Syntell Smith: Answering the Call!
Writers come in many forms. Some are poets, others fiction authors and a few write non-fiction. But every writer has that one moment in their life where they know they want to write and it sets them on their journey.
“I think I seriously wanted to be a writer in high school when my Drama Class studied and read a powerful autobiographical novel by Piri Thomas called Down These Mean Streets,” explained author Syntell Smith. “It was about a Hispanic teenager growing up in Spanish Harlem (a neighborhood in New York City) being bullied by Italian kids.”
Smith recalled that before then, he was reading young adult stories but realized this was the first book he related to. He has a book called Call Numbers: Book 1, which he did originally intend to write as a novel.
“Call Numbers originally started as a proposal for a TV series,” Smith detailed. “Back in the early 2000s HBO had a reality show revolved around screenwriting called 'Project Greenlight'. While it was more for film screenplays, I was inspired to start the process of pitching an idea for a show based on my work experiences for the New York Public Library. I studied the screenwriting process, read books, read scripts so I could understand the format, then prepared the treatment and wrote a pilot script.”
From that point, he used the script and entered it into a few screenwriting contests for a few years during the mid-2000s. He could place high but never won the contests, so he shelved the project for a decade.
“Around 2016, I came up with the idea of turning the script into a novella to establish myself and put my name out there among the writing community,” he said. “What started as a small short story, evolved and grew into 2 books, and that’s when I decided to make it a series.”
To do that, he decided to self-publish his story to finally get his story out there. He stated that he chose this route because the publishing industry limited his options for creativity.
“I was really put off by how closed minded the industry was presenting itself to be so I decided to self-publish,” he added. “The process has been a great learning experience, I like being in charge of all of the decisions, making the cover, setting the release date, etc. The hardest part I will admit is marketing. It’s very expensive, and the results are always a gamble. Sometimes it works, and sometimes nothing happens. It hasn’t discouraged me, yet...I stand by my decision. My only regret is I didn’t make it sooner.”
Aside from Call Numbers, Smith is working on three other projects at the moment.
“I plan to try new genres when I’m comfortable, I’d love to do erotic, sci-fi, and perhaps mysteries under a different pen name, but it’s not in the immediate future.”
With multiple projects underway and a book under his belt, Smith revealed he has a timeline of where he wants his work to go.
“By February 2025, I hope to start the second trilogy within the Call Numbers series with Book 4,” he explained. “The entire series will hopefully go a whopping 13 books! With 2 spin-offs novels taking place after the conclusion.”