Convincing, not Believable – Janine Ashbless

The Art & Craft of Erotica

with Janine Ashbless

Read Janine’s #SexySnippet of Sweet Hel Below here!

Erotica is about people. And sex too, of course, but the characters are what make a story worth being told. Whether they’re moving through a simple, easy to consume plot or something that’s much more emotionally twisted and complicated, it’s the characters who travel through the story and enable tension and conflict to rise within us, the readers. If we don’t have ‘well-built’ characters, then there is no story. Storytelling happens through characters. A good Erotica writer considers who their characters are and how to best present them–from beginning to end–by creatively examining purpose, strengths, weaknesses, flaws, sexual drives, uniquenesses, and commonalities in such a way that the reader’s eyes don’t want to leave the page, all while encouraging a hand to wander.

The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 Vol.2 is nearly here. To kick things off, I wanted to share a post geared mostly toward writers and aspiring writers–a little #WriterlyWisdom, if you will, regarding CHARACTER by Janine Ashbless. Janine is an author who consistently enthralls readers and amazes me with her marvelous characters. She’s written a whole slew of short stories and several novels. She’s clever, she’s witty, and she’s an incredible storyteller who’s turned me on and even made me laugh a time or two. It is with great pride that Stupid Fish Productions is publishing a new story by Janine Ashbless in our upcoming collection.

Convincing, not Believable
Janine Ashbless

So, my tips for building believable characters in erotica are–

Hold on… Why would I want to write “believable” erotica characters? Aren’t we in the business of giving people fantasies? Aren’t we trying to get them off? Who wants an erotic story where the guy comes too soon and leaves in embarrassment, or the heroine accidentally farts mid-anal? We’re looking for ideals when we go to read one-handed fiction, aren’t we?

And isn’t “believable” subjective? If I hang out, say, with English tech-nerds, and you hang out with American truckers, our mental picture of what people are like is going to be very different.

Is Trump a believable character, come to that? Who wrote him?!

No, I’m not going to ask anyone to write believable characters. Instead, I’m going to urge y’all to write CONVINCING characters. Which is much less about appealing to a common denominator of lived experience between you and your readers, and a lot more about writing skills. If you can create the most extreme character, or the most unfamiliar, and still somehow persuade your reader to suspend disbelief and go along with your story, then you’re doing it right.

So here are my pointers. It’s all about giving your characters depth.

  • “Everyone is necessarily the Hero of their own life story” (John Barth) This is so important! Everyone has a reason for doing what they do, even if what they do looks shitty, or stupid, or self-destructive to outsiders. Everybody thinks that they are right. It is the author’s job to get inside the head of their characters, even the villainous or abusive ones, and write with empathy and understanding of their motives (which is NOT the same as morally justifying or validating their behavior, though some people might not agree with my distinction).
  • Good people very often do shitty things too, for various reasons. That makes for great stories and great psychological background. Messed-up or conflicted characters are fascinating to read about. A hero(ine) with no regrets and no flaws is not convincing.
  •  We’re all individuals! And the variation socially, psychologically and sexually among humans is close to infinite. Break stereotypes. And Don’t stick to what you know—do your research instead. Read stuff written by people you don’t like, and don’t agree with. Brace yourself and read the icky comments section. Put yourself in their shoes and write it from their POV. Use their vocabulary.
  • But there’s a reason for physical stereotypes in romantic/erotic fiction – “tall, dark and brooding”, “busty blonde”, “mousey ingénue”, etc. If our primary intention is to arouse our readers, then we probably have to tap into the cultural/biological/social norms and triggers for titillation. If you want to reach the maximum number of readers, use those triggers. Just go beyond them and make the personalities 3D too. My heroes are always going to be really good-looking (unless they are NOT, in which case I can fetishize their ugliness). And they will always, always have big cocks J

xxx
Janine Ashbless

website: www.janineashbless.com

blog:  www janineashbless.blogspot.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/janineashbless

Lalibela: 8th Wonder of the World

Earlier this month, I interviewed Janine Ashbless, author of The Book of the Watchers series, over at my Sexy Librarian’s Blog-cast. We discussed her latest novel “In Bonds of the Earth.”  One of the most intriguing points of interest for me, as I read, was Ashbless’ detailings of the incredible rock-cut churches in Ethiopia. I found myself holding the book in one hand while I searched online to see more of these ancient churches. During the interview with Janine, she told me that she’d actually traveled to Ethiopia for research because she needed to have a good place to stash one of her fabulous fallen angels. Here are some of the pictures she took on her journey to Ethiopia. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I did. I hope these pictures inspire you to head over to Amazon to purchase your own copy of Janine’s first book, Cover Him in Darkness, and while you are there, order a copy of In Bonds of the Earth.

