Molly Beth Griffin wins McKnight Artist Fellowship

by Patrick Thomas

We couldn’t be more excited for Molly Beth Griffin, author of Silhouette of a Sparrow, who just received a McKnight Artist Fellowship in the children’s literature category. We reached out to her this week to ask her how it feels to receive the prestigious award, and to see what she’s up to next.

Congratulations, how do you feel?

Thank you! I am shocked, and thrilled, and incredibly grateful.

Tell us about how the award will contribute to your writing.

I’ve got one word for you: childcare. With two small children at home, time to myself is very limited. With these funds I can buy myself enough time to do real writing and not just tread water with everything else — teaching and freelance and networking and promotion and so on. I also plan to take some classes and “fill the well” in a way I haven’t been able to do since graduate school. If this came at another time in my life I would do more traveling/conferences/etc., but while my baby is little I want to stay closer to home. There are plenty of things I can do here. And you know, I need to replace my ancient laptop…

What’s next for you when it comes to creative projects?

I have a new picture book coming out with the Minnesota Historical Society Press in the fall, a camping book set on the North Shore called Rhoda’s Rock Hunt. I’m also working on a new YA novel. The manuscript that won me this award is a picture book about a road trip through Iowa — we’ll see if that one makes it out into the big world, or not. I always have a bunch of picture books in different stages, and I’m excited to generate more.

What role did your connection with The Loft (and/or Milkweed) play in this grant process?

As a teaching artist at the Loft and a long-time member, that fantastic organization has supported my writing career from the very beginning in so many ways. Milkweed has supported me as well, as an intern in 2005 and now as a Milkweed author! I love the Open Book building and everything in it, and spend as much time there as I can. It is full of resources, and it’s a hub of our creative community. As soon as I was eligible for the McKnight I started to apply, as I think all Kid Lit writers in Minnesota do. We are so lucky to have a vibrant literary scene in this state, and a wonderfully encouraging (and amazingly talented) group of children’s and YA authors.

Can you offer any advice to people thinking about applying to similar grants/programs?

Put in the time and effort to apply, and then try your best to forget about it. Don’t agonize over it — let it be a pleasant surprise if you win! This fellowship is awarded solely on a blind work sample, so I did not have to do an elaborate proposal and budget and so forth. (I have done that for other grants, successfully and unsuccessfully.) I just sent a picture book manuscript and wished it luck, and 6 months later this news came. You have to believe every time that it might happen; and you have to convince yourself that it won’t happen, so that you don’t wait around wishing for it!

Any final thoughts?

MBG: I just want to express my genuine gratitude. Seriously. I am blown away.


Silhouette of a Sparrow is a  coming-of-age story about the search for wildness in a confining time, a tale of a young woman discovering both the art of rebellion and the power of unexpected love.

Read more about the book and about the author here.



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One Response to Molly Beth Griffin wins McKnight Artist Fellowship

  1. Rhoda Brooks says:

    Molly, I am so proud to know you and to have read all of your previous books! This is a very special award as it also carries with it some cash for you to use to enhance your writing profession and your personal life as well. I know you will make good use of it and in the process bring your writing to an even more fulfilling level. Good going, Molly!

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