I finally convinced Ashe Barker to re visit my blog and take a seat On the Bench. I now know all her secrets…well not really but I did find out more about Ashe’s recent release in Totally Bound’s new imprint line What’s her Secret and her vote for favourite Aussie actor is definitely one I’ve not had before 😉
Until 2010 I was a director of a regeneration company in Leeds, in the UK, before becoming convinced there must be more to life. I left to work as an independent consultant, and still do some of that though most of my time is now spent writing. At last I’ve been able to realise my dream of writing erotic romance myself. I’ve been an avid reader of fiction for many years, erotic and other genres, and I still love reading historical and contemporary romances – the hotter the better. But now I have a good excuse for my guilty pleasure – research.
In my own writing I usually draw on settings and anecdotes from my own experience to lend colour, detail and realism to my plots and characters. An incident here, a chance remark there, a bizarre event or quirky character, any of these can spark a story idea. But ultimately my tales of love, challenge, resilience and compassion are the conjurings of my own lurid and smutty imagination.
When not writing – which is not very often these days – my time is divided between my role as resident taxi driver for my teenage daughter, and caring for a menagerie of dogs, rabbits, tortoises. And most recently a very grumpy cockatiel. I’m a rural parish councillor, and I’m passionate about evolving rural traditions and values to suit twenty first century lifestyles.
Apart from the ‘Black Combe’ stories and The Three Rs I have a novella coming out soon, and I have a short story in Totally Bounds Paramour collection, out last week, and another in the Jolly Rogered anthology which is due for publication in July 2014. I have a pile of story ideas still to work through, and keep thinking of new ones at the most unlikely moments, so you can expect to see a lot more from me.
Ashe Barker is On the Bench
Hi Donna, and thank you for inviting me over to join you ‘On The Bench’ today. It’s great to be here to tell you a little bit about me, and maybe squeeze in a word about my upcoming release The Three Rs. But more on that later. First, the important stuff… your finely honed questions.
What was the first book you had published?
Darkening, the first book in The Dark Side series. This was only just a year ago, and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster of writing, editing and promo since then.
What was your initial reaction when offered that first contract?
I was stunned. Then delirious. It seemed only right to crack open a bottle of wine. Well, rude not to, really. I originally wrote The Dark Side as one long novel, 150, 000 words or thereabouts, but Totally Bound suggested splitting it into the three separate books and releasing it as a trilogy. The individual book titles came later.
I’d always envisaged the front cover would have a violin on it, but had to come up with other musical instruments for the next two books, I wrote in extra scenes to create places in the story for the guitar and the piano.
I think The Dark Side, probably – I still tend to think of this as just one book rather than three. It was very much a labour of love, and I really had no idea if anyone but me would ever read it. This was my first attempt at writing fiction, and it was liberating to be able to write without worrying about finding pretty euphemisms and ‘code’ for the raunchy bits. Quite the opposite – I was going for explicit and the book opens with Nathan Darke embroiled in a fairly disastrous BDSM scene. Start as you mean to go on, I always say.
Are you a disciplined writer or do you have to wait for the muse to arrive? Do you have a ritual that gets you in the mood?
I am fairly disciplined. I do have other work I do, but writing is my main occupation these days, and I tend to treat it as a nine to five job. I work from home, and as soon as my daughter is off to school the laptop is out and I work right through until five or six in the afternoon. There’s always something to do – drafting new stories, editing, promo, research. I could do with more hours in the day, but then, who couldn’t?
My ‘muse’ moments tend to hit me when I’m doing something else. Driving, ironing, watching television – an idea strikes me and I mull it over, rehearsing plots and dialogue in my head. If I’m feeling really well ordered I might even make notes to come back to later. I have lots of synopses lying around, but I usually just crack on with whatever seems most interesting to me at that time. I like to finish one project though before I start the next. I don’t want to have lots of WIPs lying around
What was the last book you read?
I go through phases, and just now I’m in a historical romance mood. I’m currently reading Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt.
What are you working on now?
I’ve written three trilogies so far in the ‘Black Combe’ set, and I think a fourth will round it all off so I’m working on that now. That said, I can already see a couple more potential stories down the line, characters who are quite young now but who will surely re-emerge later with their own adventures to shout about, so who knows? But I’m well on with writing the fourth trilogy and when that’s completed I’m intending to concentrate on other themes. I’ll still write erotic romance though, and still with the BDSM flavour I expect
What genre would you like to try and write that is different from your own?
