Imagine being a slave on a southern plantation whose mistress died and you were under suspicion. Obviously, you would need to leave as soon as possible before retribution. The most reasonable course of action would seem to be going north, but what if you don’t know anyone in the north? Without family, who would help you? Who could you trust?
That’s the conundrum facing John Billingsly, the protagonist of Eric Walker’s book Lost Souls Recovered, who must leave his mother and their slave cabin on a plantation in Richmond, Virginia, to find safety with a cousin in Mount Hope, Alabama, a decidedly southern direction or, as Walker puts it, “into the belly of the beast.”
Author and amateur genealogist Walker heard stories throughout his life from family members describing the struggles of their African American ancestors. Eventually, he decided to take these stories and make them into a fictional representation of his family with this book.
The creation of the book itself is a saga years in the making, with Walker putting it down for a decade after it was written and edited. Listen in to hear about how he got started with his writing, how he wound his way through a variety of publishing options, and what he’s working on now.