Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Watchmen ... the last word

I'm sorry, but if you haven't seen the film or read the graphic novel then you'll just have to take my word for it that this Watchmen pastiche is very very funny.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Eyecandy Monday

I was inspired to post this by the Hand on the cover of Sexy Little Numbers (posted last Tues below). Hands are sexy. Especially hands on lovely curvy asses, of course...

And I have some news. My Spare Book Box is now offically full so I've decided to GIVE SOME BOOKS AWAY. Yes, free! Want one of my books? Well, if you pop here to this blog anytime from this Friday (1st May) through to the following Monday (4th May) you'll have a very good chance.

See you soon!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Birth of a Book

This is the very first seed of a book. It's the initial storyboard I made up for Red Grow the Roses to help me sort out the characters and chapters.

The book has a very unusual and strict structure, which works as both a contraint for me and a spur to my imagination. Into that structure I needed to fit a number of major characters - I decided on 6. Each character needed a name, a distinct social personna, a distinct sexual style and to fit into one of the pre-ordained first chapters in order: m/f/m/f/m.

So thank goodness for post-its!

Everything since has just been filling in the gaps.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Getting your Wordsworth

Picture by the awesome Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-93)

Madelynne Ellis' comment about one of my stories on Tuesday has prompted me to post this.

I am of course a huge fan of the classic ghost story. The sort written mostly at the beginning of the 20th Century, with old-fashioned settings and creepy decayed horrors from beyond the grave and NO GORE but a hideous feeling of spiritual danger and dread. Ring, The Orphanage and Sixth Sense are the movies that spring to mind. I have a large collection of tatty paperbacks gleaned over many years from charity shops, but it's getting more and more difficult to find new stuff.

Then - hooray! - last year I discovered the Wordsworth Mystery and Supernatural imprint. Wordsworth specialise in publishing out-of-print and out-of-copyright fiction in cheap editions, and they've produced a HUGE range of old ghost stories. So cheap in fact that I bought a crateload without worrying about the reputation of any of the authors. In fact I only threw two out - one for being so dull I finished the book with no memory of what I'd read, and the other for being modernist drivel even worse than Henry James (I'm not a fan of The Turn of the Screw).

Best of the bunch:

Couching at the Door by Dorothy Kathleen Broster. Contains the eponymous classic in which a decadent C19th poet (who has done something unspecified but clearly very nasty involving black magic) is pursued to his doom by - of all things - a malevolent dust-bunny. The stories aren't all supernatural, but have an emotional depth and understanding sometimes lacking in the genre and and are really quite unsettling. But the best story is A Taste of Pomegranates, which is totally original take on the Persephone myth and took me completely by surprise.

The Bishop of Hell by Marjorie Bowen (there were a lot of female authors in the genre) is a solid and uncompromising collection of supernatural stories, mostly about people suffering paranormal retribution out of all proportion to their sins. Elsie's Lonely Afternoon - understated and quite cruel - made me cry.

Honourable mention must go to Oriental Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn. While on the most part gently creepy rather than spine-chilling, and reminiscent of fairy stories, these have the unique selling point of being set in historic Japan, so the details are enthralling.

And as for A Night on the Moor by R Murray Gilchrist, well you'll either love it or hate it. He wrote pseudo-historic stories that seem to be set in an unreal world where madness, suicide and betrayal (by friends and lovers) is inevitable. Like Clark Ashton Smith or Dunsany his fictional world is unique and feverish and intensely personal. I read the first story and thought it ludicrous, but by the fourth or fifth I was hooked by his mad vison.

Wordsworth on Amazon UK : Wordsworth on Amazon US

Of course, before going anywhere near these, you do have to have read the collected ghost stories of M R James. You have read his ghost stories, haven't you? He is, like, the god of ghost story writers. Nothing else compares.

M R James on Amazon UK : MR James on Amazon US

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Sexy Little Numbers cover

The Sexy Little Numbers #1 cover has gone up on Amazon, at last. Isn't it PINK? And look - it has male hands on it! Out in August (UK) - or shortly thereafter (US) - this is the first of what I believe is to be an annual Black Lace collection of short stories. The blurb on the front, if you haven't got super-vision, says: 21 stories from the hottest new names in female sexual fantasy fiction, including Kristina Lloyd, Portia Da Costa, Janine Ashbless, Carrie Williams, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Madelynne Ellis, Justine Elyot and Charlotte Stein.

