Sunday, June 27, 2010

Interview: Janine Ashbless

Janine Ashbless blends fantasy, horror and erotica into some of the most breathtaking stories to be found. Her story "Sleep Tight" is a wicked retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

What inspired you to retell this particular fairy tale?

"Sleep Tight" is based on Sleeping Beauty, and the protagonist is set to work strimming down a thicket of brambles around a spooky old house. It seemed an ideal way of using my own experience working with petrol-powered strimmers. Little details like the smells, the vibration of the machine, the horror of doing it in areas where dogs have fouled...

Are there any other fairy tales you’d like to see retold? Why?

I want to retell all the fairy stories! That’s what started me with erotica in the first place: reading Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber when I was at college. It’s my favourite sub-genre of erotica.

How long have you been writing erotica?

12 years at least. But I’ve been telling myself these stories since I was in my teens – I just took a few decades to write them down.

What is your favorite story you’ve written so far? Why?

Argh, don’t ask me to pick! My novel Divine Torment is very close to my heart, very personal, my vision of the erotic romance I wanted to read. My favourite short story - at the moment – is either "Janissaries" or "The Red Thread" (both to be found in Dark Enchantment) because they are both in different ways brutal and honest, and they still shock me.

What advice would you give to aspiring erotica/erotic romance authors?

Write well: write the best stories you can – just because it’s erotica that doesn’t make it an excuse for sloppiness or insincerity.

What is your writing routine like?

Insufficiently disciplined. I always have a hundred little jobs to do first...

Are you a full-time writer?

I’m a full-time procrastinator.

Do you write to music?

No: I can’t have any music on while writing – it interferes with the rhythm of the words in my head.

What do you enjoy reading? Favorite authors? Favorite genres? Recommendations?

My favourite authors are Angela Carter, M R James, H P Lovecraft ... all dead now, I’m afraid.

I love reading travel books, particularly those which deal with people thrust into extreme life-and-death situations where choices really count. My favourite is “Into Thin Air” by John Krakauer, which is a simply mind-blowing account of disaster on Everest.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your writing?

That photo was taken in 1990 – I was playing a demon for a LARP event. Dig that perm!


Janine Ashbless Bibliography :

Cruel Enchantment (2000) – erotic short story collection: fantasy, fairytale and horror
Divine Torment (2002) – erotic fantasy swords-and-sandals novel
Burning Bright (2007) – erotic fantasy novel, sequel to Divine Torment
Wildwood (2008) – contemporary paranormal erotic novel about fairies and earth-magic.
Dark Enchantment – (2009) – erotic short story collection: fantasy, fairytale and paranormal


  1. Hi Janine

    I loved reading your interview and I share your passion for Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' it's a real classic and has a special place on my bookshelf.

    I also enjoyed reading your book Cruel Enchantment - the mix fantasy, erotica and fairtale is perfect! I can't wait to read your story Sleep Tight, and as I say in my interview, I feel blessed to be amongst so many of the writers I admire in this collection (including you!).

    All the best,
    Louisa x

  2. You're one of the greats, JA! And that's no fairy tale.

  3. Hi Louisa - thanks for the warm words about Cruel Enchantment! I found out today that Violet Blue really loves that collection too - so I feel like I'm about to explode in a cloud of sparkly fairy dust!

    And Jeremy, you are lovely!

  4. I too love Angela Carter ... She was brilliant. I really liked your story, and look forward to reading your other work. Thanks for sharing the bibliography! Also, love the photo!

  5. Thanks so much Michelle!
    I had to hunt through my old (pre-digital) albums for that picture - oh boy do I have a fine collection of blurred, not very good LARP photos!