Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wild Enchantments preview

New Improved Shakespeare, with better sex! (Miranda, The Tempest by John William Waterhouse, 1916)
Since I have surrendered my manuscript of Wild Enchantments to the fickle arms of Fate, and can no longer change my darling, I thought I'd give you a sneaky glimpse of the stories therein:

1) Too Much of Water
A bittersweet fairy tale with a historical Russian setting, Ivan the Terrible and a nasty supernatural Thing.
 2)  Bolt Hole
My zombie apocalypse story! Features dirty desperate shaven-headed people and lots of sweat.
3) The King in the Wood
A historical set in ancient Rome. Escaped slaves and weird religious rituals. Desperate dirty long-haired guy...
4) The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
A contemporary setting (I had to do one): modern London, but in the same universe as Wildwood and Named and Shamed: magic has come back. This is a scary hardcore piece with an unsympathetic narrator. He gets what's coming to him though, when he tries to make use of the succubus his boss holds captive. Bad, bad idea.
5) Sycorax
My riff on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  Miranda wasn't as innocent as Shakespeare made out, you know.
6) Knight Takes Queen
A King Arthur tale, with spanking. Lots of spanking.
7) At Usher’s Well
A melancholy ghost story with a historical setting – early 16th century Scotland. Yes, undead sex. And I went a bit crazy with the Scots dialect.
8) The Military Mind
SF – future war - with aliens and guns and stuff. Also two gangbangs. There may be some sweaty shaven-haired guys too ... I've been channelling Kristina Lloyd, clearly.
9) A Man’s Best Friend
Look! Some erotic ROMANCE!! Water Margin-esque faux-Ancient-China fantasy setting; a warrior travels thousands of miles to tell a widow some bad news ... (That she is a widow, basically).
10) The Merry Maid
A nice happy fairy tale. You'll need it after that lot! There were these three brothers and a magic porridge spoon...

And that's All She Wrote.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Eyecandy Monday - pointless armour

I know, I'm late. I've been ill!

Anyway, I'm back now and this week I will be going to a LARP meet and indulging in some cosplay. Cosplay, still better-known as "Dressing Up and Showing Off" here in the UK, has a proud female tradition of spectacularly impractical and revealing costume, thanks of course to the classic Chainmail Bikini.

There are many webpics out there for those interested. But until recently the blokes were sadly lacking in Pointless Armour inspiration.

It is time for Balance to be brought to the Force.

For a start, Pointless Armour has been round for men in actual historical settings for centuries. The Ancient Greek hoplites liked to go into battle naked except for helmet and shield, and Roman gladiators weren't exactly encased in steel:

So let's see more LARPing and cosplaying near-naked Romans in future!

Nice leatherwork!

Nice ... helmet ...
And Vikings!

Yes ... he's got the horn.
And Generic Barbarians!

And some ... urm ... possibly-Persian-types-probably-from-some-computer-game!

"I didn't see the assassin's face, but I'd recognise his nipples"

Let's see weird alien naked dudes from movies ... (even if it has to be Prometheus)

And oh ... let's not forget SUPERHEROES!

This is the best cosplay team entry ever. Also the gayest.

Because Inadequate Armour is the right of every warrior in the Multiverse.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Hey, nephew

"Cindy Gallop: "Pro-Sex, Pro-Porn, and Pro-Knowing-the-Difference"

So, this is the conversation I will NEVER EVER have with my nephew, because it'd be wildly inappropriate and it'd embarrass the hell out of him. But I sure as hell wish that someone would.

So Thomas ... let's talk about porn. You've probably seen some already, and if you haven't it won't be long, whatever your mum believes. Friends, older kids ... somewhere. There's a whole lot of it out there. You might find it exciting, or confusing, or scary, or upsetting. And you'll see more of it as you get older. Which is why I want to tell you some stuff you need to know, right NOW. 

First of all, IT'S NOT REALISTIC.

