Interview with Ann Gabhart

» Posted on Jun 10, 2010 in Blog | Comments Off on Interview with Ann Gabhart

This week I’m hosting Nancy Mehl with Simple Secrets and Ann Gabhart with The Seeker. If you want to enter the drawings, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at The drawings end Sunday (June 13th) evening.

Interview with Ann Gabhart:

1. What made you start writing?

I loved books when I was a kid and as soon as I figured out some person was responsible for those stories I liked to read, I knew that was what I wanted to do. Write stories. I’ve been at it ever since.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I picked up pen and notebook when I was about ten years old and started on my writing journey. I sold my first piece to a Sunday school magazine in 1970 and Warner Books published my first novel, a historical romance for the general market in 1978. My first inspirational book, The Scent of Lilacs, was published by Revell Books in 2005.

3. How do you handle rejections?

Ah, rejections. Those destroyers of hope. Those testers of fortitude. Those reasons for perseverance. I’ve gotten my share over the years. A lot of letters from editors who said they enjoyed my stories, but… One editor once wrote that there was nothing wrong with my book but nothing right about it either.

Some rejections are harder to handle than others. I rewrote one book three times for an editor whose company eventually rejected the story. It’s still unpublished, but I tell myself I learn with every story whether it eventually gets published or not. So with a rejection, I mope a few minutes, maybe whine or rant in my writing journal, and then get back to work on whatever new book I’m writing. I think that’s the key. Not depending on the one book, but writing the next book and the next and the next until you get the good news that somebody wants to publish one of your books.

4. Why do you write?

For me writing is a compulsion, a need, a yearning desire. It’s what I do. I love telling the stories of the characters who come to life in my imagination and who then, through my words, come to life in the imaginations of my readers. I just don’t feel right if I’m not somewhere in the process of digging a story out of my head.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Reading a lot more of what other people write. Planting more flowers. Playing with the grandkids. Oh wait, I do that last anyway. Some things you make free time to do.

6. What are you working on right now?

I’m pushing toward the end of my fourth novel set in my fictional Shaker village, Harmony Hill. I’m still searching for the perfect title and hoping it will come to me when I’m editing the book. Right now I’m just trying to get the story told and write “the end” in time to do some editing before my rapidly approaching deadline.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I suppose like most writers I pull a little of this from me and a little of that from this or that person I’ve known and a lot of everything else from my imagination to come up with my characters. I do sometimes use bits and pieces of things that have happened to me in my books such as Tabitha counting the holes in the ceiling tiles when she was having her baby in Orchard of Hope. I did that when I was in labor with my first baby. Plus the settings of my books are often based on places I know well. My hometown was the model for the town in my Hollyhill books. My little country church was the church. So in that way I am in the books or at least things from my life experience. I’ve also used other people’s life experiences at times, like my mom’s in my book, Angel Sister that will be out next February.

8.Tell us about the book you have out right now.

The Seeker will be in stores on July 1. The story is set in the same Shaker village, Harmony Hill, as my other Shaker books, The Outsider and The Believer, but each story is a stand-alone book with different characters. In The Seeker I wanted to show how the Civil War affected the Shaker communities and so I had to figure out the best characters to tell that story and still find a way to fit in romance. That’s not so easy with the Shakers who were celibate and believed romantic love was sinful. I came up with Charlotte Vance, the daughter of a state senator and Adam Wade, an artist/illustrator for Harper’s Weekly. Charlotte’s well ordered life begins falling apart when her fiancé joins the Shakers and she follows him in a desperate attempt to reclaim her life. But it’s not only her life falling apart but the whole country as the War Between the States divides states and families. Among the Shakers, Charlotte learns the importance of work and faith and love. Meanwhile Adam is facing his own challenges as he follows the Union army. He’s not a soldier, but a reporter sketching the battle scenes for the newspapers. Both Adam and Charlotte walk some unexpected paths to a future neither of them planned.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you want to write, write. Don’t just talk about writing, write. And read. That’s almost as important or maybe even more important than writing when you’re starting out. Then keep writing. Don’t give up if the first book doesn’t find a loving editor. The second one might or the third.
Perseverance is as necessary as ink to a writer.

10. How important is faith in your books?

Faith is very important to me personally and that was so even during the years I was writing for the general market. In those stories, a moral undercurrent was there but the storyline centered more around right over wrong than questions of faith. My recent books are more faith centered. My Hollyhill books tell the story of a preacher and his young daughter in a small town setting. Faith is a big part of their lives and their story. In the Shaker books, religion is a key element as the characters have to sift and weigh what the Shakers, a religious sect, believe with what they believe about God. So each story is different in how faith plays a part in the characters’ lives, but I do like going along on the faith journey with my characters.

11. What themes do you like to write about?

I rarely sit down ahead of time and figure out what theme I’m covering in each book. I’m telling a story, and in any story there are lessons to be learned. That said, when I look back at my storylines I see that forgiveness is a theme that often runs through my books.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

That’s always a difficult question to answer. It’s like being asked which of your children is your favorite child. But besides the easy answer of the book I’m writing now or the one that’s getting ready to be out for readers, I do have some that are close to my heart for personal reasons. I was writing a young adult book, The Gifting, while my father was dying of pancreatic cancer several years ago. Whenever despair seemed about to overwhelm me, I would turn my thoughts to those characters and as a result they became friends helping me through a hard time. Then The Scent of Lilacs is a favorite not only because Jocie and her friends were so much fun to write about but because when I wrote it I wasn’t sure if I’d ever publish another book. That book launched me into a whole new world of writing. Last is the book coming out next February, Angel Sister, that is loosely based on my mom’s memories of growing up in the Depression years. Writing it was like walking back through her childhood with her.

13. What is your writing schedule like?

I have had dozens of writing schedules over the years. I wrote my first novel at a desk in my kitchen while my youngest son watched Captain Kangaroo. That’s been a few years ago. Then I worked while the kids were at school. Now I have a beautiful office with windows and my kids are all adults with children of their own. So on week days I go to my office early in the morning and work all day. Sometimes when a deadline is approaching the way it is now, I put in a lot of desk time at night and on the weekends too. But I love to write and there’s not much I’d rather be doing except maybe playing with those grandbabies.