I sometimes wonder what it would be like to write historical or time travel romance. I have a couple of ideas that could lend themselves to this so I might give it a try.
When you receive edits are you Teary and Disillusioned or Feisty and Focussed?
Feisty and focussed probably best describes me. I think of writing as a job, and I’m pretty businesslike about it. Well, I hope I am. I guess we all feel a bit precious sometimes about our work, but I think of the editors’ role as quality control. They’ll make sure that my occasionally idiosyncratic ramblings are comprehensible to others. If they suggest a change, I don’t always agree but I usually do as I’m told.
What is one thing in your books you’d like to try?
Who’s to say I haven’t already tried everything that I write about?
Now for some hard hitters with an Aussie flavour!
A sport /sportsperson that you watch? (C’mon there must be one) OR An embarrassing sporting memory.
Andy Murray. I don’t play tennis myself but I’ve followed his career and development avidly for years now. I knew he’d win at Wimbledon before much longer, and it finally came this year. And of course Olympic gold last year. Go, Andy!
The other sport I like to watch, and play occasionally, is snooker. I’ve been fascinated by it for years and can watch for hours.
Favourite Aussie Author/Actor /Musician?
Adam Hills. I first spotted him only recently when he hosted a programme on British television called The Last Leg, a sort of Paralympic spin on the London Olympics. It was a hilarious and irreverent look at sport from the point of view of disabled athletes – brilliant.
Your view on Vegemite?
Love it. Or hate it. God knows, never tasted it.
Formal dinner party or backyard barbeque?
Backyard barbecue definitely. I have a huge garden so barbecues are a regular feature here in the summer. British weather is not always conducive to dining al fresco, and we’ve been known to hold a brolly over the sausages to keep them sizzling.
Adventure holiday or relaxing by the pool?
Relaxing by the pool, without a doubt. Me, a cold beer, a sunshade, my kindle, a bottle of Ambre Solaire. What could be nicer than that?
Favourite Aussie holiday place or one you’ve always wanted to visit?
I’d like to scuba dive off the Great Barrier Reef. I went scuba diving in The Maldives a few years ago and I’d love to do that again. I’d also like to see the Sydney Opera House. It’s an iconic piece of architecture, designed to represent waves of sound I understand. And by contrast, Ayers Rock. So many superb places to visit – one day I’ll get down there.
Right, enough about me. Can I tell you a little bit about The Three Rs, my soon-to-be-released full length novel with Totally Bound’s ‘What’s Her Secret?’ imprint? Here’s the blurb.
Second chances don’t come along that often. But when they do, you grab them with both hands – and hold on tight.
Perfect strangers don’t just leave you a share in their business. Do they? And even if they do, surely the rightful owner won’t just take it lying down…?
Abigail Fischer is about to find out. When a mysterious letter arrives informing her that she’s inherited a controlling interest in a thriving construction firm Abigail thinks it must be a mistake. Or a sick joke. Until she’s confronted by her new, very angry and very reluctant business partner. Handsome as sin but determined to be rid of her, Cain Parrish is everything Abigail desires – and most fears. Forced to uproot from her safe but dead-end job to help run the firm, Abigail is quickly drawn to her dominant partner. Attuned to her most secret desires, and able to meet them effortlessly, he quickly finds his way past her defences.
But Abigail is not what she seems. Astute in business and a skilled Dom, Cain can easily demand her submission, but can he find his way past Abigail’s carefully constructed façade to discover the shameful secret she’s managed to conceal all her life. And despite her growing enthusiasm for the new opportunities now facing her, Abigail can’t become something she’s not. Or can she? Is it possible to leave the past behind and start over?
When things start to go wrong in their business, and as Abigail’s blunders threaten to sink their small but up to now profitable enterprise, will their delicate personal relationship survive?
Will Cain forgive Abigail’s mistakes or is there a deeper significance to her apparent ineptitude?
Here’s an excerpt from The Three Rs
We peel the potatoes together, side by side at the huge sink, watched closely by Oscar who has followed us into the kitchen and is now sitting hopefully beside his food bowl. Cain takes the hint and tips some dried food into it. He tops up the drinking water too. The cat crouches over his dinner and starts to chomp noisily as we get on with preparing our own meal.
“I wouldn’t have imagined you as a cat lover…” I offer this observation by way of making conversation.
“I’m not, not really. I inherited Oscar. He was James’ cat and he’s lived here for the last ten years. He’s old and bad-tempered, but he mostly minds his own business and we rub along fine by ignoring each other. The deal is I feed him, and he stays out of my way.”
