HHAC 2016 Brent Winter

Brent Winter lived at about eighteen different addresses before his eighteenth birthday, and as an adult he moved about eighteen more times before finally settling down in North Carolina. He only flunked out of college once before earning a BA in philosophy and an MFA in creative writing. His stories, reviews, poetry, and essays have appeared in the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer, the Boulder (CO) Sunday Camera Magazine, Wine Report, and caesura. He also works as a writer and editor at NC State University. Blood Family is his first novel.

He is working on a second novel that, although not a sequel to Blood Family, is set in the same universe — one where downtown Atlanta hides a strange little neighborhood called D Street that you can’t find on your own; someone who’s already been there has to take you first.

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Divorced technical writer Alex Whitfield lives a life of studied normalcy, in sharp contrast to his deeply dysfunctional family: uncle in prison for arson, half-sister missing after a stint in rehab, father dead by suicide in a psych ward. But Alex's normal life is shattered one night when he finds his half-sister, April, lying in his bathtub with her wrists slashed--until she disappears a few seconds later.

Alex is terrified to think he might have inherited his father's madness, but when he confides in a friend, she suggests that Alex might not have been hallucinating; instead, perhaps he saw April's ghost. Alex doesn't believe in ghosts, and he doesn't want to believe April is dead, either. Still, he dreads hearing what a doctor might say about his sanity, so he delays the inevitable by letting his friend take him to see a "witch" who supposedly can help him.

Thus begins Alex's reluctant journey from the streets of Atlanta to the mountains of Appalachia and from this world to the next one as he's forced to grapple with hidden truths about himself, his family, and the very nature of reality. Along the way he'll find friends and enemies among both the living and the dead, and he'll learn why his father really committed suicide, why April went missing, and why she desperately needs his help.

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