Today it is my pleasure to chat with fellow Heart”wings” sister and one of my favorite authors, Ann Gabhart.
Hi Ann, dear author! Let’s get right to it. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I realized somebody wrote those books that took me on journeys into imagination, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, be an author. Around ten, I started writing a Hardy Boys mystery clone only with a fictional me as the sleuth. I’ve been writing ever since and trust me, that makes for quite a few years I’ve been making up stories.
What are you working on now?
I’m editing my latest novel, due for release next summer. The publishers and I only recently, like last week, settled on a title, River to Redemption. The beginning idea for this book was a true event that occurred in the small town of Springfield, Kentucky after the 1833 cholera epidemic.
The town collected money to buy a slave’s freedom because he–unaffected by cholera–heroically dug the graves to bury the fifty-five victims of the disease. My book is how I imagine that might have come about. But first I’m excited about my current release, These Healing Hills, a story set in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains at the end of World War II about the Frontier Nursing Service.
I am, too! If only you could write as fast as we readers read….So, when will your newest be available?
These Healing Hills releases September 5, 2017, and I can’t wait for readers to read it.
I can remember that date. It would have been my Granddaddy’s birthday. He was a Kentuckian, too. Ann, why did you decide to write this story or what led to the premise of your story?
September is a good month for birthdays. Mine’s on the 15th. But why did I decide to write These Healing Hills? That’s a good question. My last three published books were a bit of a departure for me since they were contemporary cozy mysteries set in my fictional town of Hidden Springs where life is easy but sometimes a little sinister. After I wrote the third Hidden Springs mystery, my publishers suggested I return to my fictional roots, the historical novel. That was okay with me. I like digging into history to come up with stories.
As an author, your historical novels are my favorite, especially with romance. They are great.
That’s good to hear. A little romance always mixes in well with the history. All my historical novels, well, actually all my novels, have a Kentucky setting. That’s because I’m a Kentucky girl. While searching for a new idea, I came across an account of how Mary Breckinridge started the Frontier Nursing Service in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains and I knew I wanted to drop my characters down into those mountains. Some of the characters are
While searching for a new idea, I came across an account of how Mary Breckinridge started the Frontier Nursing Service in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains and I knew I wanted to drop my characters down into those mountains. Some of the characters are homefolk, but my heroine is a young woman who comes to the mountains in 1945 to be a nurse midwife. The war turned Francine’s life upside and she needs a new start.
Did you get to keep your Working Title? If not, what was it?
No, my working title was actually simply the Frontier Nursing Novel. I generally don’t title my books until after I’ve written “the end.” Before I sent the story to my editor, I did come up with a better title, Mountain Spring, but I had no illusions that would stick. The publishers suggested another title first with “forgiving hills” in the title.
They agreed to consider something different when I, as author, didn’t think that title exactly fit the story. Many of my novels do have an underlying theme of forgiveness, but this one not so much. Then they suggested These Healing Hills which I do like, but it can be a tongue twister. Try saying that five times fast!
The publishers suggested another title first with “forgiving hills” in the title. They agreed to consider something different when I didn’t think that title exactly fit the story. Many of my novels do have an underlying theme of forgiveness, but this one not so much. Then they suggested These Healing Hills which I do like, but it can be a tongue twister. Try saying that five times fast!
Okay, how many of you just said her new book title several times fast? Yep, me, too.
Ann, is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers keep?
A prevailing theme throughout the story is that when what we plan doesn’t work out then sometimes a better path opens up for us. Francine goes to the mountains to escape heartache and find a new beginning. Eventually, she realizes she’s right where she needs to be. So, I hope readers will see that often the Lord may have something better waiting for us after we suffer rejections or disappointments in life.
How true! We all need to hear that, don’t we? I know I do.
On a more personal note, would you mind sharing a testimony of a time when God moved mightily in your life?
Ah, didn’t I just talk about author rejections? That’s something most writers have to deal with and I am certainly no exception. In fact, several years ago, I began to wonder if I should give up writing. At the time, thirteen of my books had been published in the general market–two historical romances and eleven books for young readers. But as an author, I hadn’t gotten a contract for over five years. One rejection after another kept landing in my mailbox.
That is hard to believe. Your books are wonderful.
