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Appalachian Writers

Mountain People Mountain Places by Marshall McClung

A few months ago I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite writers, Marshall McClung. Marshall's writing style and choice of subject matter reminds me of John Parris, who was well known for his Roaming the Mountains newspaper column in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Marshall McClung is a native of Graham County NC-he was born and raised in the Atoah Community. He is retired from the US Forest Service and has spent many years in service to his county by being a loyal member of the Rescue Squad.

Appalachian Writer Marshall McClung 
Why do you feel it is important to write about our heritage?

Because it's fading fast. Many of the people I've interviewed are no longer with us. And when those old timers pass on their memories and stories pass on with them.

Do you find there is still a thread of our culture thriving?

A few people are interested in holding on to the old ways. Recently a senior at the high school did his exit project on the heritage of our area. I helped him with it.

Where you always interested in preserving our history and heritage?

Yes. As a child I'd be sitting or hanging around the porch to listen to the older folks talk while the other kids played.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, you could say I am an accidental writer. I did write press releases for the forest service but other than that I had no experience with writing. One Christmas I came up with the idea of writing an article in dedication to a lady in the community. Helen Bridges was one of my neighbor ladies when I was growing up. She had lots of kids but always welcomed more and many times that was me. After I wrote the short article about her at Christmas the Graham Star got such a huge response to the article, that they asked me to continue writing about the heritage and history of our area.

As Marshall and I ate lunch-you could say I talked his ears off. He is a fountain of knowledge about the things I'm most interested in. He shared stories, folklore, and history about Appalachia with me. One of my favorite stories he shared from his childhood was the following:

My early childhood days were spent playing alone in the woods. All you had to do was step off our porch, and you were in the woods. All of the other children were in school, so I roamed the woods and they became my playground. I suppose this is why I have such a deep love for the woods and feel at home in them. This led to  what could be called my first experience with my guardian angel. One day I had followed our dogs deep into the woods. Suddenly, I realized I didn't know where I was or how to get back home. Everything looked the same in any direction. All at once, I could hear what I thought was my mother calling me. I followed the sound of her voice until I came to a ridge top where I could see our home. At this point, the voice immediately stopped. Joyfully, I ran into the yard where my mother was. She looked up and said "There you are. I was wondering where you had gotten off to. I was just about to start calling you."

Marshall's first book Mountain People Mountain Places is a pleasure to read-in fact I've read it more than once. The book is a collection (close to 100) of stories, folklore, and history all told from Marshall's unique perspective. Although much of the history centers on Graham County I believe Marshall's writing style makes it a good read even if you've never been to Western NC. If you'd like a book ($23.00 which includes shipping)-you can order one straight from Marshall:

Marshall McClung, 274 Wiggins Lane, Robbinsville, NC  28771, phone: 828-479-8630, email:

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Marshall McClung. He is currently working on his second book about mountain people and places-I'll let you know when it's published.


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Great interview. I love these old stories.

Tipper: What a fun interview. I remember being lost in the mountains and the fear that occurs. feeling and when you realize you know where you are relief washes over you.

Very enlightening interview Tipper. He's right; everyone's culture is fading and will disappear in our fast paced, throw away world if people like Marshall (and you) don't record it for us.

Hope you and your family have a very happy and healthy new year.

Hi Tipper, I love the old stories..and so few are telling them anymore..pretty soon our stories will be the old ones.:)

Hmmm... That name seems familiar. I may have to check out the book. He sounds like an interesting character.

Hey Tipper, I bet Marshall is a very interesting person to talk to. I enjoyed the story about his being lost in the woods.

Thank you again, Tipper. Loved the stories.

A lovely interview, Tipper!

Kudos to Marshall McClung for maintaining Appalachia's wonderful and rich heritage! :))

He is absolutely correct there is information that is slipping away forever.
Thank God for the people like you and Marshall McClung helping to preserve this precious history and tradition!

Tipper what a fine job you do bringing this to should have your own little paper!

Have I told you I listen to Shady Grove every time I come over :) My husband is growing to love it too...

Tipper, I so love how you love your land and its heritage. Thank you for inviting me into a love affair with your dear Appalachia.

Wonderful and interesting interview! Have a wonderful New Year! blessings,Kathleen

Hi, Tipper. Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas.

Mr. McClung sounds like an interesting person. It's people like that I like to sit on the front porch and chat with.
Thanks, Tipper!

Tipper,great posting,thank you for visiting me today.I like your site.

Hello Tipper, I enjoyed reading your intrview with Marshall McClung and reading his story.

Marshall has an essay about growing up in Graham County that will be included iN ECHOES ACROSS THE BLUE RIDGE Stories: Essays, and Poems by Writers Living in and Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Winding Path Publishig in spring 2010.

Sounds like a really good book, Tipper! Thanks for letting us know about it!

It's wonderful that people like Marshall are writing down all these stories and helping to preserve the Appalachian heritage. I try to do the same in my novels, with stories folks have told me but alas! it'll always be as an outsider looking in.

Nice interview...quite the journey!

Thank you for sharing.

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