Next in my little series about authors who love their characters is Rachel Leigh Smith.
Why I Love A’yen Mesu
Thanks for opening up your blog day, Greta! It’s a lot of fun reading about why authors love certain characters.
I’m here to tell the Spacefreighters readers why I love my character A’yen Mesu, the star of the first three A’yen’s Legacy books. It’s both easy and difficult to do. I’ve been stringing words together on paper to tell stories since I was ten. After I finished high school, hardly a day went by without me putting words on paper. Literal paper, not virtual paper. This was back in my pre-laptop dark ages.
I’m also a domestic abuse survivor, in a marriage gone wrong. We were married for a little over three years, but only spent eleven months living together. I had to leave because I feared for my life. I was in the process of writing my first actual novel, and my words dried up.
From April 2010 to March 2011, I probably wrote 2,000 words altogether, most of them in a letter to my ex in-laws that I never mailed. While staying with grandmother after she had surgery, and basking in the peace and tranquility of her spirit, my words came back. By the end of 2011 I had a finished novel and two agent requests for the full manuscript. They loved my voice, but the subject matter was an almost impossible sell in that market.
Then, on the night of May 16, 2012, what should’ve been my third wedding anniversary instead of looking forward to the divorce being final, I dreamed about an alien walking through the woods saying the words Loks Mé over and over and over.
When I woke up the next morning, he told me his name was A’yen and he had a story to tell me. I made some basic plot notes while eating breakfast, opened a file that afternoon, named it My Name Is A’yen, and off I went. 86 days later I had a 95,000 word first draft.
It was the best summer of my life. A’yen was everything in a character I’d always wanted to write. He’s known intense heartache, lost his entire life, and had to reinvent himself against his will. It’s not a coincidence I was doing the same things that year.
A’yen finished his journey back to wholeness before I did. Then he held my hand as I finished mine. Writing the first three A’yen’s Legacy novels helped me work through what had happened to me and find new dreams to replace the ones that shattered.
A’yen is a smart-ass, a bit of an introvert, loves a good practical joke, refuses to be pigeonholed, and loves with every fiber of his being. He’ll sacrifice anything for those he loves, including his life. There’s a lot of me in him, and a lot of my dad (who flew 1400 miles while sleep-deprived and exhausted, to rescue his little girl).
He’ll always be near and dear to my heart. Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am. And I don’t think I’d be a whole person again. He taught me how to dream again.
The excerpt I’ve chosen to share with you is one of my favorite moments in the novel, and shows who he truly is at his core. He’s finally decided to trust Fae, and is slowly sharing his past with her.
He reached up, grasped her hand, pulled her around so he could see her face. “Life as a Loks Mé is a delicate balancing act. Things you take for granted aren’t that simple for me.”
Fae sat on the edge of the desk by his feet, resumed trailing her fingers on his legs this time. “Such as?”
“Looking at you without permission, for one. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who see me as more than a slave, which means I forget how dangerous it is for me to look at them and start conversations. I almost got myself arrested for assault on an Athen space station once because I smacked Pete’s head and told him to shut his big fat mouth before I stuffed his shoe down his throat.”
Fae’s eyes widened, and she glanced at Pete. “What did you tell him?”
“I was teasing him about being loud enough with Wayan that I could hear them when I walked into the bay.”
Pink tinted her cheeks, she stared at her shoes, and her fingers stopped their gentle massage. A’yen lifted her chin with his finger, to see her eyes. “We weren’t that loud. Pete is very good at tall tales.” He ran the tip of his thumb along the bottom of her lip. “The point is, the way I talk to people above me terrifies my mother. It’s a miracle my mouth hasn’t gotten me killed.”
Pete giggle-snorted. “It almost did that one time. Remember? I went down with you and Wayan to a festival on Centron.”
A’yen grinned at the memory. “Oh yeah. I told the governor’s wife if she didn’t get her hands off my ass and out of my pants I was going to break her fingers.”
Fae covered her mouth in a failed attempt to stifle a laugh. “I bet you did.”
“In my defense, I had no idea who she was, but her bodyguard had me on the ground in two seconds and almost broke my fingers. Then I had to apologize to her and the governor before they’d let me leave. If the governor hadn’t found it so funny, I’d be dead.”
Pete’s head wagged back and forth. “What I found funniest was how, not ten minutes later, Wayan was doing the exact same thing and you didn’t bat an eye.”
“He could put his hands wherever he damn well pleased.”
Fae stood from the desk, pressed a kiss to his cheek. “A’yen, you do have a fine ass.”
He caught her fingers, brought them to his lips. “Thank you.”
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn't often, she's hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging...