Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Named and Shamed: A Kick Ass Interview With Janine Ashbless

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Once upon a time, a naughty girl called Tansy stole a very precious manuscript from a kindly antiquarian. But all of the world’s ancient and powerful magic, lost for centuries, has returned...and now there is much more at stake than a few sheets of parchment. 

Thus begins a rude and rugged fairy tale, the likes of which you NEVER read when you were little! Poor Tansy is led though the most pleasurable trials and the most shameful tribulations as her quest unfolds before her. Orgasmic joy and abject humiliation are laid upon Tansy in equal measure as she straddles the two worlds of magic and man.

Fantasy and BDSM slither together to make Named & Shamed the consummate adult fable. Immerse yourself in this dark and depraved fairy tale, and may all your endings be happy ever after!

Thank you for having me on your blog, Erzabet!

1. What inspired you to write erotic fairy tales?

I’ve always loved fairy tales, folklore and mythology. And when I was 17 or so I discovered Angela Carter’s collection The Bloody Chamber, which opened my eyes to their eroticism. My contemporary fantasy novel Wildwood ends when the heroine releases all the trapped magic back into the world, so years later I sat down and wondered what it actually would be like if that happened – how would we cope if there really were trolls under the bridges and ogres under the bed? The answer was “Not very well!” That’s where Named and Shamed came from – it’s a completely separate book from Wildwood, but shares the same world.

2. Tell us about the toughest scene you ever wrote? Why was it hard? Was it the sex or something else?

I’ve written a few scenes that have been censored by my editor, and I’ve been forced to rewrite (That’s really hard, because I know what I want to say and why I’m saying it, and I’ve been forced to compromise my principles): a couple of them where I made the hero bisexual, and this was considered “not masculine enough” back in the day before m/m was all the rage. The publishers denied they were being homophobic, but I didn’t believe them then and I don’t believe them now. Oh – and one scene where the heroine has sex with a minotaur ... and the poor editor nearly had a nervous breakdown because unless it had “a human head” I was obviously promoting real-world bestiality (Huh?).

Storm-in-a-teacup stuff, honestly, but a pain in the butt to deal with at the time.

3. Taco Bell or salad? 

I’m a low-carb vegetarian, so it’d have to be salad, I’m afraid! With grilled halloumi cheese and walnuts and artichokes and mayo. Yum.

4. Margarita, beer or water?

You, know, I’ve never tried a margarita? What the heck have I been doing with my life?  Make me a margarita right now, barman!

5. What are some of your pet peeves in erotica?

Oh goodness. Bad grammar and bad spelling and bad writing generally – erotica shouldn’t be throwaway rubbish just because it’s about sex. Erotica should be hot and gripping and mind-blowing. So you do need to appeal to my mind as well as my other bits!

But I hate “literary erotica” — and by that I mean the stories where the heroine staggers passively from miserable unfulfilling sex-scene to miserable unfulfilling sex-scene for no reason except ennui, until she finally ends up killed in some sadomasochistic game because she hates herself/existence so much that she can’t be asked not to. This seems to considered the only acceptable way to approach erotica amongst the highbrow. They really can’t admit that happy, healthy people do BDSM for fun.

Personally I don’t think sex is about boredom or existential angst – I like my erotica to be sex-positive. I like my protagonists to enjoy themselves.

My only other real grouse is with authors who don’t know their anatomy. Clits are not self-lubricating. The hymen is NOT located inside the vagina, but at its opening. It’s not rocket science, folks.

6. Open up Named and Shamed and tell us what is going on.

Okay, I’ve opened it to page 266 which (in the paperback version, not the Kindle one) features an outrageous full-page illustration! My heroine Tansy, her cousin and the cousin’s boyfriend, have been chased by a nasty rural gang and she calls in a favour with the Elder Tree Witch who rescues them. But now they’re trapped in Fairyland at the witch’s whim. Tansy suddenly finds she’s living out the Hansel and Gretel story – her friends are being fattened up for the pot, and she’s being kept as a skivvy and sex-toy for the witch and the witch’s three monstrous sons. It’s looking rather rough for my heroine!

