Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Today's guest is fellow British writer, Sam Thorne

I'm delighted to have Sam Thorne as my guest today, a fellow British erotica writer. I've enjoyed reading her work, so it's great to be able to chat to her, and ask about the recently-published anthology, Sexy To Go Gay Romance, which includes one of her stories.


Sam, I'm rather intrigued that I know so many female writers producing excellent stories about gay male relationships. Off the top of my head, I can think of Michele Micheal Rakes, Elizabeth Schechter, Meg Amor and Brina Brady, who all write excellent, engaging stories. Do you have any ideas why MM erotica is so popular with female writers?

Well I can only speak for myself, but I've witnessed the blossoming of a few relationships between men that just warmed me to the soul and made me want to relive them in my own time on the page. What I love to write (and read) for pure escapist purposes is the combination of the smooth, self-assured soul who's able to charm even the gruffest, most laconic bloke walking. I'm referring to the chemistry, of course. I think it's the chemistry that gets a lot of female MM writers, followed by the competitive forms of masculinity in the bedroom. I am not male. But I'm lucky to have a few gay male betas who will let me know quite bluntly if I'm going off-course with the horizontal shenanigans!


How did this anthology come together? I note that no-one is credited as being the editor, so did you "buddy up" to help each other?

In all honesty, I was directed towards the Sexy to Go set-up (who already have several successful anthologies) by my good friend Dale C Lowry. Dale and I have now appeared in three anthologies together and he asked me if I had a story available for inclusion within the word count for the collection. Both Haley Whitehall and Eva LeFoy (the administrative masterminds) were friendly, efficient and very welcoming to this total newbie to their set-up. I'm very grateful to them and hope to have the opportunity to support their future ventures, even if I'm not directly involved as a contributor.


What do you have in mind for your next writing project?

I have my eye on a couple of anthologies that I would like to submit to over the next three months, but I won’t name them because I’m superstitious. Most of my energies are being invested in a novel with the working title A Brotherhood of Bouncers, which is a sequel to Single-Syllable Steve. This short story features Celeste, a shy book-keeper at a London nightclub, who is hit by an ovary-squashing crush on the towering, taciturn and temporary doorman, Steve. Undermined by a horrible boss and surrounded by glamorous bar maids, Celeste is desperate to grow a pair and tell Steve how she feels before he leaves.

The sequel is about the difficulties in keeping a relationship going after the honeymoon period. Even with his two jobs as motor mechanic and doorman, Steve’s finances are in a dire state. When the cost of his father’s care package rockets, he’s driven to accepting a bodyguard job which is initially wonderful, but things quickly degenerate as he finds himself being put to work as a bailiff, then as a henchman. Meanwhile, Celeste’s struggling to get her family to accept Steve as a serious contender for the long term; her mother struggles to warm to the ‘deaf, over-sized Essex boy.’


I liked Steve and Celeste when I read their first story. I think it's great that more "real life" aspects of relationships are included in erotica, but I'll have to see how that tale works out. But I'll keep my fingers crossed that you can leave them happy. They both seemed pretty real, with strengths and weaknesses. Can I ask how you develop your ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?

Parts, yes. In terms of affairs of the heart, I prefer my characters to have very different emotional battles to my own. I write for my own escapism as well as the reader’s, so I deal with any personal demons in my own time. That said, I’m a strong believer in drawing on real life experiences where they have potential to lighten the tone. Like everyone, I’ve had my share of undignified experiences, some of which I’ve later shared with friends. If those friends had a good laugh at my expense, I have no problem in fictionalising those less-than-golden moments if they have any potential for plot movement or character development.

A large part of my personal experience is that I’m profoundly deaf, but I lipread and wear hearing aids. I do appreciate that this presents something of a conundrum for a lot of people, who automatically associate profound deafness with sign-language. Several of my characters (like Single-Syllable Steve) are at least severely deaf, because that’s what I know. I had great fun writing Rebuilding the Future (where both Allen and Declan are hearing), but my very helpful editors and beta readers had to remind me to include sound effects in the earlier drafts!


Have you ever had a character just “do their own thing?” 

