Alton Gansky has a passion for uncovering the truth in the great mysteries of life in both his fiction and non-fiction writing. His most recent novel, Hide and Seek (B&H Fiction), co-written with Jeff Strueker, proves to be no exception: Hide and Seek is a novel about truth and lies, and lives hang in the balance.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION DRIVING THE STORY IN HIDE AND SEEK?
In each of the books I’ve done with Major Struecker (ret.) we set out to show two things: 1) the sacrifice of the warrior on mission, and 2) the courage of the families they leave behind. In Hide and Seek we wanted to show how quickly a dangerous situation can arise. We also enjoy showing intriguing in unexpected places, and heroes who have expertise in areas few know about. That’s where our female lead came in. Capt. Amanda Lennon has a unique job in the Army and must use her training to save her life and that of a foreign dignitary.
OVER THE COURSE OF WRITING IT, WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST DURING THE JOURNEY?
Amanda Lennon was the biggest surprise. I knew she would be a powerful character, intelligent, brave, and able to overcome her fear, but I didn’t know how tough how dedicated she would be to saving the life of her charge. Each scene with her was an adventure. At times I felt less like a novelist and more like a reporter. I was a bit surprised by how close I’ve grown to the characters. This is probably true for most novelist, but those who write a series of books with many of the same characters become emotionally attached. I found myself fearing for their well-being, which is kinda weird since I’m the one putting them in danger. No one ever said novelists were balanced.
WHAT PARTS WERE INSPIRED BY REAL LIFE (EITHER RESEARCH OR EXPERIENCE)?
The book takes place in Kyrgyzstan, a little known but important country. It was part of the old Soviet Bloc. The military maintains an air base there. Soldiers often flew from Manas to Afghanistan. The air base is a diplomatic sore spot for Kyrgyzstan, China, and Russia but it is a key to US military operations. The fight over the air base, the role of FAOs (foreign affair officers), the riots in the cities are all based on current events. There are also some plot developments that fall under the “spoiler” category that are based on real events.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT STORY IS SUCH A POWERFUL WAY TO COMMUNICATE TRUTH?
I think most of us are hardwired for story. We remember tales far longer than we remember facts or events. Story is a powerful mechanism for conveying information and truth. One reason for this is the experience factor. With story, we not only see the facts, we experience the action, feel the emotion, and play the scene in our minds. Story involves the senses and the imagination. Things imagined are embraced more deeply and remembered much longer. Of course, story is also fun.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I have a novel in editing called Wounds which will be out next year. It’s a thriller. I’m working on a nonfiction book at the moment dealing with people who shaped the church.