It’s a cloudy hot morning in July when I sit down with Morgan Lightner, the COO of Draven International Holdings, in a small coffee shop along the Hudson River. I feel inordinately blessed that he agreed to this interview and came back to NY just to meet with me.
The first thing I see is his cowboy hat, and immediately check for his near legendary cowboy boots. Sure enough, he’s wearing them. They’re a bit scuffed from use, leading me to think they must be a favorite pair and tempering my slight disappointment that his shirt isn’t unbuttoned like it is on the cover of Roped. I do so love the view of a bare chested man early in the morning.
“I like my privacy, my time with my family is very dear to me.”
Once he’s ordered his coffee he joins me in a booth overlooking a busy morning street where people go about their lives blissfully unaware of the role this man, The Mystic Warrior, might have in their lives. When I asked if he is recognized more frequently now that the book is out, he looks at his coffee before giving me a panty melting smile and shrugging his shoulders. “I get a certain amount of attention from the press on an almost daily basis in my role for DIH, so I’m used to it. I haven’t noticed a significant change. Maybe if the book becomes a bestseller, but even then, I hope it doesn’t change. I like my privacy, my time with my family is very dear to me. I don’t want to raise Athena in the constant explosion of flashbulbs and click bait copy.”
When he mentions his new daughter he can’t stop a smile from lighting up his face, and I ask him how he feels about being a father. He leans back in the booth and really thinks about his answer while his smile grows wider still. “Well,” he starts slowly, choosing each word with extraordinary care, “you think you know. I mean, you read the books, and you listen to the horror stories and the stories of selfless world changing love, and you think, ‘all right, I’ve got this’. But the first time you see their tiny furious screaming red faces, you know with absolute certainty that you’ve never had less control of anything in your life.” He pauses, sipping his coffee before adding, “It’s absolutely fucking exhilarating!” I try very hard not swoon, it wouldn’t be professional, but there is something about big strong men and the tiny babies that they love that makes every woman take an instinctive beat for admiration.
While we are on the topic of family I ask how things are going with Daphne, and how she is adjusting to being a mother. The light inside him grew brighter, and I almost had to look away from his shining face so filled with love when he thinks about his wife. “There is nothing Daphne can’t do. Every day I wake up a little more in awe of this amazing woman that somehow I’ve been lucky enough to have by my side. She’s just…the best,” he finishes, and I see a slight blush cover his cheeks as he thinks of her. It’s almost as good as a view of his naked chest would have been.
I take advantage of his distraction to ask another question. In Roped, you speculate and seem to believe that Daphne is supposed to be with you, that she has some role to play in The Prophecy that has been handed down in your family through generations. What do you think her role is exactly? “I first heard about The Prophecy when I was six years old. My Dad took me to the cave and showed me the carvings. From then on, until I left to come East, I lived with what his version of what events were going to be. He was sure he had it all figured out, but I wasn’t convinced. I still don’t think anyone understands what it all means, certainly not me. What I said about Daphne being a part of it was something that spoke to me from my soul. I can’t explain that, and I can’t help anyone else to feel it with me. It’s just something I know. The rest we’ll figure out as things unfold.”
“Every day I wake up a little more in awe of this amazing woman that somehow I’ve been lucky enough to have by my side. She’s just…the best.”
What about the others, I asked, Thomas Meenan for example? Daphne thought he was The Trickster from The Prophecy. “She might be right. She usually is.” He smiles when he says that, his admiration of her coming through loud and clear once again.
I ask him how he feels about Thomas’ friendship with his wife, and he frowns for the first time since he sat down with me. “That’s not the right question,” he says, and I ask him to explain what he means. He sighs and rubs his jaw, seeming to be a little frustrated for the first time. “Look, people have this weird wall in their minds where once they get married, once they ride off into the sunset together, they stop being people. They stop having thoughts or doing things and having opinions and other relationships with people and that’s just bullshit. Life doesn’t end when you say ‘I do’. In fact, in a lot of ways it’s only just beginning. I object to the way you phrased the question, because it implies that Daphne is defined only as ‘my wife’. She is, and always has been, so much more than a single title could ever encompass.” I rephrase the question.
