Lailee McNair Bakhtiar formerly Lailee van Dillen, (maiden name Lailee McNair) finished her latest poetry book, City Dock Poetry 2014, following her nonfiction book Afghanistan's Blue Treasure Lapis Lazuli, 2011 and her latest novel, They Shake the Desert Sands, 2010. She has won 33 awards for her writings and television programs. Former host of "Authors and Critics", (as Lailee Bakhtiar van Dillen) a television series on PBS, Bakhtiar is a poet and novelist who was born in Washington, D.C.. She spoke at The Gulf and The Globe Conference (http://www.usna.edu/MiddleEast/Draft%20Schedule%20of%20Events%20-%2010%20Dec%202008.pdf) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. She was invited to speak at the United Nations in New York at the UNESCO conference in 2000, on her month long camping expedition to the Zagros Mountains in October 2000 Feb 25, 2000 "Making It Happen: Women and the Culture of Peace" (UNESCO/World Peace www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/2000schedule.htm ). She is the daughter of a Persian mother from the Bakhtiar tribe and a father from four generations of the United States Naval Academy and the Navy, Rear Admiral Frederick Vallette McNair, Captain Frederick Valllette McNair and Lieutenant|Frederick Vallette McNair III. and her youngest brother James Jeffreys McNair. She learned the craft of writing at the [University of North Carolina], Chapel Hill where she studied French literature and received a B.A. in French. She received a MAT, Masters in Teaching French, from the College of Notre Dame de Namur, Belmont, CA. As the co founder and a chairman of the Jack London Writers’ Conference, a President of the California Writers’ Club-Peninsula Branch; seven years a producer of an NBC-KRON San Francisco community program, For Heaven’s Sake, and; nine years a host and producer of Authors and Critics on PBS-KCSM TV in San Mateo and 5 years Host/Producer of Writers Forum and Book Review on Washington Post/Newsweek Cable TV in Burlingame, Ca (Authors and Critics program was offered nationally to PBS in 2000) and contributor to Accent TV in Fairfax, Va, to Comcast Cable TV in Annapolis, MD, she continues with interviews and speeches today for television, educational institutions and civic groups. She is a graduate of the C.S. Lewis Fellows Program 2012, a mentor for year 1 Fellows and a civilian volunteer for middle school Sunday school at USNA for the past 9 years. She tutors French in Annapolis, Maryland and SAT Prep, specializing in the essay preparation for students.
Her television interviews include her five years of interviews on Writers Forum and Book Review, a Washington Post-Newsweek Cable channel in Burlingame, Ca. Included in her hundreds of interviews were internationally known authors : Isabel Allende, Ken Follett, Ernest J. Gaines, Robert Olen Butler, Martin Gilbert, Richard Rodriguez, Oscar Hujuelos, Maxine Hong Kingston, Katherine Neville, Linda Gray Sexton, Chitra Divakaruni, Ann Lammott, Gay Talese, John Berendt, John Gray, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Myriam Lesnik Chavez, Antonia Hannon Ehlers, Roxanne Farmanfarmaian, and hundreds more.
Her early journalistic career included fifty articles written for magazines in five countries: Luxembourg, France, England, Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States. The print articles were primarily interviews in the tennis world. While she traveled with her former husband of 24 years, Erik van Dillen, on the Grand Prix tennis circuit during his time as number one in the world in doubles with Stan Smith, to Davis Cup ties and with her brother, winner of the French Open doubles in Paris 1976 and a Davis Cup player, Fred McNair.
Her travels to her Persian roots took her in October 2000 to Iran to camp with the Bakhtiar tribe for one month in the Zagros Mountains. She pitched tents, slept under the nomadic sky, and woke to the sounds of the sheep, donkeys and horses on the plateau. The themes of East and West remain inspirations for her poetry, short stories and novels. She has won eight awards for her writing and been invited to the National Book Club Fair, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the San Francisco Book Festival, the United Nations, UNESCO, the University Club Book Fair and for speeches to the United Nations Association of Silicon Valley, San Francisco State University, Johns Hopkins University, Women in Communications, The American Association of University Women and more.
Membership in Press and Writers Clubs
She has been a board member of the California Writers Club, Peninsula Branch, the Peninsula Press Club, the Burlingame Writers’ Club, the Maryland Writers’ Association; and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the California Writers Club, the Maryland Writers Association, the American Association of University Women, the National Press Club, the National Federation of Press Women, the Capitol Press Women, the United States Naval Academy Women’s’ Club and Women in Communication.
