What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a collection of erotic short stories with various supernatural and fantasy themes, and I was inspired to write them after a friend gave me a Black Lace collection and I realized “WOW! You are allowed to write this sort of naughty stuff!”
The first book of this trilogy, Cover Him With Darkness, started life as a short story that appeared in Mitzi Szereto’s collection Red Velvet and Absinthe, and the publisher at Cleis loved it so much that she asked me to write what happened next.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Madeline Moore called me “hardcore and literate.” I love that!
How did you come up with the title of your current book?
“In Bonds of the Earth” is a quote from The Book of Enoch, which is an apocryphal BC text not included in most Bibles, but which is all about fallen angels: “And from henceforth you shall not ascend into heaven into all eternity, and in bonds of the earth the decree has gone forth, to bind you for all the days of the world.”
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Right and wrong is not about following any set of laws, it’s founded on empathy.
How much of the book is realistic?
It’s a contemporary paranormal about fallen angels, but I put a LOT of effort into making the settings and details accurate. A big chunk is set in Ethiopia for example – so I went to Ethiopia for 20 days. The description of the rock-hewn churches is bang-on accurate…right up to the end of Chapter 9.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My real life is not that eventful, believe me!
What books have most influenced your life most?
“The Lord of the Rings.” I’m a geek; I started playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was thirteen. I think everything else has come out of that.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Angela Carter influenced my writing style and themes from the start.
What book are you reading now?
“The Tiger and the Wolf” by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It’s an excellent fantasy with a really unusual setting.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Samantha McLeod and Sonni de Soto.
What are your current projects?
I’m writing the sequel to In Bonds of the Earth, and the final part of that trilogy: The Prison of the Angels.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’ve found the erotica writing community (which is mostly female btw) incredibly supportive, intelligent, and friendly.
Do you see writing as a career?
No – I see it as a vocation, and as my purpose in life.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I wish I’d made it clear that all fallen angels are left-handed. Too late now, lol.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I always wanted to write, I think.
Can you share a little of your current work in progress with us?
Egan came up behind me without a word and slipped his arms round my waist, kissing the top of my head, breathing the scent of my hair.
Goddamnit; to cut him some slack, I’m fairly sure he didn’t know the effect that had on me– my insides were doing that flip-flop thing that hurt so good.
“We need to talk,” he murmured.
I knew it! Here it comes. Mr. Rationality. Mr. Consequences. My stomach tightened up like a knotted fist. They were so different, my two loves. Azazel was a creature of appetite and the moment, living for his desires—but Egan lived in the battlemented ivory tower of overthinking, fending off the armies of his libido. Only when he was undermined by illness or exhaustion or drink did he ever fall into recklessness.
And me? I was much more like Azazel. I went with my gut instinct. None of this would have happened if that hadn’t been the case.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
After 15+ years of writing erotica, the most challenging thing is writing orgasms without just repeating myself!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have many favorite authors, all wildly different, but the one thing they all have in common is that they have their own creative vision and they don’t compromise it or write to a market formula.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I LOVE travelling, and use the places I’ve been to all over the world as settings or inspiration for many of my stories and novels – even ones set in imaginary worlds.
Who designed the covers?
The cover of In Bonds of the Earth is by Deranged Doctor Design and I’m delighted with it! The publisher and I put a LOT of discussion into getting something we’d be proud of. In fact, input into cover design was my first stipulation in my contract!
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing the main antagonist/villain, in a way that makes it clear they’re awful, yet understandable.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Every time you think you know your characters, they suddenly reveal another layer of complexity.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you have an uncomfortable truth to tell about your protagonist, put it in the mouth of an antagonist.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Read critically. Don’t assume that everything a protagonist says is correct, or is projecting the author’s own opinion. We sometimes write characters that we think are getting it badly wrong.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
I was brought up in a Christian (born-again Protestant) family but I’ve had to do a lot of research for this trilogy into other Christian theologies – Catholicism and Serbian Orthodoxy in particular, since my two main human characters belong to those traditions. There are surprising and significant differences that affect how they see the world.
