One of the best things about being a writer is getting to make up characters, and Smashie McPerter was one of the most fun characters I’ve ever gotten to invent! She is so energetic and hectic and nice and mistake-making and funny—I just love spending time writing about her. And you know what? It all started with her name. I was telling a story about something that had happened to a friend of mine and I realized midway I forgot the name of the person the story was about. So I sort of stuttered out “Smash…ie…..Mc…Perter” as a substitute name that would do for telling the story, but the name was so funny and silly that my friend and I spent the next week saying “Smashie McPerter” to one another and laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. As soon as I said it that first time, I knew in my heart who Smashie really was, that she was eight years old and in the third grade and had a best friend, Dontel, who would smart like Smashie but calmer, and that the two of them solved mysteries and I needed to write a book about them. So that’s how Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 got started.
At first I wasn’t sure what the mystery the two friends would solve could be about. But then I remembered a time when I was a kid and my class got a hamster as a pet. I was terrified of that hamster. I felt, deeply, that it had creepy feet and worried a bit about what might happen if it ever got loose. And then I wondered, what if Smashie had that fear, too? What would happen if the hamster actually disappeared? If the class knew she didn’t like the hamster, would she be a suspect in its disappearance? And so I had my mystery. Then I got to do all the fun stuff, like think up the other characters—members of Smashie’s class and her teacher, Ms. Early, as well as the terrible, terrible substitute, Mr. Carper. I got to think about clues and where to plant them and how to have the story unfold. In short, I GOT TO HAVE A LOT OF FUN WRITING THIS BOOK!
One of the things I love most about Smashie and Dontel is how much they love words. They keep a list of all the cool words that come up in the course of their investigation, and this made me very happy to create, because this is something I did as a kid, too. I wasn’t a detective, but I did love the sound of a good word, and wrote down new ones I liked all the time so I wouldn’t forget them. I also enjoyed this because I love to make lists, and lists of terrific words are more fun to make than a list of all the chores I have to get done. Making lists—things you love to do, things you love to think about, words you love, like Smashie and Dontel—might be a fun thing to start, if you never have. It is very exciting to have a little notebook and the perfect pencil or pen to write down fun things. I know this because I have done it all my life and still do.
Summer is a wonderful time for thinking. You can think up things to play and do. You can think about things you love and wonder about. And you can make lists of some of these, if you want to. I know Smashie and Dontel would, and they would love a friend like you who loved thinking and doing fun things as well! If you come up with fun or interesting lists, send them to me at N.Griffin575@live.com, and I’ll make a post about them on my website, ngriffin.com. Whee! You might just see your list online!
Have a glorious summer, and I hope you love Smashie as much as I do!