Get to Know Gage Masselin from Spray Paint Kisses
Gage Masselin is one of my favorite heroes to date. Well, all of my heroes hold a special place in my thoughts and heart, as they came from somewhere and all had a story to tell, but Gage is a little different. He's my youngest hero to date--just 22 years-old. He was inspired by a young man who lives in my area. And he grew up in the same hometown my hubby did. I think a little bit of my own experiences mix in with every story I write, but Gage really got a lot of it.

So, I decided to sit down with one of the main characters of Spray Paint Kisses, and let him tell you a bit about himself, his past, love of art, and the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty who caught his eye.

...

When people think of graffiti artists, they usually picture someone less than desirable. Perhaps a younger generation messed up in things they shouldn't be. Baggy pants, hoodies, and so forth. Gage Masselin is nothing like that. In fact, sitting across from me in his dark wash jeans, a simple grey T-shirt, and a leather band he wears around his wrist, he seems well put together, relaxed, happy, and of course, young. There's something in his green gaze though, something that screams age. Maybe it's his soul.

"Clean hands today?" I ask him, noticing his usual spray paint stained hands are clean of smudges and smears.

"Summer," Gage replies as an explanation. "She's picky about that sort of thing."

"What got you into graffiti--or street art, if you prefer--in the first place?"

Gage smiles, shrugging. "Graffiti is fine. It's the most publically accepted term unless you're involved in the culture of it. Boredom was what eventually pushed me towards tagging. Our town is too small for teens to do much else but cause trouble. I always had a knack for scribbling out designs with Sharpies or just pens. I guess you could call me artistically inclined if you wanted. Spray paint was a step I took one day out of curiosity. I could have kept it clean, but I didn't."

"Care to indulge us and explain?"

"Graffiti, unless permitted in the proper ways, is illegal," he says with a sigh. "Not everyone appreciates having their property marked up with paint, especially the government. Tagging pieces on private and official property eventually caught up to me. I was fined more money than I care to admit, which I paid back after my release from juvie where I spent a two year sentence, and I will forever have a record because of it.  I didn't get the chance to finish high school with my friends, though I finished it through correspondence in lockup, I missed my mother's funeral, and I lost a great deal of respect and trust from my family and community because of my choices."

Gage doesn't sound unaffected by his statements, but he does seem almost ... despondent, even if the apologetic frown is there.

"You've told this story a few times over, huh?" I ask.

Gage nods. "I mentor troubled teens, and a part of that is telling and retelling all your mistakes and why you're the best person for that kid to trust. For the mentoring to work, you need them to trust you."

"Is mentoring your way of apologizing or making up for some of the things you did in your part?"

"No way," he responds with a dismissive shake of his head. "I do this for me and the kids. They need somebody, kind of like I did back then, so I want to be that person for them. It's worth it to me if I can get just one kid to take a different path from the one they're on."

"Now that you're a little older and have experienced the consequences to your past decisions, do you regret them?"

Gage chuckles darkly, almost smirking. "Absolutely not. I wouldn't have the infamy and respect in the street art culture that I do today if I decided to go back and do it differently. No, this is just fine. I took a road, lost some things along the way, and gained a few more. That's life. It's all about learning and moving forwards. That's what I'm doing now."

"And Summer? How does she fit into this learning and moving forward?"

"She was and is my unexpected muse," Gage says with a tender smile. "Something beautiful that distracts me in every awful way possible, and sometime fantastic that gives me every damn reason to create something bigger and better than the thing I did before. Creatively, she gives me colors and pictures to put to canvases. An artist can't ask for much more than that in their muse. I never needed a reason to paint before she came along, but now that she's here, she certainly provides me with more than enough inspiration to make everything that comes from me that much better."

"How does the love story of you two work out, anyway?" I ask.

Gage cocks a brow. "You want me to give it away?"

"No, just ... indulge us again."

"Some things are meant to be easy," Gage says simply. "Other times, it's meant to be hard. Being young, we're still learning so that means sometimes we're going to screw it up fucking royally, but I think we're allowed to. One way or another, it all works itself out."

...

I hope you enjoyed learning a little behind the scenes of Gage from Spray Paint Kisses.

--Kris
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