Jonathan Odell Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Jonathan Odell
Photo: Jim Kuether

Jonathan Odell

How to pronounce Jonathan Odell: oh-DELL

An interview with Jonathan Odell

Jonathan Odell, author of The Healing, set in the pre-Civil War South, interviews retired midwife Mrs Willie Turner of Midnight, Mississippi, who was 91-years-old at the time of the interview in 2002.

Jonathan Odell writes, "In 2002, I had the honor of sitting down with Mrs. Willie Turner of Midnight, Mississippi, a retired midwife. At the time, she was 91 years old and eager to talk about the profession she loved and felt she was called by God to do. The questions I asked are the following:"


  1. How many children did you help birth? 0.16
  2. How busy did you stay? 1:00
  3. Did some mothers get scared? What did you do to calm them? 4:25
  4. How did you get around to your patients? 5:44
  5. Did any of the women fight you? 10:09
  6. How did you raise a family and be a midwife? 10:42
  7. What were the homes like? 12:54


  1. When did you decide you wanted to be a midwife?
  2. How did you learn?
  3. Tell me about a typical delivery.
  4. What were some of the most difficult deliveries?
  5. Were some babies born not breathing? What did you do?

Most of the photos are of ex-slaves, midwives and sharecroppers taken in the 1930's by artists working for the WPA, archived in the Library of Congress. This video was developed by James Kuether and Random House.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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