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Mary Ann Claud

Biography


Mary Ann Claud grew up in Lancaster, South Carolina. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Converse College. Although The Dancin’ Man is her first novel, she has been a published writer for thirty years.


She began writing in the 70’s after moving to Tryon (N.C.) with her banker husband, Joe Claud, and their two young children. In 1976, after several years of free-lancing, she was offered a job writing a front page Sunday column for the Hendersonville Times News (N.C.). During the next ten years, she attended week-long writers’ workshops at Virginia Commonwealth University and at Duke, dedicating a week each summer to fiction writing.  


Over the course of her career, Claud published everything from travel pieces to personal profiles, to real estate ads. She taught adult education courses in creative writing, Southern literature, Henry James, and William Faulkner, and 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 (S.C.). Sansbury had lost his wife to cancer the previous year. They married six months later. 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.