Whoo! I feel like a member of an exclusive pink VIP club. With pink champagne served by butch men in pink kilts. Freaky. And what did I have to do to gain entry to this club?

"Trent on the other hand knows exactly how I feel. We’ve never talked about it, but we share an understanding. We’ve been friends for that many years that we have very few secrets. In fact, I can tell whether he’s serious about a guy as soon as he brings him home. If he thinks it might be serious, or hopes it is, Trent shuts his bedroom door. If it’s just a one night stand then he leaves it ajar with the bedroom light on, so that if I’m very quiet I can sneak up in the darkened hall and watch them fucking."

(Michelangelo's Men, Janine Ashbless)

Monday, 20 April 2009

Eyecandy Monday

I just freakin' love his hair. The boots, the kilt and all the other yummy bits are pretty good too, but I luuuurv the hair!

A plethora of Men In Kilts here.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Justified and Ancient

Time for something cheerful I think - and what could be more cheery than Tammy Wynette and the KLF? Tammy, stand by the JAMs!

I have a particular reason for feeling happy this weekend, and in fact I'm buzzing. You see, out of the blue I have come Under Instruction to write a particular book for Black Lace. My previous work-in-progress (another collection of short stories) that I was gently bimbling away at has now been relegated to the bottom drawer. I've started again with a new project and have popped a widget in the right hand bar to track it.

And what's it all about? Well, I'm going to sit on the details for a little while. I have a deadline and a title Adam likes, but not a contract* and I don't want to mouth off yet in case it all falls through and I look a bit crap. Let's just say it's still paranormal, and that I'm nervous because it's going to be a real challenge for me, and that I'm really really excited about it.

Black Lace works in Mysterious Ways, its wonders to perform ...

*Contracts come late on with Black Lace. In at least one case an anthology was in the bookshops before I got to sign for my contribution.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


I don't think my blog must just be about the jolly things I do, but I did hesitate before posting these photos I took of my visit to Auschwitz. Both photos and words are inadequate in any attempt to get a grasp on what happened here, and it feels like arrogance to even try.

Yet we have to try, don't we? For three nights after my visit this was all I dreamed about, my subconscious tying itself in knots trying to assimilate what I'd seen and read.

Auschwitz-1 itself, the first camp, was nothing like I'd imagined:

It's surprisingly small.

This is the "Death Block." Medical experiments on the left, punishment cells and courts on the right, executions in the yard:

The second camp of the complex, Birkenau, is about a mile away. Aushwitz-1 was largely a labour-camp/prison. Auschwitz-2 was the extermination-camp, and it's huge. And yes, this was what I'd pictured:

The wooden barracks were originally cavalry stables.

This view across the marshy ground of Birkenau seems to go on forever. The brick stacks are chimneys, all that remain of the barrack huts that were burned down or rotted away:

This is the remains of one of the underground gas-chambers/crematoria (they were blown up before the end of the war in an attempt to conceal what had happened):

Was it a valuable experience for me, visiting this place? Yes. Did I learn anything? Nothing I want to try to express.

Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Amazon Bigots

I missed the start of this because I was away, but in case you haven't heard yet either...

Amazon has decided - in a quite Stalinesque attempt to make facts fit ideology - to remove all "adult" material from their sales rankings. Not to stop selling them - you can sill buy erotica on Amazon - but to stop them showing up as popular. This means that at the time of writing their "adult fiction bestsellers" list consists of 2 books, both out of print, that somehow escaped the purge.

Of course they fucked it up. Their pogrom deleted all Lesbian and Gay books too, and there was a massive online petition (go go Erastes!!) and they panicked and blamed a computer programming error in France and are trying to restore all the "respectable" adult LGBT/educational books to their postions.

But I see no sign that they intend to acknowledge Erotica.

