Mary Griffith is a longtime nonfiction writer who is stepping less and less gingerly into fiction. After pondering and discarding mystery plots and characters for the past two decades, she finally swallowed hard and tackled her first novel for the 2009 National Novel Writing Month. During her seemingly endless revision process since then, she’s seen major improvements in her story, to the point where she expects to finally let other people read Absence of Blade later this spring. To her surprise, she’s discovered she likes writing mysteries almost more than she likes reading them, so she’s looking forward to moving on to the next two or three books in the series.
Not surprisingly, Mary’s interest in writing about fencing grew out of her years as a parent of two competitive saber fencers and her (so far) 15 years of national tournament staff work with USA Fencing. Even though she herself has never fenced (and never plans to), she’s become addicted to fencing tournaments. She is currently (though August 2015) a member of USA Fencing’s Board of Directors.
Before her fascination with fencing and fencing people took over her life, Mary wrote extensively about homeschooling and alternative education. The Homeschooling Handbook: From Preschool to High School, a Parent’s Guide, Mary’s first book for new and prospective homeschoolers, was published by Prima Publishing in January 1997, and went to four printings within its first year of publication. The revised 2nd edition was published in the spring of 1999 and went to a second printing within 8 days of its release.
The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom was released in May 1998. Focusing on the idea that children learn best when they pursue their own natural curiosity and interests, it offers plenty of useful ideas and resources for an informal, unstructured approach to education.
Since the Random House conglomerate purchased Prima a few years ago, both books have been published by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Crown Books. In addition to their print editions, both The Homeschooling Handbook and The Unschooling Handbook are available as ebooks.
Mary published her last homeschooling book, Viral Learning: Reflections on Homeschooling Life, in August 2007. It looks at homeschooling—and learning and life in general—from the perspective of long-term homeschoolers, including many who contributed to her earlier books. Viral Learning is available from Lulu.com in both print and epub editions, and can be ordered from your favorite bookseller.
She was also long-time activist with the HomeSchool Association of California (HSC), the state’s oldest secular homeschooling organization. She served several terms on HSC’s board of directors, and was editor of its bimonthly California HomeSchooler for four years. She has been a frequent speaker at homeschooling conferences and other events, on such topics as unschooling, learning to live with homeschooling, parental panic attacks, and homeschool advocacy.