Character Spotlight: Westleigh

By on February 10, 2016

This is the second in a series of posts to highlight several main characters from my upcoming historical novel, Firebrand. In case you missed it, Monday’s post was about one of the two protagonists, Saoirse.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to the second protagonist and my favorite character (don’t tell the others): Westleigh.

A fun little behind-the-scenes note: Westleigh is my favorite in part because he’s been around the longest. Years ago, when I was thirteen and I first knew I wanted to write fiction, I created this awful sci-fi, and he was my main character. I scrapped the entire idea but took him and his personality with me to the book that eventually became Firebrand.

I hope you like him as much as I do!

“Please, I prayed. God, please. Don’t let him lie to me again. Please let it have been an honest mistake. But the more I searched his eyes, the deeper those pools of secrets became.”


Westleigh James Kavanagh was born on April 6, 1845, on the deck of the ship that took his parents from Ireland. His mother, Maggie, died shortly after. His father, James Westleigh, perished at sea trying to bring his bride and unborn son to a new life in America. Little was known about the couple, other than they had immigrated from Galway.

A fellow passenger, David Kavanagh, promised Maggie he would care for her son. He named the boy after the Westleigh family and raised him as his own, settling in a small town in western Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh.

(You can read more about David and Westleigh’s arrival to America in my short story, The Outcast.)

Fifteen years later, Westleigh helps his bachelor father run a small furniture shop and prepares for college. But he doesn’t like the idea of leaving David alone, and wonders if he’s making the right decision.

Westleigh is a kind boy with a heart for justice. He considers himself an abolitionist, though he sort of romanticizes the idea. But he sees the effects of slavery in the flesh when he discovers the man boarding at their house has escaped bondage and is being hunted by a shady federal marshal. Westleigh feels guilty keeping this a secret from his father, until he realizes that David has been keeping secrets from him, too.

Here’s a little more I’ve discovered about Westleigh. Not all of it might have made it into Firebrand, but there are three more books in which to unravel his character!

  • 5 words to describe him: compassionate, sensitive, naive, worrier, quiet
  • Best friends: Allison Horner (the mayor’s mischievous son) Ellen Moore (farmer’s daughter and Allison’s sweetheart) and his dog, Wilberforce
  • Favorite book: anything by Charles Dickens
  • Hobbies: writing, playing cards, trying (and failing) to keep Allison out of trouble.
  • Favorite quote: “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”. – Romans 12:18 (NRSV)
  • Wishes & Dreams: see the world, learn more about his parents, see David marry his longtime sweetheart, Lucy

Now, if Westleigh were a modern teenager:

  • Favorite novel: The Hobbit
  • Favorite app/site: Goodreads
  • Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff
  • Fandom: Merlin
  • Superhero: Captain America
  • Video game: Mario Kart
  • Disney/animated film: How to Train Your Dragon

And finally, the top 5 songs on his iPod:

  • The Proof of Your Love by For King & Country
  • You Are My Vision by Rend Collective
  • Fix My Eyes by For King & Country
  • The Altar of Love by Downhere
  • Reckless by Jeremy Camp

WESTLEIGH APPEARS IN: The Outcast, Firebrand (novel releases March 22! pre-order the ebook today)


Leave a Reply

Buy Firebrand
Currently Reading
Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6 other subscribers

Twitter Widget
  • "It’s time. Don’t wait for permission; we’ve already been given it. Lead, sister." @JenHatmaker #forthelove

    Tweeted on 10:35 AM Oct 27

  • Thankful for the women who came before me who made this possible... #vote2016

    Tweeted on 07:08 AM Oct 25

  • "You can’t wipe away a 500-year trauma in 50 years." | I have to declare Black Lives Matter!

    Tweeted on 04:17 AM Oct 21

  • What does the future of the pro-life movement look like? Young, female, secular, and feminist:

    Tweeted on 12:43 PM Oct 20

  • Visited the Andersonville prison site and cemetery today. Heartbreaking.

    Tweeted on 12:29 PM Oct 19

  • Let's Talk About Racism in the Classics -

    Tweeted on 04:44 AM Oct 18