Janine was my guest in November 2014, when we talked about the first story in this series, Cover Him with Darkness. I've eagerly awaited this sequel, and will post a review as soon as I've read it - it's already on my kindle.
If you've not read Cover Him with Darkness, you might like to peruse all the rave reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
A brief bit of sales pitch and an excerpt, then the interview...
“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. You’d be wrong.”
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.
“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.
I was giving my long-dreaded presentation on the anniversary footbridge to Misters Ellis, Singh, Constanzo and Mackenzie…when Azazel walked in.
“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.
“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.
Hi Janine, and welcome back. I can't help wondering if you had this book already “sketched out” in your mind before you published the first?
I had a 2-page sketch of the trilogy, which mostly boiled down to which countries it would be set in. Everything else turned out to be largely inaccurate, including an ending I’ve now discarded. I'm a pantser when I write; I rely on my muse and my research. The Archangel Uriel, for example, showed up out of the blue and became a major antagonist; he wasn’t even in my initial outline.
What sort of research have you done to get the “feel” right for the locations?
I went on a 20-day trip to Ethiopia, and took hundreds of photos, just to make sure I picked the right spot for Penemuel’s prison and got all the details correct.
My husband went on a work-trip to Chicago, so I chose that city for Milja’s starting point this time round. Sam Macleod helped me with weather patterns in the States.
Other than that, I am eternally grateful for the existence of Wikipedia and I’m one of the people who actually chip in whenever they pass round the hat!
How many more books do you think it will take to tell the whole story you have in mind?
The find-the-angels game could have been dragged on for a decalogy , but I wanted a tight emotional plot arc between the three main characters. So the third book, The Prison of the Angels, will be the final one. I’m most of the way through the first draft already – there’s going to be a much shorter wait this time round!
How did you come up with the original idea and characters?
What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I’m going to be editing an anthology for SexyLittle Pages this autumn, I hope, so I need to get The Prison of the Angels finished! After that I’m going to get on with republishing and finishing my Lovers’ Wheel quartet. Ellora’s Cave went out of business so rights have reverted to me.
How do you develop your ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?
All my characters are flawed. And I make sure that others point out those flaws—so for example, Azazel will point out Egan’s sexual hypocrisy and Egan will point out Azazel’s problematic rapey tendencies. My aim is to make all my characters, even the villains, human and understandable. Azazel has PTSD. Roshana has severe abandonment issues. Egan … don’t get me started on Egan’s issues! Milja actually turned out to have quite a struggle with jealousy, which isn’t me at all, but makes sense for a 23-year-old in her situation, I think.
All the protagonists of my novels have a background interest in myths and history (and in Milja’s case, in theology) which is part of me. But I try to make my female characters much more emotionally secure and independent than I am. I’m the sort of person who finds it hard to even say “Hi” to strangers, but readers like their heroines confident and assertive.
What would people be surprised to learn about you and your writing?
How nervous I am when I approach the keyboard. Every day I wrestle with the dread that I’ll have lost all ability to write.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I LARP (live-action-roleplay) and play Dungeons and Dragons. I own a small wood and I love to go out and cut trees. I’ve got a terrible addiction to certain types of logic puzzles.
What book do you wish you could have written?
The Girl with All the Gifts, by MR Carey. I literally had this idea ten or fifteen years ago (except that I thought of the children as ghouls not zombies, because this was before zombies became fashionable), and never got round to writing it. I was absolutely gutted when I heard about this book. Seize the day, writers!
If you only had one word to describe yourself, what would it be and why?
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)
In Bonds of the Earth will be available from all major online bookstores in both digital and print. Please contact Lisa Jenkins at for any further information.