My characters tend to behave themselves while I’m creating them and writing them, but boy do they argue with each other! One of the most frustrating things in the world is to be driving along and having two of my characters engaged in a massive, fluent, word-perfect volley of needs, refusals and insults which will have entirely escaped me by the time I’ve parked the car and dashed behind my laptop. I’m sure most writers suffer some form of this…


What do your family and friends think of your writing?

My family will pat me on the back when I say I’m published again, but have absolutely no intention of reading anything I write until I produce something where the bedroom door stays shut. That’s fair enough. Most of my friends are encouraging about my writing—from a distance. I’m very content with this arrangement.


What book do you wish you could have written?

Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K Jerome. It’s my go-to book for escapist comfort. No matter how many times I re-read it, and no matter what mood I’m in, I never put it down without feeling happier than I did when I started reading.  


Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so how do you get past it?

If anyone ever tells me that they never get writer’s block, I politely ask them to go away and never repeat this little item of smuggery ever again in my presence. It is an absolute bane for me, and one of the reasons I’ve not exactly been prolific in the three years I’ve indulged in writing and reading erotica. The other reason is that I’m a very busy editor, and even when I’m not working, it takes time to come out of censoring mode and re-engage the creative part of my brain. I can’t produce anything while in editorial mode; it’s like trying to rub my tum and pat my head at the same time.

I can’t totally sidestep writer’s block (my pet block wouldn’t look out of place in Stonehenge), but I find that a few new habits have lessened the effect:

·    I stay off social media for a day or so. I’m delighted for all those people who have written another 6,000 since the day before, but while I’m not of their number, I’d rather not be reminded of my dwindling performance. Plus, I’m too inclined to spend hours looking at puppies.

·    I do the stop-watch exercise for a few hours. I type without stopping for five minutes, repeating for an hour. Then ten, then fifteen and so on. I just need to get my hands moving.

     I force myself to stop being obsessed with writing in such a linear way. I’ll leave a highlighted [PLACEHOLDER LIKE THIS FOR DETAILS I NEED TO COME BACK TO] and get the scene done. I won’t hamstring myself by trying to connect everything I’m writing fluidly.

      I keep reminding myself that I won’t be showing my dire scribbles to anyone until I’ve edited at least a few times. Sometimes that gives me the freedom to just hammer the words down and get the shape of the scene down on the page.


Thanks, that's a really interesting approach. Just to finish, a couple of off-the-wall questions, then you can tell us a bit more about the new anthology you've had a story included in.

If you could go anywhere in the world, but had to drop everything and go right now, where would you go? What pulls you there?

Hawaii. I dream of going to Oahu, and I’d love to watch Pele in action. And eat all the gorgeous fresh food. It’s all Meg Amor’s fault. Since I’ve been reading her Hawaiians series, I’ve had a craving to take a very long holiday over there.


If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I could do with a withering stare that’s actually effective. It would be a fantastic tool for day-to-day life, but wouldn’t be so conspicuous that I’d regularly get summoned from my work by some irritating police chief with a Krieg light. I’m not sure what symbol would best represent the need for a withering stare, though.


Thanks, Sam. I've really enjoyed our conversation. Would you like to finish off by telling us about the new anthology and your story?

Well, if you insist...


Sexy to Go Gay Romance

Sexy to Go Gay Romance by [Lefoy, Eva, Duran, Avery, Ellwood, Leigh, Idonea, Asta, Lowry, Dale, Payne, Jodi, Saddler, Shiloh, Thorne, Sam, Wasp, A.E.]Sexy to Go Gay Romance features nine scorching MM romances from some of today’s hottest authors, available for the first time in one book. Whether finding love at a Jewish singles dance or while crossing the River Styx, the men in Sexy to Go Gay Romance know what they want and how to get it. Meet a handyman who’s an ace with his tools, a king who kindles the passion of a Greek god, and an architect who erects more than buildings. From the everyday to the fantastical, these stories explore male-male love in all its simmering intensity. This collection contains Sam's story, ‘Rebuilding the Future’.










Summary

Allen's peace has been seriously disturbed. As the shy architect takes on the task of extending the home he inherited from his late aunt, his life becomes a battle. The building work is going fine, but he can barely contain his one-way lust for sexy foreman Declan, who's a one-man generator of testosterone and mixed messages. As the build completion approaches, Allen's ready to do just about anything to keep Declan around a little longer...
Excerpt

Allen was so cold the coffee cup rattled in his fingers. Declan, though, was purely chilled out, leaning back, mug in hand, sipping his brew. There wasn’t a single goosebump in evidence: not down the toned arms, across that lean gut, or the magnificent chest. His nipples weren’t even hard.

