Ann H. Gabhart: I’m a country girl, born and raised in Kentucky. Growing up, I helped my dad on the farm and then I married a farm boy. So, of course, the first thing we did when we could afford it was buy a farm. We still live on that farm but our farming these days is limited to a few beef cows. I’ve known I wanted to write since I first discovered storybooks, so that’s always been my focus along with taking care of my family. Always, always I was writing that next story. I have worked some temporary secretarial jobs along the way, but only until the need to write overpowered the need for the extra income. Our three children are all grown and married now. They’ve blessed us with nine beautiful grandchildren.
I’ve published twenty-three books with four more contracted to come out in the next few years. I started out writing historical romances for the general market. Then I wrote several coming of age books for young adult and middle readers. A few years ago, I began writing for the inspirational market and was fortunate to have my first inspirational fiction book, The Scent of Lilacs, selected as one of Booklists’ Top Ten Inspirational novels for 2006. Since then I’ve had other books picked as finalists for awards with this year Angel Sister being a RT Book Reviews Magazine nominee for best inspirational novel of 2011.
ib4b: Give us a little background on Words Spoken True.
AHG: Words Spoken True is the most romantic story I’ve written for Revell Books. My other books have romance in them. The Shaker books are definitely historical romances, but because of the beliefs of the Shakers – they didn’t believe in romantic love between a man and a woman – I had to sneak romance into those stories without much opportunity for romantic scenes. Angel Sister is a family story with a romantic thread but it’s only one of the ingredients in the whole. The Hollyhill books are about a family in a small town with a sweet romance throughout too, but the romance is not the most important element of the story. Oh, but in Words Spoken True, romance jumps up on the center stage and demands the spotlight. The background history is eventful and has some timely themes that relate to some of our issues in America today, but it’s the romance that lights up every scene.
Here’s the back cover copy.
Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father’s newspaper offices. She can’t imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over a competing paper and the battle for readers gets fierce. When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is impossible to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune’s future.I hope readers will like Adriane and Blake and be cheering for them to figure out a way to overcome all the obstacles in the way of them having a happily ever after ending. You’ll have to read the book to see if they succeed.
AHG: While reading some history, I came across accounts of the 1855 election riots in Louisville, a day that became known as “Bloody Monday” because of the violence and loss of life. Some historians laid part of the blame for the riots at the door of the newspapers of the day. I was intrigued by this bit of history that was so new to me and also the role of the newspapers in that historical era. So I got my characters involved in the newspaper business and dropped them down into 1855 Louisville society and I was off on a new story hunt.
ib4b: What do you hope readers will take away from reading the book?
AHG: I always want my readers to be entertained by my stories and to fall in love with my characters. But it’s also nice when they can find out a little about their historic past. We can’t change history but it is good when we can learn from it. Perhaps my readers can learn that none of us is perfect but that love can make a difference in our lives, whether that’s romantic love, family love, or the love of God.
ib4b: If Words Spoken True was being made into a movie, who would you cast as the main character(s)?
AHG: My publisher sometimes asks this question in order to decide on the right look for the models for my book covers. I’m not a big movie goer or television viewer so sometimes I’m at a loss here. I have to Google this by putting in “show me pictures of a blue-eyed, dark-haired man or a beautiful brunette.” Google generally comes through with dozens of photographs of different actors or actresses. Then I have to look through them to find a person who matches my idea of what my characters look like. The only trouble is that one actor can have a dozen pictures and look different in every one of them. And since I’m not all that familiar with the actors and actresses, I worry that I might pick one who has such a bad reputation that those who are familiar with actors and actresses would be totally repulsed just at the mention of the name of the actor or actress. But I plunge ahead and nearly always find a photo that looks just like I imagine my character looking. Or at least very close.
With that explanation, these are the people I picked for the two main characters in Words Spoken True. Alexis Bledel as Adriane Darcy and Eric Dane with darker blue eyes and longer curly hair as Blake Garrett.
ib4b: I totally understand . . . AND love the actors you chose. I think they look exactly like how I pictured Adriane and Blake! It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?
AHG: I’ve known I wanted to write since I was about ten, so I’m not sure I have the kind of former life you’re asking about. I grew up on a farm, married a farm boy, and we’ve lived the country life all our married years. So I’ve been a farm wife, a mother, a part-time secretary, even worked several years as a substitute coordinator for our local school board, but first I was a writer. Then the rest was added.
That’s not to say that I sent in my first story and the editors went “wow!” and sent me a check. My road to publication was trial and error as I learned about writing and submitting my work. My first book was published in the general market in 1978, but even that wasn’t a magic door opening that stayed open. After that, I’ve had years when the editors didn’t like what I was writing, but I never quit. Before I wrote The Scent of Lilacs, I thought perhaps I should quit. It had been ten years since I’d had a book accepted for publication. I was weary of rejection.
