William “Duke” Smither, author of “Backroads to ‘Bethlehem’…” and “Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue…'” is a U.S. Navy Veteran [Radarman 2nd Class, Vietnam Era & Cuban Missile Crisis], Frankfort Kentucky native, Richmond Virginia resident, retired nuclear site worker and Sr. Investigator from Dominion Energy [formerly Dominion Resources/ Virginia Electric and Power Co. (VEPCO)]. 

He began his freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University as a Journalism major and Sports Reporter for VCU’s Postscript newspaper, while working part-time for the weekly Richmond Afro-American Newspaper (The AFRO). 

Retirement activities included playwriting, acting and directing several faith-based stage productions and the founding of Backstreet’s Blog at www.backstreetdjeli.com, which led to several assignments as a contributing writer for BlackPast.Org, the international, on-line reference center for African American History. On occasion, he performed dramatic storytelling monologues, “to share the many ‘missing pages’ from classroom history books which addressed the unique stories, legacies, and contributions of our ancestors.”  

His debut novel (in 2018), Backroads to ‘Bethlehem’: Odysseys of the Maroon Warrior, in the Shadows of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, was the first installment of a planned historical-fiction trilogy. The second installment, Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue: Jakobe’s Journey, Overture to the Gathering of Vultures, was published early in 2022. The third book, “Children of the Swamp…” [working title only] is underway, pending completion.

His interest in writing was piqued early on, within the selection as Sports Editor for his high school newspaper (Frankfort Panther); then again after military duties, as a married full-time college student at VCU, who later switched to VCU’s Evening College studies; and, while working fulltime at Dominion, eventually graduating from St. Paul’s College Continuing Education Program with a B.S. in Business Management. During his nearly 30 years at Dominion, he pursued additional, independent studies and research in Ancient African history (Virginia State Univ. and J. Sargeant Reynolds) with specific interests in Western Hemispheric marronage and resistance to European colonialism.