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 and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or Jocie’s Heart of Hollyhill blog www.hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspot.com. You can follow Ann on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter, https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart , or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.
Thrilled that you are here with us again - Take it Away Ann
Hi, everybody. It’s so much fun being back here talking to Nora and friends about my Heart of Hollyhill series. Summer of Joy, the third book in the series has just come back out to bookstores all dressed up in a brand new cover. Don’t you just love that little box record player and those 45 records? That cover takes you right back to the Sixties!
|Ann's writing notebooks|
A Writing Dream - First, let’s set the stage with a little writing history – my writing history. I’ve been writing since I was a kid and first fell in love with books. I wanted to write down my own stories. That was a big dream for a little country girl who had never met a writer and didn't know the first thing about writing. But I loved words and stories and so I got a notebook and pen and started. I did know that a writer had to write.
Sometimes the Lord watches over us and gives us the desires of our hearts. I sold my first story to a Sunday school leaflet in 1971 and then sold a few more stories to small magazines. Just enough to make me believe it was possible. Then I wrote my first novel and I forgot about writing short pieces. I was going to write books! Of course, the next step was writing a book that somebody besides my mother wanted to read.
|Small town Main Street|
I grew up out on a farm, but when we went to town it was to a one Main Street town lined with parking meters.
Churches sat on each end of town and in between were a couple of banks, two ten-cent stores, a hardware store, a grocery where the storekeeper let you trade farm eggs for groceries, three dress shops, a men’s clothing store, and a strip of poolrooms down on that end of the street where it was better for a little girl not to go. There was a barbershop, a newspaper office, two drugstores–one with a soda fountain, two grills, and towering above everything else the courthouse. But the most important building for me was up the side street across from the post office, the public library. Thank you, Andrew Carnegie!
Small Towns and Country Churches - I decided to set my story in my little town just the way I remembered it during the 1960’s. It was the kind of town where when you walked down the street you knew everybody you met. Then, in all small towns, plenty of eccentric characters are hanging around just waiting to be written into a story. I renamed the town Hollyhill and a good thing too. Heart of Lawrenceburg series just doesn’t have the same ring as Heart of Hollyhill series. I took the flavor of the little town I remembered and came up with characters that belonged on my Main Street. Even Wes from Jupiter fits right in the Hollyhill stories.
|1962 Goshen Church 150 Celebration|
The members were like family. Many of them were actually kin to one another, and sometimes there was a squabble in spite of the way they all loved each other and the Lord. That’s the kind of church I let David pastor. He’s a bi-vocational preacher as most of the men who led the small churches in my county were in the Sixties. So I gave him the added job of newspaper editor.
|Goshen Church today|
That’s the kind of paper theHollyhill Banner is except a few storms come along to push the Dairy Princess off the front page in my Hollyhill stories. There’s a feature in our local paper called “The Way We Were.” That’s how I tried to make Hollyhill–the way it might have been in the Sixties.
|Courthouse in my hometown|
The courthouse is still there and so are the churches. The library built a new modern building, but they stayed on Main down the street from where the post office used to be. Right, the post office built a big new building out close to the bypass.
Heart of Hollyhill Series - Summer of Joy is the third Hollyhill books. The first, Scent of Lilacs, got the story going in the humid summer of 1964, as Jocie digs into her family’s past and stirs up a whirlwind of discoveries. Orchard of Hope ushered in a whole new story as the town suffers through a drought and wakes up to the need for Civil Rights when a new family moves to Holly County and challenges the status quo. Finally, Summer of Joy has the past coming to call with two people making their way to Hollyhill to change everything. From a river baptism to a wedding delayed by a man intent on making trouble, things are anything but uneventful in my little Hollyhill.
|Old Library Bldg|
Each of the books can be read as stand-alone stories, but the story is much richer if the reader visits Hollyhill all three times to get to know Jocie and her family along with those odd small town characters.
Everything Changes - There’s a saying that everything changes. That’s certainly true about my hometown and about our little country church. We've remodeled the church and built a beautiful fellowship hall beside it. The pews are padded, the floors carpeted, and we've encouraged the mice to find a new place to live. But the church still has that family feel where everybody knows everybody.
Home to Hollyhill - That’s the kind of feeling I tried to create in my Heart of Hollyhill books for readers who come visit my Small Town, America. I like to think about them walking down my Main Street and seeing Jocie taking pictures. Maybe they’ll smile at Wes speeding by on his motorcycle or try to get Zella talking about the latest Hollyhill gossip. I want them to feel like they’ve gone to church with neighbors who aren’t perfect but are doing the best they can. I hope my Hollyhill stories will make them smile and maybe wipe away a tear now and again. And when they read the last page, I want them to be happy they came “home” to Hollyhill.
Thanks for letting me visit and tell you about my hometown.
THANKS Ann - I always love hearing from you. Thanks for telling us about how Hollyhill came about. It always fascinates me to hear how the author got their idea for a book. I've talked to you at Finding Hope Book Club meetings and was also amazed that you've lived in your home town most of your life. Thanks for sharing about that too. I'm THRILLED about the giveaway opportunity Revell Publishers at The Book Club Network going on right now.
TO ENTER THE DRAWING GO TO TBCN - The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org.
|5 BOOK GIVEAWAY AT TBCN|
You are more than welcome to encourage Ann here on this blog post but to Enter the Drawing you must join TBCN It's free and Easy. Then CLICK on the LINK on the top of her Book Cover.
SEE YOU and ANN at TBCN
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com