I don't mean it's not real like a cartoon, I mean it's not real like a Hollywood movie. Porn actors ... well the clue's in the name. They are ACTORS. In fact, to be honest, they are more like stuntmen and -women. They go in front of a camera and do their job (which yes, means having sex), and the director makes a film that he hopes lots of people will want to watch. So he picks actors who are way better- or more impressive-looking than ordinary people and can do things that most ordinary people can't do. And then those actors will need to be made to look even better for the camera - I mean it: special diets, having all their body hair stripped off, taking medication and having plastic surgery. So from the start:

  • Don't think you ought to have the same sort of body as a porn actor when you grow up. You won't.
  • Don't think girls ought to have bodies like porn actresses. They won't. They'll have lumps and bumps and flobbly bits. They will come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They will have hair in all sorts of places, like up their bottoms. This is normal.
You know what? People don't have to look great to have really great sex. Real sex is about doing what feels good for everyone involved, not what looks good.


Which means that it's faked up in all sorts of ways. All movies are made to look more exciting than real life - porn is just the same. You might watch James Bond drive a car over a rooftop, jump it into a lake, drive out, slide it under a passing juggernaut and then leap out as the car rolls down a cliff and explodes. Is that how you drive a car in real life? Hell no! Is that how ANYBODY could drive in real life without a load of stunt setups and explosives and stuff? No. 

People in porn movies do it in a way that looks dead impressive. That takes a lot of practice and talent. And of course directors cheat with the camerawork and editing - you can't tell that everyone stopped and had a glass of water because they were feeling thirsty, or got to midday and stopped for their sandwiches and a rest, and sat round telling jokes and talking about what was on TV last night, because they don't film that bit.

Don't think you should do all or any of the stuff in porn movies in real life. What you see isn't the best stuff, it's just the stuff that looks most dramatic. Real sex is not an Olympic-level gymnastics demonstration!

I could give you a list as long as your arm of the things that happen in porn films that aren't realistic - but I'm not going to because your mum would get real mad with me. Let's just say, if you need to know, this is a good place to start.
  • Don't think you ought to try out everything you've seen.
  • Real-life sex isn't about looking good, it's about having fun together.
  • Real-life sex isn't about showing off how great you are or how experienced. It's about finding out what works and feels good for you and them. Everyone is different, so what works for one person will not work for the next. You have to take it slowly and experiment.

Blimey - PEOPLE IN PORN MOVIES DO IT SO SERIOUSLY, because that's what looks cool for the cameras. In real life sex involves lots of giggling and smiling and putting up with stupid things like tripping over your socks or farty body noises. Yeah, you can get to be really good at sex, with practise. But you need a sense of humour and patience and to be laid-back when it doesn't go perfectly. And it involves lots and lots of TALKING.

PEOPLE IN PORN NEVER TALK AND THEY NEVER STOP TO LISTEN. I don't mean dirty talk - some people in real life really like that, some don't. I mean things like  "What do you want to do next?" and "Does this feel nice?" and "I would really like X, how do you feel about doing that for me?" In real life you are not having sex with a robot who likes everything and does everything and always responds the way you think they should. You are having sex with an actual human being with thoughts and emotions. You have to look after each other. So that means being honest and kind.

  • Real-life sex is not a performance, it's more like a game you play together.
  • You MUST talk to each other and make sure everyone is happy with what's happening.
  • You've got to organise things. Like making sure you are safe before you start and no one's going to end up pregnant. But that's another chat altogether...

Okay, I've gone on too long and you've probably stopped listening.
If you remember one thing, let it be this -
  • Porn is made to be entertainment for adults. That's all it is - entertainment. Don't believe everything you see in it. DON'T TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
If you want to ask me questions about anything, feel free.
And in three years time I'm going to have the same conversation with your little sister.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Big Bad Wolf

Marjorie Miller: Queen of the Night (1931)

Today I'm moonlighting (heh!) over at Jennifer Denys' blog where she is asking various authors about the lure of the werewolf theme. I haven't actually written all that much on the subject (and I now consider it too well-trampled a path to go anywhere near) but one of my very first short stories was Renaissance, which was a historical fantasy all about a troubled young medieval woman sent on pilgrimage, to pray for a cure for her undiagnosed affliction.

