#amquerying – The Vultures of Hogwaller

Writing a novel is fun. Getting words down on a page is easy. At least for me, it is.

The business of writing is … not as fun. Getting a novel published is … not as easy. At least for me, it isn’t.

After recently whizzing through a 95,000-word novel manuscript, the business side of the story has begun for me. It’s time (once again) to try and find an agent, who will hopefully place the manuscript with a publisher, who will hopefully publish the book inside of a year, when it will hopefully sell a million copies.

It’s a long, lonely process, and it’s where most writers fail. Sometimes because their work isn’t good enough. Sometimes because they never reached out to the right agent. Or, sometimes, because they find the perfect agent, but that agent had a bad ham sandwich for lunch and passes because the writer’s plot involved a curious Christmas ham.

Anyways, it all starts with a query (#ifykyk). When you’re like me and have next to zero connections in the publishing industry, the query is your one-page, 300-400-word lighthouse signaling “look at me, please.” Authors hope it beckons agents to port, to linger a little longer.

As the writing Twitterati would say, I #amquerying and post today to share my query. Does it make you want to read more? Want to run with the idea to a publisher and say, “Please publish this book! Now!”

Query: The Vultures of Hogwaller

Dear Mr./Ms. AGENT,

I’m seeking representation for THE VULTURES OF HOGWALLER, a 95,000-word contemporary fantasy with elements of historical fiction. The voices of Marlon James’ BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS in a modern-day LOVECRAFT COUNTRY explore legacies of family trauma and racial injustice ignited by the 1827 Monticello slave auction that ruthlessly split apart 130 “valuable negroes” following Thomas Jefferson’s death.

What if the “insufferable concomitance of slavery,” as Civil Rights icon Julian Bond once called it, wasn’t just an idea? What if it lived down the street? The Vulture Crew, as they’re known to the descendants they task with righting the injustice they’ve suffered, are the spirits of the Monticello slaves, cursed to remain as shapeshifters in the Charlottesville backwater known as Hogwaller.

Their makeshift allies — Fernandez, a middle-aged man with a mental disability; a hair dresser named Maybellina; and Malcolm, a homeless ex-convict who hides his traumatic past behind a face covered with tattoos — are running out of time to help the Vulture Crew return to Monticello, break the curse and rest in peace. Gentrification is wiping out the old Hogwaller. Shelly Schifler, the nosey old timer with a sweet front porch persona, has a ruthless plan to aim “urban renewal” at her enemies, not to mention a gang of white supremacist cousins to intimidate whoever stands in the way.

If the Vulture Crew lose their home before the curse is broken, they’ll lose their humanity by transforming permanently into black vultures. Desperation leads to Tim Harris, a white collar intellectual with a lot to learn about the difference between thinking the right things related to racial justice and doing the right things. His idealized notion of the diverse Hogwaller community comes crashing down around his pricey new condo when he’s entangled in the fight. Secrets and enemies lurk behind every neighbor’s door.

I earned a master’s in creative writing with distinction from the University of Edinburgh, and my short fiction has appeared in The Legendary, Pythia Journal, Oblong Magazine and the Eunoia Review. In my day job, I write, edit and publish as editorial director at the University of Virginia’s Darden School.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jay Hodgkins

Posted on January 5, 2021, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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