Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Janine Ashbless: Blood And Stones

Today I've invited the awesome Janine Ashbless (aka Keris McDonald) to guest-blog about her major new novel In Bonds Of The Earth. So now I'll get out of the way and let her do the talking...

When I started writing In Bonds of the Earth, I knew I’d have to go to Ethiopia.
Well, to be precise, I knew my characters would. In Bonds of the Earth is the second in my trilogy The Book of the Watchers, an erotic supernatural thriller about fallen angels. My primary sources for the fallen angels and their offspring the Nephilim was The Book of Enoch, a truly hallucinatory text written in the 3rdt century BCE, quoted in the New Testament Epistles, but then excised altogether from the official canon of Biblical literature. For thousands of years it disappeared from Western Christianity.

But Ethiopia kept the Book of Enoch alive. Ethiopia has been, extraordinarily, a Christian nation since the 4th century—way before anywhere in the West become officially Christian. It’s a unique, heavily Jewish form of Orthodoxy, perhaps the closest imaginable to that of the Early Church (they don’t eat pork for example, they segregate the sexes during services, and the Holy of Holies in every church is focused not on a crucifix but a copy of the Ark of the Covenant). And they do include the Book of Enoch in their canon.


So at the end of the first book in the series, Cover Him With Darkness, Azazel has been freed from his imprisonment and vows to release all his brother Fallen Angels and wage war on Heaven.
I knew I had to take him to Ethiopia to find the first of his comrades. And I knew that that had to be Penemuel, Angel of the Written Word, just because I was so amused by this quote from Enoch:
And he instructed mankind in writing with ink and paper, and thereby many sinned from eternity to eternity and until this day. For men were not created for such a purpose, to give confirmation to their good faith with pen and ink.”
So I booked a twenty-day tour, which was eye-opening and awesome, even if it did result in terrible food-poisoning. Hey, it’s not every author who has literally bled for their book. Rectally.

Appalling mental images aside, I found the perfect location for Penemuel’s imprisonment; the subterranean rock-cut churches of Lalibela:
I have learnt my lesson. For Bk 3 in the series I’m using nice gentle locations … like the Norwegian mountains. In the middle of winter…
(BTW, there are more photos of Ethiopia, its amazing historical legacy and its wild Church art, on my blog)

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.

Monday 20 February 2017

Devil's Highway is unleashed!

Today, at last, the paperback edition of Devil's Highway is properly in stock! As you may remember, it was originally slated for release on 1st February, but Snowbooks had so many advance orders they ended up switching publishers for a bigger run! So, at last, it's loose now.

Also, Snowbooks are now doing a special offer on ebooks: all their ebooks are now available at a reduced rate. That includes Devil's Highway, and Hell's Ditch too! For the full list of Snowbooks e-titles, go here! (The Devil's Highway ebook doesn't seem to be on Amazon just now, so you'll have to get it from the site, here.

And just to round it all off, here's that third book trailer...


Tuesday 14 February 2017

More Black Road News: The Second Trailer!

And so here's the second trailer! Number three will be along soon...

More Black Road News: The Second Trailer!

And so here's the second trailer! Number three will be along soon...

The Black Road Website, and the first Devil's Highway Trailer

Been meaning to do this for while - I've set up a separate website for the Black Road series. It won't replace this blog (and I'll be blethering on about the books here as well) but I liked the idea of giving this story - which has been a long time in the telling for me, and is very close to my heart - its own online home. And it was good practice for me with Wordpress...

Another thing I got round to (always fancied trying it and had a little spare time over the past week) was making a book trailer for Devil's Highway. Three of them, in fact - all short, and hopefully building up in effect. Anyway, for what it's worth, here's the first of them...

The Obligatory Blowing Of Horns

Voting for the British Fantasy Awards closes on 1st March this year, and various other awards are gearing up to put together long- and short-lists. I hope to put out a few recommendations shortly, but in the meantime here’s a quick round-up of my own eligible work from 2016 (or as I like to call it, the Annual Obligatory Horn-Blowing)

I had two! The Feast Of All Souls and Devil’s Highway (although I’m painfully aware Devil’s Highway was only released in hardback in December and the paperback’s only just seeing daylight now.) Nonetheless, both are eligible works.

