Mary Peace FinleyAward-winning author of books for young people
(continued from previous page) The following article first appeared on November 20, 2005 in the Forum section of the Greeley Tribune A-13; by Vicki Heisler, 5th Grade Teacher at Meeker Elementary School, Greeley, CO."She is here under the auspices of the Weld County Council of the International Reading Association and our Meeker School Association parent group, which provided funds.Mrs. Finley had visited our school once years before, but the children who met her then have grown up and moved to other schools. I am the only one who remembers her vividly. She was gracious enough to spend extra time at the end of a long and demanding day with fourth-graders after school. She likes their questions and their clear knowledge of her book. She read a chapter from her unpublished second book, “White Grizzly,” and asked for their feedback. And she offered professional advice when my students told her, “Our teacher has written a book!”The same gracious spirit was much in evidence during this visit too, although now she is far more well-known and has published nine books. At first, she seems very shy, but soon we see glimpses of the child inside---the explorer, the adventurer, the curious, eager wanderer who absorbs so much of the world around her and simply can’t resist telling about it.She brings dozens of artifacts symbolic of her books—tea in blocks, the cheap cologne the mountain men would buy at the rendezvous, the American half-dime, the cast of the grizzly paw, the hats. The objects of the story become real now. There is a low buzz of excitement with each new object. She talks about what it is like to be an author, about the winding path her life took to this work, about her own struggles as a child to read and write, about the way characters insinuate themselves into your mind and refuse to be ignored, about how she writes and rewrites, plans and revises, about how all the threads have to join in the fabric of the book and about going back to pick up a dropped stitch of plot when you find it. She demystifies the writer’s life and makes us all long for a wakeful night under a cottonwood to beckon us to put pen to paper. (cont. on next page).