The Inside Scoop! with Ann H Gabhart and a giveaway

Ann GabhartThe Inside Scoop!

Ann Gabhart

and her cozy mystery

Murder at the Courthouse



I grew up in… Kentucky on a farm. Not a horse farm. Those fancy horse farms were a couple of counties east of us. No, my father raised beef cows, corn, hay and tobacco. Now I live on a different farm about a mile from my childhood home. My roots go deep in this land.

I was inspired to write my first novel… by a writing correspondence course I took in the very early days of my writing career. I had written many short pieces and even had a few of them published in Christian magazines. But the last assignment for the course was to write an outline of a novel. I’ve never liked outlining, so I wrote the novel instead. In the process I discovered I loved the novel form and have written very few short pieces since. That is, if blogs don’t count. I’ve written hundreds of those. But I did discover how much I enjoyed writing novels. I kept at it even after my first two novels made the rounds without finding a publisher. In 1978, Warner Books published my third novel, a historical romance. An exciting time for me. Many years later, in 2005, my first inspirational novel, Scent of Lilacs, was published by Revell Books. Also a very exciting time for me. Prior to writing Scent of Lilacs, I went through a tough time in my writing life where my books gathered nothing but rejections. So I had decided to write one more book. I determined to work on the story I wanted to write without thinking about the market. I wrote about what I knew which was small towns and country churches. That was the best writing decision I ever made, and I thank the Lord for the inspiration that led me to write my Heart of Hollyhill books.

The books that have most influenced my life are… the great stories I discovered as a young reader in my public library. I read all sorts of books at that time. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier as well as classical literature like The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I read every chance I got. That was the perfect training for a young aspiring writer.

My biggest challenge when writing is… staying the course.  In every book I’ve written I generally reach a point in the writing when I despair of the story ever being finished or if finished, being a story anyone would want to read. I call it being stuck in the writing doldrums. But if I continue to spread my creative sails eventually a little story wind will once more begin to blow and the story will sail on home to the end.

One of my favourite authors is… Why? My favourites change from book to book. I find it impossible to come up with one and only one. But one of the authors who did open my eyes to how words could make a character come to life was Chaim Potok. His books, The Chosen and The Promise, made me want to create characters that sprang off the pages of the book and into a reader’s mind the way the young Jewish boys in that story came to life in my mind.

If I wasn’t a writer, I would be… a secretary. In fact, through the years, I have often worked part time as a secretary along with writing. But if I could just choose something to be whether I’m qualified for it or not, I might like teaching kindergarten. I love kids.

The superhero talent I would love to have is… to fly. Doesn’t everybody want to fly? Of course, sometimes being invisible might be nice too.

Murder at the CourthouseMurder at the Courthouse

After a few years as a police officer in Columbus, Michael Keane has no trouble relaxing into the far less stressful job of deputy sheriff in his small hometown. After all, nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. Everyone in town is a little uneasy. Still, no one is terribly worried–after all the man was a stranger–until one of their own is murdered right on Main Street.

As Michael works to solve the case it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.

My latest novel can be described by these 5 adjectives… Unexpected. Mysterious. Entertaining. Compelling. Fun.

My main character is… Michael Keane. He’s a great guy. Good looking. Loyal to his family and friends. Committed to his job of protecting his town. He has small town roots that go deep, but he’s in love with a professional woman who works in a big city. Not an easy match.

My main character resembles… the actor, Adam Gregory.

A previously unknown fact about this novel is… that I wrote the first draft of the story in the 1990s before cell phones became such an integral part of people’s lives. One major plot point in my opening scene was a pay phone booth on the corner in front of the courthouse. There are no phone booths anywhere in my town these days. None. The quarter in my victim’s pocket no longer mattered. I had to rethink several parts of the story due to cell phone availability. Thank goodness, my main character lives way out in the country where cell reception can still be iffy at times. J

My story’s spiritual theme is… I have one of the characters, my main character’s maiden aunt, think on the verses Lamentations 3:23-24. I first thought of the wonderful old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I love that line about morning by morning new blessings I see. So I found the Scripture reference that inspired the song and let Malinda Keane dwell on that when she considered some of the hard times of the past. Also I have Michael Keane, the main character, considering what the Lord wants him to do with his life. Is he walking the right paths?

While writing this novel I learned… how to include a spiritual thread in a mystery while concentrating the majority of the story energy on the mystery.

The title was chosen by… a joint effort of my publishers and me. I made some suggestions regarding a title and my publisher’s titling committee checked over the ideas and agreed Murder at the Courthouse best suited the story.

As an author, the hardest scenes for me to write are… I have the hardest time writing descriptive passages. I want to race on with the story. I want my characters to be talking. I love writing dialogue. So sometimes I have to make myself stop and look around in my stories to include more of the setting and place.

The story I’m currently working on is… the third Hidden Springs mystery. I’m attempting to make an old house an important part of the story. There’s this tower room and rumours about hidden treasure and a young girl who sees something that puts her in danger. Michael Keane has to find a way to protect the young girl and save the house. Well, I’m not sure about the house yet, but a calico cat is on the scene that will surely make an appearance on the cover if I can get my story boat through those doldrums. The second Hidden Springs novel, Murder Comes by Mail, is currently going through edits and will be available for readers July 2016. That story is a suspense filled race as Michael must stop a serial killer before he targets those Michael loves in Hidden Springs.