I only had three original tales published in 2016:
‘Wrath of the Deep’ in The Hyde Hotel
‘Between Angels and Insects’ in Tomorrow’s Cthulhu
‘And Ashes In Her Hair’ in Something Remains

That's all, unless anyone counts was my blog about Spectral Press as non-fiction – it seems to have ended up being read more than anything else I’ve done to date!

Right, that’s the horn-blowing out of the way… as you were. Happy Valentine's Day, and read good stuff.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Behind Her Eyes By Sarah Pinborough

The fab Ms. P.
Sarah Pinborough is an author whose career basically embodies the term ‘levelling up’. After emerging in the mid-2000s with a succession of pulpy supernatural thrillers from Leisure Books, she made her mark as a writer to be taken seriously with the award-winning and poignant novella The Language Of Dying. Since then she’s gone from strength to strength, penning (among others) a dystopian crime trilogy featuring the fallen angels (The Dog-Faced Gods trilogy) a brace of Victorian murder mysteries (Mayhem and Murder) with a supernatural tinge, the devastating novel The Death House and a first-class YA thriller, 13 Minutes. Throughout, she’s aimed higher, got better and better, and marked herself out as a name to watch.

Pinborough’s latest, Behind Her Eyes, has been spoken of as her breakthrough book, one that will propel her name in among the front rank of British thriller writers. And they may be right.

Single mum Louise feels as though her life’s stopped: it consists of her son Adam, her job as a doctor’s receptionist, the occasional joint and bottle of wine with her friend Sophia – and that’s it. Then she meets David – attractive, charming and sexy. Only one problem: he’s her new boss.

Louise begins an affair with David, but also – despite her better judgement – befriends his wife Adele. Trying to prevent her lover and her friend from finding out about about one another, Louise is drawn deeper into the secrets and lies of the couple’s marriage. Is David, her gentle and charming lover, a controlling and abusive husband? Or is Adele more than she seems?

Well, that would be telling.

The most frustrating thing about Behind Her Eyes – frustrating in a good way – is that it’s hard to describe why it’s such a good read without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure yet. That’s not just because of the plot’s twists and turns, although it has plenty of them and they’re done very well – there’s a reason #wtfthatending has been trending constantly about the novel. It’s more than that.

What drives this book is a simple, but very unwelcome and unsettling truth: you can never really
know for sure what goes on in someone else’s head. Your closest friend, your most intimate lover, your spouse of years or decades: they’ve all got secrets that you’ll never find out. You just have to make your peace with that and hope none of those secrets are dangerous. But in Behind Her Eyes, of course, they are.

Which is what makes it so much more than just another clever thriller with a twist: that uncomfortable truth is the book’s central theme and the motor that drives the whole story. The book cuts between Louise and Adele’s viewpoints, so we only ever see David from the outside, our view of him constantly changing. And while we spend a lot of our time inside Adele’s head, she’s constantly pulling the rug from under us: small wonder, then, that even David doesn’t know all her secrets.

Tautly written, beautifully constructed and with superbly-drawn characters, Behind Her Eyes is Pinborough’s best novel to date. I haven’t re-read it yet, but I suspect I’ll enjoy it even more the second time around, knowing what I know now.

 And, #wtfthatending?

Oh yes, indeed.

Saturday 4 February 2017

Things of the Week, 6th February 2017: Good/Bad News re Devil's Highway, Tales To Terrify, Writer's Day in Sheffield

I know you're sick of the sight of it by now.
First of all, huge thanks to everyone who’s bought, pre-ordered or reviewed Devil’s Highway so far. It’s hugely appreciated. So, as promised by the above title, some good news and some bad news.

The bad news first.

The lovely Emma Barnes at Snowbooks has been in touch to let me know that the paperback won’t be properly in stock until 20th February. Some copies will be going out to online purchasers, including (at my request) ones originally earmarked as my advance copies. So my apologies to those who may have to wait a couple more weeks to read the latest instalment of the Black Road.


The good news is the reason for that delay.

Basically, Snowbooks have received WAY more pre-orders than anticipated – between five and seven times as many as they expected. As a result, they’ve decided to change printers in order to request a larger print run.

That’s right.

So many people have ordered copies, the publishers have had to print more.

So once again, a HUGE thanks to everyone who’s ordered a copy. Again, sorry for the delay, but you will get your copies. I really hope you find them worth the wait.