Stop staring at his nipples, for God’s sake!

“You alright?”

Declan’s sudden, direct gaze made Allen jump. “Yes! Yes…it’s just…I feel hypothermic just looking at you.”

Declan swallowed his coffee hastily, grinning around his cup. “I’ve been working next to a zillion-watt floodlight for the last half hour. I’m not cold, trust me.”

“Splendid,” Allen said faintly, tucking his lower regions away under the kitchen table. He still hadn’t got used to having the Adonis slaving around his house all day, every weekday. Even when Declan’s tanned, taut bod was tragically hidden under T-shirts, the sight of his dark brown hair curling into the nape of his neck, his green eyes, and blowtorch smile were enough to make Allen’s groin boil. It was a good job that Declan’s henchmen, Big Al and Screwtop, were slightly less decorative.

Universal buy link (includes Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, B&N, and Google in every country):
books2read.com/sexy-to-go-gay-romance

Individual buy links:
● Amazon US: www.amazon.com/dp/B06XGRJM3D
● Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XGRJM3D
● Itunes: itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1213537158
● Barnes & Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sexy-to-go-gay-romance-eva-lefoy/1125914114
● Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sexy-to-go-gay-romance


Single-Syllable Steve:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y1NZFNO
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00Y1NZFNO
Excessica: http://www.excessica.com/books/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=16&sort=20a&filter_id=156&alpha_filter_id=0

Monday, 3 April 2017

My guest today is BK Bilicki, author of "Stage One: Hear"

I'm delighted to welcome BK Bilicki as my blog guest today. I’ve known him for a few years as a fellow contributor to the ERWA storytime constructive critique group. 

And I was among those who encouraged him to submit some of his stories to publishers. He may regard it as "nagging in an encouraging way", but he did it! Fireborn Publishing liked what they saw – “Stage One: Hear”, the first book in his "Voices From The Sanctum" series, was published last November

I purchased, read, enjoyed and gave it a five star review

"Engaging, fast-paced and full of twists and turns

Wow. This kept me engaged from start to end, always wondering what was going to happen next. Fast-paced, full of twists and turns, and lots of saucy moments within the context of a slowly developing relationship. A cast of varied and interesting characters, blending sci-fi and magic. This is clearly the first in a series, but it doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger.

There may be some foreshadowing, but I won’t know that until BK stops teasing and gets Stage Two published!"


IS - So, BK, what do you have in mind for your next writing project?

BKB - My next new project will likely be volume four of the Voices of the Sanctum (VotS) series, tentatively called ‘Arrested Momentum’. It will center on two of the Sanctum’s members - Lob the Unmarred and Arms Master Juushin. We’ll meet Lob and get a very brief glimpse of Juushin in volume two and will get a much more comprehensive look at both of them in book three.

How do you develop ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?

Some characters develop from a given situation and others are done in reverse with the situation matching the characters. For VotS, the only thing I had in mind initially was that I wanted to write about characters that would work in ongoing series. After I tripped across the word ‘psychoholic’ and started pondering what that could possibly mean, I started crafting characters to play with it. And yes, a lot of my characters tend to pull bits of their creator along for the ride. Kana’s knack for assigning inappropriate nicknames to people and things is a good example.

Have you ever found a character just “do their own thing" while you were writing?

My characters are forever going off and getting into trouble with little input from me. A lot of this is due to how most of my books came to be. They started off as short stories that made fans want to see ‘more chapters’ of them. In those cases, I hadn’t plotted out anything to cover those, so I just let the characters get into it and see what happens. Much of my writing feels like I’m spying on other dimensions and just writing down what I see.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I play computer games, watch anime, and work down in my lab. I’m an electronics technician in real life, so I spend a lot of time fixing electronic things for friends, family, and the occasional side-customer.

What do your family and friends think of your writing?

Both of my moms (birth and adoptive) are fans. My kids are supportive with a bit of careful detachment. My youngest son once happened upon one of my short stories. He thought it was very good until he realized that his dad had written it. My daughter has playfully forbidden my granddaughter from reading my stuff until she’s thirty.