Coffee – Tea: BOTH, IN STRICT TURN
Boxer – Briefs: BRIEFS
Jeans – Sweats: JEANS
Silk – Cotton: COTTON
iPhone-Galaxy: I DON’T OWN A SMARTPHONE!
Rightie – Leftie : LEFTIE
Rock n roll – Country: ROCK
Mountains – Beach: MOUNTAINS
Cat -Dog: DOG
Favorite Movie: A Muppet Christmas Carol
Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones
Favorite Car: Anything that can fit two greyhounds in the back
Favorite Color: Midnight blue
Favorite Male Film Star: Tom Hardy
Favorite Female Film Star: Eva Green
Favorite Fast Food: Chinese
Favorite Cocktail: Mojito
Favorite Musical Band: Rammstein
Favorite Singer: Freddie Stevenson
Favorite Song: “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel
Excerpt from In Bonds of the Earth:
Wrapping the cheap cotton throw from the foot of the bed around my bare body, I padded through to the doorway. The Archangel Michael stood in the middle of my small apartment, looking about him at the book shelves and the pictures. A paperback copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo slipped from his hand back onto the low table.
“Hello, Milja. Nice place. Has he moved his toothbrush in yet?”
It was like waking to find a giant bird of prey in my tiny living room; he looked wildly unsuited to a domestic setting and way too big for it, even with wings furled. In fact, with that Roman nose and those unblinking amber eyes, there was something distinctly golden eagle-like about him. If he stretched out he could knock over walls, I thought.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked. “This is my home. You can’t just come barging in!”
“You’re right,” he said, looking startled. “I have to have your permission. No, hold on, wait…that’s vampires. Shame.”
I pursed my lips. “Well, God certainly did not hold back on the sarcasm when he made you guys.”
He smirked. If you’re that good-looking, even a less-than-warm smile can be a weapon of devastating charm. Turning to the couch, he sat down with arms draped over the back and knees spread. It was not so much an invitation as a claiming of territory.
“What do you want?” I kept my voice hard, even as I thought of the icon of Saint Michael that had stood guard over the key in my father’s church. That holy painting had always made me feel nervous as a child, and he was no less intimidating in the flesh. His piercing gaze rested lightly upon me, with all the gentleness of a sword-point.
His rigger boots were caked in dried mud, I noticed, and flaking on my rug. I wished he would blink. It still creeped me out, even though Azazel should have inured me to it. “Angels aren’t supposed to lie. What are you doing here?”
“So, what…you’re sitting guard over me until Azazel comes back? Is that your plan?”
“He’s too much of a coward to face me. Runs every time.”
“If that’s the way you want to call it.”
He looked at the kitchen door. “I see you have a kettle. You got any tea? I like that Earl Grey stuff. Tastes like flowers.”
“I know the rules, you know. You can’t actually do anything to me.”
“True enough. And I’m not stopping you leaving, if that’s worrying you.”
“I can move out. Get a new place.”
“That’s fine, I’ll find you. This apartment’s a bit small for the two of us, to be honest.”
I clenched my jaw, weighing my options. “Okay,” I said, and dropped my wrap to reveal my naked body, in all its post-coital salty glow.
That wiped the smile off his lips. “Don’t play those games,” he growled, sitting up and looking away from me.
Love is Azazel’s weak spot. Shame is theirs. They’re terrified of their own human flesh.
“What? Does this make you uncomfortable? That’s a pity, seeing as how it’s my house and I like to walk around it naked.”
“You are shameless.” His gaze was sliding all over the place, not daring to settle on me.
“I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.” I hefted my breasts and jiggled them. “They’re my tits. In my apartment. If you don’t want to see, clear out.”
“Put your robe back on,” he rasped.
