Most people know Dr. Ian Smith for his great fitness and diet advice that come along with his best-selling books. But the medical doctor is also a novelist—and his second mystery/thriller releases on September 18.
“The Ancient Nine” is inspired by Smith’s real-life experiences as a part of the secret societies known as final clubs at Harvard University.
Smith said he started writing this book more than 25 years ago when he was a senior at Harvard.
“I knew back then I wanted to one day publish this story,” he recently told the Defender. “I was not a writer yet…but I wanted to get it in my computer so when I was ready to revisit it, it would be accurate…I’ve been working on it and tweaking it for a long time.”
Smith admitted “a large portion” of the book is true and he reveals some never before disclosed secrets, but he “leaves it to the reader’s imagination to figure out what was true and what took a creative turn.”
In the book, Spenser Collins is a Black student from the South Side of Chicago enrolled at Harvard. Spenser thinks his life will be about basketball and pre-med, but when he receives an invitation to join the exclusive Delphic Club (founded by banking tycoon J.P. Morgan), his story takes an unexpected turn. Spenser and his friend, the son of a wealthy “club” man, work to uncover a long-standing mystery surrounding the club and the disappearance of a student.
The novel shares the amazingly different side of life for the wealthy involved with the all-male exclusive club and keeps readers on their toes as we too wonder what really happened in the mystery the two friends are trying to solve.
Smith said he thought it was the right time to release his suspenseful account.
“With the recent controversy surrounding the [final] clubs, and the push to open up the clubs to women and more minorities…I thought it a fitting time to talk about what happens behind the scenes. I thought members would be more open given the current climate of openness,” he said.
The health and fitness expert and novelist admitted that he’s not sure how his club members will take his releasing a story filled with secrets.
“I don’t know how it’s going to work; once you’re a member, you are a member for life unless you get excommunicated. A lot of members are still my friends…and I had a great experience.”
“The Ancient Nine” is not Smith’s first novel—as one will determine from the well-developed story that moves at a great pace. Smith has worked in more than just medicine/fitness. He released his first novel “The Blackbird Papers” in 2004. This story follows a murder case on Dartmouth’s campus, which parallels what was occurring during the time Smith attended for his first two years of medical school.
A resident of Chicago, Smith still writes his nonfiction books on fitness and makes several appearances each year to speak on medical issues, but he’s also committed to writing more novels.
Sticking to the same genre, Smith is working on another novel that is set in Chicago. The Ashe Cayne series follows an ex-Chicago Police Department cop now turned private investigator. Smith said, “Chicago is a character in the book.”
“I’ve always had a desire to write like this,” Smith said. “I always nourished (the desire to write) privately.” And when he thought his writing was at a level where he wanted it to be, he was ready to go public with his creative writing.
The process for writing his health books and for writing his novels is totally different.
“It is left vs right brain basically,” he shared. “I find that writing the health books is pretty linear whereas writing novels is a great creative endeavor. It is liberating and allows me to go into spaces I otherwise can’t go in…explore things I couldn’t explore in nonfiction.”
Fans wanting to learn more can follow Ian Smith on Twitter @driansmith and Instagram@doctoriansmith. His book “The Ancient Nine” also has a Facebook page.