Here's an excerpt. Annette has reached the isolated shrine of St Veronique, where she meets a peasant girl...

"What are you praying for then, lady?' Claudette enquired teasingly.

'I'm ill,' Annette said with caution. 'I'm praying for healing.'

Claudette bit her lip, her eyes huge with secrets. 'Oh, I'm sure you'll find it,' she said. 'St Veronique is very kind.'

Annette gave a token smile, wondering if the Chatelaine Marguerite's aristocratic hands had ever cupped Claudette's big brown breasts. She did not doubt that Gaspard had hauled her into the hayloft and parted those rounded thighs, many times. How could he resist, after all? She looked away down the valley, her mental picture of Gaspard rooting blindly up Claudette's wanton passage kindling a warmth in her that her husband had never evoked in three years of marriage.  Her voice sounded strange as she asked, 'What does the picture on the altar mean?'

'Hmm? That is the saint herself,' Claudette said, rolling a black olive over her lower lip and biting it neatly. 'Have you not heard the legend? When she fled from the wicked lord who wanted to ravish her, the wolves of the hills came to her assistance and fed her.'

'No. I hadn't heard that.'

'So you don't know about the Miracle of the Wolves?' asked Claudette, her eyes glinting. 'No? Sometimes all the wolves come down off the hills and into the chapel to pray to St Veronique. Nobody knows when they will choose to come. It might be tonight. It might be when you are here.'

Annette stared at her and then at the chapel. There was no door to the doorway. 'You are fooling with me!' she said quickly.

Claudette pursed her lips wickedly. 'Are you afraid of the wolves, pilgrim?' she asked, then burst into a throaty chuckle. 'Don't worry, lady -  they are good Christian beasts, come to pray for their souls. They wouldn't eat a pilgrim; not a pure, pious lady like yourself.' She wriggled with delight at the thought, and Annette shook her head in disbelief.

''If I were you,' Claudette confided, getting up on her knees and leaning toward Annette so that her breath was warm on her cheek, 'I would not worry about anything while I was in the chapel, so long as I knew my heart was pure.' As she finished those words she stretched forward just enough to allow her red lips to brush Annette's cheek, and then silently drew those lips in a feathery stroke over to her earlobe, which she took gently between her teeth.

Annette held very still.

Kindle US : Kindle UK
Also available in paperback.

You can also read all about my Victorian gothic werewolf erotic romance novella Bound in Skin (including a naughty excerpt) in this archive post at Lust Bites.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

For Mitzi

Mitzi Szereto asked us contributors to come up with author photos posing with Thrones of Desire.

I find it incredibly hard not to pull faces when having my photo taken. I mean ... I don't look like this all the time - do I?

Friday, 18 January 2013

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

I've been editing an Arthurian story for Wild Enchantments, so here goes with some Arthurian art!

John William Waterhouse, 1893
"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (the beautiful merciless lady) was a short poem by Keats, probably based on a 15th Century courtly poem, that was taken up by a bunch of Victorian artists as the theme for a painting.

Arthur Hughes, 1863
The story goes: knight meets mysterious lady in the forest; they make love (I'm reading slightly between the lines here but not much); he falls asleep and dreams that all her previous dead lovers have come - too late! - to warn him that he is DOOMED; he wakes and she is gone; he loiters at the spot until he dies, because he can't bear to ride away from the last place he saw her.

Henry Meynell Rheam, 1901

It appeals to art-viewers who get a kick from the idea of a irresistably seductive woman who enslaves poor helpless men, bringing the mighty and noble low. In modern terms, femdom.