I'm still really pissed off, even though I'm delighted they're backpeddling on the (rather more important) LBGT issue. They have every intention of making profit from our work, but at the same time they want to pretend we don't exist because it might offend Middle America. Hypocrites. And liars.

It's the offence against truth that really gets me.

UPDATE: As of the morning of the 15th April, the Amazon UK "adult fiction" bestsellers listing has been restored.
Erotica rides again!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Scary Easter

I've been awaiting an appropriate moment to share an entertaining picture I saw in an art gallery in Bruges, so this seems the time. Well - it's Easter-themed, isn't it?

This Last Supper (bigger version here) by Pieter Pourbus (1523-1584) looks pretty average until you wonder WTF IS THAT COMING IN THROUGH THE DOOR ON THE RIGHT?! Skeletal, with staring eyes and elongated claws on hands and feet ... I think it's supposed to be the Devil coming for Judas, who has just decided to betray Jesus (Judas is depicted with red hair, ha ha: it was considered a Bad Sign at the time). But it's a real M R James type picture. He should have written a story about it.

Happy Easter!
Back to the chocolate...

Friday, 10 April 2009

Vampire panic

Aah .... my head is full of vampires and writers' adrenaline. I need someone to slip the leash ... And then I'd be on that vampire like a shot.

Can't talk.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Back from Krakow

Wow. We just spent 5 days in Krakow! Glorious sunny weather: 5 days: 1 castle, 6 churches, 6 museums/art galleries, a salt mine, and our own bodyweight in chocolate and cake.

We also visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, but I'll post those photos - if at all - separately.

Krakow is a gracious, historic old city full of baroque buildings, ornate churches and tiny bars. It's very easy to walk around. This is a shot of the main square:

It was Spring, celebrated with colourful arrangements of dyed grasses, much folk-dancing and, it seems, a massive pillowfight. That's feathers, not snow:

Here's a traditional meal of the type consumed by tourists:

Oh, the drinking-chocolate bars of Krakow! Words cannot do them justice!

This is the cathedral, which is part of the Wawel Castle complex:

And these are the bones of a medieval dragon, kept chained outside the cathedral door:

Yes of course it was a real dragon! In fact its statue still breathes fire:

We saw a great deal of religious art - Poland is an intensely Catholic country of course. My favourite was the Art Nouveau work of Stanislaw Wyspianski (d.1907). Here's his "Creation" from the Franscican Basilica:

And some more Art Nouveau stained glass:

And here's a chapel 100 metres below the surface of the earth. It's in the famous Wieliczka Salt mine and took 3 miners 70 years to hand-carve from solid rocksalt in their spare time:

Yes, everthing is made from salt - including crystal chandeliers, statues and wall reliefs of the Last Supper etc.

And here's me with cake and beer 123m below the surface of the earth. The efforts I go to for my research, *ahem*. Please don't tell my Wii Fit...

Friday, 3 April 2009

I'm away on holiday...

Yes, again. ("Does this Ashbless woman do anything but gad about on holiday?" you might ask...) I'm in Krakow, Poland for a few days with friends. Photos when I get back!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Playing With Fire - out now - read an excerpt

The new Cleis Press anthology Playing With Fire is out this week! - April 7th it says on Amazon US but they seem to be shipping already, and Thursday April 2nd at Amazon UK.

Subtitled "Taboo Erotica" this is a red-hot collection with twin themes: heat and danger. It's all about sex that pushes the boundaries of a relationship, sometimes to breaking point: adultery, betrayal, secrets. You can read all the dirty details in the safety of your own room but remember, we use fully-trained stunt characters for our stories: do not try this at home!

Apart from my own contribution you'll also find stories by such erotica writers as Nikki Magennis, Andrea Dale, Sommer Marsden, Jeremy Edwards, Heidi Champna and Alison Tyler (who edits the collection).

Why do I think you should buy this anthology in particular? Because my own contribution, Scorched, is a story that makes me nervous. Sometimes we write stories like that; outside our comfort zones. Scorched is very dirty and not very nice. It's about Emerald, who is getting it on with her boyfriend's best friend and flatmate, Greg, and what happens when Max catches them out. I love the stories that make me nervous. Yeah, I want to run away - but I keep coming back for another peek.

