Marc Ashton was kidnapped at gunpoint in his long-time home of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2001. The Spirit of Villarosa tells this story, but even more captivating is the interwoven tale of Marc’s deceased father, Horace Dade Ashton, a great adventurer, whose persevering spirit is the catalyst for Marc’s bold escape. Marc promised himself he would tell his father’s story if he made it out alive. The Spirit of Villarosa gloriously delivers on that promise. Ashton co-authored the book with SPAWN member Libby J. Atwater.
Spanning the globe and nearly a century, Horace Dade Ashton’s adventures are larger than life. All of the famous events he witnessed and fascinating people he met will astound readers. From being President Theodore Roosevelt’s personal photographer to witnessing the Wright brothers’ first flight to sleeping in the same room in a Tibetan monastery that Jesus did to becoming indoctrinated in Voodoo to meeting Rasputin and Mark Twain to capturing snakes and bank robbers, and so much more. Horace did it all.
The Spirit of Villarosa tells the tales of not only an adventurous father and a son’s terrifying ordeal, but also illustrates the challenges of having an illustrious father whose beliefs and values often clashed with his son’s, and whose bold, adventurous life choices created consequences for those around him. Beyond that, it is also a spiritual story of what human beings can accomplish when faced with the prospect of experiencing enlightening adventures or their own violent death, and how these can be so similar.
Marc Ashton was born in Washington, D.C. and arrived in Haiti as an infant when his father became Cultural Attaché to the U.S. Embassy. Marc remained in Haiti most of his life, marrying, starting a family, founding numerous businesses, employing thousands of people, and treating all he knew with respect. He remained on his beloved island until the day after he was kidnapped and held for ransom by four armed thugs. Marc retired to Boca Raton, Florida, where he is active in the community and serves as president of his homeowners’ association.
Libby J. Atwater began her career as a Beverly Hills English teacher, after which she became an editor in the Los Angeles area. For the past 26 years, she has written other people’s stories, as a journalist and personal historian. Her work appears in numerous anthologies, and she has received awards for her writing, especially her 2013 memoir, What Lies Within. Born on the East Coast, she now lives on the central coast of Southern California.