A Letter to My Readers | Ann Gabhart, The Refuge

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Dear Readers,

At least I hope you are readers. But wait, if you’re reading this, then you are definitely readers and some of my favorite people. I’m right there with you in loving to read. In fact, I’d have to give credit to reading for me following a writing path all these years. You see, when I was very young I fell in love with books. Nothing was quite as good as settling down with a good book and getting lost in a story. Some of those early books were Hardy Boy mysteries. So when I was nine or ten, I decided to become a Hardy Boy, well Hardy Girl, and write a mystery starring myself. A cuter, smarter, and much less shy me. Once I picked up pen to write, I’ve never laid it back down.

Many stories followed that first attempt at a mystery novel. Eventually, even some mystery novels when I came up with the small town of Hidden Springs where things are sweet, sentimental and a little sinister. But that’s not the only town I’ve populated with characters. I lived in the fictional worlds of Hollyhill and Rosey Corner until the characters in those stories were the same as family for me. I’ve dared to write about real places too, by setting stories in the Appalachian Mountains, Louisville, and the little town of Springfield, Kentucky.  And I can’t forget my fictional Shaker Village of Harmony Hill. That’s been a place for many of my stories, and I headed back to Harmony Hill for my new book, The Refuge.

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Each time I travel back in time to my Shaker village, I think it will be the last time I visit that place.  But then another character will hover on my writing horizon with a new story to share. This time I kept thinking about a Shaker widow. Since the Shakers lived celibate lives and those who joined them gave up the bonds of marriage to live as brothers and sisters, the idea of a widow in the Shaker village tugged at my creative instincts. Why was she there? What had happened to make her a widow? Did she want to be a Shaker? And uh-oh, she conceived a child right before she and her husband came into the Shaker community. So now she’s an expectant Shaker widow. A reluctant Shaker but one who needs the refuge the Shaker village offers her after she loses her husband in a tragic accident.


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