Welcome to Suspense Sisters, Ann H. Gabhart!
Readers, Ann is giving away a copy of her latest mystery, Murder is No Accident, to one lucky reader who leaves a comment for her. Be sure to your contact info for a chance to win. US or Canada only.
A. H. Gabhart is the author of Murder at the Courthouse and Murder Comes by Mail. As Ann H. Gabhart, she is the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, and several popular Shaker novels such as The Outsider, The Believer, and The Innocent. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs. She and her husband still live on a farm near that same Kentucky town. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.
Murder is No Accident: One body may be an accident. A second body means murder. The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn’t realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she’s not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room. Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.
If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky—with a dash of sinister—you’ll love this latest whodunit from deft storyteller A. H. Gabhart.
SS: If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
AG: I’d say it was impossible, but then writers try the impossible all the time. So here goes.
I am a child of God blessed beyond measure with a loving family and a great life out here on my farm where I get to make up stories.
SS: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?
AG: I’d like to say spelunking or hang gliding, but alas my hobbies are very tame. I experience those more exciting adventures by reading about them. I do enjoy hiking here on my farm with my dog, Oscar and have even more fun when my grandkids are visiting and we go exploring. I’m also a Kentucky basketball fan who bleeds blue.
SS: What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
AG: Black Beauty was one of the first books I remember reading. I’m sure I cried buckets. As a young teen I read Gone with the Wind over a Thanksgiving weekend.
SS: Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers.
AG~I got married when I was seventeen and had two children by the time I was nineteen.
~When I was in the sixth grade I wrote an essay as a 4-Her about raising chickens and I won 100 baby chicks. That was my first profit from writing.
~I usually lead the singing at my church even though I’m not much of a singer, but at my small church, I’m often the only one willing to give it a try. My husband does sing in a gospel quartet, but he says it’s hard to lead singing with a bass voice.
SS: What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?
AG: Way back when I wrote my first novel in the early 1970s, I tried a gothic romance. You know those books where the heroine goes out on a dark and stormy night to get into all sorts of trouble. That book got me an agent but never sold. Turned out that gothics were going out of style. My agent suggested I try a historical romance for my next book, and so I started reading Kentucky history and came up with some ideas. My first two historical romances were published by Warner Books in 1978 and 1980. Then after my next efforts were rejected as “too clean” I started writing books for middle readers and young adults. For various reasons, my market dried up there after I published eleven books with Avon, Silhouette, and other publishers. So once again, after several years of rejections, I changed course and wrote a book about a preacher and his daughter (Scent of Lilacs). That book landed me in the Christian fiction market and it was a perfect fit for the stories I like to write.
One of the great things for me is that I’ve been able to write in several genres for the Christian market. I started out with those family stories in my Heart of Hollyhill stories. Then I wrote several historical books set in my fictional Shaker village. I stayed historical but stepped away from the Shaker village to write about 1855 Louisville (Words Spoken True) and then about a family in the Great Depression and World War II (Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home). A couple of years ago, I decided to give mysteries a try and have enjoyed my Hidden Springs Mystery series. So yes, I’ve changed course often. Why? Sometimes because I was hoping to hit a market need and sometimes just because that was the story I wanted to write.
SS: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
AG: Years ago, after writing my second novel, my agent then rejected it with the comment that I had created cardboard characters. That was a very low day for me, and it was probably a good thing I was already well into writing novel three or I might have been too discouraged to start again. But that third novel eventually turned out to be my first published novel.
Then the best compliment came from my current agent years later. I don’t know what we were talking about, but she said, “But Ann, you’re a storyteller.” And I thought, yes, that’s what I always wanted to be. A storyteller or story writer, anyway.
SS: Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?
AG: Well, let’s see. I’ve written historical novels for the general market and for the Christian market. I’ve written family saga type series. I’ve written coming of age stories for young readers, the most recent one (Freak of the Week) published last year about a middle school kid who deals with some bullying issues. I’ve even written a picture book and one nonfiction book (Angels at the Crossroads) to share a friend’s amazing testimony story. And now I’ve written three cozy mysteries. Not sure what’s left, but if I think of something, I may give it a try. I do have a half written fantasy teen novel in my computer files. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll finish it.
SS: If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?
AG: I might have believed in myself a little more and not been so shy about saying I was a writer. Then perhaps I would have been better at carving out time to set aside for writing instead of just grabbing whatever moments I could between taking care of kids and helping out on the farm. But raising those kids was pretty important too.
SS: What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?
AG: I’d want them to think about everything they write, whether it sells or whether it ever finds an audience, is practice. That’s how you get better. By writing. And by reading too. You need to soak yourself in words and let your creative inner self-absorb it all.
Praise for the Hidden Springs Mysteries
“An intimate town where everyone knows everyone and a secret is hard to keep.”—Publishers Weekly
“[A] page-turning mystery chock-full of plot twists.”—Booklist
“A fascinating puzzle.”—RT Book Reviews
“Delightfully fun.”—CBA Retailers + Resources
Readers, leave a comment for Ann for a chance to win a copy of Murder Is No Accident. USA and Canada only.