Interview: Barry Finlay, Author of Kilimanjaro and Beyond

Kilimanjaro and Beyond

Where were you born?

Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

What did you want to be when you grew up?


Other than author, what jobs have you had?

Director, Revenue Accounting, Reporting and Analysis, Canadian Federal Government Management consultant 

About Barry’s writing

How did you come to write Kilimanjaro and Beyond?

After climbing Africa’s tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, at age 60 with my son Chris and meeting some very needy children in Africa who we had done some fundraising for, I realized that there were three messages I wanted to share:

1. Every mountain top, whether physical or emotional, is within reach if you just keep climbing.
2. It is never too late to pursue a goal.
3. One or two people really can make a difference.

The book describes my journey with input from Chris in a very human way as we discover there is nothing more satisfying than reaching a goal and helping others to achieve theirs. 

What’s the opening paragraph?

“It is January 16, 2009 at around noon local time, and my son Chris and I are sitting quietly propped up against a large rock.  We are trying not to move too much as we enjoy a well-deserved sandwich, because every movement we make requires us to dig deep to draw a breath.  The wind is howling and to our left, the sun is glistening off a glacier.  We have climbed for seven days through a number of ecological zones, including steaming vibrant rainforests, moorland bursting with extraterrestrial-like trees, alpine desert where only the strongest, most determined of vegetation survives, and finally, to our current location where nothing grows.  Perhaps the word “climbed” doesn’t sufficiently describe it, as we have also scrambled, struggled, clung, slipped and slid.  We’ve experienced extreme exhaustion and in the last few hours, the feeling of suffocation, as if someone was clamping a towel firmly over our noses and mouths.”

Barry said he would rather:

Win a Nobel Prize for Literature but only sell 20,000 copies than sell a million copies of this book but never win an award

Now for a bit of fun…

What’s the most exciting book you read last year?

The Devil’s Punchbowl by Greg Iles

Describe your perfect weekend…

My perfect weekend would be spent in Hawaii with my wife watching the incredible sunrises and sunsets and feeling and smelling the ocean breeze.  It would inlcude meals on the patio under a cloudless sky and listening to the sound of ukelele music at dusk and hearing the stories that go with each song.  It would be hiking on the volcanic rock and falling sleeping at night with the windows open and listening to the sound of the waves.  

Describe a more realistic weekend…

A more realistic weekend would involve grocery shopping, mowing the grass (or shovelling snow in winter) and watching a movie on tv at night.  During the summer it would be sitting on the patio, listening to the sound of the traffic going by and swatting the occasional mosquito.  I have nothing against my realistic weekends. 

You’re having a dinner party and you can invite one writer, one musician, one monarch, one villain and one president. Who do you invite and why?

Writer – James Patterson because I would like to write a non fiction book and I would be interested in where his ideas originate.

Musician – Mick Jagger – I have always been a big fan of the Rolling Stones and would be interested in hearing their story firsthand.

Monarch – Queen Elizabeth to hear her views on the monarchy and where she sees it going in twenty, fifty or a hundred years.

Villain – Any mass murderer to try to understand their motivation.

President – Bill Clinton to talk about his work internationally and to hear his views on the future fate of third world countries.

I think they all might have an interest in what the others have to say, but it might be a long dinner party.

You get to spend the afternoon with my six cats – heaven or hell? Explain!

That would depend on how the cats treat their “staff” – in this case, me.  Since I would be there at the convenience of the cats and for their  bidding, I would wait for them to dictate whether or not it would be heaven or hell.   It could easily swing either way.

Fill in the blanks – how did Barry finish these openers?

He took her trembling body in his manly arms…

…and as he pulled her close his senses heightened with the anticipation of what was to come.

He tipped his hat and turned away. After a few steps he stopped,…

…realizing that his simple gesture had been much more than that to the rumpled figure sitting on the sidewalk and peering out from under his worn knit cap.

In the darkness, I heard the sound of…

….of the wind but I had the distinct sensation it was camouflaging something more, something sinister, something haunting, something horrifying! 

Word association – how did Barry respond to these word prompts?

Writer… creative

Bestseller… rare

Ambition… goal

Cheese… curds

Thank you so much to Barry for joining me today!

About Kilimanjaro and Beyond
Kilimanjaro and BeyondIt is January 16, 2009, and 60 year-old BARRY FINLAY and his son CHRIS are propped against a rock, struggling to draw a breath on their treacherous climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. Their destination is tantalizingly close, yet the weather and — more importantly — their health will determine the end result. Barry’s backpack holds a Canadian flag with the names of over 200 donors mobilized by the climbers back home. The donors have contributed to providing classrooms and clean water for desperately deserving school children in Tanzania. For Barry, this is a life-changing physical, mental and spiritual adventure. Follow along as he and his son strive to climb one of the World’s Seven Summits, meet the children who will benefit from their fundraising, and come to an understanding that one or two people really can make a difference. It is a journey that leaves the two with the lasting impression that nothing is more satisfying than reaching a goal and giving others the opportunity to achieve theirs.
About Barry Finlay
Barry Finlay had an extensive career in financial management before retiring in 2004, after thirty two years with the Canadian federal government. He is a Chartered Accountant (CA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) who dabbles in the arts as he is also an award winning decorative wood carver. Since retiring, he has divided his time between working as a consultant on financial policy matters, travel, playing golf, climbing mountains, philanthropy and enjoying his two grandchildren.

Barry has always tried to stay active but working at a desk for so many years eventually catches up. A visit to the family doctor, along with a number of other converging events, encouraged him to take hold of his life and gave him the motivation to climb a mountain. The desire to pursue philanthropy was spawned while growing up on the family farm in Rapid City, Manitoba, Canada and was nurtured by the experience of meeting the African children who would directly benefit from his fundraising.

His interest in writing grew throughout his career while his skills were being honed by authoring countless financial policies. While Barry’s family always encouraged him to inject his dry sense of humour into his financial policies, it just didn’t seem appropriate somehow. Now that time is a little more readily available, he has taken the opportunity to put his skills and his sense of humour to good use. The experience of climbing Africa’s highest mountain at age 60 with one of his sons, and discovering the satisfaction of reaching a goal and giving others the opportunity to achieve theirs, was a book waiting to be written. Kilimanjaro and Beyond, written with his son Chris, is Barry’s first novel but now that he has discovered the joy of writing, it won’t be his last.

Barry lives with his wife, Evelyn, in Ottawa, Canada.

Chris Finlay is a Chartered Accountant (CA) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) in Canada, as well as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the U.S. Writing books on subjects that people can easily read and understand is new to him. He spends most of his time writing about the tax and financial consequences of transactions in a language most people would rather not read.

When not working in the financial sphere or writing with his father he enjoys travelling and spending time with his wife, kids and dog. He lives with his family in Ottawa.

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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  1. Wow, Donna, what a fabulous book and interview – this one sounds right up my alley! Barry sounds like a fascinating fellow…someone I'd love to invite to MY dinner party!

    I'm now following you on Linky Followers and would love to connect with you on Google Plus as well!

    Have a fabulous week and thanks again for the opportunity to participate in the For The Love Of Love Extravaganza!


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