The Bargain by author Aaron Gansky

Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 | 1 comment

The Bargain by author Aaron Gansky

My guest today is Aaron Gansky, author of The Bargain. Leave a comment on the reviewby 10/16 for a chance to win a signed copy!

Now available for $.99 for Kindle for a limited time only!


Aaron, you have quite a background in writing, tell us something about yourself and how you started writing.

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. My father is a writer, so I come by it honestly. Even as a child, I remember writing stories about dinosaurs in the back yard. You know, normal kid stuff. And while I convinced myself I wanted to be a doctor for a time, I eventually came to my senses and decided to stick with what I knew.

Tell us a about The Bargain.

The Bargain is about a journalist who’s given a very odd assignment. He must write ten articles about the denizens of a destitute desert town inThe Bargain 2 order to save it from supernatural destruction. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t bother, but the fate of the town is inextricably linked to the life of his wife. So, for love, he embarks on an assignment that teaches him as much about himself as it does about the people he interviews. It’s full of twist and turns.

Why did you choose the particular theme in your most recent novel? What were you trying to say to your readers?

Honestly, I wasn’t trying to say anything. I find when I try to write to make a point, the point is usually not well made. Instead, I write the story, and let it make whatever points it wants. In the case of The Bargain, the theme really started to make itself known about half-way through the writing process. While I wanted to tell the story of the denizens of Hailey, I found the story was more about the protagonist than I imagine. His process of discovery is what really develops the theme.

(Yes, I know I’ve not said what the theme is. If you really want to know, you should ask my readers. Better yet, pick up a copy for yourself!) J

Explain to us something about the spiritual implications of this story?

I wrestled a lot with this in the process of writing. At the heart of the story is a simple question: Who determines righteousness. It’s an age-old question: works v. faith. I think the novel takes a stance on it, but also speaks to the complex “answers” that such a “simple” spiritual question raises. This is another thing I love to talk about, but I also don’t want to give too much away. Suffice it to say, there is no black or white in The Bargain. Answers don’t come easy, and it is precisely that layer of complexity that makes the novel so engaging.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

This is a pretty common question, and I’m never sure exactly how to answer it. At the risk of giving you an oversimplified answer, my ideas come from the world around me, from books and movies, from comic books and art, from poetry and nature, from the heart of civilization and epic sprawling adventure stories from my childhood. It may be one idea, but it’s usually more, a unique combination that puts a new twist on something strangely familiar. I know an idea is solid when it won’t leave my mind. Those are the ones that beg to be explored.

What was the greatest problem/challenge you faced in writing this book?

Another tough question. I faced several challenges. This was my second novel, so I was still fairly new to the process. I had an idea of how I wanted to approach the book, and while it worked, I made some typical mistakes. I found it particularly challenging to really tap into Connor’s worldview. As an unbeliever, he looks at things differently than I do. I’ve been a Christian since I was five, so I’ve always looked at the world through that lens. Here, I had to write about a character who not only didn’t have that lens, he was opposed to it. Getting his interior monologue right, and bringing him to a place of change in a believable way proved to be a challenge.

What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

Above all, I want them to be entertained. I want them to enjoy the book, but more so, I want the book to sit with them. I want them to feel a little unease at times, and I hope that uneasiness makes them reevaluate what they believe, and why they believe it. It’s easy for us as Christians to be caught up in complacency, or we become quick to judge. I think the book challenges us a bit, and I want my readers to be stronger in their convictions because of it.

Often we desire to teach a lesson in and through our writing, but we as writers also learn something. What was one thing you learned while writing?

Good question. I feel like I’m still learning. This is my first novel, so there was a lot about the publication process I didn’t know. But, in spiritual terms, I learned that perseverance pays off, and that God’s timing is better than my timing. LPC was not the first publisher interested in The Bargain. In fact, I had a couple who showed genuine interest, and more than once, I got my hopes up. But deals fell through, as deals are wont to do. That all happened before LPC even existed, and God’s timing shows itself perfect again. There’s no other publisher I’d want the book with. LPC is filled with great people, and I’m honored to work with them.

How do you see the importance of Christian fiction?

Fiction’s role in our culture has grown as we have grown. Our stories reveal our hearts, our fears and dreams, our convictions. If I may say it, as paradoxical as it may sound, fiction reveals truths that non-fiction never can. It has long been the home of our imaginings and philosophies. For centuries, it has been an instrument of social change. Christian fiction is no different. It can challenge us where we’re weak and encourage us where we’re strong. It can inspire, and it can change us for the better.

Which do you think is more important: to entertain or teach/inform?

Depends on the novel. By saying one is important, I’m also saying that one is less important, and I don’t believe that’s the case. Really, a good novel will do both, and the highly successful novels will do both well. There’s a balance each project needs to find. It’s a fine line, a tight rope, but one that must be walked in order for a novel to reach its full potential.

I’ve now dodged so many questions, I’m feeling like a politician. J

Give us the first 3 pages of The Bargain.

I’ll do you one better. The first five.

