Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Special Guest - Janine Ashbless

Janine Ashbless is a multi-published author of erotic romance and erotica. Her first book was published in 2000 by Black Lace and she currently writes for Samhain and Ellora's Cave among others. She’s always used elements of fantasy, mythology and folklore in her writing, with occasional forays into horror.

Janine loves goatee beards, ancient ruins, minotaurs, trees, mummies, having her cake and eating it, holidaying in countries with really bad public sewerage, and any movie or TV series featuring men in very few clothes beating hell out of each other. She’s a roleplaying geek and can still sometimes be found running round in the woods hitting other geeks with a rubber sword. It is unlikely she will grow up anytime soon.

Janine lives in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two rescued greyhounds, and is trying hard to overcome her addiction to semicolons.


Samhain webpage for book: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/heart-flame-p-6571.html
blog: www.janineashbless.blogspot.com
website: www.janineashbless.com
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Janine-Ashbless-author-page/140154696078980
e-mail: janine.ashbless@yahoo.com

Where did the idea for Heart of Flame come from?

Well, I've wanted to write an Arabian Nights fantasy for ages. Are you old enough to remember movies - long before Prince of Persia - like Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, or The Thief of Baghdad? I found those so exciting when I was a kid – the costumes, the magic, the monsters and the adventure (Oh my goodness – Ray Harryhausen plasticine stop-motion monsters! How I love them!). I really just wanted to write a Sinbad story, but with added hot romance and strong female characters.

The Middle East has fascinated me for years. I've actually been lucky enough to visit Egypt and Syria and Jordan and Turkey, and the natural beauty and the layers of history accreted in these countries just blow me away. And in the medieval period in particular, a time when Brits like me were living in mud huts, the Middle East was enjoying a golden age of learning and civilisation.

Plus, I love 19th Century Orientalist art – that is, paintings by people like Jean-Léon Gérôme of bazaars and harems and caravanserai. They're obsessively realistic in detail and incredibly atmospheric, all filtered through a Victorian mindset of exoticism and romance, nervousness and wonder. I wanted to write that.

The plot? No clue. Seriously, I have no memory of where the plot came from. I just sat down and wrote. It was like putting together pieces of a jigsaw I’d been collecting all my life. Everything falls into place logically. I wanted a heroine who goes on a dangerous quest, so in that setting she'd have to be a sorceress. What would drive her to risk her life? To aid the man she's fallen in love with. What motivates him? It can't be tawdry material gain, or not entirely – so how about, the rescue of a princess then. Who has abducted a princess? Well, let's make it a real challenge and say it's a powerful genie. So we already have heaps of magic, a journey into deadly peril, a sorceress in disguise, unspoken passion, a conflict of interests and sexual threat. And I knew I wanted them to visit the ruined city of Ctesiphon, the Empty Quarter of the Arabian desert, the House of Wisdom, the Swamps of Basra ... all real and extraordinary places. Why would they have to travel so far? Well, let's give them a domino plot: to get A they have to do B, to do B they have to find C, to find C they have to ask D ... and on and on until they are in deep trouble ... and in love.

So I think it just wrote itself really.
Or maybe I just have a rubbish memory.

Janine Ashbless

Now for the Book Blurb:

And on the One-Thousand-and-Second night, Scheherazade told this story…

By day, Taqla uses her forbidden sorcery to move freely about the city of Damascus in the guise of an old sage. Her true identity known only by her faithful servant woman, Taqla is content with the comfortable, if restrictive, life that keeps her safe from the control of any man. Until she lays eyes on a handsome merchant-traveler. Suddenly her magical disguise doesn’t rest so easily on her shoulders.

When long-time widower, Rafiq, hears that the Amir’s beautiful daughter has been kidnapped by a scheming djinni—and that she will be given in marriage to her rescuer—he seeks the help of “Umar the Wise” to ensure he will be that man. Yet as he and the disguised Taqla set off, he senses that his prickly male companion is hiding something.

In a moment of dire peril, all of Taqla’s secrets are stripped bare—her fears, her sorcery and, worst of all, her love for Rafiq. Yet the princess’s life hangs in the balance, and there is no running away or turning back. Even though passion may yet betray them all...

Warning: Scary monsters and creepy ruins in the desert—check. Pagan gods that demand blood-sacrifices—double check. A handsome hero who looks good in a robe and even better out of it—oh yeah. Check, check and check. That’s worth a heroine dropping a veil or two.

And the Excerpt

A thin, high wail cut into their ears. They both froze, and Rafiq lifted his head. Taqla saw the color drain from his face.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“I think it’s the djinni killing Ahleme,” said he.
There was another noise, a roar, like a lion upon a desert horizon. Snow sifted down from the steep walls of the ravine at its note. Then a howl harsher than a falcon’s made Taqla’s blood curdle. The two, roar and howl, rose together in a cacophony.
“And that?” she gasped.
“That’ll be the other djinni.”
“There are two?” She struggled from beneath him into a sitting position.
“Apparently so.” Rafiq knelt up. “One wanting to sire his children on her, one wanting to stop it.”
The first thin scream echoed out again.
 “They’ll tear her in half.” Taqla scrambled to her feet. “Come on. We have to try and save her, at least.”
He sucked his cheeks, but nodded and joined her standing. “How do we get there?”
“Like this,” she said, gritting her teeth and stepping away to give herself room. Then she changed shape. Not smaller than her own form, this time, but much bigger. It didn’t hurt so much as shrinking herself, but it hurt enough to make her cry out. The sound was musical as it left her throat. She shook out her copper-colored feathers and clawed at the snow, a perfect facsimile of the Senmurw-bird.
“In the name of God!”
“Get up on my back,” she fluted, “and hold tight.”

Thanks Janine for stopping by and for giving away a PDF copy of your novella "The King's Viper to one randomly drawn commenter. 

So everyone make sure to leave a comment for your chance to win.



  1. Hello Anita - thanks for letting me guest here on your blog! We're both keen on combining passionate romance and magic in our books, I can see :-)

  2. Thank you both - Janine and Goddess Fish Promotion. I love having guest. It gives me someone to talk to.

  3. I enjoyed the post and the blurb. I look forward in reading Heart of Flame.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com