15 August 2011

Interview with Ann Gabhart

Ann H. Gabhart is the author of The Blessed and of Angel Sister, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker among others.

Interview by Carrie Fancett Pagels

I met Ann through ACFW and Laura Frantz, a mutual friend.

Ann, welcome to Overcoming Through Time.  Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your characters has had to get past?

I have lived a blessed life, but even in the most blessed life, there are tragedies and hard times. When I was a young married woman expecting my first child at the much too young age of seventeen, my aunt who was more like a very dear grandmother to me, killed herself. She suffered from chronic depression and the doctors had suggested shock treatments. She couldn’t face that possibility and so she ended her life. I think suicide has to be the hardest death to grieve. And I did grieve deeply for months. Even now more than forty years later, I feel a great sadness when I think of how she died. I can’t keep from thinking I might have done something to help my aunt out of that dark valley, but death is final. That hard path gave me a great appreciation of how precious is the gift of life.

As to my characters, the poor things, I put them in major fixes in every book.

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
It is so hard to pick one verse that I like more than others. I have at times answered this question by picking the verse John 21:25 as a favorite just because of how it boggles my imagination to consider all those things Jesus did that John didn’t write down. John said “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (NKJ)

But I also love Mark 9:23 where Jesus says, “All things are possible to those who believe.”

So many beautiful, inspiring, wise Bible verses.

Disability friendliness:
Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio? 

The Shaker books (The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed) and Angel Sister are available in large print and also as audio books. And by the way, the reader on Angel Sister does a fantastic job. (CFP: Thanks and I have downloaded two books from audible.com!)  

Those books as well as my Hollyhill books (The Scent of Lilacs, Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy) are available on Kindle or Nook or other e-readers. My only non-fiction book, Angels at the Crossroads, is also available as an e-book.

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?

Encouragement. I think we all need to be encouraged and lifted up. When people read my books and see how my characters overcome problems with the help of the Lord, then I hope they will be encouraged to trust the Lord to help them in their daily problems too.

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
I have researched so many different time periods for my books. Of course I had to do a lot of research into how the Shakers lived, but I think the research I’ve done on wars has opened my eyes to the courage of the average man and woman as they went to war and faced tremendous hardships. But perhaps most touching was the personal research into my mother’s background that became the background for my novel, Angel Sister, set during the years of the Great Depression. Walking down memory lane with her brought her childhood to life for me.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through 
reading about a disorder or situation?

 Angel Sister deals with alcoholism and Post Traumatic Stress from WW I. All my books have issues that the characters must overcome - often times family relationship issues. I also take my characters to war in many of my books and so the characters are faced with life and death decisions and how they respond to those. In The Blessed, Isaac considers suicide due to his grief over the death of his wife. 

CFP: Thanks so much, Ann.  And I am betting that your books all do have themes that I could consider useful for bibliotherapy (which I always note on my own reviews). Suicide is a tragedy and something that leaves behind a mark on loved ones' hearts.  When I was in grad school, research showed electroconvulsive therapy to only be effective because the patients were either so traumatized by it that they would never want it again or were so impaired by it that it could not be.  Was I ever disappointed and outraged to hear that psychiatrists are using this again, supposedly only for patients with severe entrenched depression.  We know how that usually works out, though...  And some of this being done in our own VA Hospitals. Sorry, but that pushed one of my buttons to read about Ann's poor auntie.  

Giveaway:  Leave a comment for a chance to win one of Ann's books.  We have a review on Wednesday by Diana Flowers, also.  Giveaway will be done next weekend.


  1. a wonderful posting/interview...would love to read ann's latest novel...thanks for the chance :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  2. Hi, Ann, and Carrie...what an interesting and touching review. I'm so sorry you had to go through that with your aunt, Ann, and especially at such a young age. I don't often talk about this, but my father suffered from post traumatic stress disorder from the war and became such a bad alcoholic, he too, tried to commit suicide when I was a young girl. Even though he didn't succeed, it impacted me greatly.

    I have read almost all of your books and especially loved the Shaker series, because for one thing they were so different. You certainly did your research! Fascinating reading! I'm certain Carrie will find themes for bibliotherapy in your books; she always sees insightful things that the rest of us don't. Thank you for the interesting interview, and I hope everyone will order this whole series or buy it at their local Christian store or at any other major book store chain.

  3. Ann, great interview, and what a tragedy. Having read your Shaker books and ordered your other ones, I have to say that you deal a great deal with people in emotional trauma and do it incredibly well.

    The Shaker series has also been recorded by the National Library for the Blind. They caught my attention because I went to college in Kentucky and visited Shakertown several times.

  4. Thanks, Laurie for letting me know the Shaker books had been recorded for the National Library for the Blind. I didn't know that. I used to read books for our state library for the blind. And thanks to you and Karen and Diana for reading the interview and my books. I appreciate every reader and enjoy reading your comments.

    And it appears I should have asked what was considered bibliotherapy. My books do deal with some of the issues you mention, Carrie, in your reviews. Angel Sister deals with alcoholism and Post Traumatic Stress from WW I. All my books have issues that the characters must overcome - often times family relationship issues. I also take my characters to war in many of my books and so the characters are faced with life and death decisions and how they respond to those. In The Blessed, Isaac considers suicide due to his grief over the death of his wife. So maybe my books do meet some of those therapy needs.

  5. What a good post. I am ashamed to admit but at one time in my life I hit rock bottom and suicide was in my thoughts. My husband of 25 years left me for another woman. I was in shock and didn't know how I would get through the next minute. Life was unbearable. How would I face the future? Only through God's mighty love and care using my Son was I able to get out of the depths of dispair.

