Friday, 31 July 2009

Scarlet Woman

The August issue of Scarlet is out and their "Juicy Bits" feature this month is a short extract from my contemporary paranormal novel Wildwood. I picked the scene where Avril has just had a shag and a massive argument with Michael, and then he fucks her on the public road over the hood of his 4x4. The emotional rawness of the powerplay makes it one of my favourite and dirtiest scenes. And not a minotaur-fairy in sight.

I'm in good (and familiar) company, because my Juicy Bit sits right next to short stories by Emily Dubberley (pizza delivery with extra topping), Jeremy Edwards (f/f in the swimming pool) and Charlotte Stein (a quicky with a builder). Heh heh. We get everywhere.

You can download Scarlet here, if you can't buy hardcopy. And it's cheaper.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Grimm stories for girls

Anyone keeping an eye on the Red Grow the Roses wordcounter this month will have noticed it wasn't moving. This wasn't entirely due to Black-Lace-malaise (or me gadding about on holiday). I have been doing some other work. I've written and subbed a story to Kristina Wright's upcoming anthology Fairy Tale Lust - details here if you want to try for it yourself: you've got until 15th August.

(Damn. Have I jinxed myself by letting on which antho I'm trying to get into?)

In the process of writing I also discovered a LOVELY site: Artsy Craftsy, which is full of Golden Age fairy story illustrations, some familiar and some unknown to me. How can I not be inspired to write by pictures like this:

Or this?

Anyway, yesterday I started again, to my great relief and delight, on Red Grow the Roses. Like my vampires, it cannot be stopped by a mere mortal wound.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Eyecandy Monday

I said yesterday I would be upbeat today, and this picture has the virtue of not only making me feel warm and smiley inside, but summing up how lazy I feel right now. I spent the weekend doing some living history LARP: the house is now fully of costume that smells of smoke and props that need scouring, greasing, counting and sorting. Only I don't want to start! I just want to sit here with no clothes on and look at Dionisio and drink coffee until my caffeine levels reach normal again.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Edited Out

Picture above from Nikki's blog, extract from Adam Nevill's goodbye e-mail reproduced (with permission) here:

"On a personal note, despite the enormous workload that was either stretched between two harassed editors - when I worked with Kerri, Donna and Simon respectively - or levied upon one when I have worked alone, this has been the most interesting and satisfying job in my working life. Commissioning the work of so many talented authors and artists, innovating the direction of the lists and their design, and managing a huge critical path for so many titles has been immensely satisfying. It’s the creative commissioning position I was always curious about and now that curiosity has been well and truly satisfied. My colleagues and I in erotica, have published over 300 books since January 2005.

On the bright side, we were profitable to the very end and remain the market leaders in the UK, currently with 8 out of 10 titles in the Nielsen Bookscan Erotica Top Ten. Historically, Nexus and Black Lace are also the longest running imprints of erotica in the UK, have sold millions of copies and been translated into many languages. The imprints also include some of the most imaginative explorations of sexual fantasy and sexuality in literature, and book shops will be poorer places without new Black Lace and Nexus titles standing proudly on the top shelf."

We were in profit, we just didn't fit into Random House's corporate vision. How f***ing sad.

It's official: as of today Adam Nevill is no longer working for Black Lace and the imprint has no editor. It will continue as normal until the end of 2009, and in 2010 will still be selling existing books but not publishing anything new. Don't forget there will be three new anthologies this year: Sexy Little Numbers, Misbehaviour and The Affair - all of which include my short stories. And please give your support to the debut books by Charlotte Stein and Justine Elyot, due out in October and December respectively.

We're all still here and on sale!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

What Janine Did in London #3

On Thursday we went to the Natural History Museum ... sort of. We actually visited its original Victorian collection of stuffed animals, which is stored in exotic Tring (Dublin has a very similar collection btw). It's old-fashioned and not at all PC, but if I'd been a kid living nearby I would have been in every week until I'd memorised the collection by heart. They have every sort of dead animal from rhinos to fleas (some of the fleas are wearing Mexican national costume, I kid you not. It was a folk art perpetuated by nuns ... and I do realise you're not believing a word of this ... oh look, here they are!).