The kick-assness that is KT Davies.
In other news, I’ve a new story up on the Tales to Terrify podcast: 'Vecqueray’s Blanket', from my Pictures Of The Dark, is read by Graeme Dunlop. It joins 'The Children Of Moloch' (read by J.K. Shepler) and 'The Churn', (read by Ashley Storrie.) So go and listen for free, if you’re so inclined.
second collection

Also, I’ll be in Sheffield on 25th February, co-hosting a Writer’s Day for Hive South Yorkshire with the brilliant KT Davies (read her Lowdown here!) It’s open to budding writers up to the age of 25, so if you know anyone who’d be interested, spread the word...

I’m hoping to get the blogging back into some sort of regular groove again soon – juggling writing with the new day job has thrown me off a bit, although I’ve ended up being pretty productive (touch wood.)

Till next time!

The Lowdown with... Zak Jane Keir

Zak Jane Keir is a veteran writer specialising in sex and sexuality. She has written a lot of non-fiction in the past but now prefers to concentrate on erotica in the form of short stories and the occasional novel. She also edits anthologies and runs Dirty Sexy Words, a “celebration of erotic fiction”, which hosts reading slams and runs bookstalls.

1. Tell us three things about yourself. 
I am a Morris dancer, and I have written an erotic novel (under my other name, Sallyanne Rogers) about Morris dancing. I have been writing, professionally, about sex and sexuality for over 25 years and I’m still not bored. I recently starred in a spanking-and-rope-bondage porn film with a mate of mine. This link is pretty NSFW but if you feel like clicking it, go ahead because I will get 50p.

2. What was the first thing you had published? 
The first thing I had published. Hmm. I think it was an interview with Screaming Lord Sutch that I did in 1983. It was published in a long-defunct South London fanzine. The first piece of fiction I had published was a fairly derivative short story, the title of which I have now forgotten, in a top shelf magazine in 1991. It was about some puritanical anti-porn campaigner who goes to a Funny Little Village In The Middle Of Nowhere and ends up getting shagged by a mysterious woman who is a sort of pagan goddess.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of? 
It tends to change all the time, depending on what I’ve just finished, or what I’ve just re-read, having forgotten about. I’m very proud of the new anthology, Silver Desire, which is all about women over 50 having sexy adventures. I edited and curated the whole thing and wrote a story for it, about an aging groupie, which I’m pretty happy with. I’m quite invested in that book because I’m 51 myself and I don’t think much of the way society and culture portray older women’s sexuality as either disgusting or ridiculous.

4. …and which makes you cringe?
A ludicrous, earnest, pompous and utterly na├»ve feature I wrote for the same fanzine as the Sutch interview. It was all about homosexuality and I thought I was ever so open-minded for writing it. OK, this was 1983, around the time of the Sun’s vicious, bigoted attacks on Peter Tatchell, and there was a lot of prejudice around still, but let’s say I’m quite glad that piece was published under a never-used-again pseudonym and I think the only copies of the mag in existence are in a box under my bed.

5. What’s a normal writing day like? 
I wouldn’t say I have a writing day as such: I tend to write in snatches, often in the evenings, because I’m a single parent and I have other part-time jobs that have to be fitted in as well. But a day at home (as oppose to one that involves attending a day-job meeting or working on one of my other schemes) usually involves a lot of bashing the keyboard, interludes for cups of tea and cigarette breaks. Sometimes I go for a jog round the park at the end of the road if I am feeling stiff and achy.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first? 
Probably A Dice Evening, a short story in my collection Sticky Fingers & Warm Leatherette. It’s about a group of people playing Truth or Dare and getting up to various filthy things with one another. Or given that your blog readers mostly prefer horror/paranormal, they might be better off with Whose Woods Are These in Sticky Fingers or maybe Her Midnight Roses in Inked, the tattoo erotica anthology. Woods is about a bloke who finds a spooky woman in the woods and strange things happen, Roses is about a kind of succubus-therapist with tattoos...

7. What are you working on now? 
My memoirs. I don’t know, yet, whether the publisher I have been talking to will definitely want me to go ahead: I’m currently working on getting the first three chapters sorted so I can submit them. If it does happen, it will be mainly about interesting stuff that happened such as the pre-internet days of fetish clubbing and working on porn mags, and becoming an erotica writer, rather than just listing all the people I had sex with. I’m also fiddling with a new erotic novel and all I can really say about that at the moment is it’s sort of about rope bondage and Brexit.