Q&A: Ann H. Gabhart
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE WORDS SPOKEN TRUE?
Since I am a native Kentuckian, I like to explore Kentucky settings and Kentucky history in my books. I’ve always heard it’s good to write what you know. That can only take a writer so far, so I like to think it’s good to write what you know and add to that what you can either imagine or find out about through research. I do like using Kentucky settings because I’ve lived in its climate. I am one of its people. So when I’m ready for a new idea, I start searching for a time in Kentucky history that grabs my interest. While researching the 1850s in Kentucky, I came across accounts of the Election Riots of 1855 and Bloody Monday in Louisville where mobs took control of the city streets. The more I read, the more I was drawn to the story and the role newspapers played in inciting the riots. I think newspapers play an important role in communities and have written several books with newspaper editors as central characters.
Once I had my situation and time frame, I was ready to run with the story and help my characters come to life in their time. Words Spoken True is the most romantic book I’ve written for Revell Books. It can be difficult to bring out the romance in my Shaker books due to the way the Shakers separated the sexes and practiced celibacy. I do manage to sneak romance into those stories, but in Words Spoken True the romantic tension between Adriane and Blake is much more central to the story. The 1850s was a volatile time of political and civil unrest in Louisville with problems that mirror some of the same political issues we face today. Words Spoken True uses the backdrop of that historical era for what I hope is a compelling love story.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
As a kid, I was ready to devour any book I picked up and some of those books were Hardy Boy mysteries. At around age ten, I decided it would be fun to be like those mystery solvers and so I began writing my own mystery with a cute, smart kid character named Jo. Jo wasn’t much like me, but she was like I wanted to be. I’ve been writing ever since. In high school, I began a self-educating program of reading every classic in our school library. I think I hoped I would absorb those words and the way they were put together to tell great stories to help in telling my own stories.
Now I enjoy a wide range of books and writers. Any well written book with a compelling story inspires me to want to make my stories the same.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
My first inspirational book, The Scent of Lilacs, was published in 2005. Before that, I had published two historical romances and eleven books for young adults and middle readers for the general market. But even though I wasn’t publishing those books in the inspirational market, I did always want to write positive and encouraging storylines. However, now that I am writing for the inspirational market, I like being able to include the faith journeys of my characters in the stories. What a person believes is so central to how that person lives and his or her happiness. I try not to be “preachy” in my stories, but I feel blessed when a particular scene lends itself to a Bible teaching or story. I do believe faith makes a difference - for me and for my characters.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
As soon as I realized some person was responsible for the words in the stories I loved to read, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I think I was born with the desire to write, but I had to wait until I learned how to form the letters and spell the words before I could start writing my stories down.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
It is my hope that readers will be uplifted, encouraged and entertained by my stories. I hope they will be glad they invited my characters into their reading life and will learn from the challenges the characters face.