Some of the animals are fake - like the dodos above - and some just look it, like these fish:

And the vampire deer:

On Friday we decided to see some live animals for a change, so went to London Zoo. This is their oldest resident gorilla. She ignores onlookers unless they have babies. She's fascinated by human babies.

I liked the African wild dogs myself. Sadly at this point the zoom on my camera broke.

But my favourite part was probably the reptile house. I could pretend to be Harry Potter talking to the snakes.

And my favourite picture was taken in the aquarium:

And that's yer lot. Still on my London List is the National Gallery and the Tate. Maybe next time!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Eyecandy Monday

If you've got access to BBC2 you've got to watch it tomorrow - Tuesday 21st - at 9pm, if only because some programme scheduler has been poking around inside my head and asking themselves "Well, what would make Janine Ashbless as horny as all hell? Why, how about a 6-part drama about the paintings and sex-lives of the Pre-Raphaelite artists, starring that nice young man Aidan Turner from Being Human as Dante Gabriel Rossetti? Yeah, that'd do it."

And so they created Desperate Romantics.

Sadly, being the BBC and being too thick to have heard of viral advertising, they haven't made the trailer available on YouTube. To see today's moving Eyecandy you need to go to the Desperate Romantics webpage where you can watch it. But the real eyecandy is at the bottom of the page: Turner reading one of Rossetti's sonnets and doing Sultry for all he's worth.

And once it's aired the first episode will be available for a week on iPlayer - with luck you might even be able to stream it from regions abroad.

I have a feeling it's going to inspire some erotic fiction...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sit Down

Those who feel the breath of sadness, sit down next to me.
Those who find they're touched by madness, sit down next to me...

Friday, 17 July 2009

What Janine Did in London #2

So we got to the British Museum. Of course it's been remodelled in the past few years but this is my first overwhelming memory of the place from when I was a 10-year-old kid: the Assyrian gate guardians.

I was excited then to the point of terror by their size and majesty and hyper-realism. I've been fasincated by the Near East ever since. That's why I wrote House of Dust in Enchanted.

Here's another treasure from the Mesopotamian gallery: the Ram in a Thicket, made of gold and lapis lazuli and shell. Isn't it beautiful? A mere four and a half thousand years old...

Here's something that made me so excited I nearly wet myself: the Queen of the Night teracotta relief. Old Bablylonian this time, but still the same part of the world. It's commonly identified as a depiction of the demon-goddess Lilith, but the card nearby says (without giving any particular reason) that it's more likely to be Ishtar herself. How feckin awesome is this? Look at those feet, for goodness sake!

Talking of goddesses, here's Chamunda, a particularly scary one from India:

There's a lot of Chamunda in Divine Torment.
And here's the Indian Great Goddess in more benign and sexy form:

But I promised you willies, didn't I? Damn, this Greek gentleman seems to have lost his:

Well, if you're an academic you have to call it a phallus so it sounds respectable. Here's a rather splendid phallus-vulva / lingam-yoni symbol, again from India:

But here's the best phallus of them all: a Romano-British windchime. It's an erection with an erection!

And if you find this in the Roman gallery, look for the tiny little statuette next to it which depicts "Two phallus-headed beings attacking the Evil Eye with a saw." Sadly I was laughing so much my hands shook and my photo came out blurry...

Coming out of the Museum at closing time I met up with editor Adam Nevill and we went for a drink in a pub that used to be frequented by the Golden Dawn magical society, back in Victorian times. Adam had some good news - for him anyway - as he has been given a two-book deal by Macmillan for his horror work. He was told this approximately 2 hours before being called in to receive the hammerblow about Black Lace. What a day...

