The inspiration for Laurel Ridge Professor Margaret “Maggie” Marangione’s first novel is all around her.
“Across the Blue Ridge Mountains” tells the story of Mary, a young woman who, after leaving her abusive mother, eventually ends up with a mountain family in Elkton. There, she is healed and empowered, but faces adversity when the federal government begins removing families from their homes in order to create Shenandoah National Park.
“She experiences and fights the removals,” said Professor Marangione, who as an adjunct teaches English composition and Appalachian literature classes at Laurel Ridge, while working full time for Blue Ridge Community College. “One winter morning, the voice of my protagonist Mary just kind of channeled right through and I started writing.”
The idea for the novel was sparked when Long Island, N.Y. native Professor Marangione, who has also taught dual-enrollment classes for Laurel Ridge at Luray High School and Massanutten Regional Governor’s School, received Virginia Community College System grants to research the removals of families for the creation of Shenandoah National Park.
While this is her first creative fiction piece, Professor Marangione has been writing on and off her whole life, she said. She has published academic articles, and prior to becoming a teacher, was an intelligence analyst, researcher and editor for various government agencies.
“Teaching is just something I always wanted to do, and once I got my foot in the door, I realized I really loved working with students,” said Professor Marangione, who has lived in Page County for more than 20 years. “I could bring a lot of practical knowledge of how being able to write well is important in the workplace.”
She has worked for Laurel Ridge Community College for 10 years.
“I enjoy being hands on with the students,” said Professor Marangione. “I really like community college students. So many of them try really hard, even though they may struggle along the way. I just love giving them kind of a helping hand to get going and to get launched. And, they’re a very diverse group.”
She said she is working on additional novels, as well as some short stories. “Across the Blue Ridge Mountains” is available at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.