Robbert Anning Bell (1863-1933)

Waterhouse's picture at top is, to my mind, the best, but this one is probably the most famous:

Frank Dicksee, 1902

Note the near-crucifixion posture.

Walter Craine 1865

For some artists it seems to have been a bit of an obsession:

Another Robert Anning Bell, 1920

Another  Henry Meynell Rheam, 1901 again.
I like the ghosts in that painting. Why the harp-playing girlies represented in the one below?

John Melhuish Strudwick (1849-1937)
It's probably drawing upon the idea of the Belle Dame as being a fairy lady, rather than a human. The presence of other fairies spying or conniving, as she has her wicked way with a mortal, makes folkloric sense.

In this, slightly later picture, the visual emphasis is less on the sleeping/stricken/dying knight in the foregound than on the lady's sumptuous dress.

Frank Cadogan Cowper, 1926
But note the date of the painting, and the poppies. This is almost certainly a WW1 reference - to the soldiers killed in the trenches. Young men cut down by a power they cannot understand and cannot hope to resist. This is a case of a painting that looks only decorative and sentimental, and actually has a deeper darker meaning.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

"You've been warned"

It was a particularly lovely surprise, whilst idly surfing Facebook, to be pounced upon by a unexpected review of Red Grow the Roses. And what a fabulous, thoughtful review! Tilly Hunter says:
 Janine Ashbless has taken the vampire myth and made it her own.
Red Grow the Roses is often discomfiting. The vamps treat humans as playthings to be used and discarded. They bicker amongst themselves and the book culminates in all-out nastiness between London’s five undead. But it’s also a book that draws you in and consumes you with the need to keep reading. You’ve been warned.

Full review here.

Thank you Tilly!
(who also gets extra cool points from me for citing Jung and using the epithet "ridiculous" ... to describe the price of the e-book. Which was 20p when she bought it ... but is currently 49p. OMG the price is climbing out of control!)

Amazon US : Amazon UK

Monday, 14 January 2013

Eyecandy Monday

Editing and rewriting this collection of my short stories, I am perforce searching out boobs.... ;-)

I can't just hope no one sees them:

I have to be ruthless:

It's a hard life being a writer!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Pole dancer

Her name is Jenyne Butterfly and she is just amazing. If, like me, you were wowed by the athletic poledancing in Rock of Ages, you'll love this.

Here's some more:

Friday, 11 January 2013

Wild Enchantments - first draft

Thanks to Alec for sending me this pic!

2013 is definitely going to be the Year of the Romantic Novel - I am after all under orders! - but first I'm polishing off the last of the filth. Well, polishing up the filth anyway ... I've just finished the 10th story in a collection tentatively titled "Wild Enchantments" (have you spotted the pattern yet?) and spent several hours yesterday stuffing the squabbling, fractious things into a single volume.

Over the next week or so I have to get it ready for submission - formatted, spellchecked, each story prettied up. I have to log every name I've used in my database to ensure I'm not repeating myself. And talking of repeats - I need to make sure that the sex varies across the volume ("Oh, do we have to have anal again, Janine?"), that I'm not reusing metaphors or tropes or story structures (I already know there's probably too much rainy weather), and that the narrator voices are individualised.

And then there's the research for tiny but vital details. Off the top of my head this will include fact-checking across websites on

  • How to speak Enochian
  • The life of Ivan the Terrible
  • Zombie ants
  • Modern Military jargon
  • medieval musical instruments

I've said it before: thank goodness for t'Internet!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Stories that turn me on

Today I'm doing a guest post over at Kissing Velvet, as part of the ongoing series "Stories that Turn Me On". Which is where erotica authors get to 'fess up about someone else's work that puts them all in a tizzy.

I picked a favourite story from Alison Tyler's Luscious anthology. I'm slightly distracted now by the book's lovely new cover. Mmmmm....

Ahem. Anyway, the story is Something Dirty by Erica Dumas, so you can go find why I like it so much....

Friday, 4 January 2013

Filthy Friday

It's Filthy Friday!

