Character Interview with Matt Westlake of The Gifted One

My latest novel, The Gifted One, is slated for release on April 5, 2013. I wanted to kick off the celebration by asking my two main characters, Matt and Gabriel, to stop by “From Gay to Z” for an interview. This will give the characters a chance to tell us a bit about themselves prior to their grand debut.

As a bit of background information, here’s the book blurb:

As his birthday approaches, Matthew Westlake fears more than just growing a year older. He fears never seeing another year at all. Each birthday brings a close call with death, leaving holes in his memory, recurring nightmares, and one more glimpse of his guardian angel. This birthday Matt must stand against ancient evils that have hounded him since birth, because he is a Gifted One—a seventh son of a seventh son.

Within Matt rests the unlocked potential of a force for good, but it also makes him a target. Being the Gifted One and dodging demonic attacks aren’t Matt’s only problems, though. He’s fallen in love with his protector, the Archangel Gabriel, and Heaven will condemn that love to save Matt’s soul. But Heaven doesn’t count on Gabriel loving Matt in return, defying divine law, and placing them in danger from demons and angels alike.

The Gifted One

Today, I’ll be kicking off the interview with the Gifted One himself, Matt Westlake, who works as an intensive care nurse in Houston, Texas.

Matt, I’d like to thank you for stopping by “From Gay to Z,” especially since I know you have a lot going on right now.

Matt: Not a problem. Thanks for having me here. Although I feel kinda silly sitting down for an interview.

Why’s that?

Matt: Well, I wouldn’t think anyone would be interested in reading anything I had to say. I’m just a normal guy, trying to live my life. There’s really not that much about me that’s interview-worthy. You know what I mean?

I have to say that I completely disagree with you. You’ve led a rather interesting life and survived a great deal of tragedy for someone so comparatively young. And despite what you’ve been through, you seem to be a rather well-adjusted, grounded individual. 

Matt: Well, you’re very kind, but who I am is really more of my grandmother’s doing than anything else. She’s raised me quite well and is one of the most remarkable people I know. I owe everything I am to her.

Would you mind telling us a little about her?

Matt: Gladly! I could talk about the Duchess for hours!

The Duchess? Is that what you call your grandmother?

Matt: (laughing) Yes, I do.

How’d that unique nickname come about?

Matt: Well, besides the fact that she’s a unique woman, the nickname actually started with her friends, so I can’t really take credit for it. I overheard them discussing something once when I was a kid. I really don’t know what it was, most likely some society event my grandmother was chairing. But anyway, she became quite upset at one of their comments. When my grandmother’s cross, you better watch out. Because that’s when the sweet, kind, and gentle Joanna Westlake transforms into a brick wall of hard emotion. I had never seen her act that way before, but her friends obviously had. They started referring to her as the Duchess, and I’ve been calling her that ever since.

Does she mind the nickname?

Matt: She used to at first. She didn’t find it half as funny as I did at the time, but she’s grown used to it since then. Now, she likes it. It’s become my term of endearment for her.

I can see how much you obviously love your grandmother. Have you always been close to her even as a child?

Matt: I’d like to think so, but I don’t remember much about my childhood prior to my tenth birthday.

That’s when your adopted parents were…taken from you?

Matt: Yes. When they were murdered.

I know it’s a topic you don’t often talk about, but what do you remember about them?

Matt: Not much really. I recall what they look like but not much else. My psychiatrist Dr. Owens believes that I’ve suppressed my childhood memories as a way of dealing with the trauma of that night. That’s why I’m working so hard to recover those lost memories. I want to remember the people who took me in when no one else wanted me. I owe it to them and their love for me to remember. It’s very difficult to look at pictures of my parents and me together and not feel any emotion. It’s like I’m looking at strangers, but I know they aren’t strangers at all. They’re my parents.

I can’t even imagine how difficult that is or how hard it must be for you to have had their deaths occur on your birthday.

Matt: Yeah, it’s tough, and it doesn’t make it any better that awful things always seem to happen to me on my birthday.

Like what?

Matt: Like almost dying. Every year, like clockwork, something bad happens. When I turned sixteen, my grandmother bought me a car. I took it for a spin, and this idiot swerves into my lane and comes barreling down the highway at me. I don’t know how I survived it, but it was like the steering wheel took on a life of its own. I swerved and spun the car around, which made the idiot miss me by inches. He slammed through the guardrail and down to the street below. He didn’t survive.

That’s awful!

Matt: Tell me about it. But that’s the way my birthdays usually go, which is why I don’t really celebrate the day. My grandmother and my best friends Dee and Shane know how I feel about my birthday, so they usually expend lots of energy trying to cheer me up every year. I love them for it and for how much they care about me, but no matter what anyone does to make me feel better, something awful happens that ruins the day. If I didn’t know better, I’d think something was out to get me.

And just what would that “something” be?

Matt: Who knows? But that’s just the way I feel. I know it sounds paranoid and maybe I am, but after all the things I’ve been through, it’s kinda hard not to feel like the universe is out to get me.

I can’t argue with that. Like I said earlier, you’ve been through a lot. How do you think the tragedies you’ve endured affected the man you are today?

Matt: I think they’ve made me appreciate my life more. I’ve seen a lot of bad, so I try to focus on the good as much as possible. It’s one of the reasons I became a nurse. I like helping people, making them feel better, and I’m pretty good at it. The doctors and nurses at the hospital call me Flo as a nod to Florence Nightingale. They also claim I have “healing hands” as they call it.

Interesting. Why do they say that?

Matt: (shrugging) They say it’s because my patients always seem to recover or that I just know what they need. I think they’re just being silly, but I like the compliment. I don’t have healing hands at all. I just listen to my patients and my intuition. When I do that, things just seem to work out.

Well, despite the more difficult events in your life, things seem to be working out so far in terms of your career. You love your job and are extremely good at it, but let’s talk about your romantic life for a moment.

Matt: (groans)

What’s that for?

Matt: Because romance is the biggest disaster in my life.

From what I’ve heard from my sources, that’s not entirely true. 

Matt: Your sources, huh? I bet that would be Dee and Shane, my two former best friends. I’m going to have a little talk with them about speaking out of turn.

A good reporter never reveals his sources, so I can neither confirm nor deny, but from what I hear, you’ve got two men who seem to have taken an interest in you recently. Would you mind telling us about them?

Matt: Well, your sources are both right and wrong. There are two men who’ve suddenly appeared in my life, and where any of this is going, if it’s going anywhere, it yet to be determined. What’s weird, though, is that I met both of them on my birthday, after I was almost killed yet again. Craig is an awesome guy. A police officer with a nice body, beautiful green eyes, and an amazing smile. He’s not only wicked hot, but he’s also gentle without being soft.

That’s a pretty tough combination to beat.

Matt: I know. Then there’s Gabriel. Now, he just suddenly appeared when I needed him the most. It was pretty magical, and when I first laid eyes on him, I just couldn’t speak. His eyes are an amazing shade of blue. They look like patches of sky, and I have a hard time not losing myself in them. But he’s very mysterious. He comes and goes pretty much at will, which makes him difficult to get to know, but what’s even funnier is that I feel like I’ve known him my entire life. Which I know sounds pretty weird considering I have a ten year gap in my memory.

I don’t find that strange at all. Maybe you’ve known Gabriel in a past life.

Matt: Maybe. Who knows?

Well, that’s all the time we have today, Matt. I appreciate you stopping by. Good luck on finding the missing pieces to your past and on learning more about the handsome Craig and solving the mystery that is Gabriel.

*blog post image from Michael Taggart Photography /

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