BROOKINGS — Authors are often inspired by everyday events in life. For N. Griffin, the inspiration for his disorganized but lovable character Smashie McPerter came during a phone call with a friend.
Referring to a reckless acquaintance whose name escaped her, she recalled saying, “you know, ah, Smashie McPerter.”
“It was such a hilarious name immediately in my mind that I knew who she was,” Griffin said. “I knew she would be endearing and generous but very hasty and make mistakes. I could see her dressing up in different costumes.
Now, young readers in South Dakota will have the opportunity to meet Smashie – and its creator. “Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11” has been selected as Young Readers One Book 2022 South Dakota.
“I am so honoured. I feel incredibly touched,” Griffin said. “I am very happy that my book has been chosen. I’m really excited and completely honored by this.
The book follows Smashie as she dons her “investigator costume” and uses her “thinking powers” to solve the mystery of the missing class hamster. Along the way, she and her best friend Dontel learn startling facts about their classmates, who Kirkus Reviews called a “singularly appealing group of kids” in a “crafty mystery for readers up for a challenge.”
MFA GRAD GETS ‘FLYING START’ TO HIS CAREER
Griffin launched her career with the YA novel “The Whole Stupid Way We Are,” which was recognized as one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Flying Start authors in 2013.
In a star-studded review, Publisher’s Weekly said of her debut: “First-time author Griffin is good at portraying a small town where the many interconnections make it difficult to know what to ignore and when to intervene, and she’s also attuned to the different ways that people, adults and teenagers, deceive each other.
Griffin never doubted his path.
“I always knew I wanted to be a writer and never doubted that I would write for children,” she said. “I think kids are the most amazing audience you can have.”
A graduate of the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Griffin has spent a great deal of time perfecting her craft. She enjoys writing for readers who shape their perception of the world, combining her still vivid memories of youth with the wisdom of adulthood.
“The feelings of growing up are always universal and the same,” she said. “I feel like I’m still tuned into that and like to write to reflect my empathy and enthusiasm for those milestones.”
She said writing is a way to help children at different stages of development.
“I want children to feel understood. Empathy is the greatest gift you can give to another human being. Compassion is the point.
Griffin also writes books for young adults and middle school students. Her new young adult thriller “Trigger,” described by publisher Simon & Schuster as “’The Queen’s Gambit’ meets ‘The Hunger Games’,” was released on March 29.
The Humanities Council of South Dakota will provide copies of “Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11” to 11,000 third graders ahead of the 2022 South Dakota Book Festival at Brookings Sept. 23-25. Griffin will speak to students in Brookings and Sioux Falls, and his presentations will be broadcast live and recorded so other young readers can enjoy them as well.