Chapter 1

Wednesday, September 2nd

I hadn’t been in Hailey more than a day when my sister-in-law Aida insisted I meet “a fan.” While this wouldn’t have been shocking if I were some Hollywood celebrity or professional athlete, I was neither. I was a writer, a journalist actually, for World News Weekly. I’d spent the last few years making my niche as a chronicler of the human condition. Even after winning the George Polk Award, I didn’t get many “fans.” Most I ever got were a few complimentary e-mails, and those were few and far between. For the most part, the world ignored me.

Aside from directions and the name Mason, she gave me no more information. My wife Nadine and I had just arrived at Aida’s house the night before after a marathon sixteen hour drive from Denver. I suggested stopping halfway to break up the trip, but Nadine insisted we press on. Her urgency and determination likely were the result of sickness—ovarian cancer is never gentle. Had I been more observant at the time, I would have realized that she was trying to tell me something—this urgency was an unspoken message, a presage of the severity of her disease. Perhaps I was hopeful that seeing her sister would do her some good. Likely, the thought was a byproduct of my wife’s terminal optimism. Regardless, I was ignorant, but not blissful—maybe just uneasy.

The weather in the California desert shifted quickly. Yesterday, it felt like I was back in Darfur under an angry African sun. Today the sun felt lazy, as if, rather than baking the sands beneath, it simply reheated them like yesterday’s leftovers. The wind swept warm across the desert. Hailey wasn’t close to the same elevation as Denver, but it was almost four thousand feet above sea-level; high enough to bring snow in the winter. One doesn’t normally associate snow with the desert, but Hailey was a town of contradictions, a hypocritical town that prided itself on its consistent inconsistencies.

Mason lived off of Highway 29, the only paved road in Hailey. It followed the underground Mojave River. Multiple sets of train tracks flanked the cracked pavement.

The beauty of the riverbed provided a stark contrast to the otherwise depressing landscape. Golden Cottonwood trees and creosote bushes grew interspersed throughout the winding, sandy trail. The trees, not as dense as a wood or forest, provided an undulating shadow of semi-constant shade.

Hailey was a town to drive through, not to stop in.

Rolling up my window, I steered off the highway and onto a dirt road.

Fantastic. Nothing more obvious than dust on a black car.

I thought of my wife, sick to the point of exhaustion, sleeping at Aida’s. Meeting the fan meant pleasing Aida, which would please Nadine. I hoped the visit wouldn’t take long. Maybe I could sign a copy of the latest World News Weekly and be on my way, but something told me it wouldn’t be that easy.

Mason’s mobile home fit the architectural fashion of Hailey—ruinous and in disarray. A chain link fence surrounded his property as if he had something of value he wanted to protect, but the rusted gate hung open.

Maybe he expected me.

I drove to his sagging patio and parked. His front door opened before I made it up the three steps. He looked exactly as I expected, like a man who lived in a dump. His faded jeans had no knees. His T-shirt had more wrinkles than an octogenarian. He kept his fisted hands shoved deep in his pockets, like two apple-sized tumors on his thighs. He’d shaved his head, but not his face. Black stunted whiskers grew on his face like a dying lawn.

“Mr. Reedly?”

“You must be Mason. See me drive up?”

He shook his head. “Felt you. House shakes whenever someone pulls in.” He waved me inside, and I followed.

The interior of his house matched the exterior—ignored and in disrepair. Apparently, the olive shag carpet and paisley couches had journeyed together from the seventies to now, and showed signs of the long trip. Dusty paintings of desert sunsets hung on the walls next to over-the-top action movie posters. Dirty dishes decorated the Lilliputian kitchen. If he had a laundry basket somewhere, he’d not been trained in its proper use.

“Don’t mind the mess. Aida hasn’t come by yet.”

“What do you mean?”

He grabbed a pair of old jeans from an ancient recliner, tossed them across the room, and motioned me to sit. I did it reluctantly; the chair slid back uneasily, unsure if it should recline or not.

“She comes by once a week and cleans the place up. I’m not one for cleaning really—suppose you can tell. Besides, the water in this town is horrible. Ever try getting dishes clean in brown water? You gotta boil the water first; then you can wash in it. It’s really an all day ordeal.”

“I can imagine.”

“You should see how much money the market makes on paper plates. It’s outrageous.” He sat on the couch facing me. “That’s the first thing you learn about business in a town like this—sell what the people need. Paper plates, purified water, the usual.”

“You’re a businessman?”

He cracked each of his knuckles in turn, twisting his fingers to one side or the other. “Own the gas station off 29.”

He didn’t need to stipulate, since Hailey only had the one Gas ‘n Go. Nadine and I stopped at it on the way to Aida’s last night. She slept in the car while I made a pit stop. The restroom reeked of urine boiled under the pressing heat of the waning summer. Graffiti covered graffiti, brown water dripped from a rusted spigot, and a fan hummed, but did not spin. I’ve seen better welcome wagons.

“How’s that work for you?”

“Good. For most people this town is just a place to stop on their way to bigger and better things—the big cities. Only reason they’ll stop is to get gas or take a leak. That’s where I come in. Business is steady.”

“So you get a lot of travelers through here?”

