Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
So glad to be here, Fiona.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi, I’m Ann. You might see my name on books as Ann H. Gabhart or A.H. Gabhart and on some of my early books simply Ann Gabhart. When I was a kid dreaming of writing, I came up with a pen name, but that name has stayed forever secret. When I did start publishing articles and then novels, I was very happy to see my own name on my books. As for my age? Old enough to keep that a secret too. J
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Kentucky and I still live in Kentucky. Roots all the way to China.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.)
I’m a country girl who grew up on a farm. I am the youngest of three girls and was supposed to be the boy my dad didn’t get to have. That didn’t turn me into a tomboy, but my sisters and I did have to help with the crops and do other farm chores. I married at a young age and had a couple of children by the time I was nineteen so my education has been mostly from the University of Life. My children, two boys and a girl, are grown and married now. I have nine grandchildren I spoil every chance I get. My husband is retired but still farms a little. We have a small herd of beef cattle. He has sung bass in various Southern Gospel quartets for over forty years and is currently part of the Patriot Quartet. I love country living, enjoy hiking with my dog and my grandchildren, love to read and come up with stories to write.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m excited about my September 2017 release, These Healing Hills. After writing a series of cozy mysteries, the Hidden Springs Mysteries, I returned to my fiction roots to write a historical novel about the Frontier Nursing Service in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. The book was reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and I was very happy to read this line, “Gabhart handles the Appalachian landscape and culture with skill, bringing them to vibrant life.”
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I can answer the when, but that why might be a little harder. I was around ten when I decided it would be fun to write a mystery like the Hardy Boy mysteries I enjoyed reading only instead of the Hardy boys, I would be the star sleuth. My sister and a favorite cousin were my sidekicks. I’ve been writing something ever since. A lot of words under my story bridge. But why? Writing is simply something I am compelled to do. I think I was born wired to be a storytelling writer.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For years it was difficult for me to tell people “I am a writer.” It seemed presumptuous of me even after I started publishing articles and then novels. But quietly in my inner self, I have considered myself a writer from the day I first opened up that wire bound notebook to start my wannabe Hardy Boy mystery when I was a kid. Now I claim the writer title with no problem at all. I think publishing almost thirty-five books gives me that right. I am a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
That’s so far in the past, I don’t remember. I do remember why I wrote that first novel over forty years ago. I was taking a correspondence writing course and the last assignment was to write an outline of a novel. I never liked writing outlines, so I wrote the novel instead. I had written short stories and articles prior to that, but as soon as I started writing the novel, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. That book has never been published but it was good practice for the many books I’ve written since.
Actually the third book I wrote was the first one published and I was inspired to write it by a bit of history I stumbled across that told about a traveling church. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, the pastor of the Spotsylvania Church in Virginia talked his congregation, at least a majority of the church members, into picking up roots and crossing the Wilderness Trail to establish a church in the Kentucky frontier. I dropped my characters into that historical event and A Forbidden Yearning was published by Warner Books in 1978. Thirty-four books later, I am looking forward to publication of another historical novel with a Kentucky background, These Healing Hills.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For that first book long ago, the publishers didn’t like the title I chose, A Kentucke Dream, (Kentucky had different spellings in the frontier days), and they retitled the book something they thought would be more enticing to readers.
Since then, I’ve come up with many titles. Some stuck on the book like Angel Sister, Scent of Lilacs, The Seeker, and others. These Healing Hills was not my working title, but Revell, my publishers, and I considered several ideas before we settled on this one. I like it as if does speak to the story with the “healing” and “hills,” since it’s set in the Appalachian Mountains with history of the Frontier Nursing Service.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I would hope I have an easy to read style. I like to get my characters talking. I enjoy writing dialogue. I don’t know that I find anything particularly challenging in my writing style or genre. I have written a variety of genres, everything from historical romance to mysteries to young adult coming of age stories. I’ve even written a picture book, but it’s yet to find a publisher. I like telling a good story whatever the genre.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of my books have a historical background. So I do try to make those historical events as realistic as possible. But my novels are not based on anyone I know or events in my own life. I do model my small town settings on the town I grew up near.
I have written one nonfiction book, Angels at the Crossroads, that was the life story of a friend of mine. He has a powerful testimony of how he took wrong turns in life and ended up in prison for murder. But the Lord touched him while he was in prison and he turned his life around with the help of his parents and chaplains in the prison.
