ABOUT AUTHOR: ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-six novels for adults and young adults with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives 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 Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, or follow her on Facebook, , Twitter, , or Pinterest,  

What was your favorite scene in Christmas at Harmony Hill? Which was the most fun to write?

I liked the scenes around the fires. Sophrena and Heather sit and sew by the fireplace in the cabin as they each explore their place in the Shaker village and what they believe. At the same time, Gideon and Jake are sitting around a campfire in their soldiers’ camp, talking about what might be ahead for them on the morrow as they eat their weevil infested rations. I can see the flickering flames and feel the worries of their hearts.

Most fun to write was the opening scene with Sister Sophrena as she rises to begin a new day putting her hands to work for the good of her Shaker family. But her discontent is evident even as she tries to deny it. Sophrena captured my imagination through the words she wrote in the Shaker journal in The Gifted. I wanted to know more about her story so I brought her back as a main character in this Shaker Christmas story. It was fun letting her come to life again in her first scene in Christmas at Harmony Hill.  

What do you love most about the Christmas season, Christmas day?

I love the special spirit of Christmas that makes people smile at strangers and drop money in the Salvation Army kettles. I like how children’s eyes sparkle when they look at Christmas trees and how I can almost see them imagining what it might have been like in that stable all those years ago as they rearrange the pieces in a Nativity set. I like watching the church children act out the Christmas story even though I’ve seen the same scenes portrayed by different children many times over the years. I like the way families take time to gather together and enjoy their family ties. I like that Christmas is when we celebrate receiving the Greatest Gift – a gift of immeasurable love.

What keeps you sane in the middle of craziness? Hope in the middle of stress and Life’s storms?

Prayer can bring a kind of calm in the midst of the storm – that peace that passes understanding. A walk in the woods or fields with my dog, Oscar, can help de-stress me. I know I can count on my sisters’ love and help if things go wrong. Then, escape into a good story, whether one I’m writing or one I’m reading, can make the real life problems fade into the background for a little while.  Last, I’m a writer who has been through some discouraging times of rejection of my work and so I long ago found a way to keep hope alive in my heart. I look ahead to the next story, the next day, the next answered prayer.

What inspired you to write this novel?

That’s sort of a long story, but since you asked, here goes. LOL. I never planned to write but one Shaker novel, my first one, The Outsider. But then my editor at Revell Books, Lonnie Hull DuPont called to encourage me to revisit my Shaker village. At first, I was reluctant because I worried about being pigeon-holed as a Shaker writer and thus unable to explore other historical eras and backgrounds. So even though having an editor tell me she wanted me to write anything was a new and exciting experience, I still was leaning toward no. But when she hinted, almost promised, I would gain more readers for any of the other stories I might someday write, I agreed. More readers–that was a very nice carrot to dangle in front of this stubborn writer’s nose.
Ann w/her Agent & Editor after brainstorming
Not long after that, Lonnie and my agent, Wendy Lawton, came to visit me out here on the farm. Naturally we did a lot of book talking and one of them said wouldn't a Shaker Christmas book be fun. Carried away by the enthusiasm of the moment, I said sure, that would be fun. Before a writer writes the first words of Chapter 1, she believes she can write anything. Even if she has never written a novella. Even if she can remember only reading one very short paragraph about the Shakers and Christmas. After all, it is fiction, isn't it? That means you can make stuff up, doesn't it? When the time came to write the story, I did more research and was able to get an idea of how the Shakers observed Christmas in the 1860’s. I was also inspired when I read about a day the Shakers observed in the week before Christmas that they called Sacrifice Day. On this day of atonement, the Shakers had to ask forgiveness of any brother or sister they might have wronged in the preceding year and they had to forgive any wrongs done to them. From then on, those slights and injuries plus any and all grudges had to be forgotten and never brought to mind again. Since the need for forgiveness is an underlying theme in Christmas at Harmony Hill, the Shaker Sacrifice Day worked well with my story line.  

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

I am at the very beginning of a new Shaker book, tentatively titled The Innocent. That’s subject to change. At this point, nearly everything about the story is subject to change. It’s 1865 and Carlyn Kearney’s husband hasn't returned from fighting in the Civil War. She knows he is probably dead, but with no absolute proof of that, she continues to wait. Eventually she seeks sanctuary in the Shaker village. All is well until there is a rash of deadly accidents in the village. But Carlyn has seen things that make her wonder if the deaths are actually accidental. I’m still in the plotting stage, but hope to spin a few mysterious threads into this Shaker story. It’s scheduled for the summer of 2015. 