 

Lalibela: 8th Wonder of the World

Janine Ashbless

When I started writing In Bonds of the Earth (Book of the Watchers vol. 2), I went to Ethiopia to find a prison for Penemuel, the Angel of the Written Word. (Hey, I like travelling, okay? Writing’s an excellent excuse!)

I found my location in Lalibela, a small town with a breath-taking collection of eleven or so rock-cut churches, each hewn from a single block of stone during the 12th and 13th Centuries. These form a UNESCO world heritage site – easily up there with the Pyramids and Petra. As my guidebook says: “Lalibela’s obscurity is shameful.”

The sites of Lalibela are all steeped in symbolism – they provided a 3D map of the Holy Land so that medieval pilgrims wouldn’t have to make the dangerous journey to Palestine. This for example is the “Tomb of Adam”:

The churches are cut down into the rock surface, so that you wind through a maze of tunnels and gulleys from one church to the next.

Each is a living, functioning house of worship, and the singing of the priests is a constant aural backdrop.

The layout is labyrinthine; you definitely need a guide!

This is the entrance to the “Valley of Death” – a lightless tunnel hundreds of feet long!

The most famous church of all is Bet Giyorgis (“House of St George”) – check out this 360 panorama.

Oh … here is a pillar which is kept covered up because Jesus came and wrote a description of the entire history of the world on it, and the end bit is too scary for people to read(!):

And here is one of the tens of thousands of pilgrims who came here to stay for good…

Lalibela is an ancient and haunting place – just right for stashing a fallen angel, I thought…

xxx

Janine

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.

 

Janine Ashbless is back with the second in her paranormal erotic romance Book of the Watchers trilogy: In Bonds of the Earth.

 

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 hasn’t bargained on is being drawn into his plan to free all his incarcerated brothers and wage a war against the Powers of Heaven.

As Azazel drags Milja across the globe in search of his fellow rebel angels, Milja fights to hold her own in a situation where every decision has dire consequences. Pursued by the loyal Archangels, she is forced to make alliances with those she cannot trust: the mysterious Roshana Veisi, who has designs of her own upon Azazel; and Egan Kansky, special forces agent of the Vatican – the man who once saved then betrayed her, who loves her, and who will do anything he can to imprison Azazel for all eternity.

Torn every way by love, by conflicting loyalties and by her own passions, Milja finds that she too is changing – and that she must do things she could not previously have dreamt of in order to save those who matter to her.

In Bonds of the Earth is the second in the Book of the Watchers trilogy and the sequel to Cover Him With Darkness.

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.

*****

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:

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:

Amazon ebook

Apple

Kobo

Google Play

Barnes and Noble

Print:

Amazon paperback

Sinful Press

Waterstones

Barnes and Noble

Amazon UK

 

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.

Janine Ashbless_In Bonds of the Earth

It is with great delight that I share with everyone this interview I had with author Janine Ashbless. She’s, quite simply, a writer after my own heart. In her first book, “Cover Him With Darkness” of The Watchers novels, Janine asks, “If you loved an angel… How far would you fall with him?” I am here to tell you that, for the record, I would totally fall…

All. The. Way.

In this The Sexy Librarian’s Erotica Blogcast interview, Janine discusses the upcoming release of her 2nd book in The Watchers series titled, “In Bonds of the Earth.” I have already read this incredible book, my friends, and I suggest that you click the title link above to pre-order this title for yourself.

Then, I want you to click>> “Cover Him With Darkness so that you may purchase and read her first title in this series. Reading these two books was like watching a movie, folks. There’s action, sex, sensational knowledge-bombs, twists, and turns–you will essentially be breathless during and definitely after reading!