People who play with fire sometimes get burned.

Here's an excerpt:

Obediently she drew up her skirt to expose stocking tops and the triangle of silky material. Greg smiled. ‘Like that. You buy them for me?’

Emerald nodded.

‘But Max will get a kick out of them too, I bet.’

‘Mm.’ That was the thing about this purchase, she thought; she’d be getting double value.

‘You know I can hear you two at night? The walls in this place are pretty thin.’ He savoured the way she blushed. ‘Not that you’re exactly quiet. But I hear every thump of the headboard, every little groan and squeal.’ He caressed the towel-covered knot of his cock, and the bulge twitched visibly. ‘Drove me nuts for a year, doll.’

‘I’m sorry.’ Her voice was husky.

‘I can even hear the sound he makes when he slaps your fat ass.’

Emerald’s eyes widened: Greg’s brutal crudity was one of the things that made him so different to Max. He was shamelessly honest and it was one of the things that made her hot. He liked the fact that she had a big ass, and he told her so. He liked the fact she was a slut, and the more he treated her like one the more she acted that way. ‘Does it annoy you, hearing us?’ she asked. He smirked.

‘I just grin and join in for the ride, doll.’


‘Now show me that big bum of yours.’

Turning, Emerald pulled up the back of her skirt. She heard the intake of his breath.

‘Oh yes. Like two loaves put out to rise.’ He’d been a bakery assistant as a student, she recalled: his tales about what had been done to the dough during quiet moments had been enough to put Max off bread for good. She crossed her legs and leaned forward, hands on her thighs, giving him the best possible view. ‘Fuck, yes,’ he said in awe as she wiggled her backside. ‘I want that.’ He stood, the better to run his hands over her cheeks and down the barely clothed split between them. The elastic was taut across her asshole, the gusset stretched tight over pussy lips which already felt swollen. Greg’s fingers crudely but very accurately found the sinkhole of her cunt through the cloth.

‘You won’t be able to take these back to the shop, doll. They’re already wet.’ Every poke of his fingertips on the sodden cloth exacerbated that situation and Emerald whimpered. There was the sound of a towel hitting the carpet. ‘You ready for some of this?’

Glancing over her shoulder, Emerald saw the cock she was getting to know so well: heavy, dusky, with a bit of a lean to the right, it stood proudly despite the scrotum beneath that seemed to be trying to drag it down by sheer virtue of its weight. That was the thing about Greg: his dick was good but his balls were something else, and produced prodigious quantities of come. Emerald was sure they were to blame for the swiftness with which he recovered and was ready for more. Was she ready? ‘Oh yes.’

‘Then get down and ask nicely.’

Falling to her knees, she shimmied out of her dress and faced the object of her desire, wetting her lips. It swayed a little and Greg stroked it up and down.

‘Please,’ she said sincerely.

‘Not good enough, doll.’

‘Please, sir…’ Leaning forward, she delicately tongued those big balls in their velvet pouch.

‘Better.’ His glans was glistening.

‘I want it so much.’ She kissed his bollocks and licked her way up his shaft.

‘That’s ’cos you’re a slut, Emerald,’ he sighed pleasurably. He was so clean from the shower that he was almost tasteless until she sucked the faintly salty pre-come from the eye of his cock. Putting her hands on his hairy thighs, she lost herself in the art and the pleasure of giving him head. He wrapped his fingers in her hair, guiding her, unhurried. He pushed all the way to the back of her throat and when she took the length without gagging he nearly purred. ‘Emerald.’
She opened her eyes and looked up at him, knees splayed and ass thrust out, her mouth wrapped around his turgid cock.

‘I’ve got a surprise for you.’ He nodded over her shoulder.

Confused, it took a moment before she broke away and turned. There in the doorway, arms folded, stood Max with a face like stone.

‘Shit!’ squealed Emerald, clapping her hand over her mouth as if she could hide the fact it had just been pleasuring their flatmate’s cock. ‘Oh shit! I’m sorry!’

‘Yeah,’ said Max. ‘You look sorry.’