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Mary Ann Claud’s Bio

Over the course of her career, Mary Ann Claud has published everything from travel pieces and personal profiles, to real estate ads. She’s taught adult education courses in creative writing, Southern literature, Henry James, and William Faulkner. She joined writers’ groups in Tryon and Asheville. It was in one of these groups that the main characters of The Dancin’ Man first emerged. In light of pressing family responsibilities, Claud set the project aside, packed the manuscript into a canvas boat bag, and stored it in a closet. The novel remained there for over twenty years.

In 2009, Claud, recently widowed, was re-introduced to a former acquaintance, Olin Sansbury, the Chancellor Emeritus of USC-Spartanburg, who had also lost his spouse. Within a year, they married. Shortly afterwards, Sansbury’s friend, Jon Buchan, came to Tryon. During the evening he read them the first chapter of his soon-to-be published novel, The Code of the Forest. Buchan learned of Claud’s earlier effort to write a novel and urged her to give The Dancin’ Man another look.

At the suggestion of her husband, Claud read Textile Town, edited by Hub City Executive Director, Betsy Teeter. Textile Town chronicles the rise and decline of the textile industry in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, a story echoed throughout the South. Immediately, Claud realized the drama of that real life story provided the missing backdrop and unifying element for the personal journey of Ted Brunson, her dancin’ man.

For the next year and a half, Mary Ann Claud traveled the textile region of North and South Carolina, attending literary festivals, library-sponsored authors’ events and book clubs. Without fail, someone in each of the groups would ask,”What happens next?” Although the author had not planned to write a sequel, she began to think about it based on readers’ response. Two years later, she completed her second novel, revisiting the Ward/Brunson clan ten years after The Dancin’ Man. Set in 1999, Whirlygig:The Dancin’ Man’s Daughter takes up the story of Volly Brunson, Ted and Virginia’s eldest child and only daughter, as she returns to Parkersburg SC, the home of her dysfunctional family and her beloved uncle, Sam. Her plan is to resurrect the failing family business.   

Alex Dances, the third and last book of the trilogy, introduces Volly's daughter, another strong-willed talented Southern woman.