What book do you wish you could have written?

There are a few stories by Bob Buckley about the Palatinae (Paladins) that I’ve read on the ERWA mailing list that I thought were brilliant. I have a brief reference to them in the second VotS book. The Merely Players books, as well as the related Mark/Maggie stories, by a chap named Ian D Smith are also a big favourite. His characters are very likable and work together very well, unlike many of mine.

Thank you for the kind words! Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

Nothing much, other than to reply to my fan's most popular question; "My next chapter/book/project is coming out ‘soon’." This may mean days, weeks, months, or even years, but it/they will come out sooner or later. This year, I intend on having volumes two and three of VotS published, along with the rewritten version of an earlier book called ‘One of Those Nights’ which was written from Jan 1998 to Jan 2003. That one was wildly popular on the ERWA (then ERA) list and could possibly do very well.

Well, I do hope your book finds you more appreciative readers, and encourages you to develop your other ideas. Do please visit again when you've a new book to tell us about


Stage One: Hear (Voices of the Sanctum Book 1) by [Bilicki, B.K.]Stage One: Hear (Voices of the Sanctum Volume One)

Kana Morel is possibly the Sanctum's most powerful caster. Training Jamyn Siska as her new acolyte should be easy. When she accidentally discovers his hidden passion for her, how will she contain the ensuing firestorm?

Buy links:








Excerpt

"All the things you said about my abilities were very flattering." Her nerves started to jostle. "Way over the top, but still—"
"You're easily the most powerful caster in the Sanctum," he said, his voice suddenly resolute.
His intensity startled her at first but she waved him off with a brief chuckle. "Nahh," she replied quietly. "I'm sure there are a couple around here who could give me a run for my money." Seeing the defiance rising in his eyes again, she held up a hand to him. "Regardless, your words were very much appreciated. Thank you."
"Any time." He replied with a small bow. Her hand on his cheek stopped it and he raised his head again to find her staring directly into his eyes.
"That covers the first part," she whispered. "Now about the second." His face flamed into a full blush. He started to turn away but she firmly cupped his chin, halting his retreat. "Hey!"
He stopped trying to move away and looked back at her. "What?"
"Did you mean all the things you said?"
His eyes started to water and he swallowed hard. "Every word."
"Hmm." She considered his reply, trying to keep her expression neutral while her heart charged up to her throat. "Then I thank you again for showing such intense loyalty to your master." She released his jaw and thought over her words. Deciding to throw caution aside, despite the warnings screaming in her head, she corrected herself with a coy smile. "Your mistress."
"You're welcome, Kana," he whispered in wonder.
She arched an eyebrow.
He swallowed hard and returned her smile. "You're welcome, Mistress Kana."
"I would prefer you only call me that when we're alone." Even as she quietly warned him, she wondered if she would end up regretting her abrupt decision.
"Of course."
She leaned forward and brought her face right up to his. She considered the soft glow in his amber eyes for a second before easing forward and kissing his lips.
She pulled back just enough to break contact and whispered, "You're sweet."
"And you are the most beautiful woman I've ever known," he whispered in reply.
Her eyes widened in alarm and she whimpered. "Damn. And you were doing so well too." Her choked words barely made it past her lips.
"Huh?"
She sat back, her cheeks burning. "Making me blush isn't usually a healthy idea." She turned away from him to hide the tears gathering in her eyes. "I think we're done here."
His hand on her cheek stopped her slow retreat. He turned her face back to his and smiled mischievously. "Mistress Kana should learn how to take a compliment," he whispered, staring directly into her eyes. He came forward and landed a brief kiss on her cheek. "Call if you need me." With this, he leaped to his feet and calmly walked out of the room.
She barely heard his words, having caught sight of the obvious bulge of his erection straining against his pants. Confusion, lust, and gratitude all warred within her trembling body and she struggled to get her thoughts in order. Taking several deep breaths, she got her nerves under control at long last and looked again at the door her acolyte had just slipped through.
"I need a drink and I need to hit something." Staggering to her feet, she headed straight to Evrok's.


Social media links

www.facebook.com/bk.bilicki
BK_Bilicki@wi.rr.com


Short biography.

