Today, we move to part 2 of our 3 part interview series of the main characters from the soon-to-be released novel 3 from Dreamspinner Press. Last time, I interviewed Justin Jimenez. If you missed it, you can read the interview by clicking here.
Today, I’ll be sitting down with Spencer Harrison, Professor of Spanish and French at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.
Spencer, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us here.
Spencer: Thank you for asking me to be here. I’m really quite excited!
That’s quite a difference from Justin. He told me he was extremely nervous and that he got lost trying to get to the interview.
Spencer: Yes, well, Justin gets lost in our neighborhood. I’ve never met anyone with such a poor sense of direction. Even though he’s lived in San Antonio his entire life, he asks me how to get somewhere.
So, I take it you have a much better sense of direction?
Spencer: (laughing) Oh, God, yes! Justin says I’m like a homing pigeon because I just instinctively know where to go. I’ve always been that way. Maybe it’s from growing up as an army brat. I’ve lived all over the country. Germany and England too. I guess when you live in so many different locales, you have to get used to finding your way around.
Tell us about your family life. What was your life like growing up? Do you have brothers and sisters or are you an only child like Justin?
Spencer: I have an older brother and younger sister, and we’re not close. My brother Brandon and I have a general loathing for each other, which is sad to say, but the truth nonetheless. I think Brandon knew I was gay before I did. He resented me for that. For not being the alpha male dad wanted me to be. In their eyes, I was weaker because I wasn’t good at sports and because I actually expressed emotions that I was feeling. Harrison men are reared to be cold, heartless killers, which makes them perfect soldiers but awful human beings.
What about your sister?
Spencer: Carolyn and I aren’t close either. She at least makes attempts, at times, to reach out, but she’s such a bitch that I rarely expend energy to deal with her. You see, the Harrison women turn into shrews as a defense mechanism. They have to find a way to cope with the dominance the Harrison men impose upon them. The men in my family expect women to be subservient and they treat women like property rather than people. It’s quite sad and embarrassing for me to be a part of a family still living in the 1950’s.
That sounds like quite the tough up-bringing. How has your family affected the person you are today?
Spencer: Truthfully? It’s screwed me up. I grew up not feeling close to anyone, as if I was on my own. Most people feel as if their families have their back. That no matter what they go through, they can go home or call mom or dad and get whatever support was needed to get through the tough times. I don’t have that, and I proceeded through life with that mentality. The only one I could ever count on was me.
So, how does that affect your love life? Does it present problems with your relationships?
Spencer: Most certainly. It’s very difficult for me to let people in. I tend to keep barriers between me and everyone else just because I’ve grown accustomed to doing that with my family. If you have to protect yourself from family, then why would anyone else be different? That’s why personal relationships have been so difficult for me. To be in a good, healthy relationship, you have to expose yourself to risk. You are literally placing your heart in someone else’s hands, and the prospect terrified me. It was something I really wanted to try though, especially once I went to undergrad at Rice, and I was surrounded by all these people who were exploring their young lives to the fullest while I holed up in my room, studying.
College is a transformative time for many people. It’s where we take our first tentative steps as adults, so it makes sense that you would make progress in your personal relationships. What happened?
Spencer: I met this guy named Mike in English class. He was gorgeous and really in to me. I wanted to let my guard down for him, but it was hard for me to lower walls I had spent years fortifying around my heart. Mike persisted though. He chipped away until I finally broke down; I fell head over heels in love with him. The feeling, however, wasn’t mutual, something I didn’t learn until a few years later. It left me devastated and more determined than ever to not let another person inside where they could hurt me.
Heartbreaks are a part of falling in love though, and we all open ourselves up to pain when we give ourselves to someone else. As agonizing as it may be, we learn from those failed relationships and carry those lessons with us into the relationships that follow. Mike may have hurt you, but you recovered and grew from it. All of which prepared you for falling in love with Justin.
Spencer: I suppose that’s true, but nothing could have ever prepared me for the pain of Justin’s betrayal.
I doubt anything can ever prepare us for that kind of pain. You and Justin had been together for ten years when you learned about his affair with Dutch. In fact, the two of you had been rebuilding your relationship, which had almost fallen apart the previous year. And it was during that time of separation that Dutch entered Justin’s life.
Spencer: Is there a question here?
Yes, sorry. I know this is painful to talk about, but what I want to ask is this: can a relationship recover from this?
Spencer: I suppose it’s possible for some people to work through this, but our situation is unique in so many ways. I don’t want to give too much information away, but as much as I would love to make Justin the scapegoat, I can’t. We both broke our relationship. We did things as a couple we shouldn’t have done. But even beyond that, I hid secrets of my own, secrets that I thought were better kept to save our relationship, but they only made things worse.
And these secrets somehow included Dutch?
Spencer: Yes, but I can’t share those with you here. That would definitely be giving too much away!
Well, Spencer, we have reached the end of our interview. I appreciate the fact that you stopped by today and shared some rather personal information. You have me, and possibly some readers out there, wondering just what these secrets might be, but I wish you the best on a happy resolution to the recent problems in your life.
*blog post image FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Africa