story behind the book

‘Pop Culture Happy Hour’ host Linda Holmes steps up to the plate with debut novel

david wilson for the boston globe

In Linda Holmes’s debut novel, a young widow meets a washed-up baseball player, a pitcher forced to leave the game because he has the yips — that mysterious condition that renders players unable to perform their primary task. 

Back when she started working on the book in 2012, Holmes knew she wanted to write about an athlete. “I just think that anybody who commits themselves absolutely to one task and is incredibly focused — whether they're a professional athlete, like a baseball player or an Olympic athlete — that kind of focus is always very compelling in a fictional character,” said Holmes. 

In “Evvie Drake Starts Over,” the title character finds her life changed when Dean Tenney, a former Yankee superstar, rents an apartment in her big house in small-town Maine. Evvie, who has lost her husband in a car accident the year before, is just as psychologically stuck as Dean. The two strike up a friendship, bonding over binge-watching television. “Something that you might do together with somebody that you don't know that well, as you're getting to know them, is watch TV,” said Holmes, who hosts the NPR podcast “Pop Culture Happy Hour.” 


For Holmes, writing a novel was the next logical step in a career that began in the law; she was an attorney before she began writing about pop culture, beginning with a stint at the influential website Television Without Pity. She’s written hundreds of thousands of words about other people’s fictional worlds. Creating her own, she said, had been a dream since childhood. 

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“I just assumed everyone had a fantasy of writing a novel,” Holmes said. “And it was only recently that people kind of said, ‘Oh, when did you want to write a novel?’ I said, ‘Well, didn't you?’”

Holmes will read at 6 p.m. Monday at the Brattle Theatre. Tickets available at

Kate Tuttle, a freelance writer and critic, can be reached at