Libby Atwater is a memoir writer and long supporter of The Memoir Network. It is our pleasure to share her excellent work with you.
The Spirit of Villarosa: A Father’s Extraordinary Adventures; A Son’s Challenge
By Horace Dade Ashton and Marc Ashton with Libby J. Atwater
When Marc Ashton was kidnapped at gunpoint in Haiti, he fought to survive. Accosted by four armed thugs, Marc realized how life changes in moments. He made two promises: he would escape his captors, and he would tell his father’s amazing life story. I am proud to have helped tell the stories of both these men.
I began working on his story in 2003 as a ghostwriter for another personal historian, using 46 transcribed recordings that Marc’s father, Horace Ashton, made when he was 86 years old and interviews conducted with Marc. This book was a father-son story as I began writing, but the project’s parameters kept changing. Marc found the final version unacceptable.
Ghostwriting on the Book Continues
I kept the book because I thought it was my best work. After publishing my own memoir, What Lies Within, I approached Marc and asked if I could publish his story as an e-book. We would split the proceeds.
Coincidentally, Marc had finished revising his version and planned to send it to a publisher. We each shared the version we had with the other, found a publisher, and worked collaboratively. After we received an evaluation from the publisher’s assessment editor, Marc sent me more information on his life, as the editor requested, and I rewrote the entire book in November 2014 to weave the new material into the story. The results was a much better book.
While writing the book now on sale, I discovered that Marc and his father, possessed similar traits and each encountered life-threatening situations. Horace survived seven plane crashes, deadly snakes, and worst of all, two divorces. Marc spent his late teens and early adult years taking on the financial responsibility for his aging parents and younger brother, foregoing his last years at university. Each persevered despite huge obstacles.
Horace believed everything would turn out all right. Marc possessed a strong will to survive. That’s why he chose to tell his father’s stories and his own: to heal from his terrifying ordeal, enlighten others, and educate future generations.
I followed their lead, refusing to give up on a story that needed to be told.
Our publisher, Hillcrest Media, sold to Salem Media on September 1, 2016. We have been trying to make changes to the print version of the book before we reprint. I discovered that the files have been completely scrambled. It has been a nightmare!
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