal. If you’re looking for a riveting story with all three, look no further than Anton DiSclafani’s “The After Party, ” which hit bookshelves on May 17. The story follows the lives of two upper-class socialites in 1950s Texas. The phrase “opposites attract” is an accurate description of the two main characters, Cece and Joan. Joan, who is fair and outgoing, enjoys pushing social boundaries. Cece is dark, reserved, and a stickler for the rules. The two women have been friends since childhood, and Cece has been looking out for Joan for years. She naturally starts to worry when Joan starts pulling away before eventually disappearing altogether. After years of friendship, Cece can’t seem to let Joan go and doesn’t stop until she receives the answers she’s been searching for regarding Joan’s year-long disappearance. She, like me, never could’ve guessed the secrets that Joan was hiding. Things aren’t always what they seem, especially in a time period with very strict class and gender roles that must never be broken.
I bought a copy and sat reading for hours. I got sucked in and devoured the whole book in a single night. DiSclafani’s vivid descriptions, along with her detailed and lively imagination, made me want to keep turning the pages. The beginning drew me in, alluding to certain conflicts without giving too much away too quickly. The questions started to pile up, but I never could’ve guessed the answers. The ending truly blew me away. The suspense built and built until the truth came out in the exciting conclusion. Even more exciting? I had the opportunity to chat with the author afterwards.
When I asked her about her writing process, DiSclafani said that it usually starts with situating herself in a chair away from the internet for a few hours so that she can focus on her writing with as few distractions as possible. When prompted, she compared her creative process to the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”, because she makes sure to write “for a few hours every single day.”
DiSclafani’s inspiration for writing “The After Party” came from what she learned about 1950s Houston. “It was a fabulous, surreal place, ” she says, “and I wanted to live in it for a little bit.” DiSclafani is from the South, just like her characters. “I write about places I know, and so it follows that I write about the South, ” she says. “There is such richness and complexity and drama in the South. I love it, and I love writing about it.”
One of the aspects from the story that intrigued me most involved Cece’s husband, Ray. He grew jealous of Cece’s one-sided devotion to Joan until he issued an ultimatum: she had to choose, either her husband or Joan. I asked DiSclafani if she believed that Ray was justified in issuing this ultimatum. “Yes!” she answered with gusto. “So justified! I think Cece was testing Ray’s very generous limits.” I wonder, if things had played out differently in the novel, if Cece would’ve chosen her friendship with Joan over her marriage. What does DiSclafani think? “That’s a good question. I hope not, for Cece’s sake, but I don’t know.”
Page and Palette will once again host the Florida author on Wednesday, June 15, for a meet-and-greet and book-signing event. DiSclafani has been to our area once before, on the paperback tour for her first novel. She is excited to be visiting Page and Palette, which is one of her “favorite things” about Fairhope. She is also intrigued by the Jubilee that happens here and hopes to see it while she’s in the area.
At the end of our Q and A, I asked DiSclafani if there was anything specific she’d like to say to her local fans. “War Eagle!” was her answer.
June 15: Anton DiSclafani
Page and Palette • 32 S Section St., Fairhope.
6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets are free. RSVP online at pageandpalette.com.
Text by Sierra Curtis • Photo by Nina Subin