Ann Gabhart's OscarYou may not know this about me, but I… love dogs. Well, you may know that about me if you ever visit my Facebook author page. But I got the dog hunger when I was just a kid. I would have given up Christmas presents for a decade as long as I got a dog. Luckily I didn’t have to forego my Christmas presents and a friend of the family brought me a pup I promptly named after the man because I was so grateful. Strangely enough, the man wasn’t that honoured. LOL. But Ollie turned out to be a good name for my first dog. Since then I have never been without a dog of my own. My current dog, Oscar, is a Lab Chow mix (see pic) and was rescued from the side of a busy highway where someone had evidently abandoned him. We took him in and he is a very good dog and a great writing companion although he just mostly sleeps and is no help at all with coming up with fresh ideas to get me through those doldrums.

If I could be a character in any novel, I would want to be… Kate in my own story, Angel Sister. That’s because I based the background of that book on my mother’s stories of how it was to grow up during the Great Depression. If I could walk in Kate’s shoes for a few miles, it would be like taking a trip back in time with my mother who has moved on up to heaven now.

Thanks Ann!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of Small Town GirlWords Spoken TrueAngel SisterThe OutsiderThe Believer and The Seeker
Visit Ann’s website and blog
Buy at Amazon: Murder at the Courthouse or Koorong

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47 Responses to The Inside Scoop! with Ann H Gabhart and a giveaway

  1. Even though there are many great detectives on TV and in many books, I have to stick with my all time favorite solver of mysteries. It is nine other than Nancy Drew. I loved those books as a child and still today they are marvelous books fo any age. She was the best as taking simple clues and with great clever ways, she was able to solve the mystery. She didn’t need gadgets, or forensic science, just brains and a perfect attention to detail.

    • Deanna, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys books get some of the blame :) for me being a writer. So I liked them too. An old TV detective I liked was Columbo. He always had that one more question.

  2. There are way too many to name. Barnaby Jones

  3. Thank you for this wonderful interview with Ann. She is a favorite of mine and I am anxious to read this new book! I was introduced to mysteries and detectives when I met Nancy Keene in her many books so she will always be my first love! I also enjoyed watching Jessica Fletcher solve her mysteries in Murder, She Wrote

    • Connie, you know I must have had a subconscious moment when writing my Hidden Springs mysteries when I named my character Michael Keane. Now here you are reminding me of Nancy Drew (I knew that was who you meant) and her creator Carolyn Keene. Sometimes those names get planted in a writer’s head and surface at the most interesting times. I hope you’ll enjoy my mystery when you get a chance to read it.

  4. I think Richard ‘CASTLE’ could solve anything :)
    older show – Murder She Wrote was always a good one too!

  5. J.B. Fletcher on Murder She Wrote has always been a favorite of mine.

  6. TV show castle.

  7. I used to love Jessica Fletcher on “Murder She Wrote.” As far as books go, Sherlock Holmes was an amazing detective. Or, Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. Yeah, I’m probably showing my age but I think these stories are ageless!

  8. I really enjoy Terri Blackstock. I love mysteries, especially mysteries that are Christian oriented. Murder at the Courthouse sounds fantastic. Love a good looking hero.

    • Terri Blackstock is a very popular Christian mystery writer, Stella. You’ve made a good choice. Michael is a great guy in my Hidden Springs mysteries. Hope if you get a chance to read his story in Murder at the Courthouse, you’ll enjoy getting to know him better.

  9. I love to watch Castle, but I enjoy reading a good mystery as well.

  10. I have so many favorites its hard to narrow down. I love Sherlock, I love Bones and I read and watch just about any mystery I can get my hands on. I especially love the cozies!!

  11. I like Terri Blackstock and Irene Hannon.

  12. I really enjoy Bones. When I was younger I loved Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.

  13. I like the way Columbo solves mysteries. It’s an old series but fun to watch. I already have a copy of Murder At the Courthouse, but I would love to have a copy to lend to friends, thank you.

    • Columbo had personality for sure, Connie. And I like the way you think about winning another copy of Murder at the Courthouse. You can always find something to do with a book. They make great gifts.

  14. I haven’t read too many mysteries but I do like to watch them on TV. The old shows like “Murder She Wrote”, “Magnum P.I.”, “Matlock”, “Rockford Files”. Some of the newer ones are NCIS or Forensic Files.

    I have enjoyed a few cozy mysteries so this one looks like a good one!! Thank you for the chance to win a copy of “Murder at the Courthouse”!

    • You’ve named some fun television shows there, Trixi. Rockford Files was one of my favorites and who wouldn’t like Magnum P.I. Such fun. Good luck in the drawing. Hope you’ll give my cozy a try.

  15. There are so many great detectives in mystery stories that it is hard to pick just one. I always enjoy Tommy and Tuppence in Agatha Christie’s novels (though I do like Miss Marple and Piorot too). I’ve read several of Ann’s books so am looking forward to reading her new mystery. It sounds like I’ll really enjoy it.

  16. I like Hercule Poirot.

  17. I would have to say that Sherlock Holmes has always been my favorite. Ü

  18. Nancy Drew!!

    But I am willing to give you a try; hope I win! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

  19. I have to say either Nancy Drew or the Boxcar children are my favorite solvers of mysteries. As a child they were the first mysteries books I read and it just sort of stuck as my favorite.

  20. Growing up I loved Nancy Drew and as an adult I loved how Jessica Fletcher always solved a mystery.

  21. I would also have to say Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I read almost all of those books as a young person.

  22. I’m voting for Nancy Drew, as well!

  23. Well I sincerely enjoyed reading it. This article offered
    by you is very practical for correct planning.

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