Ronald L Smith

Ronald L Smith

March 14, 2015


This query was sent to Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary for his debut novel, HOODOO, and it resulted in an auction and a two-book deal with Clarion, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Dear Adriann Ranta,

One of your interviews stated that you are interested in edgier books with quirky, unique protagonists. I was also pleased to discover that you have a penchant for weird/disturbing thrillers and horror stories. With that in mind, I’d like to query you with HOODOO, a 32,000-word southern gothic novel with a supernatural setting. It is aimed at an intelligent, upper middle grade audience. The query is below. I hope it might be a good fit for you and Wolf Literary Services.

Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher is born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic, or Hoodoo, as most people call it. They use foot-track powder that can go up through the bottom of someone’s foot to make them sick, a black hen’s egg for getting rid of evil spirits, nutmeg seeds for good luck at gambling and all kinds of other things. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.

When a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town–all wrapped in black like some kind of holy roller preacher–Hoodoo starts having dreams of a dead man rising from the grave. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. That’s when things get really weird. REDACTED SPOILER! The entire town is at risk, and only Hoodoo can stop him. But only if he can summon the magic called Hoodoo.

Set amidst the red soil and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, HOODOO is rich with weeping willow trees, the smell of honeysuckle and sassafras and a big dose of creepiness. If Zora Neale Hurston and Stephen King had a love child and hired Truman Capote as their babysitter that boy might be called Hoodoo.

I have included the first fifty pages and would be thrilled to send the complete manuscript.

On a personal note, I live in Baltimore, Maryland and am an advertising copywriter. I am also a member of SCBWI and involved with an active critique group.

Thank you for considering my request for representation.

Ronald L. Smith