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Debut Novelist Mac Laird Brings Virginia History to Life

(January 31, 2012)

WILLIAMSBURG, VA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/31/12 -- At 81, retired telecommunications specialist Mac Laird published his first work of historical fiction, a novel about the Shenandoah Valley land and the people who populated it in 1700. "Dangerous Differences" ( hinges on the clash of Native American and European cultures as settlers flocked to the New World.

Laird's debut novel has won praise, including a nomination by the Library of Virginia for its 14th annual Literary Awards, and glowing reviews:

"'Dangerous Differences' is a beautifully written history about those early struggles in Virginia, something I have not read in such vivid detail anyplace else," wrote Robert Shultis for Laird's hometown newspaper in Williamsburg, Va.

So how does an octogenarian launch a career as a novelist?

Laird says it began with 38 years of journaling as he documented days spent in the mountains, building with indigenous materials. His first book, a nonfiction work based on that experience and titled "Quail High Above the Shenandoah," was published in 2007.

"When I put that book out and it was accepted so well, I thought, 'Geez, maybe I can write.'''

He'd read an account of a 10-year-old Indian boy who, in the early 1700s, ran away from an English-run school in the Virginia colony. All alone, the boy traversed forests and forded rivers to return to his people.

"It's a great story," says Laird, who used it as the foundation for his tale of a 14-year-old Saponi Indian boy who is sent to school to learn the ways of the whites in order to help his people adapt.

Laird spent about a year immersed in volumes of local history. He traveled to the locales where his story would be set. His editors were the Williamsburg Writers, a group of six local writers who've met faithfully every month for 10 years.

He's enjoying his new career and still surprised (and delighted) by the fact that his words can entertain. He's eager to publish the next book, "Christanna," in May.

About Mac Laird

Mac Laird was a telecommunications specialist with the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C. Throughout his career, Laird spent 40 years building a sprawling log cabin in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He lives in Patriots Colony, 5 miles from Colonial Williamsburg (Va.) with his wife, Johnnie.

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Ginny Grimsley

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