I didn't maintain a strong connection with her after high school, though I did send her copies of all my books when they hit the racks. My very first science fiction short story was an assignment for her class, and she was the first person to read any fiction I'd written. She was a gorgeous, sassy, sharp-witted woman, and told me she was impressed, with the story. Given that I was a sixteen-year-old pimply-faced four-eyed geek, that was enough reason to want to be a writer right there.
Mary Ann married a judge, and they had a daughter who was about the same age as our son. We bumped into her and her family a few times when we lived in Baton Rouge after high school. She retired to raise her daughter.
When we went back to the 25th reunion, because we happened to be in town, I saw her husband in the lobby and went to introduce myself.
Oh, he said, you're the guy who sends her all those books?
My ego soared right into the clouds: Why, yes, yes I am.
And Judge Brown said, Yeah, she reads them and says, 'Who taught him to write like that?!' and throws them across the room!
My ego's wings melted off and it plummeted into the sea ...
He laughed. Just kidding, he said.
No, No, I said, I'm going to be dining off that story for a long time. And I did, and I still am.
Mary Ann Brown encouraged me-and a lot of others, it seems–just at the time when it was of major import. Would I have become a writer without that? Maybe. Probably. But it certainly gave me a hope I might not have had otherwise.
Thanks, Mary Ann. Rest in peace. You did good while you were here.