Having spent over two decades scribbling curious little stories, gathering fans on several continents, and failing to make any sense out of either, B.K. Bilicki has now embarked on Phase Three of his writing career - actually getting something published. When not spending his lunch hour writing, B.K. can usually be found performing various miracles with a soldering iron. Furor Scribendi can be chastised by fans new and old alike at BK_Bilicki@wi.rr.com. Grr-ya.




Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Cover art and fliers

One of the things I've done with all my books is create "fliers" to use on Facebook and Twitter for publicising and advertising them. These have all been created using Photoshop.

Book 1 - Knights Errant




Book 2 - The King's Captain



Book 3 - From The Top


Wow, my third book...

I've just updated the banner on my Facebook page to include the cover art for my third novella, "From The Top", which will be published in April. And it might sound strange, but that was when it really hit me - I'll soon have published three books!

It also struck me that I won't be able to fit a fourth one into the banner! I'll need to do something else when that's published. Yes, it's being written, but still early days.

I'm thinking about creating my own author website, but I need to be sure I want to do that, and decide what to do with it. And of course, I need to be willing to spend more of my limited free time working on that in addition to the other social media I need to engage in. Oh, and writing other stories.

Writing a book is a strange sort of process. I start off thinking about the story, the characters, the scenes and incidents, then write it all down. This is definitely the hardest part, but I really enjoy it. It feels a bit like the story already exists and wants me to write it. I often "see" the scenes as still images or short video clips in my imagination, and then try to write down an adequate description. I may even write out some scenes and incidents as and when I think of them, then write the rest around them.

As each novella is part of a series, I need to ensure there are no "continuity" or timeline problems, that the overall "feel" is consistent, and that character development is plausible.

I also want each one to work well enough as a stand-alone story. Which means figuring out how little backstory I need to include to set the scene and give context to this particular story.

Once that's done, I submit it to my constructive critiquing group in the hope that (a) they say it's entertaining and (b) some of them offer helpful suggestions.

After that, it's revision time. I don't mind that stage at all, as the whole idea is to tell the story as well as possible. I never over-write a draft, but save the revision as a new document. Well, I may change my mind about a change. With this novella, I think I left it alone for three weeks, then collated the comments I'd received and went through my draft a total of four times. Each time resulted in a new draft manuscript.

Then I sent it to my publisher's editor.

And tried not to feel nervous.

Getting an e-mail from the publisher offering a contract gives me a real lift every time. It means other people like my story enough to invest time and money turning it into a book to sell

Actually, I had something constructive to do while I was waiting - come up with an idea about the cover and try to find suitable images on my publisher's preferred stock photo sites. Every time, I've found this far harder than I expected. I've found it rather tedious wading through page after page of photos.

Perhaps I've just been unlucky, but I've found the range of images are on some of these sites to be surprisingly limited. Lots and lots of pretty women who seem to be in the late teens or early twenties, but few who look like they're in their thirties. And how come every man with long hair has to have a beard as well? I'm seriously thinking of trying to find suitable models and taking my own photos in the future. In fact, the lower half of the cover art for my second novella was a photoshop merging of two of my own photos - the knights in armour and the Dartmoor landscape.

I've worked with editors on every story which has been published, and in every case, I found them to be really helpful and constructive. They already think my story has potential and want to help me tell it as well as possible. We've had some great e-mail conversations along the way, often about differences in English usage between the UK and US. There's usually a compromise which keeps us both happy.

Then, once it's published, all I can do is try to tell people about it, hope they buy and read a copy, and keep my fingers crossed that as many as possible will be motivated to post reviews on e-book sites.

Oh well, back to thinking about book 4 in my series. I've got to think of some entertaining ways to give my characters an uncomfortable time...

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Russian Bride, the new book by Juliette Banks

I'm delighted to welcome Rachel de Vine back as my guest, to talk about her new book The Russian Bride, which she's publishing as Juliette Banks. I loved her last book, The Artist, and have already purchased The Russian Bride.

Hi Rachel, can you tell us about your new book, please?

Of course.

Natasha, a Russian-born woman living in London, catches the eye of Viktor, a middle-aged Russian gangster. He wants her as his wife, the mother of his son, and his submissive partner in the kinky sex he enjoys at his isolated home near Saint Petersburg. But he doesn’t ask her to accompany him – he just takes what he wants.

