ABOUT AUTHOR: ANN H. GABHART’S first published works were personal experience pieces, youth stories, and poems in church periodicals, but then she wrote a novel and her course was set. That first novel turned out to be only practice and was never published, but over twenty of her books for both adults and young adults have been published since that time. In 2005, her first inspirational novel, The Scent of Lilacs, was released, and she set out on a new path of writing historical fiction where she could not only share her characters’ stories, but also weave in their faith journeys along their story trail. Ann has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. The Gifted is the fifth book set in her Shaker village of Harmony Hill.

Ann lives on a farm in Kentucky with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit her website,

   What inspired you to write Small Town girl?

Small Town Girl is a follow-up story to Angel Sister. It's not exactly a sequel since the story moves ahead in time five years and is a stand-alone story, but if you want to read both books, it would be more fun to read them in order. So to answer what inspired me to write Small Town Girl, I have to go back to when I wrote Angel Sister. A few years ago I was having difficulty selling any of my work and I made the decision to write something I knew really well but also that I loved. The result was Scent of Lilacs, the first book in my Heart of Hollyhill series set in Small Town, America in the 1960s, my growing up years. That went fairly well for me, so when I was casting about for a new idea, I thought about my mother's growing up years. My mother and her three sisters were always telling stories about growing up during the Great Depression. So I decided to write "their" story. The events were all fiction, but the background came straight from my mother's and my aunts' stories.  I loved the characters so much that they kept hanging around in my imagination. They had more adventures to live and more stories to tell. So I brought them back in Small Town Girl. I departed more from my mother's background here as the sisters followed their own fictional identities and began walking down romantic pathways. But I still see a lot of my mother in Kate’s character. In the picture attached are my mother and her older sister, the one I modeled Evie on in the Rosey Corner books. Mom is on the right.

Why write Christian Fiction? What’s the draw for you?

I didn't start out writing Christian Fiction. My first thirteen books were published in the general market. Two were historical romances for adults and eleven were coming of age stories for young people. I had sort of glanced over at the Christian fiction market from time to time, but I didn't feel I could write for that market. I wanted to tell stories, not preach. That shows how little I knew about the Christian market. Sometimes the Lord is able to use what's happening in a person's life to push her over to where maybe she needed to be all along. Several years of rejections did that for me. I finally decided to write a book about what I knew and what I knew was small towns and country churches. But even then I wasn't really focusing on the Christian market. I was simply trying to write the best story I could. That story turned out to be Scent of Lilacs about a preacher and his family. Bible stories and verses were sprinkled throughout as part of the story, and so my agent, at the time, decided to submit the story to a Christian publisher, Revell Books. I'm so glad she did because I love writing for the Christian market. I like being able to tell my stories and weave in my characters' faith journeys. What we believe is very important to who we are. I like being able to write a story I enjoy writing and not have editors tell me they can't buy my books because they're "too clean." I like being able to write encouraging story-lines that can touch readers’ hearts and perhaps make them think about their own faith journeys. I especially like getting e-mails that tell me this or that story helped the reader step closer to the Lord. I think the Lord opened this story pathway for me and I'm only sorry I didn't decide to explore this genre sooner.

Can you share your testimony with us?

I was an extremely shy little girl. People who know me now find that hard to believe, but it was true. It's also true that from the time I was that shy little girl I always felt the Lord was watching over me. With love and kindness. My father didn't believe in going to church and that made it difficult for my mother to attend church. An aunt took her and her sisters to church when she was a child. She did take us to Sunday school some of the time when we were very young. Then I remember going to Bible School in the summers. My sisters both made decisions for Christ at these Bible schools, but I was way too shy to step out into the aisle and walk to the front. I wanted to, but I was paralyzed in place. Even after I got old enough and started driving myself to church I still didn't have the courage to make that walk down the aisle to shake the preacher's hand. I married young, had a baby when I was seventeen. I remember sitting at the hospital admitting desk while having labor pains and answering the woman's questions. She asked if I was a church member. I was not and having to say that made me feel so sad. I wanted to be able to say yes, I was a Christian and a church member in good standing. My husband’s family was always active in their church, and after we married, my husband and I went to church every Sunday. So I did go to church, but I hadn't done that one thing the Bible says we must and that is to confess Him before man. After I had my baby and got back to church, I waited for the invitation hymn, "Just as I Am" and then I did step out into the aisle and go forward just as I was – a young mother and wife who had always loved the Lord and finally was willing to brave the terrors of that church aisle to confess that truth. I found then and ever since that the Lord is always there to give you courage and strength.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I love sneak peeks! I'm actually busily working on another Rosey Corner book. Those Merritt sisters from Angel Sister and Small Town Girl just keep having more stories to share. Again I have moved forward in time about four years until after World War II. Now the sisters are trying to settle down into their new lives after the upheaval of the war years. The working title is Home to Rosey Corner, but I expect that to change. I just have no idea what it's going to change to. I'm the type of writer who likes to finish a book and then find it the right title. It will be out sometime in the summer of 2014. Before that I have a Shaker Christmas book coming out, Christmas at Harmony Hill. It has a Civil War era setting and I’m bringing back a character I loved, Sister Sophrena. She was the Shaker sister who wrote the journal entries in The Gifted. Now we get the rest of her story. 

The book releases on my birthday, September 15. How about that for a great birthday present? Orchard of Hope, my second Heart of Hollyhill book is being reissued in October with Summer of Joy, the last of the Hollyhill books to be reissued in February or March. You can see that this has been a very busy year for me and a fun one. I love having new books out for readers.