In short…

“An absolute must read. In this, In Bonds of the Earth, Janine Ashbless’ impressive knowledge of primeval Christianity and her passion for plot-brimming storytelling renders yet another gripping fantasy that ravishes readers, all while on a journey to the ancient rock-cut churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia. I must confess…I would follow Ashbless’ Milja and her exquisitely rebellious Azazel anywhere. My heart quickens for book three.”
-Rose Caraway

Ebook Buy Links:
Amazon UKAmazon USAppleGoogle PlayKobo

Paperback Buy Links:
 Buy direct from Sinful PressBarnes and NobleWaterstonesAmazon UK

Janine Ashbless has a book blog tour coming soon, too! She will provide insight into her research, some super hot #SexySnippets of the new book, and she’s going to do a live reading!! Stay tuned for more details.

To stay up to date on all Janine’s blog tour dates and her other (just as interesting and playful postings), you can follow/friend Janine Ashbless on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/janineashbless

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have also had the great pleasure of publishing a few of Janine Ashbless’ stories in, “The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica” and “Libidinous Zombie: An Erotic Horror Collection,” and I am here to tell you that if you are a fan of paranormal/fantasy Erotica, that starts hot and stays hot, she is your next favorite author. Janine has also been a featured author over on The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast! Have a listen to her short story, The Ingenue.

***

Janine Ashbless has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000, when her first collection of short stories, Cruel Enchantment, was published by Black Lace (Virgin Books). Her novels, single-author collections, and many short stories have now seen publication by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, Samhain, Ellora’s Cave and Stupid Fish Productions amongst others. She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology Geek Love and was alarmed to find how ruthless and demanding she was in that role.

#WriterlyWisdom with Sonni de Soto

sonni-de-soto
As the For The Men Antho blog tour continues, author Sonni de Soto joins us today to discuss the writing of her contributing story, ODD MAN. This story is unlike any other erotica story you’ve read. Sometimes, we read erotica to escape for a little while, to enter into new worlds or scenes where we know that we’ll be ‘comfortably-kept’ because we aren’t required to do much more than read. But, this is not the case with Sonni de Soto’s story. de Soto wanted to challenge her readers, and we adore her for her crafty use of 2nd person POV. In ODD MAN, de Soto forces readers to intimately consider, react…feel everything that her main character feels. And she doesn’t hold any punches as she places us directly inside the mind of her main character. His anguish & triumph become our own. Here are Sonni de Soto’s thoughts behind the writing of her incredibly moving story, ODD MAN. You can read the #SexySnippet of ODD MAN, over at lovely Janine Ashbless‘ place: http://bit.ly/OddMan_SexySnippet
for-the-men_cover_final#WriterlyWisdom
“Deep Point Of View”
by Sonni de Soto
I’m a huge believer in writing things that scare you. In trying and inhabiting voices that aren’t your own. And, honestly, I’d never written a second-person story before this one and I just wanted to know if I could. But I didn’t want to just write in that POV to write in it; it needed to serve the story.The thing that intrigues me—and irritates me—most about second-person narratives is the uncomfortable space it forces the reader into. One of the ways it does this is by placing this interesting sense of distance for the character from their own story. For my protagonist, Rob, he is telling his story as if it’s not happening to him. Or, at times, as if he could advise himself, could—almost like a video or roleplay game—go back and have a do-over. It plays on the very human nature to know exactly what you ought to do while knowing, undoubtedly, you will to do the exact opposite.

That distance within second-person narratives allows the story to shift responsibility. When Rob tells his story this way, he isn’t doing these things; you are. Not just you specifically as the reader, but also in English’s funny way of creating a general, almost universal you. The tale then hovers in this odd, discomforting space where this deeply personal story becomes all of ours. A strange collective experience of this one man’s moment in time.

odd-manEven more than first-person, this 2nd person POV thrusts you, as the reader, into that character’s experiences by changing the game from the normal declarative, this-happens-then-this-happens-then-this-happens nature of narrative to something more imperative. You, dear reader, are going on this journey with me, whether you want to or not. And I think it invites us—as both the reader and the writer—to confront things about human nature, like jealousy and inadequacy and those times when we flat-out hate the ones we love most, that the character doesn’t want to and that we, as his collective stand-in, would under any other circumstance avoid.

Which, I think—I hope—makes the story’s resolution that much more rewarding because you—we—will have gone through something that, if not scares–challenges us.