“Oops,” I said. “Did I drop it?” Turning my back to him, I spread my feet and, straight-legged, bent over to pick the fabric up again. Nice and slow…
He moved so fast he’d launched me across the room and onto my bed before I even realized he was out of his seat. The abused mattress twanged in alarm. It knocked the wind out of me—and more than that, shocked me half to death. I wasn’t in the least bit hurt, not even bruised, but I hadn’t expected him to touch me at all, under the rules. Maybe the Boatman sailed closer to the wind than I’d bargained for.
“Don’t do that, whore!” he barked, leaning into my face. He looked furious. I knew why. It takes a human decades to learn how to deal with all the things that come with an adult body—all those hormones and instincts—without losing control. Angels never had the advantage of a gradual introduction.
I had two choices: surrender or fight. I bared my teeth and snarled right back at him, matching his rage and contempt. “Or what? You’re going to rape me? ’Cause I think that might just count as a fall from Grace, don’t you? And then you’d be royally fucked, Mister Michael.”
He recoiled, drawing himself up in undisguised horror. I took advantage of the gap between us to roll over and pull the drawer of my bedside cabinet open, pulling out the silicon rabbit sex toy I’d been given at my graduation party. I hadn’t used it in months, I couldn’t even remember if there were any batteries in it, and I certainly wasn’t feeling horny, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
“Wanna watch?” I asked, spreading my legs wide. “Because that’s what us girls do when we’re home alone these modern days. You can go into the other room if it squicks you out to see. Then you’ll only have to listen to the noises I make.”
He turned on his heel and stomped away, slamming his hands into the doorframe hard enough to crack the wood. But he didn’t leave altogether. He was just that bit too stubborn.
“I will free them all.”
When Milja Petak released the fallen angel Azazel from five thousand years of imprisonment, she did it out of love and pity. She found herself in a passionate sexual relationship beyond her imagining and control – the beloved plaything of a dark and furious demon who takes what he wants, when he wants, and submits to no restraint. But what she hasn’t bargained on is being drawn into his plan to free all his incarcerated brothers and wage a war against the Powers of Heaven.
As Azazel drags Milja across the globe in search of his fellow rebel angels, Milja fights to hold her own in a situation where every decision has dire consequences. Pursued by the loyal Archangels, she is forced to make alliances with those she cannot trust: the mysterious Roshana Veisi, who has designs of her own upon Azazel; and Egan Kansky, special forces agent of the Vatican – the man who once saved then betrayed her, who loves her, and who will do anything he can to imprison Azazel for all eternity.
Torn every way by love, by conflicting loyalties and by her own passions, Milja finds that she too is changing – and that she must do things she could not previously have dreamt of in order to save those who matter to her.
In Bonds of the Earth is the second in the Book of the Watchers trilogy and the sequel to Cover Him With Darkness.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Janine_Ashbless_In_Bonds_of_the_Earth?id=HZMSDgAAQBAJ&hl=en
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-bonds-of-the-earth-janine-ashbless/1125264279?ean=9781910908099
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Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-bonds-of-the-earth-janine-ashbless/1125264279?ean=9781910908082
Janine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure. She likes to write about magic and myth and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.
Buyer beware! If you like dark romance and a hard-won Happily Ever After, try “Cover Him with Darkness,” “Heart of Flame,” or “The King’s Viper.” If you prefer challenging erotica, go for “Red Grow the Roses” or “Named and Shamed” instead. All her other books lie somewhere on the spectrum between.
Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000. 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’.
Born in Wales, Janine now lives in the North of England with her husband and two rescued greyhounds. She has worked as a cleaner, library assistant, computer programmer, local government tree officer, and – for five years of muddy feet and shouting – as a full-time costumed Viking. Janine loves goatee beards, ancient ruins, minotaurs, trees, mummies, having her cake and eating it, and holidaying in countries with really bad public sewerage.
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).
You can find Janine on Facebook or at her website or blog.
Author picture credit to David Woolfall.
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