Surprisingly, Natasha begins to accept her new life. Is she really a natural submissive, or has Viktor brainwashed her? Viktor is adamant that he will not have sex with her until they are married, but he shows her just how kinky he likes it by taking her to orgies held by his friend, and tells her that this is the type of life she can expect as his wife.

Everything turns sour, however, and on a visit to London, Natasha has to flee for her life – where businessman, James Miller, comes to her aid. Over the course of the next few days, Natasha tells James her story, and as horrified as he is, he cannot deny his attraction to the beautiful young woman. He vows to help her.

Neither of them realize quite how much danger they will be in for defying Viktor, but James is willing to risk everything to rescue her from this man. Can he do it? And does Natasha return his feelings?


It's a fast-paced tale including explicit themes including power exchange, capture, multiple sexual partners and discipline. Not to everyone's taste, I know, so please bear that in mind before purchasing.


Here's a short extract: 

  His breath was hot against the back of her neck, as he stood as close as he could without actually touching her. He ran his finger lightly across her naked shoulder and up her arm that was suspended above her body and it made her shiver. Her skin was damp with sweat, even though the room was not excessively hot. But he was not done with her yet. He whispered into her ear.
  “Now, as I promised you my darling, I will use the strap before I fuck you.  It is a while since you felt the licks of a leather strap, isn’t it?”
  Her reply was also in a whisper, as though she was afraid to break the spell between them.
  “Yes, Sir. It’s been a long time.”
  He stepped away from her and she heard the familiar sound of the strap as it whistled through the air in a practice stroke.  He had warmed her with the flogger on her back and buttocks, but she knew that the strap would be more severe. Nevertheless, she craved the feeling as it whistled down and thrashed across her buttocks, the sting of the immediate pain soon turning to pleasure as she absorbed what he administered with great skill. He knew exactly what she needed, exactly how far to take her. She always craved the intense pleasure she got from him, the man who had made her live again, the man who had helped her to love again, the man who had made her feel again.



The Russian Bride is published by Blushing Books:

Amazon US

Amazon Canada
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B06XH4C3BW







Is there anything you remember which prompted you to start writing? When do you remember first wanting to write?
Even as a young child I enjoyed writing and telling stories. I used to make up stories for my sister, when I was about seven, in exchange for her to get out of bed and switch the light off.  (We didn’t have bedside lamps, and I was frightened of the dark!) When I was eight I entered a Win a Pony writing competition, run by a national newspaper, and was a runner-up. I think my mother was quite relieved that I didn’t win. I think she envisaged that she would be looking after it.

How long did it take you to write this book?
I’m quite a fast writer, although not as fast as some. It took about six weeks to write, plus another couple of weeks to edit. I had actually started it a year ago, but didn’t get past the first chapter, so left it. I often do that – start, lose interest, then return to it. It has to ‘feel right’ in my mind for me to write the story.

What book do you wish you could have written?
A book that resonated with me when I was young was Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. (And not for the obvious reason!) I just loved the rebelliousness and non-conformity of the man, who was a local boy, growing up just a few miles from where I live now. The locals didn’t forgive him for many years for what they thought was his mocking of their way of life. I would love to write like him.
A modern writer whom I greatly admire and would love to emulate is Chloe Thurlow, who wrote one of my favourite books of recent times, Katie in Love. Her style of writing is superb, and I would say that she is one of the best writers of her generation.

What’s your passion in life?
Apart from writing, which is my true passion, travelling to far off places comes a close second, in terms of the pleasure I have obtained from it. I was lucky, in one sense, to have been born when I was, when travelling had become so much easier than for previous generations. I fell into it by accident, when an overland trip to Australia (from the UK) that had been planned with three other people, fell through. So I went alone. I took trains and busses across Europe and Asia, ending up in Australia three months later. So began a lifelong passion that still burns strong. I once calculated that I have been to about 45 countries so far, and hope to see many more before I hang up my travel bag. (Actually, the title of my so-far unpublished autobiography is One Day I Will Find the Perfect Suitcase!)

Any individual male and female figure you particularly admire, dead or alive, and why?
I think I would choose Queen Elizabeth 1, who reigned in England from 1558 until her death in 1603. To be a woman in those times was not easy, but to be a queen, who was brave and heroic (it seems to me) was amazing.

Thank you, Rachel. And I do hope The Russian Bride finds an appreciative readership.

