Background for Unfinished Business

Growing up in Quincy, Florida, my earliest memories were of life on a tobacco farm. As a teenager, I decided that one day I would write a novel based on those memories and center it in a fictional North Florida town. Decades would pass before the publication of Unfinished Business, the origin story of Tom Williams and the first in my four-book series.

By the way, I am not the white kid you see in the picture above, which I pulled from

My birth certificate lists my dad’s occupation as “farmer.” It fails to mention that he was the fourth generation of his family in that line of work. Sometime around my fourth birthday, we moved into town. He became a juvenile court counsellor and later a junior high teacher working with special needs kids.

Like Tom Williams (and many of my friends), I spent my summers working in tobacco shades and barns like the ones below:


I earned thirty dollars a week for fifty hours work, coming home everyday bone-tired and smelling so bad I had to shed my clothes on the back porch. As anyone who has ever cropped tobacco will tell you, it’s a unique experience.

A few years after we moved away from Quincy, the tobacco farming business collapsed. Landowners turned to other crops and, ultimately, to pine trees. This move eliminated thousands of low skill jobs, some involving children as young as five. Like so many rural communities, Gadsden County is still reeling from the economic impact.