So I went back to the drawing board and said if I’m only going to write one more book, I’m going to make it a book I love. I decided to use my own background of growing up in a small town as the setting and then assembled a cast of characters I could love and began writing. I’m not sure I was consciously aiming for the Christian market, but I’m glad I landed there and found an editor who loved my characters as much as I did. I do feel as if I’ve come home to the inspirational or Christian book market. I like being able to include my characters’ faith journeys in their stories. And a major plus is that the readers have been so receptive to my stories. I love making reading friends via my website and blog or Facebook and Twitter.
ib4b: What were some of your favorite books growing up?
AHG: I remember loving Little Women. The Hardy Boys mysteries were what inspired me to first pick up pen to try to tell my own mystery starring me. When I was fourteen, I read Gone with the Wind during one delicious Thanksgiving weekend. In high school, I immersed myself in the classics hoping that would give me the ability to write a great book too, I suppose. And perhaps I did absorb some of the magic of those stories that helped me learn how to put words together.
ib4b: What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
AHG: I have a huge stack of Christian fiction books waiting for me to have the time and opportunity to delve into them, and way too many Christian writer friends to put one of their books as a must read over another friend’s. LOL
ib4b: Ha! You have a good point there. :) Now for a few totally random questions . . . what is your biggest pet peeve?
AHG: People who grumble about everything in life and forget to notice the many good things happening all around them. And pencil erasers that get hard and won’t erase. Never mind that the pencil might be twenty plus years old. LOL.
ib4b: What was the last thing you bought online?
AHG: A book, naturally. Ernie’s War, the Best of Ernie Pyle’s World War II Dispatches edited by David Nichols. And a replacement bulb for one of those daylight lamps that my husband uses. The bulb for it had been broken for a couple of years, and I could never find a replacement locally. I also did most of my Christmas shopping on-line last year because of my limited time to shop now that I’m having to spend so many hours taking care of my elderly mother who suffers from dementia.
ib4b: If you could only drink one beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be?
AHG: Hot tea – definitely. Black tea, strong with the caffeine still in those tea leaves and no flavors or sweeteners added.
ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?
AHG: I put a different Scripture reference in all my books when I autograph them. I try to find something that fits in with the title or the story. Sometimes that’s been easy. For example, I put Mark 9:23 “All things are possible to those who believe” in my book The Believer. I used Romans 15:13 in Orchard of Hope. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The Bible is chock full of favorite verses. The last verse in John (21:25) is one that boggles my imagination and so I love it too. “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (NIV) Wow!
AHG: I just finished final edits of my next Shaker novel, The Gifted. It’s set in my fictional Shaker village, Harmony Hill, and has a free spirited heroine named Jessamine Brady. Part of the book also takes place at a spa hotel where in the mid-1800s the rich gathered to “take the waters” for various health ailments and also to enjoy many social events. I hope readers will like exploring the contrast of the two lifestyles – the hardworking Shakers who want to shut away the frivolities of the world and the social upper class who embrace the finer things of life. The Gifted is scheduled to be released in July 2012.
I’m currently working on a sequel to my novel, Angel Sister. At this time is has a working title of Far from Rosey Corner, but I expect that to change. I’m following up the characters as WWII looms on the horizon and love begins to find the Merritt sisters. That book has a projected summer of 2013 release date.
ib4b: Wow, both of these books sound really intriguing. I'll have to watch for them! How can readers connect with you (website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)?
AHG: You can check out more about me and my books at my website. I also post twice a week on One Writer’s Journal. You never know what I might be talking about there (neither do I!) and I love it when readers join in with their comments. I have a Facebook author’s page, and you can follow me on Twitter. I’m dabbling in Google+ too.
ib4b: Ann, is there anything else you'd like to share with us before we go?
AHG: I enjoy talking to readers and hearing what they think about my stories. It’s always fun to come visit on blogs of other writers and readers who have as much fun talking about writing and books as much as I do. So thanks for asking me over to talk to you, Brooke, and to your reading friends. I wish you many more great reads in the days ahead. I do my best to always respond to comments on my posts on my blog and those I visit. So ask me some hard questions and I’ll see what answers I can come up with. I’ll think of something. After all, I do write fiction.
Ann H. Gabhart Online
Ann has graciously offered to give an autographed copy of Words Spoken True to one of you! The giveaway is open to all readers! If the winner lives in the US or Canada, Ann will send you a paperback copy of the book. If the winner lives elsewhere in the world, Ann will send you an e-copy. Sound good?! You know the drill, so click on the Rafflecopter and enter away.
(Remember, you MUST complete the mandatory entry to be entered in the giveaway. If you have trouble commenting on this blog, you may email me at iblog4books [at] gmail [dot] com, but please try to leave a comment first.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway