Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Writing that touches



Janine Ashbless



I'm writing this intro from a world made of cardboard boxes as I get ready to move to The Country. It seems appropriate that just as I leave for the wilds, I've got the wonderful Janine Ashbless as my guest - a writer whose work often explores dark enchanted forests and fantastical lands. That's where I'm going to live!

Please read on to find out why this supremely talented writer believes 'sex matters' - and leave a comment to be in with a chance of winning an advance copy of Janine's new story collection 'Dark Enchantment'.





Why do you write?


The sad-but-true answer is that it’s a physical need, and an addiction. I have no real choice. When I write down the stories in my head I get a physical buzz from it … and that’s not just because I write naughty stories that make me feel, er, “happy.” If I stop writing for more than a few days I get grouchy and filled with vile self-recrimination and then I start chasing Mr Ashbless round the house with an axe. He much prefers it when I’ve been writing.

Oh – and if I write something AND then I’m lucky enough to get it published I get this lovely validation of my existence from the universe too.

I’m not coming across as a complete nutcase, am I darlings?




Is there something in particular that you'd like to express?


“Sex is important. ” I think that’s what pretty much all of my stories express. The establishment would have us believe that sex is trivial and a bit silly, a footnote to anyone’s life story. This is bollocks. People pour time and money into sex, they destroy their relationships and their careers for sex. And – on the positive side – in the loneliest and bleakest times of our lives sex is a gift of solace and pleasure.

Fictional sex might be as important as the real thing, because let’s face it the stuff that really matters is what goes on in your head, not the bumping together of hairy bits. It’s what’s going on in your head that makes sex not just a trivial genital spasm but a place in which to find something more: escape from the self or connection to the human race, punishment or redemption, love, responsibility, surrender, empowerment, validation, intimacy, even transformation. So I write about those things.

Sex in my stories isn’t always happy but it always matters. And I try and make it hot as hell too, of course!



What is the most successful piece or work you feel you've written, and why?


In my upcoming short story collection there are a couple of shorts that I’m just so proud of I could pop!

My first collection of short stories, “Cruel Enchantment” was most successful sales-wise, and to be honest that’s the structure I like writing best – erotic short stories. And someone I know once got a shag off a woman he’d just met on the strength of his having once had a torrid relationship with the author of “Cruel Enchantment” – yes, she was that impressed. Is that a measurement of my success?
:-D

On the other hand my second novel “Burning Bright” was most satisfying from a creative point of view, partly because it was such a bitch to get right and partly because I loved the two main characters with all my heart.


Please name a recent thought, event, person or whatever that inspired you:


To both rudeness and writing, you mean?
Royal icing. Heavy, cold, sweet sheets of royal icing…



***


Janine lives in the UK, with various rescued and fostered dogs and a husband who does a proper day-job.

blog : website

Her work includes:

Two collections of paranormal/fantasy/horror erotic short stories:
Cruel Enchantment
Dark Enchantment (out Jan 2009)

Contemporary paranormal novel:
Wildwood

Two linked erotic/fantasy novels:
Divine Torment
Burning Bright


Her novellas and short stories appear in anthologies from Black Lace and Cleis, including Best Women’s Erotica 2009.

All to be found under “Janine Ashbless” on Amazon.




Thank you so much, Janine! Next week, presuming I've managed to find the internet in the depths of the forest, I'll be interviewing the shimmering Shanna Germain!

32 comments:

Nikki Magennis said...

Janine, it's such a pleasure to have you here, thanks!

I'm just about to pack myself into a cardboard box, but before I go I wanted to say how much I admire and enjoy your writing - how beautiful, brave and enlivening (is that a word?) it is, and how bowled over I am with how you manage to combine thoroughly researched myth and history with vivid, heart-stopping prose.

Also, the comment about why 'sex matters'? Yes! Thank you! You might just have inspired me to write another erotic novel!

Janine Ashbless said...

Thank-you Nikki! Your praise genuinely touches me because I really rate your writing ... and because you're such a lovely person. Actually, being asked to be interviewed here was a wonderful compliment too.
Good luck!
Byeee!

Mmm. Okay, so now I've been left alone in Nikki's place while she goes off in the removal van. So, pull up a packing-case and I'll try and make you a cup of tea. Ah. Anyone know where she keeps the teaspoons?
Damn. I think she's packed them.

Nikki Magennis said...

*Thump Thump*

(from box: sorry, no teaspoons Janine. I think there's half a bottle of Bombay Sapphire next to the sink tho. Have fun!)

Craig Sorensen said...

If you are a nutcase, you are not alone Janine! You put the dynamic of the irresistible urge to write in sharp focus. I can definitely relate.

