A love for sci-fi leads to Brock grad’s self-published novel

THE BROCK PRESS/Brittany Brooks

THE BROCK PRESS/Brittany Brooks

After being falsely accused of plagiarism in high school for a strikingly creative and well-written short story, Derek Smith realized that perhaps he had a knack for writing after all. Now, after a lot of dedication, the Brock University graduate has published his own full-length novel, The Distomos.

The Distomos is a sci-fi novel set in the distant future in a world where mankind has taken to the stars and the church reigns as the ultimate form of government. Peace and prosperity are kept through Templars, a kind of policemen appointed by the church. Trouble arises when the Distomos, the secret weapon and power source of the church falls into the hands of the enemy. With very little time before interstellar war begins, the church hires two ex-templars, Kieren Rhet and Normandie Jade, to retrieve it. The Distomos is a story of friendship, courage and faith being tested when all seems hopeless.

The word “Distomos” itself is Hebrew for double-edged sword but the story incorporates a number of different religions which complete the all-encompassing governing church in Smith’s novel.

“It was unintentionally more of a religious story, but there’s more than one religion involved and I sort of play on both sides of the debate,” said Smith. “A lot of it was almost subconscious just because I’ve been so exposed to it. I grew up in St. Catharines and apparently Niagara has the highest amount of churches in an area than anywhere else in Canada. Even just going down Glenridge Avenue, there’s at least five or six churches. Religion is very prevalent around here so it sort of just made its way into my writing.”

Smith knew from a young age that he wanted to be a writer, stating he was always writing Star Wars fan-fiction before he even knew what fan-fiction was. This creative spark eventually lead him to pursue an English degree at Brock in hopes that it would help him with his potential future career in writing. He graduated from Brock in 2009 with a degree in English and professional writing.

“I always had ideas but I never knew what to do with them,” said Smith. “It was in my third year of university that I took a creative writing journalism course, and I started writing in that class. It was mostly just a fictional skeleton of a story but just being in that class sparked a lot of creativity.”
After a lengthy process of writing, copious amounts of tea and learning the do’s and don’ts of self-publishing, The Distomos was officially published on Feb. 21.

Smith works full-time from March until August, so the majority of his writing took place from September until December. Sometimes he would be writing for as many as 16 hours per day, taking short breaks in between. He mentioned that he purposely bought a laptop that couldn’t handle an internet browser to avoid distractions while working on his novel.

“It was honestly just a matter of sitting down and actually writing it,” said Smith. “So that’s what I did. I just sat down and wrote.”

Smith described how many rules there are for self-publishing including things as simple as finding fonts to use on the cover that aren’t copyrighted. Aside from already writing an entire novel, sorting out the rules and legalities was a project of its own, but Smith said he enjoyed the otherwise tedious work. The Distomos also became a very “Brock” oriented project as it was peer-edited by other Brock English graduates. The front cover was illustrated by another Brock graduate, Matthew Therrien, who is now a professional illustrator based-out of Toronto.

Smith is now in the process of getting his novel into bookstores and currently runs a blog on how to self-publish.

To learn more about Derek and The Distomos, visit Smith’s blog at Uncannyderek.com. Paperback copies of The Distomos are currently available to order through Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and Lulu.com. E-book versions are available in the iTunes store and on Lulu.com.

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