“Not like we used to. Hailey used to be the popular stop on the way to Vegas. Highway 29 was one of the major roads up that way. But then, about twenty years ago, they built the I-21. It cut about an hour off of most people’s travel time. Only those looking for a bit of nostalgia come down this way.”

I crossed my legs and leaned forward, not because his story interested me, but because I worried if I leaned back anymore, the recliner would snap in half. I’d have to wash my clothes the second I got back to Aida’s. Judging by the smell in the room, I’d wager he had a cat locked up someplace, maybe hiding under the mounds of clothes or stacks of dishes.

I wanted to get back to my wife. Each second here was another away from her. I tried to steer the conversation toward a point, rather than listening to anymore of his brochure-babble. “Aida says you’re a fan?”

“Yeah. Read all your work, especially the ones you did after 911 and Katrina. Makes me feel smarter. The way you show the people’s determination and resolve to rebuild; it’s inspiring. Really.”

I fidgeted. Couldn’t we get to the point? I didn’t want to sound rude, but he pushed me closer and closer to snapping with each word. He spoke like a man hiding something. I’d had enough conversations with criminals and thugs to recognize the stalling tactic. He wanted to say something, but he wouldn’t get to it unless I pressed. “Listen, I appreciate the opportunity to meet you, but if there’s nothing else, maybe I can sign a magazine and get back to Aida’s. My wife—”

“Is dying. I know.”

Anger surged through me. Instinct told me to pick him up, to throw him against the cardboard-thin walls. But, I refrained. I knew what it’d do to Nadine if she heard I’d attacked the man Aida wanted me to meet. I’d caused her enough grief in our seven years of marriage. I didn’t need to add more now.

I took a deep breath and tried my best to behave rationally. “Aida told you?”

“There are no secrets in Hailey,” he said. “Not from me anyway. I’m a bit of a town historian. I keep my ears close to the tracks.” His smug attitude soured my stomach.

“You’re proud of that?”

He sighed. “You seem upset. You want a drink? I should have offered you one when you came in.”

I unclenched my jaw and fisted my hands. “Stop dancing around questions and start telling me what you know. You didn’t call me here for an autograph.”

“Okay. Long story short, this town’s my responsibility.”

“Your hobby, you mean. Responsibilities are assigned by someone in authority. So unless you’re secretly mayor of this cesspool of a town, you study it because you like it. I can tell by the way you talk, like you’re some sort of deranged tour guide.”

“Don’t get all upset. I meant exactly what I said. You’re anxious to get back to Nadine, I get that. You’re worried about her. You’re scared.”

My words came out in a dangerous whisper. “You pretentious snake. Don’t pretend to know me or my wife.”

Mason put his hands up slowly, like I’d drawn a gun. “You’re getting all red. Take a breath, man. I didn’t mean to upset you. Let me try this again.” He extended his hand to me, slowly, like he thought I’d throw a punch. I thought about it. Instead, I counted to ten, and took his hand. I had to keep cool for Nadine’s sake, no matter how much this man needed to be taught to respect my wife’s and my privacy.

He shook my hand. “My name is Mason Becker. I’d like to hire you to write ten articles.”

The corner of my mouth curled up. “I’m not exactly a work-for-hire kind of guy.”

“Twenty-five thousand dollars.”

“Even if I were interested, you’re not making a very strong case here. Twenty-five hundred per article isn’t much. You’re talking to a Polk Award winner. WNW pays me quite a bit more.”

“Twenty-five thousand each.”

I swallowed hard.

AaronDGansky_headshotsmallAuthor Bio: In addition to being a loving father and husband, Aaron Gansky is an author, novelist, editor, mentor, teacher, and podcast host. In 2009, he earned his M.F.A in Fiction at the prestigious Antioch University of Los Angeles, one of the top five low-residency writing schools in the nation. Prior to that, he attained his Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing where he studied, in part, under Bret Anthony Johnston, now the Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University. His novel, The Bargain, was released through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in December of 2013. The first book in his YA fantasy series, The Hand of Adonai, is set to release in February of 2015 through Brimstone Fiction. Find out more about Aaron at, or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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Book Title: The Bargain

10 Digit ISBN:  1938499778

Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Genre: Literary Suspense

Release Date: December 23rd, 2013

Book Blurb: Ten articles in eight days is a tall order for any journalist, even for Polk Award winner Connor Reedly. But with a dying wife and an empty bank account, the promised payment of $250,000 is hard to turn down. More so, his enigmatic employer, Mason Becker, has insinuated Connor’s acceptance of the job will result in a supernatural healing of his beloved wife.

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One Comment

  1. Dear Aaron,

    Your interview is a delight to read. One thing you said really stands out to me. “I’ve been a Christian since I was five, so I’ve always looked at the world through that lens. Here, I had to write about a character who not only didn’t have that lens, he was opposed to it.” I, too, have been a Christian since that age and like you have had that same lens. My husband didn’t get saved until he was in his 20’s and it fascinates me to talk with him about life without Christ in it. I think he has taught me so many new views on life and helped me see things so much clearer through his lens. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading your book.

    Marcie Bridges

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