Here are some social media links for Rachel and Juliette, in case you'd like to know more about her and her writing.

Facebook:

Websites for both Juliette Banks and Rachel de Vine

Twitter:

Amazon author pages:    

Bio

I’m quite a private person, so I like to let my books do the talking. However, I will tell you that I live in a rural part of the Midlands of England, and for some years was a farmer, along with my family. I love travel, reading, music and spending time with my amazing extended family.

I like to write about sensual, romantic relationships, because I’m quite a romantic person, but I like to add a bit of grittiness from time to time. My leading characters don’t always have an easy time of it. They sometimes have a hard struggle to achieve their happy ever after.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Would you defy God, for love?

No, I've not gone all religious... I'm talking about In Bonds of the Earth, the new book by Janine Ashbless. It's the second in her paranormal erotic romance Book of the Watchers trilogy.

Janine was my guest in November 2014, when we talked about the first story in this series, Cover Him with Darkness. I've eagerly awaited this sequel, and will post a review as soon as I've read it - it's already on my kindle.

If you've not read Cover Him with Darkness, you might like to peruse all the rave reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

A brief bit of sales pitch and an excerpt, then the interview...

Would you defy God, for love?

Broad at the shoulders and lean at the hips, six foot-and-then-something of ropey muscle, he looks like a Spartan god who got lost in a thrift store. He moves like ink through water. And his eyes, when you get a good look at them, are silver. Not gray. Silver. You might take their inhuman shine for fancy contact lenses. Youd be wrong.

Unafraid to tackle the more complex issues surrounding good and evil in mainstream religion, Janine has created a thought-provoking and immersive novel which sets a new standard for paranormal erotic romance. The first in the series, Cover Him With Darkness, was released in 2014 by Cleis Press and received outstanding reviews.

In Bonds of the Earth is published by Sinful Press and is due for release on March 1st, 2017.


Blurb:

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 hasnt 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.

Excerpt:

     I was giving my long-dreaded presentation on the anniversary footbridge to Misters Ellis, Singh, Constanzo and Mackenzie…when Azazel walked in.
Oh hell.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I said loudly, lurching around from behind my desk, grabbing Azazel’s arm and spinning him back to face the door. “Not here, come on, please,” I implored through clenched teeth.
If there was one thing I’d learned by then, it was to not ignore warning dreams. If I’d paid them more attention from the start, things between me and Egan might have gone very differently back in Montenegro…
No, better not to think of Egan, not when Azazel was around. One guy at a time was quite enough to wrap my head around. Especially this guy.
He humored me though, this time, letting me pull him out of the meeting room and through the open plan office without resistance. We attracted a lot of stares, but there was nothing I could do about that except hold my head high.
“Where are we going?” he asked.
“Out. Anywhere.”
“You’re so impetuous.”
I didn’t need to glance up at his wicked smirk. I could feel it burning its way into my breast.
Bryce, the beardy guy in my new team who’d shown me the ropes of the job and seemed just a tiny bit too eager to talk every morning, stood up from his cubicle to intercept us. “Milja, is everything okay?”
“It’s just fine,” I rasped, towing Azazel faster.
“She’s insatiable,” my demon lover confided with a helpless shrug to my colleague as we swept past.
Bryce stared, mouth open.
“Goddamnit,” I muttered, and Azazel chuckled.
Sometimes it was hard to remember that he’d risked everything to save me.
We reached the doors at the end of the room and I pushed through, past the lobby with the elevators and into the concrete stairwell of the emergency stairs beyond. The only people who came here were smokers on their way to the roof, and it looked empty for now. My panicky momentum fizzled away and I swung to face him.
“What are you doing here?”
“What do you think?” he countered, taking my face in his hands.
“Azazel—” But he cut off my protests with his hungry kiss; a kiss that lanced through me all the way to my core. I gave up resisting, and speaking, and almost breathing, as his lust rolled over me in a hot wet wave. I slid my hands around his neck and tangled my fingers in his messy hair, pulling myself into his embrace. His body was hard as rock, his hands heavy on my waist and hips. The yearning for his touch that smoldered in my flesh day and night woke to a roaring heat.
I’d missed him. His skin, his smile, the peppery scent and salt taste of him. The sweetness of his lips and the harsh rasp of his stubbled chin. I’d missed him so much—like an addict missing her hit.