You know how much we UK authors love the Sh! Erotica Shop?
Well, today on the Sh! Blog you can read a nice big extract from Named and Shamed. And yes, it is fairly filthy! I mean, I wouldn't want to waste the opportunity...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Before Northumberlandia, there was Penshaw Monument, and that's where I was on New Year's Day.

The North East of England has an ongoing legacy of earthworks and follies*. Penshaw Monument was built in 1844 as a tribute to the Earl of Durham, created as a half-sized replica of a Greek temple. It's still pretty damn big - nearly 100ft long, 66ft high, and you can see it for miles. Close-up, is is frankly oppressive:

It sits on Penshaw Hill, which is the site of a famous dragon legend: The Lambton Worm: young Lord Lambton went fishing on a Sunday (boo!) in the River Wear, and caught a nasty-looking worm which he discarded in a well. Then he went off to the Crusades ... and when he got back he found the Worm had grown into a huge monster that terrorised the countryside.

This fearful worm would often feed
On calves an' lambs an' sheep,
An' swallow little bairns alive
When they laid doon te sleep.
An when he'd eaten aall he cud
An' he had had his fill,
He craaled away an' lapped his tail
Ten times roond Penshaw Hill.

When I wrote my huge unpublished supernatural thriller a decade ago, I set a pivotal chapter at Penshaw Hill, where one of the characters is menaced by the Worm - and the others bump into Shiva.

 ‘What do you think?’ Steve asked.
    ‘What about?’
    ‘About this place.’
    ‘It’s cold,’ Erica complained.
    He knocked his fists together. ‘Tell me what you think about it, though.’
    Adrian said, ‘If we had enough netting we could catch us some harpies. Like in that Jason film, you remember?’
    There were nods of recognition. ‘Ade, I think you’re channelling Rhys,’ Meena warned.
    ‘Oh God,’ he said in horror.
    ‘Seriously,’ Steve said; ‘how does it make you feel? How do you see it?’
    They looked at him with varying degrees of perplexity and cynicism. ‘Is this a test of some sort?’ May asked.
    He shrugged. ‘Not a test.’
    ‘What, then?’
    ‘Knock away the rational, everyday layers of your mind. How do you see it, deep down?’
    ‘Like, what does it mean to your imagination?’
    ‘It’s big. It’s stone. It’s old.’
    ‘Oh no. You’re not really that shallow, May.’
    ‘Okay,’ said Meena, since no one else was going to kick off. ‘ I don’t like it much. Is that what you want? It’s too big. It’s never been lived in, or used for genuine worship, or even turned into a proper building. It’s got no real relationship to human beings, if you know what I mean. It feels, not exactly hostile, but like it doesn’t understand what it’s supposed to do with us.’
    There was a moment’s silence. Meena felt the columns leaning in around their small group.
    ‘Good,’ Steve said.
    ‘Yeah,’ Adrian said, eyes half-closed. ‘It’s like a machine waiting to be switched on. It’s amazing. I can’t help liking it, myself. It reminds me of a great big steam engine, just sat there, black with oil, ready to be fired up. Does that sound stupid? Like Meena said, it’s got a purpose,’ he continued slowly, ‘but it hasn’t been fulfilled. I don’t know what it would be.’
Yes you do, thought Meena. Twice now you’ve likened it to a cage.

This is, for me, a magical place. A landmark on my imaginative map. I have very happy personal memories of Penshaw Hill because when I was at University we staged two wonderful LARP adventures there. Including the infamous "X Rated" one (really, more like PG) which, let us say, turned out to include a certainly amount of foreshadowing ...
So Mr Ashbless and I wandered through the little quarries and woods in a glow of nostalgia.

It was a good place to spend New Year's Day - a place to look back with gratitude and joy, before setting out into the future.

* (Nowadays, just across the road, a reclaimed colliery site has become Herrington Country Park, complete with modern stone circle. You just can't stop 'em!)