What fascinated you and/or surprised you in your research for this book?

When I originally began researching the historical background for Small Town Girl, I thought I would be following some of the characters overseas to the war. The story took a bit of a different direction, but I did read quite a bit about World War II. I am always humbled by the courage of our soldiers. After Pearl Harbor, men all over the country lined up to enlist. At times that word “men” was something of an exaggeration. Boys of seventeen got their parents to sign for them to enlist or they lied about their age. Boys of eighteen and nineteen piloted bombing raids and went to sea on Navy battleships or drove tanks across Africa and Europe. The men, young and old, showed great courage under fire. They stormed beaches and died by the thousands. But they made a difference and the survivors kept lining up for the next battle until the war was won. While we often say these men were ready to die for their country and for freedom, which they were, it became something more personal for them. The men in their units became like brothers and whether they actually liked each other or not, they stood shoulder to shoulder to fight the enemy, ready to die for one another.  

The part of my research that I did use in Small Town Girl was the way the country came together after Pearl Harbor. It was no longer a war over there. Now it was all Americans pulling together to make whatever sacrifices it took to win the war. This generation of people had been made tough by living through the Great Depression and that toughness showed when their country was threatened. I don’t know that reading about that surprised me, but it did renew my respect and thankfulness for what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation.”


What was your favorite suspense show on T.V. when you were growing up? Why is it your favorite? If you didn't watch TV what were your favorite books?

Did they have T.V. way back then? Actually I can remember when my parents got their first T.V. A black and white model. Color televisions mostly just looked sort of pink back when I was a kid. Our black and white T.V. screen was probably smaller than an average computer monitor these days, but we thought it was fantastic. I'm trying to remember suspense shows. Not sure Perry Mason would qualify as suspense. There was the Twilight Zone. That gave me nightmares many a night. I still remember the show about this neck scarf that somehow came to life (don't remember the exact details, thank goodness) and choked the women who wore it. I’m thinking that might be why I've never been a big fan of neck scarves. LOL. Also, it could be shows like that are why I've always liked books better that television! Hardy Boy mystery books were the reason I first picked up a pen. I wanted to solve a mystery the way they did and so I began writing my own mystery. Lots of words under the bridge since then, but that was the beginning.

 If money isn't an issue and you could go and do anything you've dreamed of doing what would you do?
Ann's Grandchildren

What would I do? It's hard to wrap my mind around the "if money isn't an issue." Or maybe my dreams are more on the ordinary side where money really isn't an issue. I've always, always wanted to write. And I'm doing that now. I wouldn't mind being a little younger so I could look forward to more writing years, but money won't turn back the clock. I love my family and my grandchildren are a sweet blessing, but money didn't buy that either. I might build that dream home with a library to hold all the books I have stacked everywhere. I might fly to the Canadian Rockies and on to Alaska. I might spend a few weeks on one of those quiet islands off the east coast. I guess if money's no object, I can just buy that island and invite the whole family to come enjoy a vacation time. But then when would I do this writing I love to do?

 Can you name two jobs that would surprise people?
Ann with the chickens
Do you mean two jobs I've done?  If so, then readers might be surprised to know that I grew up on a farm and still live on a farm. A farm kid has lots of jobs including feeding the chickens and bottle feeding a lamb now and again. Actually chickens were my first writing pay. I won 100 baby chicks when I was in the sixth grade by writing an essay on why I wanted the chickens. That helped me see that hey, this writing could pay off. LOL. After I married, my husband and I raised tobacco. While tobacco is not politically correct these days, that acre of tobacco helped us pay the bills on the farm. At that time, tobacco was a cash crop for many small farmers and helped keep the family farm a part of the Kentucky scene for many years. Now very few people raise tobacco here in Kentucky, and I don't miss working in it even a little bit. I also worked a while for the school board in my county, getting up early in the morning to arrange substitutes for teachers who were sick or out for whatever reasons. It was not a fun job, but it did allow me to have time for writing in the middle of the day. I was extremely happy to quit that job too.

If you have a weekend off and can do whatever you’d like, what would that be?

Read, read, read. That is, if the grand-kids can't come home to visit. Then it would be play, play, play!

Ann with Author friends

I love talking about books and writing, so naturally I’m a big fan of book clubs. I've never had the opportunity to be in a book club – until now. I’m very happy to be here and part of this fun book club on line with all of you. Thanks for inviting me over to visit with you. I hope you’ll enjoy your glimpse into my writing life and life down here on the farm. You can get more of that every week on my blog, One Writer’s Journal, or by signing up for my occasional newsletter. I appreciate each and every one of you who chooses to read one of my books. I hope you will enjoy reading more about the Merritt family in Small Town Girl. I’ll watch for your reviews and comments. Thanks, Nora, for the great interview. I know we’ll be talking again on down the writing road.


Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books Ann. Thanks for all the fun pictures to share with readers too!  I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th JULY. Looking forward to it.

JOIN ANN and I AT THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK for this great contest ( I can't wait to see the answers to the three questions that Ann has for you!


ALL ENTRIES are to be made at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK (Must be a member to join - It's FREE and EASY to join!)


Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!


  1. i would so love to win this give away , i love Anns books
    Shirley B

    1. Shirley B, thanks for reading the interview. Always good to see your comments.

  2. These covers are so great! I love vintage looking books :) I raise chickens too, Ann! You do what you gotta do to pay the bills.

    1. I don't have chickens anymore, Anne, but those fresh eggs were nice when we did have them. Glad you liked the covers of my books.

  3. Replies
    1. Wishing you luck in the drawing, Bonnie.