Books and Awards
- Bakhtiar Nomads, speech National Federation of Press Women, 2009 At-Large Communications Contest, 1st Prize
- Harem Letters, novel 2nd Place National Federation of Press Women, 1999 The University Club Book Fair, Washington, D.C. 1999
- Mending Nations, poetry 1st Place Capitol Press Women, Washington, D.C., 2001
- The Roses of Isfahan, short stories 3rd Place California Media Professionals 1999 The National Press Club Book Fair, Washington, D.C., 1998
- Midnight Tales, children 3rd Place California Media Professionals, 1999
- Chai, poetry 1st Place Creative Verse, California Media Professionals, 1999 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Café at San Francisco Book Festival, 1998
- Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, 1999
- NBC KRON TV, For Heaven’s Sake Television, Special programming, public affairs 2nd Place California Media Professionals, 1999
- Speech, 1st Prize Capitol Press Women, 2001 Speech given at the United Nations, New York Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium The Culture of Peace:
- Women Making It Happen, UNESCO The Values Caucus, The Peace Caucus, Pathways to Peace Jubillenium and The World Peace Prayer Society
- CSW/Beijing +5 Review PrepCom
- Speech, to Women in Communications Honorable Mention, California Media Professionals, 1999
- Print Media, Personal column general
- The Honorable Andrew Young
- 1st Place California Media Professionals, 1999
- Authors & Critics, PBS KCSM TV Television Interview 2nd Place California Media Professionals, 1999
- Afghanistan’s Blue Treasure: Lapis Lazuli
- Toni Schoner, ”This book is amazing...when I finished the story I was sobbing...I felt the pain...I smelled the spices...I even felt the textures of the carpets and felt the sand storms...what a wonderful story of family and things that families go through...I highly recommend this book to everyone...it is REAL...I can't wait till the sequel comes out...give this as a gift to a friend...it will change your whole perspective on life and living...a beautiful story!” on They Shake the Desert Sands
- KPFA Radio 94.1 FM, Berkeley, Ca, host Jack Foley, Cover to Cover…Lailee Bakhtiar’s prose is deliberately poetic, rhythmic….”
- Roxane Farmanfarmaian “Lailee Bakhtiar, whose own blood courses with the fire of the Persian nomads, brings the Iranian steppe and the American heartland crashing together in this sweeping tale …a literary flight on a Persian carpet—complete with broad vistas and deep insight into the human heart.” on 1st novel Harem Letters
- Myriam Lesnik-Chavez, “The writing is brilliant…a work of art…” on "Harem Letters"
- The Independent by Antonia Hannon Ehlers “…the author has stitched together a poetic masterpiece……on 1st novel: Poetic Persian masterpiece penned by local novelist. Tuesday, August 10, 1999
- The Oakland Tribune, Oakland, Ca, by Pamela Fisher…Lailee (McNair) Bakhtiar, producer and host of the Bay Area literary show, ‘Authors and Critics’ may have hit a home run…Wed.Dec 23, 1998 Authors’ series debuts nationally on PBS
- Marin Independent Journal by Beth Ashley….”Literature helps toward bridging cultures,” say Bakhtiar, host of the PBS series Authors and Critics”.
- Palo Alto Daily News by Thomas Leupold “…Her relatives, who are a nomadic people who live in the Zagros Mountains, live in a world that has remained largely unchanged over the last 5,000 years…” International authors want to Mend Nations.
- Independent Newsgroup, Burlingame and Hillsborough, CA by Antonia Hannon-Ehlers “…through technology we are able to tell stories of far away lands and people who may not be familiar to us, but who can enrich our lives.” Wed., March 15, 2000
- Publishers Weekly, “…The show for the past 12 years has been broadcast in the San Francisco Bay area. This season, host Lailee Bakhtiar…” Book-Based TV Show Goes National, Dec 7, 1998
- Talk Radio/Talk TV, “…an accomplished writer and the monthly book reviewer for seven independent newspapers…”
- The Independent, San Mateo Weekly, by Antonia Hannon Ehlers “…Montesquieu’s The Persian Letters had quite an impact on (Bakhtiar) van Dillen as a high school student. ‘It taught me about justice, the diversity of manners and cultures and wise government,’ she said. ‘I realized that books can lead you to greater wisdom.” (Bakhtiar)- (formerly) van Dillen shares words of wisdom, Feb. 28, 1998
- Enquirer-Bulletin by Pamela Fisher “…It’s showtime. Lailee (Bakhtiar) van Dillen pans the waters of a swiftly moving stream of conversation, sifting for a nugget of truth or a pearl of wisdom…deftly unearth’s the core issue that has motivated an author to write…” Authors and Critics Enlightens, Sat.Sun, May 17 & 18, 1997
- Foster City Progress by Marilyn Green “…her own book, a 1970’s cultural novel that explores the relationship between Iran and America through a love story, reflects this theme…” Getting to know the face behind the book Dec. 7, 1994.
-  The Iranian, April 1998