Skip to main content


May 5, 2011

Ann H. Gabhart: My Mother, My Friend, My Character

Posted by Anonymous

Author Ann H. Gabhart has recently released ANGEL SISTER, which is very much inspired by her mother. Below, Ann discusses this mother who fostered her early obsession with the written word, and who readily shared stories of her own childhood during the Great Depression --- and the love of her family that got them all through it.

ANGEL SISTER.JPGI’ve got the best mother in the world. It’s great if you disagree and think your mother is best. That’s the way it should be. But for me, my mom is best. She gave birth to me, her third girl, in an old farmhouse not far from where I live now. I was surely supposed to be the boy, but she welcomed this girl and nurtured me and loved me as I was –-- a shy child who loved books. At the age of ten, I started carrying around a notebook and writing a story. Well, not just a story. I jumped right into the business and started writing a mystery novel. I saw myself as the next Nancy Drew. I was pretty sure I could figure out those mysteries --– especially if I was the one deciding what happened next. That was the beginning of a lifetime obsession with the written word.  

As far as I know, nobody in my family had ever set out to be a writer, but they were readers. My mother still has a set of little red books that must have been from an early book club that my grandfather joined. He knew the magic of stories. I barely remember him since he died when I was very young, but perhaps in some way, he passed his love of stories down to me. I’m pretty sure he would have been amazed and pleased if he could have looked ahead in time and known this little girl he liked to hold in his lap would someday write a book using his life experiences as inspiration.

But first, years went by as I filled one notebook after another with words. My mother helped me believe I could do whatever I wanted to do. That no dream was too big and if that dream was to be a writer, then I could be a writer. It didn’t matter that I had no idea how to go about becoming a published writer. I could figure it out. And I did. My first novel was published over thirty years ago. Not that Nancy Drew wannabe book. I had to do my share of practice writing before I could see a novel by Ann Gabhart on store shelves, but when that happened, I could hardly wait to give my mother the first copy hot off the press.

More years passed. I wrote a lot more words. Not in notebooks now but on a typewriter and then a word processor. More of my books were published. Story ideas were sparked by historical events, a cave on my farm, Big Foot legends, ghost dogs, my small town, Shaker villages, and finally, years after I sat in my grandfather’s lap, by my mother’s stories of her childhood during the Great Depression.  My mother and her sisters were always talking about their growing up years. They didn’t have much money, but they had family. And they had love. They also lived in a community with more than its share of odd characters. So I decided to take the feel of their stories along with a couple of those odd characters and come up with a background for a story.  

ANGEL SISTER is fiction, but the background is grounded in truth. My mother had four sisters and Kate in the story has four sisters --- sort of. My grandfather was a blacksmith and served in WW I. The father in the story is a blacksmith and served in WW I. Books were important to my grandparents as they are to my characters.  My mother’s stories were a jumping off place for my imagined story but they lend the book a rich thread of truth throughout. And while Kate is a character from my imagination, I did give her my mom’s can-do attitude, her hazel eyes and brown hair, her disdain for fishing and her love for her sisters.

ANGEL SISTER became a story not only from my heart, but from my mother’s heart too. And you can guess who got the first printed copy. My mother is now ninety-one and suffers from dementia, that robber of memory. She can’t enjoy reading anymore because her mind won’t hold the images of the words, but she knows ANGEL SISTER is her book. It’s on the table by her chair and sometimes she picks it up and reads a few words. It makes her smile.  

Vist her website,, and her blog,