Ann, you have been the perfect guest. Thank you so much for your patience. It's been a wonderful time for me, and I hope others have enjoyed reading more about you. You are a great storyteller. Now, you're tire of me, so let's hear more about Ann.
- While researching your books, have you learned anything that particularly touched your heart?
I have researched so many different time periods for my books. Of course I had to do a lot of research into how the Shakers lived for the Shaker books, but I think the research I’ve done on wars has opened my eyes to the courage of the average man and woman in the face of tremendous danger and hardships. Perhaps most touching was the personal research into my mother’s background that became the setting for my novel, Angel Sister, that takes place during the Great Depression. Walking down memory lane with her brought her childhood to life for me. Then with Words Spoken True, I went back to a point in time I knew nothing about. That’s one of the most interesting things about research – discovering events in history you’ve never known about and then it can be discouraging to see that we, as people, make the same mistakes over and over.
- How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I want to write every day, but sometimes life intrudes. And sometimes, even though I want to write, I sharpen pencils. That is, I put off the hard work of creating by checking e-mails, Facebook, or gosh, my birdfeeder is empty. I mean who can work when the birdfeeder is empty! But once I get the delaying tactics out of the way, I settle in to work. I treat my writing like a job and spend a lot of time at my desk. I do like to set goals, but instead of words I usually think in pages. That’s because I started writing on a typewriter and not a word processor. Back then, you watched the pile of pages grow. I have always set goals even before I had deadlines, but with deadlines, I have to get more serious about meeting my goals in a timely manner.
- Do you ever feel like giving up? Can you share some some of those discouraging times you’ve gone through?
I have never felt like giving up. I have had times when I felt perhaps I should give up. That I was wasting my time and energy writing stories nobody wanted to read. At least stories that no editor or publisher thought anyone would want to read. But I never quit writing. Sometimes I slowed down. At times I worked a part time job to help pay the bills and had limited writing hours. Other times, discouragement made the writing difficult. But I never quit completely. I am a writer and so I want to write down stories.
I’ve had several dry periods in my writing career. Not writing dry spells, but selling my writing dry spells. I had two historical romances published in 1978 and 1980, but then I didn’t keep up with market trends and was told my books were “too clean.” So I switched over to the young adult market and was able to publish eleven novels for young teens and middle readers. I liked writing for young adults, but my market dried up there too. I suffered through several years of writing but getting nothing but reject after reject. Suffered is an apt word. My stories were never quite right. So I decided to forget the market and write a story I loved. That turned out to be The Scent of Lilacs and the story did find a loving editor in the inspirational market. A couple of my much rejected stories have now been published after some rewriting. So if you want to write, keep on believing in your stories and write.
- What makes you happy?
Grandkid hugs. Walks with my dogs. Listening to my husband’s Southern gospel quartet. Holding a new book in my hands that has by Ann H. Gabhart on the front. Writing a good scene. Laughing with my sisters. A nice cup of hot tea and time to read a new book. Just to name a few things.
- Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
I’m a pretty dull person so there’s not that much surprising about me. But you might be interested in my first writing income such as it was. When I was eleven or twelve I wrote an essay and won the prize of 100 baby chicks. I didn’t eat a bite of fried chicken that year after I’d fed and watered those babies for weeks. I told that story at a writers’ retreat and got the biggest laugh of the night.
- How does your faith play into your writing?
I would hope my faith plays into everything I do. So naturally its part of my writing since that fountain inside me that bubbles up new stories is fed by everything within me. What I’ve read. What I believe. What I see. What I can imagine. My first thirteen books were published in the general market but even then I think my personal beliefs influenced the way I wrote. I wanted my stories to be upbeat and encouraging – especially the stories I wrote for young people.
For a long time I would peek over at the inspirational market and wonder about it, but I thought I wouldn’t be able to write for that market because I just wanted to tell a story and not preach. Share my faith perhaps, but not be preachy. I just hadn’t explored the market well enough to know how wrong I was. I still simply want to tell my stories and not preach, but I really like being able to include my characters’ faith journeys in their stories. I think it makes my characters richer and better.
- Anything else you would like to add?
I do enjoy hearing from readers and I do my best to respond to each person who contacts me by e-mail from my website, www.annhgabhart.com, Twitter (AnnHGabhart), or leaves a comment on my Facebook author’s page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-H-Gabhart/132862247566 or my blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com. I’m also having a fun Words Spoken True Contest Giveaway. Just look for the button on my website to enter for the chance to win some great Louisville themed prizes.