Alyson Hagy was raised on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is the author of seven books including the story collection Ghosts of Wyoming (Graywolf Press, 2010) and the novel Boleto (Graywolf Press, 2012).
From her Q & A with Jacqueline Kolosov in Shenandoah:
I came to your remarkable body of work through your third novel, Boleto; and so it is here that I’d like to begin. A Publishers Weekly review quotes you as saying: “‘This was not the planned book….I was working on another novel and sitting in a lecture and this book just came to me.’” Would you discuss both your composition process and the genesis and evolution of Boleto?The Page 69 Test: Boleto.
My teacher and mentor George Garrett used to say previous books never prepare you for future books, that each book has its own rules and demands and surprises. I wasn’t able to absorb that advice for years – partly because I couldn’t imagine writing enough books for it to matter. I like to plan projects. Planning gives me a false sense of control. It allows me to gear up and pretend the road ahead will be smooth and solid. This is one of the ways I fool myself into spending years (sometimes fruitless years) working on a book. In 2010, I was 150 pages into a novel I’d been planning for quite a while when Boleto struck me like the proverbial bolt of lightning. I was taking notes at a lecture given by a pair of archaeologists when it just came to me: the characters, the three settings, the rough arc of the story. I’d met the model for Will Testerman probably seven years earlier. I had a couple of small scratches in my notebook about that young horse trainer, but I do a lot of scratching. Most of it doesn’t lead to much. This deus ex machina arrival of a story was brand new to me. I vowed I wouldn’t waste the opportunity. I do my share of dumb things as a writer. But this time I was...[read on]