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An interview with ‘Freed From Shame’ author Dawn Holmes

It was wonderful to speak to Dawn Holmes who wrote ‘Freed From Shame’, a book about addressing the stigma of mental illness in the church. I wrote a book review about her debut book here. She runs various talks and workshops with co-author Karen Todd.

Did you always think you would write a book?

I never thought that I would write and publish a book. I like writing – I’ve done a blog when I was fostering and I wrote about the experiences. People seemed to enjoy that and said I had a natural way of writing. I’ve wrote a short story and won a competition. I knew I was capable of writing but I never had aspirations to write a book. That was purely just how to get the experiences and what people have told me out into the churches. [see interview in link about to find out more about Dawn’s book].

Were there any challenges in writing the book?

I got to a point where I was stuck and it was at that point that I met Karen. I’d done the first part – I’d got help from Elizabeth Green who works as a mental health occupational therapist. She checked all my facts. I was fine with that. I was fine with the stories that I’d written up or that people had written for me. The first two sections I was happy with. The second section ended up being a huge long bullet point list of things people had said would be useful for churches to do. I simply collected loads of peoples’ ideas and how churches should support. But I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t work out how to set it out. That was definitely my biggest challenge. At that point I met Karen and she had some ideas for that so ended up working on that section and how to lay it out and we wrote it together.

How has the book been received so far?

I’ve had lots of people say the book is very needed and thank you for writing it and we need this in our churches. What I don’t know yet is whether that will have an impact on churches changing. I’m hoping in the future I might hear more stories of how its [been implemented], but I haven’t at the moment. Also, some people really want the book for their church but their church isn’t perhaps receptive to it. So there’s a bit of blockage that I’ve realised. People are perhaps struggling want their church to have the book in place but the church isn’t ready to hear it. That’s quite interesting.

Have you got any advice for writers?

I didn’t know I was going to be able to write a book and get it published. The encouragement that I had along the way was why not just try it? You just don’t know and it was a shock when I held the first paperback because it had actually turned into a paperback book. It was just my thoughts, it was just me trying to get something down and what people had shared with me. Just give it a go. It doesn’t hurt to try something out and get trusted people to give their opinion. Don’t listen to everybody’s opinion. Listen to your trusted friends and people who know what they’re talking about!


Dawn Holmes lives in Somerset with her husband, Colin, and they have five grown-up children, some of whom have flown the nest, and some who keep flying back! They have been part of a Newfrontiers church for many years and serve in a variety of ways. Dawn enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and dabbling in papercrafts. Her interest in mental health has grown as increasing numbers of people spoke with her regarding the Church’s response, prompting her to write this book.