COMING SOON: “Backroads to Bethlehem…,” the Novel.

Spirit Tree 1

“The Spirit Tree”

“…The death of a thing is not the end; it’s merely a new beginning. But, it’s the backroads in life that are often the most fruitful and divine!”  (From “Backroads to Bethlehem….” 2018 Debut Novel by William “Duke” Smither, Release Date Pending)



“BACKROADS TO BETHLEHEM…” (Odysseys of the Maroon Warrior…) is a fictional narrative, inspired by actual events.

The story unfolds in 1693, during the waning days of a militaristic, fugitive slave village in Northeast Brazil and the widening landscape of Maroon Wars, in Jamaica. It taps into the patchwork of shared morality and beliefs among the myriad mix of West African tribes and the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Colonial Northeast Brazil, we find the story’s blending of various Taino Indian and West African beliefs, and the influence of Jesuit Orders like the fictional St. Raphael Mission, contributing to the Maroon culture’s interpretations of burial customs and visitations of “shadow people” or spiritual presences.

Later, in Jamaica, as with ancient West African and Ashanti cultures, the “Silk Cotton Tree” (genus: “Ceiba pentandra”) plays an important role at the fictional village of Akrafena and the Casa Cadiz Plantation. From the “Nine Night” ceremony and beliefs in survival after death (the Afterlife) to roaming spirits of the dead which dwell inside the “Silk Cotton Tree” (a.k.a., the Spirit Tree), emitting evil spells as well as spiritual inspiration for prevailing forces which drive the various Maroon characters and conflict.

Please stay tuned for additional information about the book (projected springtime release) or simply click on the site menu to join our RSS feed…

Thanks for visiting, during this site’s reconstruction activities.

William “Duke” Smither (a.k.a., “Backstreet Djeli,” pen name only)




About William "Duke" Smither (formerly, penname "Backstreet D'jeli")

William "Duke" Smither, author of "Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue..." and “Backroads to 'Bethlehem'..." is a Frankfort Kentucky native; Richmond Virginia resident. Retired Public Utility Sr. Investigator and nuclear site worker, Married w/ 3 children and 6 grandchildren; U.S. Navy Viet Nam Era & Cuban Missile Crisis Veteran; Member of "Cuban Blockade Survivors" & The American Legion; B.S. Degree (Business Mgmt) w/ independent studies in Ancient African History and African-American History. Post-graduate studies in Criminal Justice Administration. Former Sports & Feature writer for the weekly Richmond Afro-American Newspaper, during Freshman year of college. Retirement activities include: Freelance writer, playwright, actor and director of faith-based community theater productions; founder of "Backstreet's Blog" ("Talking Drum Dialogues") at and former contributing writer for "BlackPast.Org," the international, on-line reference center for African American History. His debut novel, “Backroads to 'Bethlehem'...,” is the first installment of a Trilogy on marronage and resistance. The second installment ["Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue: Jakobe's Journey..."], was released on December 30, 2021. Book #3 is underway, pending completion in the not-too-distant future.