And hear, hear to: “Sex is important. ” I think that’s what pretty much all of my stories express. The establishment would have us believe that sex is trivial and a bit silly, a footnote to anyone’s life story. This is bollocks. People pour time and money into sex, they destroy their relationships and their careers for sex. And – on the positive side – in the loneliest and bleakest times of our lives sex is a gift of solace and pleasure.

So well said, and this definitely comes through in Janine's exceptional writing.

Thanks for the lovely interview Nikki. Janine's bold energy nicely fills this otherwise empty flat. I'm quite content to stir my tea with my finger.

Janine Ashbless said...

Merci, Craig.
It's funny - even on lazy days when I don't actually want to write, I still feel the need to. It's stood me in good stead over the years!

Craig Sorensen said...

I hear you Janine. I basically write every day, even if I'm just editing something, or if it's something I'm working on in my head. I truly must write.

Charlotte Stein said...

I'll be honest- I'd bonk a donkey for an early copy of Dark Enchantment. Though I suppsose that comment implies that I like your work a lot, Janine, and read the interview (and am not just here for a chance at a copy of DE!)

Janine Ashbless said...

lol!

Bonking donkeys is NOT one of the things Black Lace permit us to write about!
Although there is a Minotaur story in Dark Enchantment...

Charlotte Stein said...

I read all about your Minotaur troubles on your website, I think! Those bits about how your books came into being and all the struggles and what not are fascinating BTW. Wasn't it something about making it have less of a bull face, or something?

Janine Ashbless said...

Yep - that was for Wildwood; and as I found out this week, for *certain reviewers* even my toned-down version was WAY too much to cope with.

For my new short story I approached the whole thing from a completely different angle. It's probably too early to judge, but I think it might be the best thing I've written.

Charlotte Stein said...

Hopefully you're not letting it get you down! I've read a not-so-positive review of Wildwood, but to me it seemed more about the reviewer's personal squick levels and need for happy hsppy romance land than a true and objective review of an erotic novel.

Not that there's anything wrong with happy happy romance land, but I read Black Lace for sometimes edgy, always interesting erotica. I hate to criticise reviewers, but sometimes you do think- this was never going to be for you.

I think that fans of BL, and people who pick up a BL book knowing what it's likely to contain- they're the true judges of your work, Janine. And you must know that those readers do love your stuff. I know I do.

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Enjoyed the interview! Why am I getting to know all the Lusties better after we've closed the site?! LOL

Janine Ashbless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janine Ashbless said...

Charlotte - thank you. Am feeling better now and have put the voodoo doll away.
;-)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Janine, I admire you so much for your breathtaking talent with the erotic word* and your personal spirit of adventure! You're also a terrific comrade, someone whom it's a joy to frolic with on the erotic authors' playground.

Oh, look! Nikki forgot to take the peanut butter. Anyone else fancy a sandwich? Or a PB massage?

Thanks, Nikki, for Janine and snacks!

Spamword is parer. I guess NM forgot to pack that, too. Anyone want an apple? They go great with peanut butter.

*I really mean words, of course—I didn't mean any one word in particular, though naturally I do have my favorites.

Kirsten Monroe said...

Did somebody say PB massage?

Thank you Janine and Nikki! I have printed out this quote and have it posted under my keyboard where my hairy bits can rub up against it and be reminded, deliciously, what this is all about!

"Fictional sex might be as important as the real thing, because let’s face it the stuff that really matters is what goes on in your head, not the bumping together of hairy bits. It’s what’s going on in your head that makes sex not just a trivial genital spasm but a place in which to find something more: escape from the self or connection to the human race, punishment or redemption, love, responsibility, surrender, empowerment, validation, intimacy, even transformation. So I write about those things."

As Craig said, such "bold energy."

kristina lloyd said...

Cruel Enchantment is such a wonderful read. I'm really looking forward to DE.

I remember reading the first story in CE and coming across the phrase 'the pouch of his bollocks'. I thought, Wow, no-one says 'bollocks' in erotica! And that's one of the things I particularly admire about Janine's writing - the use of language that's simultaneously coarse and romantic, and really taps into that earthy English folkloric sensibility. Top class.

Nikki, this series is so fab! Thank you. And thanks, Janine.

EllaRegina said...

What Craig said, and everyone else!

This interview was truly inspirational!

Thank you, Janine!

And, thank you Nikki, for this eye-opening mind-expanding series.

Janine Ashbless said...

Thank you everyone - especially Nikki of course.

Is the peanut butter crunchy or smooth, Jeremy?

And because this is a mouse-friendly blog I thought I'd bring this to the party. Do you think Nikki's mice could be trained to do that? For peanut butter, perhaps?

Jeremy Edwards said...

The peanut butter is verrrrry smooth. We use only the suavest peanuts.

Olivia Knight said...

I have transposed my soul and temporarily possessed one of your dogs. So that's actually me, staring at you with my tongue hanging out and panting at the thought of maybe maybe maybe winning a copy of Dark Enchantment. (Although if you have any sense you prob won't give it to someone who already rates your stuff and whose itchy fingers are already straying towards Amazon...)