But my fictional novels’ events, other than the historical happenings, and my characters are products of my imagination
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I did travel to Leslie County, Kentucky, where Mary Breckinridge established the Frontier Nursing Service to serve that Appalachian region. Her home, Wendover, is a National Historical Site now and has been turned into a Bed and Breakfast. https://www.frontier.edu/bedandbreakfast
I’ve also often visited the Pleasant Hill Shaker Village in Kentucky, https://shakervillageky.org/, since I use it as the setting for my Shaker novels. But since I generally write about Kentucky places, I don’t travel much for research. My husband says I should write a book about Hawaii.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Revell Books, a division of the Baker Publishing Group, has published my last eighteen novels. They do a fabulous job of designing eye-catching covers. They’ve done so again with the cover of These Healing Hills. I was very pleased that they put the dog on the cover.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The Frontier Nursing Service has a saying, “Nobody comes here by accident.” So that is part of the message of my novel. In These Healing Hills, my character has had some upheavals in the life she expected, but she eventually is sure that being a nurse midwife in the Appalachian Mountains is right where she is supposed to be.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I can’t come up with one favorite writer. I read a wide variety of books, and as long as it’s a good story with strong characters, I’m happy. I have to admit that I like good endings and don’t like books that kill off my favorite characters in the end. I have read many good new authors in the Christian publishing field. Lori Benton and Laura Frantz were new authors when I first read their books, but they’re both multi-published now.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I don’t really have anybody I can name other than my loving family. I am the one who persevered and refused to give up on my dream of writing even through some tough years of rejection when encouragement from any source was scarce.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely. I’m old enough to be retired, but my husband says I’ll never quit writing. He could be right.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I’m pleased with the way the story in These Healing Hills turned out. I hope readers will agree.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned a great deal about the Frontier Nursing Service and its founder, Mary Breckinridge. I also enjoyed delving into mountain speak and loved the unique expressions that are part of the culture in Appalachia.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’m no good at these questions. I hardly ever watch television or movies since I much prefer to read when I have spare time. And even when I do go to a movie, I’m the world’s worst at remembering actors’ names.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
If you believe in your story, write it. And then find another story to believe in and write it next. The more you string words together the better you will get at writing. Nobody expects to be a great golfer or basketball player or singer without practice. Why should a writer not expect to put in practice time? Continually reading other writers’ works is good too. Those words and how writers use them sink down in your subconscious and rise up to help you in the craft of writing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
You, readers, are in a partnership with writers. My stories come to life in my imagination. I write it down to the best of my ability in hopes that those stories will spring to life in your imagination while you’re reading them. Thank you so much for reading!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. My sister has gone crazy over The Outlander series and is on her second read through of the books. I’m not that into the series although I am enjoying the stories, but it’s fun to read some of the same books as my sisters so that we can do some book talking.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably not the very first book I read. That was a long time ago. But I do remember early on reading Black Beauty and how much the story made me cry and how much I loved it in spite of the tears.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My grandkids can make me laugh with the things they say. Sometimes they make me feel like crying with the things they do too! J Sad stories make me cry. Sometimes a touching scene in a book makes me tear up. When I’m at the movies, a little sad music can have me sniffling, and movies that make me laugh are fun.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Hmm, I’ve never really thought about that. Maybe Mark Twain or Will Rogers. Both of them would be sure to have some entertaining stories to tell.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I don’t know if I’d call either of these hobbies, but I enjoy reading and I like hiking.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I hardly ever watch television except for basketball games in the fall and winter. I’m a bleed blue University of Kentucky basketball fan and have been since I was a kid. My kids went to school at UK, but I was a Kentucky follower long before that.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I have a terrible sweet tooth. Love pies and pastries and chocolate toffee candy. I like to wear red. I don’t listen to a lot of music, but since my husband is a bass singer in a Southern gospel quartet, I’ll say Southern Gospel music. I do enjoy listening to his group sing.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read all the books I have stacked up and waiting to be read. I can say that since I’m already retirement age, just not retired from writing.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She loved and was loved.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do. My website is www.annhgabhart.com where you can find information about my books, my event page and my blogs, One Writer’s Journal and Jocie’s Heart of Hollyhill blog. You can also sign up there for my newsletters I send out maybe six times a year, sometimes with special deals on my books along with news from down here on the farm. But you can count on a giveaway in every newsletter. I also do giveaways on my blog, One Writer’s Journal. I try to make those fun by doing special things like my Mystery Photo game. I also enjoy getting to know readers on my Facebook author page, www.facebook.com/anngabhart.
Ann H. Gabhart bio
ANN H. GABHART, the bestselling author of over thirty novels, has been called a storyteller. That’s not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. Ann often writes historical novels with a Kentucky background, including her popular Shaker series. She also writes about family life, love and sometimes mystery (as A.H. Gabhart) in small towns like the Kentucky town where she grew up. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and enjoy country life in Kentucky. To find out more about Ann’s books and to check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, visit www.annhgabhart.com. You can also join in the conversation on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/anngabhart or Twitter @AnnHGabhart.
Thanks so much, Fiona, for inviting me over.