OSWEGO – Books, those unpretentious stacks of paper, can be very powerful. They can inspire the reader to accomplish many things – including write their own novel.
Such is the case with Derrick Smith.
He is writing as Derrick Smythe, “because, let’s be honest, it looks way cooler like that,” he said.
A native of Mexico, NY, he currently resides “locally in Oswego County” with his wife and two daughters.
His book, The Other Magic, is the first book in the Passage to Dawn series, he said.
“Ms. Ryan, my 8th grade English Language Arts teacher, was a big influence on me,” he said.
Perhaps she was an influence on his career choice. He is a social studies teacher at Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Junior/Senior High School, teaching 8th grade social studies and Advanced Placement United States History.
“Ms. Ryan impressed upon me that I had some measure of writing talent. That confidence seemed to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy because I began to take writing much more seriously in an attempt to live up to that supposed talent,” he explained. “I also found that I really enjoyed pursuing something I could continue to develop and perfect indefinitely. This ran parallel to my experience as an athlete where raw talent only gets you so far, the rest is directly dependent upon your willingness to continue to put in the work to improve your skills.”
He began playing with the idea of writing a story set in a fantasy world one summer while completing his undergraduate studies at SUNY Oswego.
That’s when fate stepped in and gave him a shove.
“One of my friends from home had borrowed a book from another and happened to ask me to return it to him because he knew I would see him sooner,” Smith said.
The book was titled Magician, by Raymond E. Feist. And he did return it, but not before first reading it.
“This book restored my love for reading adventure stories filled with magic and wizards and swords,” he told Oswego County Today.
He sought out more books like Magician in the coming months. And the more he read, the more stories of his own began to emerge.
“One day, I simply sat down and started sketching out a world map and over the next few years wrote small histories for the various nationalities as well as early versions of the story that would eventually become The Other Magic,” he said.
He also joined a local writers’ group and began “to really network and fine-tune my skills as an author.”
It took longer than he would have liked because the first few manuscripts had to be rewritten, refined and in many cases completely scrapped, he acquiesced.
“But, they served an important purpose in helping me improve my craft as well as building depth and familiarity with the fictional world I had created,” he said.
The new author was recently featured at a book signing event at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego.
“The event was awesome, once I got past the reading, which was nerve-wracking!” he said.
He’s not sure how many books he signed.
“I would guess somewhere around 20 or 25. Bill (Riley, store owner) counted somewhere around 50 people altogether; but not everyone there had a book signed,” he said. “I counted it a major success overall.”
About the book:
The book is considered Epic Fantasy, in that it includes an adventure that will span several volumes in a series.
“There are allegorical elements that parallel the world within which we live; but I’ll leave that to the readers to discover as the series unrolls,” the author said.
Based on how long this last draft took to write, and his current level of notes and planning, he expects to be able to publish each subsequent volume in the series within two years of each other until the series is complete.
Darkness stirs in a world that is ill-equipped to confront it. A prophesied king is born, but not all will benefit from his foretold conquests.
In a realm where only clerics are permitted to practice magic, Kibure, a mere slave, draws the attention of much more than just his master after wielding an unknown force in a moment of desperation. In a twist of fate, Sindri, the priestess hired to strip Kibure of his power, defies the law, revealing designs of her own.
But trust is in short supply in a land ripe with deceit. This wayward pair will have to work together if they hope to evade capture at the hands of the Empire’s most potent wielders.
Halfway around the known world, Prince Aynward’s knack for discovering trouble drives him deep into conspiracies within which he does not belong. Too arrogant to accept counsel, he will have to learn the hard way that some actions have consequences that cannot be undone…