Meanwhile, I just finished up the first round of edits on Love Comes Home, my third Rosey Corner book. This story picks up with Kate and her sisters at the end of World War II. The war is over but life is still throwing some curves at my Merritt sisters in Rosey Corner. Love Comes Home is scheduled for publication in July 2014. Before that, the newly repackaged final book in my Heart of Hollyhill series, Summer of Joywill make its appearance in March 2014. 

What was your favorite 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?
Jeff and Lassie TV Show

I liked Lassie with the original boy owner, Jeff. Cute boy, heroic dog – what more could you want? Especially when you’re ten or twelve. Later with the younger Timmy, I didn’t like the show as much.
I also had plenty of favorite books. Black Beauty. Little Women. The Hardy Boy mysteries. I was always ready to crack open a new book and get swallowed up by the story.

If money weren't an issue where would you like to go and do?
My Grandchildren

That’s a hard question to answer since it’s difficult for me to imagine having so much money that it’s not an issue. But on vacation a few weeks ago, we watched The Bucket List for the second time. Perhaps if money were no object, as was true for the character played by Jack Nicholson, that’s what I would do. I’d make a list of all the things I’d like to see or do and then set out to mark them off the list. I’d hike to the lodge on top of that mountain in the Smokies and spend the night. I’d ride a mule down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I’d visit the Canadian Rockies. I’d take a cruise to Alaska. I’d walk on the beach with my grandchildren and store their laughter in my heart. I could go on and on. And while money is very necessary for some of those adventures, it could be I’d have to wish age and energy weren't an issue either!!

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?
Laughing w/grandchildren

Without a doubt, the sweet laughter of a happy child.  

There are so many types of weather; which is your favorite? Which do you try to avoid? 

I love to feel the kiss of sunshine on a spring day with all the promise of warmth it gives me, and then I love the sunshine filled days of autumn when the Lord is blessing us with some concentrated warmth before the onset of winter.
Sun on spring Flower

What weather do I want to avoid? 

That would be when gray winter skies are spitting snow pellets that the freezing wind blows sideways. On those days, I’d want to be inside curled up by a fire with a cup of hot tea and a good book. 

We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; that is a given. What part of your day requires the most patience from you to get through? Causes you to pray the most?
My Mom

Right now I’m going through a season of caretaking as my mother suffers from advanced dementia. It has been a very sorrowful time as I’ve watched my mother go from an independent, loving and capable woman to someone who no longer knows her family and is often unhappy or angry. Someone has to be with her at all times and my sister and I, with the help of a couple of hired care-tenders, have been sitting with her now for over three years. The hours I must care for her each day definitely takes every bit of patience I have and I sometimes have to remind myself that the Lord will give me the strength to deal with her illness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul writes “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” I have definitely kept a prayer line open for my mother and for me and her other caretakers. I’ve also been blessed by the prayers of others–my church family and my internet friends who so generously pray for my mother and me even as many of them are struggling with their own loved ones suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Any parting comments Ann?  

It’s always fun to visiting The Book Club Network. I love books and I can tell that you all do too. I very much appreciate each and every one of you who spends a little time letting my stories come to life in your imaginations. 

Merry Christmas to all of you and may the year ahead overflow with so many blessings that you’re swamped by goodness and love.


THANKS for stopping by Ann! MERRY CHRISTMAS to you too! Thank you for your prayers and support it means to much. 

It's great to know you and your books better. I'm thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity Revell Publishers has at TBCN Starting November 20th. There will be a 5 book giveaway and discussion. You've come up with three fun questions to ask readers. I'll be interested in that discussion.

Stop by The Book Club Network (TBCN) NOVEMBER 20th
Check out the Front page CLICK the Link that will take you to the entry author page. 


Nora :o)


1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Nora, for the great interview questions. Always fun to come over and visit here. Hope you and all your readers have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas. I've enjoyed the answers to the questions over on the Book Fun Network. And while you can't enter the giveaway for Christmas at Harmony Hill on this post, I'd still love it if any of you want to join the conversation here.