I Am Querying

I am querying agents on my novel manuscript, working title: Homelands.

Bill had heard his mother Anna’s descriptions of Willaboro, Georgia, as preambles to nightly tales spun at the foot of a queen-sized bed. Always introduced as either a one-horse town or a two-stoplight town. Or a place where when Main Street’s lamplights flickered on, Black people—Negroes, colored folk—were to be indoors, gathered prayerfully in front rooms of shotgun houses scattered about the Scuff Section, a former plantation with no formal names for its grid of crisscrossed dirt streets. She remembered well into the 1960s, houses there being identified only by assigned lot numbers, an ordinal convention born from Reconstruction-era government mandates to distinguish one shack and dusty chicken yard from another. The Davie house was Scuff Section, Lot 22.

from Chapter One, “Homelands” by Robert. J. Williams


His mother recently deceased, Bill Davie, young, urban and educated,  fosters a new sense of family with Charisse, a distant cousin he meets for the first time at a family reunion in rural Georgia.  Bill and Charrise become close, bonded by grief and a mutual pursuit of family foundations.  Their contemporary kinship parallels one formed by their ancestors, brothers Will and Charles whose depression-era separation set the course for their descendants’ different migration pathways to Chicago. Told across dual timelines set between 1912  and 2018, Homelands reveals stories of hope and reciprocal sacrifice across an African American family’s social-economic lines forged by the arbitrariness of birth order. 

Settings: Contemporary Chicago and Georgia and early 20th Century Georgia and Mississippi.


Homelands‘ intergenerational scope, African American family themes, and dual timeline structure are similar to such novels as Yaa Gyasi’s “Homegoing,”   Margaret Sexton’s “A Kind of Freedom”  and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois.”


About  86,000 words