Author/co-author of more than 80 books, Tom Griffith (under pen name T.D. Griffith) has set up his home base right where he says he always longs to be, the Black Hills. Griffith and his wife Nyla, a novelist, spend their days exploring and writing about the wonders of the area. Most recently, the couple became the innkeepers of one of the highest rated lodging properties in Deadwood, the 1899 Inn.
Throughout his career, Griffith has been a reporter, a photographer, and an editor. His newest project, Black Hills Myths and Legends: The True Stories Behind History’s Mysteries hit the market back in April 2020. Griffith shares with 605 some background on his book, his journey to where he is today, and how he spends his time outside of work.
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU AREN’T WRITING?
I travel quite a bit. Over the past 25 years or so, I’ve been to and written about 80 countries around the world. These aren’t three-day visits; they’re three week visits. My folks actually made us into travelers. They really instilled a sense of adventure in us.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO GO FOR INSPIRATION?
The Black Hills. I love to come home. I spent a lot of time as a youth traveling through South Dakota, seeing our relatives from all over. I fell in love with this state. Every summer, I looked forward to coming back to the Black Hills.
HOW LONG DID YOU SPEND WORKING ON “BLACK HILLS MYTHS AND LEGENDS?”
The research took longer than the writing. There are 13 chapters, each about different myths in the Black Hills. They range from the Mammoth Site to Mount Rushmore National Memorial to Crazy Horse Memorial. It was about seven months.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
It was seventh grade. My father was a writer and a conservationist. As the son of a writer, I was kind of naturally magnetized by it. I also spent summers as a youth with my grandmother in Mitchell. She was deaf, so I would write everything to her. Those summers, I guess I was learning to be a writer.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT SO FAR?
I spent five years helping the Mount Rushmore Society mount a nationwide campaign to preserve the memorial and to stage its dedication in 1991 on the 50th anniversary. We raised $25 million, and it resulted in $56 million in improvements at Mount Rushmore, doubled the visitor length-of-stay, and added a million people a year to the visitation. What I loved about that project is that very few of us get to do things that go beyond us.