7. What are your favorite types of characters to write about? What are your least favorite?

I like writing about men. I find it easier to get an authorial grip on male personalities and motivation than I do with women. I guess I’m not very feminine myself, so I don’t write “normal” women terribly easily.

8. Pantster or plotter?


E. L. Doctorow said “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

So trust the muse — and drive carefully.

9. What types of things do you love in an erotica novel?

Power play. Shame and embarrassment that titillates but doesn’t sicken. Fear and overcoming fear. Seduction. Pushing of boundaries. Heroes and heroines with intelligence and wit and empathy.

10. It's time for dinner: Where would your main character go and what would she have? Is she a salad eater or does she love a great big cheeseburger? 

Oh dear – Tansy in Named and Shamed wouldn’t eat either! She’s under a deadly Fairy Curse, which makes her both crazyass-horny and unable to stomach solid food. It’s supposed to kill her by making her waste away “for love,” but she’s smart enough to find her way around it by consuming, um, liquid nourishment ...
11. What one thing would you tell someone just starting out in the erotica genre?

You’ve got to like writing about sex. If you’re doing it because it’s the Latest Thing and you think you’re going to make a ton of cash, you are going to be soooooo disappointed. You have to write erotica because it’s what you love to write. Period. 


“Do you want to see the Bour Tree?”
            I hesitated, running my tongue-tip across my lip. “Okay. But I thought elder trees were bad luck.”
            “Not this ’un. She’s a good ’un.”
            He led me out into the garden. This was where all the women were, I realised: watching indulgently as their kids ran riot. Aaron took me over to the bush, which had three big trunks and a host of lesser ones. Hanging from the twigs was a glittering array of kids’ tat: plastic key-rings and fuzzy little animals, transforming robots, a toy aeroplane, a necklace made of sweets.
            “See?” said Aaron. “You make her a present and she gives you a wish.”
            I could hear some of the kids chanting as they skipped rope on the grass nearby:
Bour tree, bour tree: crooked wrong
 Never straight and never strong
Always bush and never tree
Since the Christ was hanged on thee.
            A Christian gloss on a much older warning, I thought.
“Hmm,” I said, noncommittally. I didn’t want to offend the man. Or the tree.
            “Go on,” he said.
A lock of my hair swung down across my face as he reached up without warning to my temple, pulled out the hairclip there and snapped it over a twig. My mouth fell open.
Aaron grinned. “Make a wish.”
            The hairclip was a cheap one with a white fabric flower on it. Even if it had been silk and diamonds, I wasn’t sure it would have been wise to snatch it back. Gifts to the Fair Folk should never be rescinded.
            I made myself relax again. “I don’t need to. Mine’s already come true,” I said, letting him know I could be just as cheeky and forward as he was.
            His eyes held mine, dancing. “Take a flower then.”
            I lifted an eyebrow and sought out one of the white clusters with my hand. “Give me of your wood, old girl,” I said softly. There are traditional formulae for turning aside an elder’s malice, and that’s one of them. “And I’ll give you mine when I grows into a tree.”
            “Ah,” he said, eyes narrowing. “You’re a smart ’un.”
He took the flower from my hand, blew on it to remove any stray insects, and tucked it gently into the V of my shirt neck. His fingertips brushed my bare skin, setting it off in electric sparkles.
“I should take you to meet my gaffer,” he said.
            “Is he as cute as you?”
            Aaron drew himself up, laughing. “No one’s as cute as me. Do you play pool?”
            “Yeah. Sometimes.”
            “Come on then.” He walked me round to another door at the back of the inn, and as we crossed the grass he put his hand casually on the swell of my ass and kept it there. I didn’t object. Once inside the door, in the corridor within, he drew me up against him and kissed me. It was a slow, soft and deeply dirty kiss, his tongue teasing its way past my lips and one hand drifting to squeeze my left breast and tweak my nipple. I responded to that in a manner far from ladylike — pressing up against him with eager, breathy mews of pleasure and sucking his tongue deeper into my mouth. I wanted him to push me up against the wall and ram his cock into me, there and then. The knot of flesh in his trousers grew hard as I ground myself against it, and his other hand tightened on my ass even as his mouth deserted mine.