    I have read many of Ann's books and enjoy them so much. I would love to win a book of hers.



  6. Bless you, Judy, for sharing that terribly dark time with us and I'm sorry that happened to you. I know from reading your comments on OTT and other blogs that you are a very precious person, and I'm glad you are still with us and that satan wasn't able to accomplish his plans for your life. Again, thank you for sharing that message of hope for others who may be experiencing some of those same thoughts and feelings.

  7. Great interview! Love Ann and her books. I've had the privilege of meeting Ann in person - that was a treat! :)

  8. Diana, thank you for your kind words. God used that time in my life to strengthen me and he made me realize that Hope is within Him..not in a husband who wants to walk away from his marriage. I have grown oh so much since that dark time. (I moved out of state to get away from having to run into my ex. Maybe running away isn't for everyone but it saved my life). Please let me add that I am happily married to a
    wonderful man. He was my adult sunday school teacher in my new church that I attended. I wasn't looking for another marriage. God had other plans! :-)

  9. Thanks so much for sharing that with us, Judy. My daughter had to run out of state to avoid a bad relationship as well. One has to do what one has to do! I am so glad you are happy and I just wish that all people who have suicidal thoughts could realize that things DO get better, and to also think of the grieved loved ones they are leaving behind. Ann Gabhart mentioned that she still feels sadness 40 years later; understandably so. I realize that some people can't snap out of depression themselves (such as Ann's aunt), and do need to seek help, but it just wasn't available years ago like it is today.

    Thank you for coming over to Overcoming Through Time, Judy, and courageously sharing your story with us! And good luck in the giveaway of The Blessed, a super good book that I will be reviewing Wed.

  10. Thanks Ann for your transparency and for coming by to visit with us. I updated the interview to include the bibliotherapy aspects that Ann shared. That was the very first intervention I learned in my practicum as a school psychologist - what books and media were good for bibliotherapy!

  11. So glad Laurie Alice told us about those recordings, too. I have two audible downloads of Ann's books that I intend to review soon (maybe even this week if I am a listening maniac!). I love that Ann can reach out to so many people including those of us with eye problems.

  12. Judy, wow what a testimony to God's grace that He brought you through that horrible time and gave you a wonderful Christian man for your husband! Awesome! Thanks for sharing that with us.

  13. Carrie, you are welcome. I wanted to share my happy ending too! With God all things are possible!

  14. My brother went through shock therapy and he told me he lost six weeks of his life that he has no memory of whatsoever.

    Thanks for all the great books.

  15. I knew when I shared about my sad time losing my aunt that I would touch some of your readers and perhaps remind them of hard times they have experienced. Judy, I am so glad you took hold of the Lord's hand and walked through your dark valley to the sunshine on the other side. Happy that the Lord put a good man in your future. Carrie, you're right that there are so many great therapy options for depression now and medications too. At the time of my aunt's death years ago, I don't think a lot of people understood clinical depression.

  16. Hi, Karen L. I enjoyed meeting you in person too. Thanks for coming over to read and comment. You too, Ola, and for sharing your brother's experience. I'm hoping he has a good life now.

    Carrie, hope you enjoy listening to the books you downloaded.

  17. Judy, thank you for sharing. That takes courage. Many of us have been in bad spots and find it difficult to talk about them, though, ultiimately, they are a testimony to God's love and mercy.

    My former pastor's wife tried to kill herself and it opened up a whole ministry in the church, made their goal to heal wounded people, draw them into healing body and soul, get them the professional help they needed, too, as well as lots of love. When God literally put menext door to that church, I was coming out of an abusive relationship I finally got the courage to leave. And bits and pieces get into our stories.

    BTW, Carrie, I don't need to be in the drawing. as a Revell author, I get to pick a certain number of Baker books out of each catalog, and I always pick one of Ann's from the first one I read.

  18. Thank you for sharing that with us, Laurie Alice. We all go through dark times, but as you said you "got the courage", and I thank God for the way of escape that he provides for us in those valleys, and for the testimonies we all can share of His faithfulness to us during those terrible times.

    I love Ann's books, and I pick them out of the catalog as well, Laurie, but I have to pay for them! LOL! I don't mind, though, they are worth it.

  19. What a compliment, Laurie, for you to choose one of my books. And I appreciate you picking my books out of the catalog too, Diana. You're both making me smile today.

  20. What Ola said just reinforces why this treatment should not be used. We just have way too many other options these days to have to resort to using this, especially for our veterans!

  21. More motivation and prayers for me to become a Revell author if I can get free Revell books! That would be a great perk!!

  22. It is fun, Carrie, to have the choice of so many great books. I have one of Laurie's, Lady in the Mist, in my TBR pile that I got last catalog. Now if I could just get more reading time.

  23. I would love to read this book.Great article.I love Ann's books.Keep them coming....jackie_tessnair@yahoo.com

  24. I would love to read this book. Thanks for offering it.

  25. Hi, Jackie. Thanks for letting me know you enjoy my stories. I like sharing those stories with readers like you. It's fun to meet reading friends.

  26. Good luck in the drawing, Wendy. And thanks for reading the interview.

  27. What a great interview. I have a son who is manic depressive. This book sounds like a great book.


  28. Thanks, Jo, for reading. Some things in life we can't really understand. We just have to depend on the Lord and our friends to get us through.

  29. Great interview, I've read a couple of the books in this series and loved them.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  30. Thanks so much for reading my Shaker books, wfnren. Glad you came by to read the interview.

  31. Well, we have a slight problem - Judy won per random.org but there is no email address. Tried to check with her Blogger identity. Anybody know how to reach Judy? Blessings!


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