Mary-Walker is currently at work on a middle-grade horse novel. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, this coming-of-age story features Ruby, a young equestrian, who must find a way to keep her dreams of competition and owning her own horse alive after the financial fallout of her parents’ divorce.
Mary-Walker teaches middle-school English in suburban New York. She earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has been at the typewriter ever since. When not teaching or writing, she can be found at the barn with her horse, Java, or at home with her husband, Tim, and their many pets.
For as long as her memory stretches, Mary-Walker has loved animals. She fondly remembers rescuing stray animals and bringing them home to her ever-patient mother, as well as helping care for her four-legged family members. Childhood days were spent reading and exploring the woods, creeks, and trails near home with her constant companions—Annabelle, her cocker spaniel, and Missy, her horse.
A lifelong bookworm and avid writer, Mary-Walker was brought up in a rich storytelling family and could never resist a good tale. Her winding educational road to the present day started in college, when Mary-Walker tried on a few hats—sociology, psychology, pre-law—before settling on business. After fifteen years teaching adults in a corporate setting, Mary-Walker made the shift to teaching children. Her proudest academic achievement, however, is earning an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, which reignited her long-dormant desire to create her own books for children.
Mary-Walker takes every opportunity she can to get out in nature—walking, hiking, and enjoying her newfound hobby of wildlife photography. She also volunteers at an animal shelter and has her next project lined up: taking part in story-time programs that bring young children into rescue shelters to read to animals. For now, Mary-Walker practices by reading to her red Labrador, Hank. A firm favorite is Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, guaranteed to have a calming effect on him.
Mary-Walker currently teaches English to middle schoolers in the Hastings-on-Hudson School District and is busy on her middle-grade novel. She shares her Westchester County home with her husband, children, and their eclectic menagerie of beloved pets.
Ten Fun Facts About Me:
- The books that solidified my life-long love of reading were Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.
- I still believe thank-you notes should be handwritten and sent within 24 hours.
- My first job was making pizzas at the mom-and-pop pizza parlor in town—yes, even flipping the dough above my head!
- I tried to come up with a favorite pet but failed. They are all my children, so how could I choose?
- That said, Rosie, the African Grey, hands-down delivers the most laughs, with her demands and spot-on imitations of everyone in the household. Be careful what you say to her, though; a parrot never forgets!
- I wouldn’t mind being stranded on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, swimming with the turtles and wild pigs.
- My dream dinner companion would be famed primatologist, Jane Goodall, who founded “Roots and Shoots” to educate young people on wildlife conservation.
- The animal I hope to “meet” and photograph (from afar) is Grizzly #399, who’s something of a Grand Teton celebrity and the oldest-known grizzly mom.
- My worst fears are insomnia and being lost.
- One little-known accolade not found on my resume is that I’m an undefeated hula-hoop champion, having won every competition I have entered!