             “Oh, you’re hot,” he growled under his breath. He rubbed my nipple between finger and thumb, pinching it until my knees nearly gave way. “I bet you’re a real goer.”
            “You won’t know till you try,” I whispered, running the tip of my tongue over his lips.
            “Hh.” His eyes glittered with secretive speculation. “Be patient. Come on through.”
            With one hand around my wrist he drew me through another door. The smell of beer and cigarettes rolled over me, a sweet pubby aroma I found very pleasant. This was another bar room. The space was dominated by a pool table and it was full of men standing about with pint glasses in their hands — they seemed to have a real gender segregation thing going on here — and everyone stopped and stared as we entered.
            “Look what I found,” said Aaron, putting his arm around my shoulders and giving me a squeeze. It might have been meant to be reassuring. Or it might have meant something else altogether, like preventing me from turning tail and running. “She’s real friendly, like.”
            There was no way I was leaving. I looked around and grinned, understanding very well. The men here were of all ages from eighteen up, dressed casually or in country style with flat tweed caps. Not an urban metrosexual sophisticate among them, and they were all openly ogling me. Someone whistled. I could feel their gazes like so many groping caresses on my tits and thighs, and it filled me with heat. I thrust my breasts out a little further, reveling in the attention and feeling my nipples swell to hard points.
            “Come and meet the Gaffer.” Aaron let go long enough to pat my ass, then steered me round the table. The Gaffer was one of the guys in the tweed caps, big and middle-aged and paunchy. He stood surrounded by a little knot of men who looked like they’d been hanging on his every word. He might not have had prepossessing looks, but it was clear he had status, and I that was being presented for inspection. His pale blue gaze slid over me.
            “This is Tansy,” said Aaron, running one finger down my spine, making me gyrate and squirm.
            “A pleasure to meet you, Tansy.” The Gaffer lifted his gaze from an unabashed consideration of my boobs and looked me in the eye. Without blinking, he added. “You’ve done well for yourself there boy. She’s pretty. Magnificent knockers.”
            It was a test, of sorts. A calculated slap in the face, to see how I would react. I flushed and giggled, dropping my gaze with a strange instinctive coyness. I could feel my pussy swelling at the compliment. Because it was a compliment — degrading and crude and offensive, it was still an acknowledgement of my desirability by the most important man in the room. I got it. In times of trouble, scared people look for leaders. It just so happens that the sort of guy who wants to be a leader is usually a tool of the first order, but that doesn’t matter to them. Even if he chooses to impose some sort of weird elder-tree cult it doesn’t matter, as long as he leads. I knew that with a single word from this man I could be on my knees in this back bar, tugging open his flies and sucking his cock while he sipped his pint with a complacent smirk and everyone looked on.
            I wet my lips.

Buy Links:
The paperback version of Named and Shamed includes 19 interior illustrations by John LaChatte:

Amazon UK:
Named and Shamed is also available on Kindle (via Amazon sites), but without interior illustrations.

Janine Ashbless bio:

Janine Ashbless has written books for Black Lace, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, Mischief Books and Sweetmeats Press, as well as short stories for Spice, Cleis, Nexus and others. Her erotica has been described as “hardcore and literate.” Violet Blue called her  “one of the hands-down masters of erotic writing.”
She lives in England with her husband and rescued greyhounds, and is currently writing a novel about fallen angels for Cleis Press.

Thank you Janine for being on the blog today! Named and Shamed is on my Kindle app and from what I have read so far, I am loving it!!! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Erzabet - and for the intriguing and provocative interview questions. I might have been a bit too candid in some of the answers, I fear... ;-)


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