Mary Peace Finley
Award-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from her unpublished second book, “White Grizzly,” and asked for their feedback.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).
© Mary Peace Finley 2012