So congratulations to Adam, and good luck to him in his writing career.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

What Janine Did in London #1

Okay, so I live in England, but that doesn't mean I live in London. In fact it's years since I've been to the capital for anything other than a fleeting visit, and I haven't been an actual tourist since I was 10 years old. So given Mr Ashbless' *ahem* "enhanced leisure opportunity" we decided to go and Do London.

On Tuesday we went down to the O2 complex and met this gentleman here and all his friends at the Body Worlds Exhibition:

I've wanted to see Gunther von Hagens' plastinated cadavers for ages. I never thought I would! It's a startling and fascinating and crazy experience - but rather less grisly than I was expecting, because they just do not look like the real thing, more like elaborate wax sculptures. You're not allowed to take photos so I got these off the Net. I loved the blood-vessel exhibits: whole bodies made of a red cloud of lacy capillaries.

And there was a sex angle too ... though only open to adults because plastinated corpses in wild poses is apparently okay but plastinated corpses in the reverse cowgirl position is disturbing.

On Wednesday we went into the city centre. We saw the London Eye (from below only).

And Horseguards' Parade:

And Nelson's Column. (Altogether now: "Nelson's Column - Pah! It is Nelson's Willy!" Or am I showing my age?)
Then we went to the British Museum and looked for more willies ... I mean, antique sculpture.

To be continued....

Monday, 13 July 2009

Eyecandy Monday

And this is me. No, it's not really (I wish I were that athletic!) but it feels like it should be: the huge dark cliff, the gaping void below, the hanging on by her fingertips.

I think the images originated at this awesome site here.

Anyway, I'm back from London - pictures to be posted this week - and ready to start work again. Oh, and though I've never done any rock climbing, I did climb (and leap out of) a few trees on Saturday. If you ever get a chance to try this, I recommend it as the most exhilerating £25 I ever spent. But you've got to be able to hang on...

Friday, 10 July 2009


I'm in London this week. On Wednesday I spent 2 hours in a pub with Adam Nevill (yeah, I surprised myself too) getting the low-down on Random House and Black Lace - but I can't pass on any of the gossip for legal reasons, not right now anyway. Sorry!

In the meantime, although I can't compete with Nikki's Tree PrOn, here are some pictures of some suggestively phallic plants from Kew Gardens.

It's getting steamy!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


I'm having a week of blog posts inspired by Nikki Magennis!

A while back she was thinking about bees. I've been worrying about wasps. Every year when the weather warms up I have to launch a capture-and-release program from my kitchen, as the windowsill fills up with wasps and bees. There's at least a couple every day. But not this year. Not a single one.

Where have my wasps gone? They didn't appear even when I made chocolate fudge.

(Some day I will share my fudge recipe, and the world will bow before me.)

Monday, 6 July 2009

Eyecandy Monday


But enough feeling sorry for myself. Last week Nikki Magennis nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award as one of "the blogs that I enjoy and are often full of unexpected pleasures". What a fantastic compliment, Nikki!

It's a meme thing: The Kreativ Blogger Award meme works like this: if you accept it, you are supposed to list seven of your favorite things and nominate seven blogs that deserve this award.
So here goes with seven of my favourite things (but I'm not going to be poetic like Nikki!):

1) Internet erotica ... like the picture at the top of this post.
2) My greyhounds, and the way they love to settle down with me when I write.

3) This ghost story.
4) This comic.
5) Pirates.
6) This TV series. I swear, I know these guys.
7) Travel. It does broaden the mind, sometimes forcibly. I took this picture in the Rat Temple near Bikhanir, India. and then I cried because these scabby wild rats are sacred and somebody recognises the divine even in them.

(Then I threw my socks away.)

