A Thousand Masks by Gina E. Matteson Genre: Dark Romance
“Play pretend and it will all be okay…”
When Anastasia Rose was young, she endured a childhood trauma at the hands of someone close to her. As a teenager, she struggled to overcome worthlessness and often felt separate from her family that tried to love her as much as they could through her wounds.
Now an adult, Ana is trying to find herself while in the corporate jungle of misogyny and romantic entanglements at work. She can’t help but hide behind various masks of who she thinks she should be in her career and her relationships. She finds partners who fulfill her desires but not the needs of her heart. After a whirlwind romance with a man, who is, seemingly, perfect, and a major career disaster, Ana begins to question exactly what it means to love and be loved, and who she really is behind the masks.
Gina E. Matteson has been on her own journey of self-discovery and self-love. She founded GemTek in February 2020 and has fallen in love with business again. After over twenty years in the Recruitment and HR Industry, she is finally living and working by her own standards and moral compass. She believes in transparency and integrity when working with clients in talent acquisition and HR solutions. A former Senior National Director for several multibillion-dollar accounts, Gina is the cornerstone for GemTek’s relationship-based business model.
Gina was inspired to write her story of Anastasia Rose after dealing with her own traumas throughout her life. She has encountered countless people with similar stories of child sexual abuse and power struggles in the workforce and felt that lending her voice might help others feel empowered to share their own stories of pain that would ultimately lead to forgiving the most important person in their journey…themselves.
Gina now lives back in her home country of Canada, with her husband, Gary and their two children, Connor and Charlotte. She is a successful CEO, mother, and wife.
A Thousand Masks is inspired by true events and is her debut novel.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book because I want to empower others. I've been through a lot in my life, and I know how healing it can be to have a strong, protective, passionate woman in your corner or even on the page.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Honestly, I am not sure; Probably more of the same, only better as I continue to grow as a writer. I hope to continue to stories that touch your heart and make you feel. I have two book ideas swirling around right now. My goal is to always give you something new and fresh to enjoy, whether it’s a new romance or a different genre entirely.
Whatever your pleasure, please be sure to keep an eye out for any new upcoming books. And thank you, as always, for reading!
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in A Thousand Masks?
Anastasia Rose is a young woman who was betrayed by someone she loved and trusted, and as a result, spent many years of her life being abused. The aftermath of this betrayal led her to believe that all men only wanted one thing from her. Her teenage years were really difficult as she tired to navigate who she was with who she should be. Eventually she realized that she had been self-sabotaging as a coping mechanism to prevent herself from being hurt again.
Men being in a position of power over her for some reason, she was able to be taken advantage of, because she didn’t feel worthy inside. They say, “You never allow anyone to hurt you more then you hurt yourself.” This is definitely true for Ana. She eventually starts over and find her passion in business – she had it all, brains, beauty…until one day it’s all taken away. That’s all I will share for now as I don’t want to give the book away!
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Most characters in the book are all based on real people, but I have taken some liberties with their stories in order to protect their privacy. Ana is loosely based on my own experiences as well, but the entire book is fiction.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I just went through a list of my favorite names, people I knew and met in my life and what they represented to me.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved writing about when Ana got some justice and then the ending; I rewrote it last minute and it was a wonderful change that meant a lot to me.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Ana is strong, beautiful, scared, independent but willing to face her fears head on. She’s very real, she’s hard on herself, more then anyone else in her life but still lives life with optimism and a zest for life.
She’s been betrayed so its amazing she can still love with all her heart.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
I had written down many ideas and then when I thought about Ana and how she changes for everyone she is with depending on what she thinks they want from her, the title became very clear that A Thousand Masks was it. It came to me about ¾ of the way in.
Who designed your book covers?
As many passionate readers know, a lot of time and thought goes into the design of book covers. Oftentimes, cover designs will raise awareness for important topics or messages that the author is hoping to communicate. For my part, I am fortunate enough to have had my book covers designed by the talented Eric Langlois.
Eric has been instrumental in helping me to capture the right look and feel for both GemTek, my own recruiting firm and now, my first novel. His attention to detail and ability to bring my vision to life has been truly remarkable. I'm excited to see what he comes up with next and I hope my readers will be just as amazed as I am. IG: @ericlangloisphotography
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I’ve loved the process and how it turned out.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, I’ve found it be very therapeutic for myself as well.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
As for the actress to play Anastasia, I think Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Stewart, or Alexandra Daddario. But I could list a lot more who I think would great in the older version of Ana.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I absolutely loved the ending of this book! I changed it last minute but now it feels like a unique spin on the typical "happily ever after" that we often see in books and movies. I loved creating how the characters' lives unfolded after the events of the story and I thought it was a super heartwarming way to end the book.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would spend the day with Grace. She has a peaceful way about her and infinite wisdom. She was a real firecracker in her day. I love the relationship I created between Ana and Grace. How would I spend the day? In the diner, at her favorite spot, and talking for hours.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I had complete reign of the story…most of the time.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
I think it’s real. The beginning is going to make some people uncomfortable, but it’s authentically from a my own life experiences, but real life is hard. Ana later gets to enjoy some glitz and glam but the question she kind of always asks herself is if she’s worthy. But ultimately, it’s a fun, sexy, and hopefully empowering read.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Not at this time; this is my debut novel.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Since my book deals with several topics that have great range, I would say it would floral mixed with deep earthy smell like sandalwood.
What did you edit out of this book?
The topic and effects of date rape.
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