Hello everyone – Janine Ashbless here, and I’m pleased to be joined today by the Milja Petak, the heroine of my new novel Cover Him with Darkness. Hello Milja!
Janine: Is everything alright? You’re good with this, yes?
Milja: I guess. We’re probably okay…
Janine: Do you think you’ll get in trouble with your, um, boyfriend?
Milja: I won’t. You might.
Janine: Well. Right then. You’re from Montenegro, aren’t you?
Milja: That’s right. And yes, I know what your readers are thinking: “Where’s that?” I get that all the time. Sometimes with “Is it in Africa?”
Janine: Well to be fair, I didn’t know anything about the country when I started writing the book either! I had to do a lot of research, and travel there for a look.
Milja: Yes, my country’s not famous. It’s only about the size of Connecticut.
Janine: Or Wales…
Milja: It’s in Europe, on the Mediterranean – just head east from Italy. It’s small and very mountainous, and quite traditional in outlook. But my father sent me to America when I was eighteen, to finish my college education and improve my English.
Janine: And to get you away from the prisoner in your cellar.
Milja: … Yes.
Janine: And that was…?
Milja: He was a fallen angel.
Janine: Not just any fallen angel: Azazel, the Scapegoat, one of the great corruptors of humankind. The one who taught us warfare.
Milja: I really doubt we needed teaching.
Janine: What was he like?
Milja. He was beautiful. And he was in agony. Hunger and thirst and pain. I grew up knowing he was there, chained beneath my feet in the darkness, under all that rock. Every day, all day and all night. Dependent on us for every crumb and sip of water. We were his tormentors.
Janine: So you set him free?
Milja: Eventually. If I’d been braver, I would have done it years earlier.
Janine: There are those who have said that wasn’t really the smartest move in the world to let loose a major demon … just because you had a crush on him.
Milja: They’re right. It wasn’t smart. You know what would have been smart? You know what would have been sensible? To leave him to fester there forever and ever – and to never think about him, and to let him suffer, and to dope myself into a stupor every day just so that I could live with myself and not cut my throat -
Janine: Milja, please – sit down. I’m not judging you!
Milja: Aren’t you? What would you have done in my place, Mrs Smarty Author Person?
Janine: … Honestly, I can’t answer that. I’m a bit older than you; I don’t do the crazy-for-love stuff so much anymore.
Milja: Azazel is thousands of years old. He still knows how to love.
Janine: Yeah, can we talk about that? Azazel is, well, not … The first thing he did was screw you then abandon you. When he came back he claimed you as his concubine. I don’t remember him ever asking for consent.
Milja: He has a lot to learn, yes. His ideas about relationships are sort of stuck in the Bronze Age. As you might expect.
Janine: He’s a giant jerk. Well, sometimes.
Milja: He’s not human. How can you judge him like he was some guy I picked up in a coffee bar? Like he should know all the rules we invented?
Janine: He killed a whole bunch of people.
Milja: To save me. Because he loves me.
Janine: So it doesn’t bother you?
Milja: Yes it bothers me! Of course it bothers me! I love a monster! And he’s damned by God Almighty so I’m damned with him – do you think that’s something I shrug off?
Janine: I’m sorry…
Milja: Listen – he is … He is really smart in some ways. Way smarter than any human being. The way he can pick up information … But in his emotions he is sort of simple, I think. He loves and he hates, and he acts on that. If he enjoys something he just goes ahead and does it. If you’re his enemy, he kills you without conscience. He has no sense of shame or proper behaviour. He doesn’t see the complexities we see. He doesn’t think. He’s just himself. It makes him…
Janine: incredibly bloody dangerous. Aren’t you scared?
Milja: Not of him. I told him to go away, I told him I didn’t love him. And he just … went. And I was wrong. It was a stupid, cruel thing to do, and I did it just to punish him. But he wouldn’t do that to me.
Janine: I hope not.
Milja: I’m scared of a lot of things. My family want to kill me. Father Velimir and his crowd … they had plans for me I can’t even talk about because it makes me sick. And now…
NB: There is an interview with Azazel himself over at K D Grace’s blog
Cover Him with Darkness: a romance
Cover Him with Darkness, the story of what happens when a young woman releases a fallen angel from centuries of imprisonment, is available at Amazon US : Amazon UK
“If you loved an angel, how far would you fall with him?”
“Calling Cover Him With Darkness a romance is like calling a Lamborghini a cute little car. Janine Ashbless has broken every unwritten rule of writing romance and makes it work most spectacularly—it’s dark and gritty and so beautifully written that the words are pure poetry.”
—Kate Douglas, author of the Wolf Tale series
“Janine Ashbless has long been a master at conjuring the erotic in myths and legends. Now she’s taking on religion and all I can say is wow. Just wow! What is evil? What is good? Could the faithful have completely missed the point? Sexy food for thought: Cover Him With Darkness is an
intensely wild ride.”
—D. L. King, editor of Seductress and The Sweetest Kiss
“This book was truly a fantastic read.”
—Rose Caraway, editor of The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica
“In a remote and mountainous part of Europe, a priest keeps a dark secret beneath his chapel—a prisoner. Even the holy man does not know how long he has been there—hundreds of years, or even longer. The priest's fear is that anyone in his parish would ever come in contact with his mysterious and unholy charge. But what happens is even worse than he could have ever imagined. His lovely young daughter Milja, whose innocence and devotion to God he prizes over all else, trails her father into the cavern and catches a glimpse of their unearthly prisoner. She looks into his eyes and sees pain and wisdom and eternity. Unable to keep away from this silent creature chained in the darkness, she is torn between family loyalty and her growing connection to their prisoner. One day her father discovers their forbidden intimacy and sends Milja off to America to be raised by her aunt in Boston – but nothing can keep her away forever. Cover Him in Darkness is a dark and thrilling story of a terrifying archangel banished from heaven and the human woman with whom he falls in love.”
Janine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure – and that’s “fantasy” in the sense of swords ‘n’ sandals, contemporary paranormal, fairytale, and stories based on mythology and folklore. She likes to write about magic and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.
Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000, and her novels and single-author collections now run into double figures. 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.
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)