Hi Janine, and welcome back. I can't help wondering if you had this book already “sketched out” in your mind before you published the first?

I had a 2-page sketch of the trilogy, which mostly boiled down to which countries it would be set in. Everything else turned out to be largely inaccurate, including an ending I’ve now discarded. I'm a pantser when I write; I rely on my muse and my research. The Archangel Uriel, for example, showed up out of the blue and became a major antagonist; he wasn’t even in my initial outline.

What sort of research have you done to get the “feel” right for the locations?

I went on a 20-day trip to Ethiopia, and took hundreds of photos, just to make sure I picked the right spot for Penemuel’s prison and got all the details correct.

My husband went on a work-trip to Chicago, so I chose that city for Milja’s starting point this time round. Sam Macleod helped me with weather patterns in the States.

Other than that, I am eternally grateful for the existence of Wikipedia and I’m one of the people who actually chip in whenever they pass round the hat!

How many more books do you think it will take to tell the whole story you have in mind?

The find-the-angels game could have been dragged on for a decalogy , but I wanted a tight emotional plot arc between the three main characters. So the third book, The Prison of the Angels, will be the final one. I’m most of the way through the first draft already – there’s going to be a much shorter wait this time round!

How did you come up with the original idea and characters?

It started as a short story called Cover Him with Darkness that appeared in Mitzi Szereto’s Red Velvet and Absinthe. At the end of that story it still isn’t clear who the Prisoner is, or what the repercussions of freeing him will be, although there are various obvious possibilities. As soon as I made the decision “It’s the fallen angel Azazel,” everything else just followed on logically from that. I’d set the short story in Montenegro because I wanted somewhere European, mountainous and extremely remote, so Milja had to be Serbian Orthodox, which meant she wouldn’t be at all familiar or happy with Egan’s Catholicism—and so on.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?

I’m going to be editing an anthology for SexyLittle Pages this autumn, I hope, so I need to get The Prison of the Angels finished! After that I’m going to get on with republishing and finishing my Lovers’ Wheel quartet. Ellora’s Cave went out of business so rights have reverted to me.

How do you develop your ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?

All my characters are flawed. And I make sure that others point out those flaws—so for example, Azazel will point out Egan’s sexual hypocrisy and Egan will point out Azazel’s problematic rapey tendencies. My aim is to make all my characters, even the villains, human and understandable. Azazel has PTSD. Roshana has severe abandonment issues. Egan … don’t get me started on Egan’s issues! Milja actually turned out to have quite a struggle with jealousy, which isn’t me at all, but makes sense for a 23-year-old in her situation, I think. 

All the protagonists of my novels have a background interest in myths and history (and in Milja’s case, in theology) which is part of me. But I try to make my female characters much more emotionally secure and independent than I am. I’m the sort of person who finds it hard to even say “Hi” to strangers, but readers like their heroines confident and assertive.

What would people be surprised to learn about you and your writing?

How nervous I am when I approach the keyboard. Every day I wrestle with the dread that I’ll have lost all ability to write.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I LARP (live-action-roleplay) and play Dungeons and Dragons. I own a small wood and I love to go out and cut trees. I’ve got a terrible addiction to certain types of logic puzzles.

What book do you wish you could have written?

The Girl with All the Gifts, by MR Carey. I literally had this idea ten or fifteen years ago (except that I thought of the children as ghouls not zombies, because this was before zombies became fashionable), and never got round to writing it. I was absolutely gutted when I heard about this book. Seize the day, writers!

If you only had one word to describe yourself, what would it be and why?

“Overthinker.” It leads to anxiety sometimes, and it makes me indecisive. But it’s got to be better than not thinking at all, right?


Author bio:
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.

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)

Links

Media:
Janine Ashbless website: http://www.janineashbless.com/
Janine Ashbless blog:  http://janineashbless.blogspot.co.uk/
Janine Ashbless on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janineashbless
Sinful Press website: https://www.sinfulpress.co.uk

E-book:

Print book:
Amazon paperback: http://hyperurl.co/fuqprg


In Bonds of the Earth will be available from all major online bookstores in both digital and print. Please contact Lisa Jenkins at admin@sinfulpress.co.uk for any further information.