Oh, that’s so nice of you to say. You don’t happen to be an editor with a publishing company, do you? 🙂 At last with discouragement tracking me, I decided I would stop thinking about publishers. Instead, I would put my all into one more book and make it a story I really loved writing. I imagined a young character whose mother deserted her when she was five. Her father is a bi-vocational preacher and newspaper editor in the little town of Hollyhill in the 1960’s.
I would put my all into one more book and make it a story I really loved writing. I imagined a young character whose mother deserted her when she was five. Her father is a bi-vocational preacher and newspaper editor in the little town of Hollyhill in the 1960’s.
I loved writing about Jocie and her family and while I tried not to worry about publication while writing the story, of course, I did. So I lifted that story up in prayer and sang that old spiritual, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” Me and my story. That story, Scent of Lilacs, found its way to the desk of an editor whose favorite flower just happened to be lilacs.
Coincidence or providence? I say it was the Lord’s providence that brought me into the Christian fiction market and has led to almost twenty more novels with that same editor. I’m blessed to be able to write stories of encouragement, faith and hope.
Wow! I am so happy they realized your talent. Your books have touched me and many others. It’s all in God’s time.
And sometimes our willingness to pay attention to God’s nudging. I am humbled that my stories can encourage, entertain and bless readers.
Tell us a few of your favorite things to help us know you better.
Food – I have a terrible sweet tooth. Love cinnamon rolls and blackberry pies. Oh, and bacon and tomato sandwiches. Yum.
Season – Spring when the wildflowers start blooming.
Soda – I’ll take ice tea instead, please.
Animal – Dogs, definitely.
Steaks and burgers? Rare, Medium, or Well done? – Don’t you think everything should be well done? Actually, I say medium well if you’re talking hamburgers or steaks.
Chocolate or Vanilla? – Chocolate
Paper, digital or audio? – Prefer a paper book, but like listening to audio books and have read plenty on my e-reader too.
Scripture – So many great verses, but I like the incredible truth in John 21:25. “Ánd there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (NKJ)
Great answers, especially “everything should be well done!” Give me a glass of iced tea and a BLT for lunch any day.
Sounds like we should meet for lunch. 🙂
How’d you meet your sweet husband?
I was at a football game with my best friend. Her boyfriend at the time was giving her a ride home after the game and when he saw me with Judy he must have thought three was a crowd. So he came back with Darrell and we rode home from the ballgame together. I was way too young to be so set out, but it turned out okay. We’ve been married forever!
Tell us about your family, children, ages, pets?
My husband and I married young and have already celebrated fifty years together. We have three happily married children, and they’ve blessed us with nine grandchildren. Those grandkids are growing up now with the oldest 23 and the youngest 8. The years spin by so quickly.
As I said earlier, I’m a dog lover and I’ve had at least one special dog buddy in my life ever since I begged for a dog when I was eight. Right now, I have a lab/chow mix, Oscar. He’s a great dog, but recently he was diagnosed with bone cancer. So I’m babying him and enjoying the time we have left before he heads over the Rainbow Bridge. Right now, he’s holding his own, but not sure how long that will last. Oscar has been a wonderful dog. I’ve had him seven years and he’s a favorite of my Facebook friends. A very good dog.
Yes, he is. I enjoy Oscar, too. Ann, I have enjoyed our chat and letting the sisters learn all about you. Ladies, please check out Ann’s website and blog. I love her contests there. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. You, Darrell, Oscar, and your ministry are in my prayers.
Thanks for inviting me over for a talk. I love being here on HeartWings.
Oh, Ann, I almost forgot. How can readers help spread the word?
I love it when readers tell their friends about my books, but I don’t like making readers jump through hoops to enter a contest. So to enter the book giveaway here, just respond to the question below in a comment or mention the post or my book on Twitter to have a chance to win.
I’d love it if all of you would sign up for my newsletter but that’s not necessary to enter the contest. Signing up is easy on my website, www.annhgabhart.com. I do giveaways whenever I send out a newsletter.
Then you might find it fun to join the conversation on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/anngabhart. If you do want to help boost a book you’ve enjoyed, reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, or other internet sites are a fantastic way to help an author.
CONTEST: Answer to win a copy of These Healing Hills: Has your path in life ever made any unexpected turns? Did you feel that change or some other event in your life came about due to divine providence, like me being an author?
[The winner will be announced on Monday, 08/28. All comments made through Sunday, 08/27 will be considered. Please be sure to answer the questions above to qualify.]