If anyone missed Janine's Lust Bites article on Death and the Maiden: Killing Characters, it's still up and equally inspiring - halfway through I started hearing strains of "Land of Hope and Glory" and by the end, everyone was standing up, saluting / hats over their hearts, tears in their eyes, as her grand defence of erotica rose to a towering crescendo.

Okay, evil twin, before I start drooling on your feet, I should probably relinquish your dog - btw, he says he'd like a walk and can you teach him to use the can-opener.

Janine Ashbless said...

It's a good job we know we're not nutcases, isn't it?
;-)

You are all wonderful people and a delight to hang out with.

Kristina - my story "Janissaries" in Dark Enchantment was written with you in mind. I hope you like it because I had a blast writing it. I think you may have corrupted me, just a tad.

Smut Girl said...

[“Sex is important. ”]

Amen! Yay! What fun getting to know Janine better. I haven't read her story yet in BWE 09. It just came yesterday and I haven't stop trembling with glee over being in it yet. So I can't read and tremble at the same time. But I'm looking forward to it.

Another great Friday fix, Nikki. Thx. And good luck with the move. Blech. I've moved about a thousand times and am done with it.

xoxo
sommer

Janine Ashbless said...

We share space in Frenzy too Sommer - it's like hanging out in the same clubs (but never quite meeting because its too noisy to strike up a conversation. Which makes Nikki's the chill-out room, I guess). I should ask you to dance ... except that I have all the dancing talent of a lobster.

kristina lloyd said...

Janine, thank you! I'm honoured and excited. Can't wait to read 'Janissaries'. Did you know I once lived in Turkey or is that coincidence?

Janine Ashbless said...

No, I didn't! How cool - I've been to Turkey a couple of times and I loved it. Actually "Janissaries" isn't really set in Turkey - it's more a fantasy version of Constantinople than anything else - BUT my story "Chimaera" in the same collection is set in contemporary Istanbul.

I'd love to hear about your time abroad.

kristina lloyd said...

I'm liking the sound of DE more and more. I lived in Istanbul for several months (teaching English) then went travelling all over the place so was there for about a year, 1989-90.

It's a magical, crazy country (but politically very dodgy as I'm sure you know). It's also where I first got the hots for army boys! Like many western women, I got a lot of unwanted male attention which grew extremely wearying after a while. But, as if to compensate, there were all these beautiful young men standing about the place in uniform with cropped hair and astonishing eyes. And they couldn't look or touch or make that weird clicky noise in their throat as you passed. Not so great for them, being forced to join the military, but it made my life much sweeter!

Ilya in Asking for Trouble was inspired by my lust for Turkish soldiers and my story in BL's first Wicked Words antho is a Turkish army-boy gang bang (centring on one woman). Oh, and my vamps in Lust Bites is part set in Constantinople.

I didn't realise until I added it all up there how much Turkey has seeped into my fiction. But it's one of those places which never leaves you. Istanbul has the most incredible sunsets and the call to prayer floating across the city is hauntingly beautiful.

We should go and get ourselves a couple of rakis and swap stories! I seem to remember seeing Cappadocia (sp?) on your blog a while ago. What's the link, please?

Janine Ashbless said...

My Cappadoica + hot Turkish bloke post was here (sorry, he has Girl Hair and an Evil Beard).
My "hero" in my BWE '09 story is (half-)Turkish too...

Cappadocia is just amazing - you look at the landscape and think that God must have been dropping acid that day. I was there for a few days as part of a touring holiday. Best one I ever went on - and we had a female Turkish guide, interestingly.

I do love my foreign holdays ... and they always give me writing material. :-)

Janine Ashbless said...

It's Monday now, so I'm calling the book competition. Thank you to everyone who dropped by and said lovely things!

The donkeys are safe ... because the winner of an advance copy of Dark Enchantment is Charlotte Stein.

Charlotte, if you mail me at janineashbless [at] fsmail [dot]net
with your land address I will post you your signed copy.

Charlotte Stein said...

Holy schmolien! Thanks Janine! Have gushed more embarrassingly in email with my land address to you, but suffice to say, you are awesome.

And I'd say that whether I was getting my greedy mitts on an early copy or not. Because it's just a fact.

Nikki Magennis said...

Ach, I totally missed my own party, eh?!

How come there's peanut butter all over the place? It will attract the mice, you know.

Thanks for looking after the guests, Janine! x

Madeline Moore said...

Damn. I totally missed the party, too. How'd that happen? Just wanted to add this - Janine is a great writer and a real supporter of other writers, which I truly appreciate. An inspiration. Proof that not only does a little nuttiness do a writer no harm, it can do her/him a whole lotta good!