How do you feel about Daphne’s friendship with Thomas? The tension in him recedes, but not completely. “I don’t trust him, and I worry that she will be hurt, but I respect her decision to be his friend.” When I ask if he can see a place or time when he might consider Thomas Meenan his friend, he chuckles a little before saying, “I never say never. It’s illogical to think that in a universe of infinite possibility I won’t eventually run across everything, if I live long enough.” I laugh now and accuse him of avoiding the question. I try again. Do you want to be friends with Thomas Meenan? “If he ever dropped his mask I would consider it.”
“Life doesn’t end when you say ‘I do’. In fact, in a lot of ways it’s only just beginning.”
From what I have read of Thomas Meenan it seems unlikely that he would ever fully reveal himself to anyone. You’re asking a lot to be his friend. “My friendship is worth a lot. I give as good as I get. Right now he’s playing in the shadows, and I can’t align myself with someone I can’t see.”
Is that why you told him and James you wouldn’t help them with their vendetta against Constantine? “Partly, yes. They kept me in the dark for years. Years. Not just the time James was away in Switzerland, but they’ve been doing whatever it is they are doing for years, and never let me in. I’ve done the leg work, I suspect they are right to believe that Constantine is a threat, but right now, I have a clearer picture of him than I do of them, and that says something.”
Will you ever tell them about The Prophecy? “Time will tell, but I suspect they know already. Whatever shadow games they are playing, they don’t seem to be missing much along the way.”
But they’ve never asked you about it? “No, and I’m glad.” He sighs again, shifting around in his seat, clearly not comfortable with the topic. “It’s kind of strange. If they ask me, I will have to decide if I can trust them. I know someone has to go first, that’s how trust works, but I’m not convinced it should be me this time. I feel like I need more time for them to convince me that this isn’t a game to them. When I tell them about The Prophecy, it certainly won’t be a game for me, or for the people I hold dear. They haven’t convinced me they are worthy of that risk yet.”
Shifting gears, I tell him that as part of the preparation for this interview, I put out a call on social media to see if his fans had any questions for him, and I am delighted when the blush returns along with his sexy smile. I hide my amusement by grabbing my notebook and leafing through the pages to find my notes. By the time I look again, the blush is gone, but the sexy smile was still there, making me think he’s actually looking forward to this part.
Do you ever use the red scarf on Daphne? “Yes.” Care to elaborate? “No.”
In Roped you mention that the Native American Tribe which Sam belongs to and who came up with the prophecy regarding The Mystic Warrior, are still on the land. How does that work? And do they interact with the day to day of the ranch? “They live there, like they would anywhere else, and go about their lives the same way. Some of them do work on the ranch, but just as anyone else would if we hired them to work there. I’m responsible for maintaining the legal complexity of the property, but they are free to do as they like within the law. The rest of them have jobs outside of The MW. Some leave, some come back, some have always been there. I do my part as legal guardian of the holding, the rest is up to them.”
What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? “I like books that make me think, and stories that make me feel. I don’t have a must read author list, instead I look for something that will take me to places I’ve never been, or places I’d like to revisit. Books are adventures, filled with endless possibilities and hope. I’ve always loved them for that very reason.”
Do you think you will return to DIH at the end of your vacation? “We haven’t decided yet. We have a lot happening with a new baby, and we haven’t had time to make any formal plans yet. I think we are open to whatever feels right for us. We’ll decide that together.”
Do you think Sam is in love with your mother Ellie? “You’d have to ask him, but no matter what he says, Sam deserves love in his life. I wish for everyone in the world to have the chance to feel what I do every time I look at Daphne. How and who are up to each of us to decide, but love is the most important thing we can have on our lives, and I would certainly wish it for the people who are closest to me.”
“When I tell them about The Prophecy, it certainly won’t be a game for me, or for the people I hold dear.”
Will you marry me? He chuckles at this before looking down at his gold band with small rectangular mother of pearl inlays. “Sorry, already taken.” And I have to add he seems very pleased about that fact.
As we part on the street he shakes my hand and tips his hat to me before walking away. If I hadn’t fallen in love with him when I read Roped, I certainly would have then.
As I walk home, I think of his earnestness during our interview, the strength of his love for Daphne and the joy he clearly feels about his family, and I can’t help but smile myself. He talks about Daphne’s accomplishments with pride and confidence. It reminds of what she said about him in Roped. Morgan Lightner has a heart like no other.