A year ago on November 28th a seventeen-year-old girl on her way not only to school but just stepping forth toward her journey into life was killed in a car accident. Still a mystery as to how the car left the road and hit a tree, remains the question as to how families can suffer the loss of a child without the help of others – but even then – the families, the friends never walk away from a scene that becomes a memory of one of life’s tragedies.
Ashlie Nicole Stell’s death won’t go away – not by all her friends – not by her parents – not by the many she touched along the way so this December 2nd their will be a benefit in her name of a different kind simply because that’s the kind of girl she was.
“She was a rule breaker – she didn't let society dictate her goals, her dreams and she always had time for those who just wanted to spend some time with her. Her words are echoed by another Virginia author Rowan Lore, a character in her upcoming novel Fall On Me – 'I don't make the trends, I break the trends.' That was my Ashlie – that is what this tour is going to be – I'll be treading on waters where not many authors would dare to go. But watch – you'll see it will make all the difference in the world. She would have wanted things this way. For a tiny 4 foot 11 inch, 80 pound girl she would have stood up to the world to show you – she wore no labels – she was no better than you or I but everyone knew different. They knew who she was bound to be but sadly she was taken from us far too soon.” said her mother and horror author Kristy Tallman who is on tour with her debut novel The All-Soul’s Faire.
On December 2nd Tallman will be doing a book signing at the Red Dragon Tattoo Studio while she gets a tattoo of Stell’s last piece of artwork. A self-portrait she sketched out for her portfolio she was building as she was trying to get acceptance into VCU’s School of Arts. A tattoo of this is no coincidence as in Stell’s eyes tattoos are a form of art just as your favorite Rembrandt or Salvador Dali only the canvas is different. She would have been proud to wear it herself, though she didn’t seem to realize the beauty her own spirit held – it was a piece of artwork in itself and her mother will wear it proud.
Among celebrating the love and time we all shared with Ashlie we were just informed of another tribute that will be launched on December 2nd in her memory by publishing company Gromagon Press out of Clearwater, Florida – a new label she would have been proud to wear. Owner Malcolm Deeley, who’s also a profound poet and already known for his contributions to those in need has created a subsidiary press called Ash Phoenix Books which will give young authors the opportunity to get their work published into chap books all dedicated in the memory of Ashlie – to help give them the start they need - all this without taking a thing in return. Deeley promises they will keep all the profits they earn.
Tallman has found through her personal experience that the press loves a bad story – when Stell’s accident came about it was covered thoroughly by the news but this time she hopes they will see the need for balance, that they will actually show the good that can come in spite of a tragedy.
On the day of her daughters death she will stand before the Blue Knights International Chapter VA XVII at their monthly meeting, which is a Motorcycle Club that consists of active and retired Law Enforcement Officers announcing to it’s members the intention of December 2nd and the entire All-Soul’s Faire Tour of a percentage of the proceeds of her book sales going back into the organization that helped her family in the untimely death of Stell.
“Here they pulled up in a sheriff’s car and I wondered dear God what have I done now but instead of being the bearer of bad news they held out a check that would assist in making certain there was a marker on my daughter’s grave. I can’t help but want to make sure another family receives the same thing in tragic times. Nothing can take away the pain but being able to mark your daughter’s grave – well this is my way of trying to say thank you.” said Tallman. “I want to be a part of helping the Blue Knights achieve their goals. I might be just a drop in the hat of many who help but every bit counts when it comes to those on the receiving end. This stop on the tour kicks off a continual donation process where for every book I sell on the road will have proceeds going to the Blue Knights, not to mention a tall standing old mason jar old Cecil (a character from The All-Soul’s Faire) might have once drank his shine from available to drop some change into.” said Tallman.
It is expected that Mitchell Harris, President of the chapter XVII and an Investigator for Dinwiddie County Sheriff's Office will be in attendance and Tallman hopes that many more of their members will drop in to be a part of the day’s celebration for art, writing, friendships, and mostly for the love of a dearly missed child that was taken far too soon not only from her parents arms but from the art world in general.
Mitchell Harris, President of the chapter XVII and an Investigator for Dinwiddie County Sheriff's Office commented, “When we heard of Ms. Tallman’s loss, it affected us deeply. As Law Enforcement Officers, we witness pain and suffering on an all too frequent basis. When Blue Knights Motorcycle Club Chapter Virginia XVII had the opportunity to help Kristy out in a small way we were eager to assist. That’s one small way we can “give back” to the people we serve. Her offer of a donation of the proceeds came as a complete surprise to me and the rest of the Chapter. It is because of people like Kristy we, as an Organization, are able to continue this type of service to our community. We truly appreciate this unique opportunity which allows us to continue our goal of providing help to families who could use assistance in a time of need.”
Tallman is not the only one dedicating the day to her daughter but she is also dedicating the day to the arts which is something she feels is not recognized enough here in the state of Virginia – and she’s not alone in feeling this way. The Red Dragon Tattoo Shop located on West Broad Street in Richmond has teamed up with Tallman to take the steps toward doing just that by opening up their doors on December 2 to just such an event.
“This event is not just a book signing – there's a lot more to it.” says Tallman. “Red Dragon's owner Robbie Villalpando is going to be opening her shop not just to me but to the friends of my daughter and anyone else who wants to attend. Ashlie’s artwork will be displayed, it's going to be a dedication and celebration of our love for her and Robbie's devoted the day in her name as well as celebrating bringing the arts together. ”
Villalpando commented, "Without boundaries, together we come as artist, and free spirited souls to celebrate the life and art of one of our own, Ashlie Stell, the talented storytelling of her mother and of the artists of Red Dragon Studios. It's going to be a unique experience - I'm really looking forward to it.”
Paul Carmichael, Tallman’s publicist reminds the media and Virginian’s in general “This isn’t the first time Tallman has strayed from convention on this tour as her first stop back in Richmond after her pre-launch signing at Creatures-N-Crooks was at the Richmond Tattoo Art’s Festival. She’s unlike any author you will meet – down to earth – so down to earth she would sit down on your porch and do a book signing or just hang out telling you a story or two.”
“She's got a goal – she's trying to bring all the arts under one roof – art of all forms – music – filmmaking and yes even the writers. If anyone can do it – she'll be the one.” said her publisher, Lauren Ferrell. "There's a lot more to come for Virginia. She's determined to bring back to life the dying love the state once used to pride itself upon – the arts. Celebrating her daughter’s love for the arts, the love for challenges didn’t come from afar – it was within her all along – given to her by a truly talented author and mother, Kristy Tallman.”
The day’s events will begin at 2pm and will continue until such time as Stell’s artwork is finished being recreated upon her mother’s back.
“All her friends will tell you, as small as she was, she would always tell you “I got your back. I got your back momma – she would say. December 2nd my baby will have my back always.” said her mother as she held back the tears.
All her friends, all those who knew her and all those who wish not only to support the arts but benefit other families who face times as Tallman’s family did a year ago are invited to attend. Please though if you wish to get a tattoo call ahead and let Red Dragon set your appointment – extra artists will be brought in for the event but time and space is limited for the day’s events. For those who wish to get a book signed just drop on by and if you just wish to support the arts sit around with us as we tell stories that will bring you closer to the beautiful girl who touched so many lives. Celebrate with us our time with her – the honor and blessing we had in knowing her. And as for the press give her the props she deserves – make the balance – share the good that is coming from such a tragedy.