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Book launch planned for Mary Ann Claud’s “Blue Ridge Pilgrimage”

Author Mary Ann Claud says her favorite story in her recently released book, “Blue Ridge Pilgrimage,” is the one about Adelaide, an antique doll she inherited. “In fact,” she says, “I like to take Adelaide with me to book readings.”

A compilation of short columns written for the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News during the 1980s and ‘90s, Claud’s new book takes readers on a jaunt through out-of-the-way places and subjects of the southern Blue Ridge and foothills that are still fresh today. Readers meet Adelaide along the way.

The public launch event for “Blue Ridge Pilgrimage” is Thursday, Oct. 5, at Upstairs Artspace, 49 S. Trade St., in downtown Tryon, 5-7 p.m. Claud will be on hand for book signing and, no doubt, reminiscing with friends and subjects who drop by.

Claud’s assignment for the weekly columns she wrote was very general, she said. She was to search out and write about some of the interesting people and places in southern Appalachia and the area of her hometown, Tryon.

“I was free to write about whomever and whatever I pleased, provided I could squeeze it into 800 words or less and I didn’t libel anybody. I couldn’t have been more excited if I’d won the Pulitzer Prize,” Claud said.

Many local residents will remember reading the stories as weekly columns, titled “Cider from the Press,” which ran in the Sunday paper and were well read. Her eye for intimate details and her descriptive style of storytelling brought readers to quiet places in Mars Hill and Black Mountain, to uniquely mountain pastimes, and introduced them to salt-of-the earth folks scattered among the hills. She has done the favor of embellishing some stories with updates on people or places mentioned in the original.

Claud has published two novels in the past three years. The first, “The Dancin’ Man,” tells the story of a thoughtful, ambitious young man who marries into a fabled Southern textile family. Her second, “Whirlygig: The Dancin’ Man’s Daughter,” continues a planned trilogy centering on relationships and business dealings in the Ward and Brunson families. Soon to be published is the final installment, “Alex Dances.” One critic described the saga as “Downton Abbey meets the New South.”

Over the course of her writing career Claud has published everything from art and music reviews to travel pieces and personal profiles. She has also taught adult education courses in creative writing, Southern literature, Henry James and William Faulkner.

Claud enjoys engaging readers in all settings, but prefers presentations that evolve into question and answer sessions about not only her fictional Ward and Brunson families, but also about the creative writing process as a tool for self-expression.

For more information about Mary Ann Claud and her books visit maryannclaud.com. After Oct. 5, the book will be available by order at The Bookshelf, 86 N. Trade Street in Tryon, or at any independent bookstore. Ebooks available online. To schedule a reading, contact thedancinmannovel@gmail.com.

– submitted by Mary Jo Pagdett