Today I’m very pleased to have an interview with Janine Ashbless about her latest novel Cover Him With Darkness, an erotic romance of angels and demons set in Montenegro. A highly recommended read and a very enjoyable interview if I do say so myself.
So, angels and bondage. Tell us about the fascination.
Ah. It’s the contrast – the idea of something that’s massively powerful and dangerous but tied up and helpless right now. And the implied question: What happens if he breaks loose?
This originally started as a short story in the anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe – which I loved. What was the process like turning a short story into a novel?
The short story became the first three chapters of the novel, and pretty much everything I did in those chapters was to add detail and incident and personality. I also introduced the character of Egan, who becomes so important to the plot later on. So, if you like, the short story is the abridged version.
I only had to make one actual change to events as depicted in the short story – and that was at my editor’s request. She said “hold off on their first sex together for a bit.” And she was right of course – in a novel the rhythm of the plot is different and you’ve got longer to build tension.
How long have you been writing for?
I started writing horror stories in 1989. I started writing erotica in 1999.
There was this fantasy novel I wrote as a teenager, of course … but we don’t talk about that … 😉
Who or what are your influences? Not necessarily other writers, but anything at all (music, art, people you’ve met?)
Interesting question! My biggest writerly influence is Angela Carter, of course. Victorian art (the Pre-Raphs, the Symbolists, the Orientalists) provides an endless source of inspiration. I love going to the movies – I’m such a visual writer that anything I watch might end up triggering a story idea.
You’ve clearly did a lot of research for Cover Him With Darkness. How long did it take you to do the research?
I LOVE doing research. I love tying threads of reality together in new ways to make a fictional plot. So I was researching all the time I was writing. And I spent a week in Montenegro! Sometimes it literally added a single important word – like when Father Velimir asks “You think they didn’t ask it in Jasenovac and Auschwitz?” In the West, our go-to example of man’s inhumanity is Auschwitz, but my characters are Serbian and I was wondering what they would use as an equivalent shorthand. That was a grim afternoon online, I can tell you.
What is your writing routine? Or rather, what is your ideal sort of day that includes writing as well as everything else you need to get done?
I’m glad you made the distinction. Oh how we long for uninterrupted writing days when nothing else urgent calls for attention!
Mine would be wake up and catch the breakfast news; drink tea; write in bed until lunchtime. Get showered (during which more ideas will hit me. I have a Magic Shower of Inspiration, clearly); walk the dogs; go online to try and deal with the stuff hitting the internet fan. Write some more in the evening.
I loved the setting and how you evoked it, especially the countryside and the villages. What made you choose Montenegro?
Random good luck. The short story version needed – for plot reasons – a setting somewhere near Greece or at least the Mediterranean. It had to be mountainous, incredibly remote, and in a country that was still in parts cut off from ‘ordinary’ modern life. I looked at an atlas and picked a bit of Montenegro based largely on geology. I could have picked Morocco or Albania.
There is a great sequence set at Burning Man in the novel, and it is quite a change from the rest of the novel. Why Burning Man?
I want to go, so much! It’s on my bucket list 🙂
The end of the book promises exciting future adventures. What next for Azazel and Milja?
Azazel needs to find and free the other captive Watcher angels – but they’re well-hidden of course. He’ll find one of his comrades in Ethiopia, and will need Milja’s help to get him into hostile territory. But Uriel and the loyal angels will not be standing idly by, and Egan’s not going to give up on Milja either – he’ll be back.
What’s next? Betrayal, death, dirty sex, more blasphemy, miracles. Revelations and twists and agonising choices. New opponents and allies. I feel sorry for my characters … I’m so mean to them!
What is your next project?
Writing Part 2 of this series, I very much hope. Hear that folks? Buy Cover Him with Darkness, y’all, and give me editorial permission to tell more!
Janine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure – and that’s “fantasy” in the sense of swords ‘n’ sandals, contemporary paranormal, fairytale, and stories based on mythology and folklore. She likes to write about magic and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.
Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000, and her novels and single-author collections now run into double figures. She’s also had numerous short stories published by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, and Ellora’s Cave among others. She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology Geek Love.
Her work has been described as: “hardcore and literate” (Madeline Moore) and “vivid and tempestuous and dangerous, and bursting with sacrifice, death and love.” (Portia Da Costa)
* Janine Ashbless Facebook
* Amazon UK Author Page
* Amazon US Author Page
If You Loved an Angel… How Far Would You Fall with Him?
What happens when the daughter of the village priest falls in love with an archangel banished from heaven? Milja’s heart is struck when she catches a glimpse of the preternaturally beautiful prisoner her father keeps captive beneath his church’s altar. Torn between tradition, loyalty and her growing obsession with the fallen angel, will Milja risk losing her family, and her eternal soul, for the love of this divine being? Janine Ashbless will transport you to a world where good and evil battle for true love.