And here are seven creative, inspirational blogs (some lovely, some silly, some awesome):

1) The Faces of Us - campaign for equal marriage rights in the USA
2) Violet Blue - goddess of erotica bloggers
3) Goths in Hot Weather - one of life's simple joys
4) Craig J Sorensen - erotica writer
5) P.S. Haven - erotica writer , but just check out his incredible NSFW artwork
6) Male Submission Art - so much more than a collection of pictures
7) H is for Harlot - Alison Tyler's new showcase blog of erotica short stories

Friday, 3 July 2009

Boy/Girl Name/Game

As a writer of erotica, my life is filled with profound questions. Like: Why is most of my spam in dodgy French?* Why, if it takes the average man 2 minutes to masturbate to orgasm, are the individual scenes in porn films so interminably long? And what the hell is it with NAMES in fiction?

Here I go reading a mainstream novel. The first female character we meet is called, say, Liz or Jan or Zoe. The first male character ... will he be called Paul or Rob or Ed? Will he hell. He'll be called something like Corso or Flashman, Poirot or Bennet.

The convention seems to be: women are indentified by their forenames, men by the surnames**. In ER we have have Carter and Pratt, but Abby and Neela. In Jurassic Park the two main male characters are Malcolm and Grant (both surnames) but the female scientist with a doctorate all of her own is called Ellie.

Huh? Where does this come from? (It can't all be Michael Crichton's fault, can it?) Is it a military/police thing or just a literary conceit? Does it reflect genuine US usage, do guys all over America routinely address each other by their surnames ("Hey there Armstrong!" "Hi Tchaikovsky!"). Because in my entire working life I have NEVER called a man by his surname and would consider it spectacularly rude to do so; if my working relationship with a man is that formal and hierarchical then I'd call him Mr Rillington-Humperdink, but in actuality in almost every case what I'd use would be his forename.

So why is the literary convention so strong that when I'm writing a character named, say, Joe Bloggs, I genuinely cringe from calling him Joe when narrating? Why do I want to name my men Grissom or Taggart, or at a push a forename that sounds like it should be a surname, like Tyler? Why does it feel slightly wrong to call a man by his given name in writing? Can't we take Pauls seriously? Is "Andy" too intimate? Is Nigel not cool enough?***

Anyone know?

* "Le plus grand penis du monde" "Pour faire votre plaisir."
** Yes, of course this is a generalisation and there are plenty of exceptions.It just seems to be the default literary setting. In Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling is refered to throughout as Starling by the author, but that's quite striking.
*** Okay, fair enough in that case.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Does anyone but me remember Misty comic?

When I was but a bitty girl, me and my brother would be taken down every week to our judo class at the YMCA and afterwards we would have a drink in the cafe and be allowed to buy a comic each in the shop. My comic of choice was Misty, which was a horror/supernatural title aimed at girls (This was in the days before photo-stories killed all the imagination and art in girls' comics stone dead). The protagonists of the stories were usually in the 14-18 range (so I'm guessing the intended readership was kids around 10-12) and were usually lonely girls - there were a disproportionate number of orphans - who had to go to a new school or move to a new home or (if it had a Victorian setting) go live with a vile and scary male relative. Then something BAD and SPOOKY would happen: if the girl was innocent and nice she'd survive the supernatural onslaught, but if she was a nasty piece of work she'd end up HORRIBLY PUNISHED.

It scared the living crap out me, and I loved it. For years I couldn't turn the light off at night for fear of those stories replaying themselves in my head.

I've been buying the annuals recently on eBay. They're not nearly as scary as I remember, funnily enough - but fascinating and fun. There's a big emphasis on bullying at school, I notice these days (and they're single-sex schools: boys barely feature, so the villains are inevitably female). In between the graphic and text stories are articles on superstition, folklore, horror actors, mythic creatures and witches. Witches are cool. It's occultism for tweenagers.

Here's a page that illustrates Misty at its best. Sorry for the crap quality of the photo - we did spend an hour last night failing to get the scanner to work - but it should expand if clicked.

This one above epitomises everything that I found so fascinating at that age. It's gloriously moral - the wicked vivisector meets with an uncanny vengeful death. It's got a macabre wit ("Right now ... he's feeding the birds."). And hey - look at that bum!

I think we're spotting a major influence on the Ashbless career right here.