I thought that introductions are in order with the new release of The Benevolent Light: Book Five of the Aspen Series. So today, we will bring Aspen Tiller to the forefront and shine the spotlight on her for a bit.
My name is Aspen…or Aspen Morjean Tiller when my mama would yell for me to come for the evening meal. I was born to my parents in the very ordinary village of Rosehill in the territory of Elgolan. Times were bleak as I grew up, yet I loved where I lived. Most would call it a hovel, I called it home.
We would be considered middle class as there were many better off than us but many more that were less fortunate. Our home was one room and my parents had a bed with a real mattress…my siblings and I slept on the floor in blankets that we would roll up each morning and stow away. My mama would prepare meals in the small, but efficient, fireplace that my da was so proud of building with his own two hands. I would say that my favorite meal was venison stew, but I was not always happy about harvesting the vegetables out of the ground for it.
Mama made us girls two dresses each. One was our gown for everyday use and one was a special gown to wear to Mass or special events. Because of the time spent in making them, we were to take special care of them. Fabric was a luxury…one that Da would not allow us to spend the coin on.
The earl of our village was the Earl St. Michael. When I was small, I thought him an angel. When I finally knew who he really was, I knew pain deep in my heart. A pain that has never gone away. His son, Rayven, stood to be in line to inherit all that his father had built there in Rosehill. I would most assuredly say that Rayven was the first boy that I remember loving. I looked up to the father and loved the son.
I was fortunate enough to be learned. Our earl brought in men who were taught in monasteries and were knowledgeable in many aspects of our world and he encouraged the youth of the village to attend. He was a visionary man and knew that the children would be the future of his world. He wanted us all to know how to figure numbers and write our letters. He also encouraged instruction in music. I was well taught, by a most patient man, how to play several instruments. But my favorite was the harp.
I had two close friends from our lessons. Being backward and shy, it was hard for me to make any friends at all. But these two girls made me feel like I belonged. My da had always despised me and beat me often, but my friends would provide for me an escape from that reality. I giggle as I write this, for now that I am grown I can see how wistful we were in our youth. We loved to play in the trees that bordered my home. Each of us would claim a tree as our castle and we were known to waste away those warm afternoons pretending our charming princes were coming for us. It was a wonderful fantasy.
My life changed drastically as I neared my eighteenth birthday. I thought it a curse…a punishment. I felt betrayed by my mama and humiliated by my da. That was the day I met Lord Darktower. Seeing him for the first time, I felt real fear like I had never before.
I am most grateful that there was a soul out there in the world who provided me respite and comfort.
I was named for my mama’s mother…Morjean. I can never forget the day I met her in the house of the trees. She trembled when she first saw me and knew exactly who I was. I begged her for guidance and she sent me away telling me that the struggles I faced in my life were preparing me for who I would become. I felt lost and angry that she would not help me. But as I grew older and matured, my eyes were opened to what she had told me. She was most wise.
I cannot close without speaking on a wonderful friend, one that I trusted my life with, one I could count on to take my life into his hands and offer me protection. Cappy was Thorne’s captain of the guard. He had been named that by his lordship because Thorne could not ever remember his real name. Thus, he remained Cappy to us all. This was a man who was large as a tree with flaming hair and a long beard. He was jolly yet fierce and he captured my heart. He could love people like none other and his loyalty could not be matched. He will forever be my friend and protector.
I do not feel I can go on much further without giving my life completely away to you. I can only hope that you will share my adventures. Perhaps the times I must muster the courage to walk through life would inspire you to do the same. I am merely a ghost…a ghost of words…but I am a friend to all.
From Noble Courage, Chapter 18
“Will you beg me for mercy?” he asked her.
She sat there still and silent. She did not want to answer him. She wanted out, to be clean and fed, but she would not beg the likes of him for mercy. Her voice sounded strange to her own ears. “I do not beg anyone, but God, for anything,” she answered painfully. Her throat was parched and sore as if she had swallowed a knife that cut her from her mouth to her gut.
Rayven’s face grew angry as he listened to her thwart him even in her pitiful state. He was glad she was here, locked behind iron bars, to learn some respect.
“Very well, I have no mercy for you.”
Aspen is an amazing woman to emulate and I try each day to be like her for she is strong, capable, intelligent, compassionate, and resilient. This girl has helped me, her creator, through some terrible times. Bringing her to life with my words has been an amazing experience and I know I have grown from her. If you walk in her footsteps through The Aspen Series, you might feel empowered from the things that she has accomplished in her life. Writing about her is much like wading through memories of another time in a forsaken place where God was the giver of all and circumstances were unforgiving. Aspen haunts my mind and she has for near to 15 years now. She shows us, in each progressive tale, that there is always room to grow and achieve no matter your station in life. I guarantee you she is not the same person in The Benevolent Light as she was in Noble Courage…but she is a determined soul ready to take on her world and win.
Most authors dream about their story being on screen. I am one of the many. I often have conversations with readers about casting choices and who would I have play the role of Aspen. While there are many wonderful women out there to choose from, I will admit to seeing Keira Knightley in that role. When I first really saw her in a movie, and fell in love with her performance, it was during the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I think a lot of people thought her performance was great, but I saw the headstrong woman of Aspen in another scene of another time period. She has been in many movies in her life, but I recognize many qualities that Aspen holds in her.
So, if you have read the books…any of them…and have even one word to say about Aspen, feel free to comment below. Let other readers know what she inspired in you!
Looking for something new to read? Here are some links to help you out:
All books are eCopies unless stated otherwise…
Noble Courage: Book One of the Aspen Series (paperback rights are about to expire.)
Salvation of the Forgotten: Book Four of the Aspen Series Paperback copies available HERE
The Benevolent Light: Book Five of the Aspen Series Paperback copies available HERE