Thrilled to welcome Adele Holmes to The Spotlight to discuss her Southern gothic novel, Winter’s Reckoning

Author Name: Adele B. Holmes, M.D.

Book Title: Winter’s Reckoning

Book Genre: Historical, Literary; Southern Gothic

Release Date: August 9, 2022

Publisher: She Writes Press

Welcome, Adele! How would you describe Winter’s Reckoning?

In 1917, when a narcissistic new leader comes to herbalist healer Madeline Fairbanks’s dying Southern Appalachian town, she does not bend the knee but continues in her socially progressive ways—and finds herself accused of witchcraft and targeted by the KKK.

What sparked the idea for this book?

The deep divides that have gripped our country in the last few years broke my heart. In my effort to understand, my mind went back to the grandmother who raised me during my formative years. She ingrained a hope for the future in me, despite trying circumstances.  I channeled her for my protagonist, Maddie, who struggles against the very issues we are again facing today: racism, suppression of women, regression in education.

What drew you to historical fiction?

At first I began a contemporary medical novel, but quickly fell in love with the backstory of an herbalist healer with a certain gift for healing—one which had been inherited from the women in her lineage. And then in turn, the backstory for Winter’s Reckoning took me even deeper into history. I simply fell in love with the genre.

The historical ways of the craft of healing complement modern medicine. I’ve gone all the way back to Scandinavia in the 1500’s as the start of my research. Then the healers were called “cunning folk” and they basically used spells from a grimoire called a “Svartebok,” which I reference in Winter’s Reckoning. How fascinating is that! Gives me goosebumps.

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

As I said before, there is the original story, which will now serve as a sequel—a tie-together of a long line of women who seem to have inherited a certain “gift” for healing. There will be a (fictional) medical answer found; of course, I can’t give that away yet.

But first, there will be a prequel explaining the origin of a box of secret papers in the possession of the protagonist Maddie in Winter’s Reckoning. This will be the sequential tales of four maternal ancestors in Norway, Prague, France, and New England. Women who, like Maddie, are all persecuted for their good deeds of healing. As always, and in every society, things that are not understood are feared.

Where can readers find you?

Thank you, Adele! Winter’s Reckoning is out today!

Forty-six-year-old Madeline Fairbanks has no use for ideas like “separation of the races” or “men as the superior sex.” There are many in her dying Southern Appalachian town who are upset by her socially progressive views, but for years—partly due to her late husband’s still-powerful influence, and partly due to her skill as a healer in a remote town with no doctor of its own—folks have been willing to turn a blind eye to her “transgressions.” Even Maddie’s decision to take on a Black apprentice, Ren Morgan, goes largely unchallenged by her white neighbors, though it’s certainly grumbled about. But when a charismatic and power-hungry new reverend blows into town in 1917 and begins to preach about the importance of racial segregation, the long-idle local KKK chapter fires back into action—and places Maddie and her friends in Jamesville’s Black community squarely in their sights. Maddie had better stop intermingling with Black folks, discontinue her herbalistic “witchcraft,” and leave town immediately, they threaten, or they’ll lynch Ren’s father, Daniel. Faced with this decision, Maddie is terrified . . . and torn. Will she bow to their demands and walk away—or will she fight to keep the home she’s built in Jamesville and protect the future of the people she loves, both Black and white?

Author Bio:

Adele Holmes graduated from UAMS medical school in 1993, and from residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in 1996. She practiced general pediatrics in central Arkansas for over twenty years. While she loved every moment of it, a serious travel bug, a need to put the voice of her soul onto paper, and a call to give back to the community led her to an early retirement in 2017. Her debut novel Winter’s Reckoning, a southern gothic set in the Southern Appalachians of 1917, will be published on August 9, 2022. She continues to write, travel, and serve in her community.