“I wouldn’t say he’s keeping his end of the bargain. He follows you around everywhere.”
Cain turns to me, frowning. “No he doesn’t…”
I just nod. “He does. He sleeps in your office while you’re there and when you came in here, he came too.”
“Only because he was hungry.”
I shrug. “Well, he’s not hungry now.”
We both turn to watch the huge old cat pad silently across the kitchen towards a battered old lone fireside chair in the corner. He hops up and makes himself comfortable on the rather flattened cushion there. He regards us solemnly from his vantage point and, apparently satisfied we’re not about to get up to any mischief, he shoves his nose back between his paws and closes his eyes. I shoot my best ‘I told you so’ look in Cain’s direction, and return to the potatoes. I wouldn’t mind betting the old moggy sleeps on the cushion I spotted on the landing earlier, just outside Cain’s bedroom.
“What makes you say he’s bad-tempered?” In fairness, although I’m no authority on cats, Oscar hasn’t struck me so far as being anything other than mild-mannered.
“He hisses at me. When I stand on him.”
“Well, I’d hiss at you if you trampled all over me as well. So how come you manage to stand on him? He’s big enough to see.”
“He trips me up. All the time. I just seem to turn round, and he’s there. Getting under my feet and bloody hissing. What’s so funny, and why the fuck are you so interested in a grumpy old cat anyway?”
I shrug, trying not to laugh. ‘Stays out of my way’ indeed. That cat follows him around everywhere. I find myself developing a soft spot for old Oscar.
“Just asking… And Oscar’s not grumpy. He’s just loyal. And he likes you. I can’t imagine why.”
Cain grabs a vegetable knife and starts to chop the peeled potatoes into smaller cubes. “What do you mean? I’m perfectly likable.”
“Sometimes. When you’re not threatening to spank me.”
Now it’s his turn to chuckle. “Threatening, or offering?”
I consider that while I dump water into a pan and place it carefully on top of the stove. He has to give me directions for lighting the gas ring, but soon our potatoes are simmering happily. Cain checks the beef casserole in the oven, gives it a stir then grabs a couple of wine glasses from a cupboard above his head.
“Red or white?”
I seem to remember hearing somewhere that it should be red wine to go with red meat, but I prefer white and say so. He selects a bottle from the bottom of the monster fridge, the sort with a proper, old fashioned cork not a screw top, and deftly twists the corkscrew into it. He pulls the cork out with a lively pop then pours us both a glass before sitting down at the table opposite me. He takes a sip, waits for me to do likewise, then goes for the jugular again.
“All this talk of spanking has drawn my attention to what a perfectly gorgeous bum you have there, Miss Fischer. So, will you be tempted to let me leave some hand prints on it, then?”
My second sip of wine narrowly misses going down the wrong way. As it is I’m coughing as I replace my glass, and find myself once more staring at him. Cain Parrish leans back in his chair, perfectly composed as he waits for me to right myself. I make a decent attempt, trying to inject a note of sternness into my voice.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I hardly know you.”
“Ah, I see. You only let men you know well spank you, is that it?”
“No, I don’t… I mean…” Another fortifying sip of wine, but still, with just a few casually suggestive words from Cain Parrish, my composure has fled, never to return, I suspect. This time though, Cain takes pity. He puts his glass down, leans across the table and reaches for my hand. I try to pull away, but his hold is firm. He turns my palm up, and with his middle finger caresses the sensitive heart of my hand.
“Would it be your first time then? Being spanked, I mean. Or maybe you’re a virgin…?”
I can only stare, shaking my head briefly. No one has ever spoken to me like this before, or asked me such personal, such totally outrageous questions.
He doesn’t press me to answer, but he holds my gaze. I feel like a rabbit caught in headlamps, I couldn’t tear my eyes from his if I wanted to. And in this moment I’m not at all sure what I want.
“No? So you have enjoyed a nice, erotic spanking before now?” His tone is soft now, seductive.
At last I manage a response. “What? No! Of course not.”
“Ah. But you want to.”
“I… How…?” I’m stammering, not certain what I want to say. Do I tell him the truth, that no, I’ve never been spanked but I’ve wanted to be. But I’ve never dared ask. And that I’m not a virgin, very nearly but not quite. A few sweaty episodes of clumsy fumbling, however enthusiastic, in my late teens is hardly an adequate apprenticeship for this. I desperately wish I could come up with some witty, sophisticated line that would make me seem more worldly, more interesting and less the gauche girl who last got laid over two years ago and is now dampening her knickers with her own juices just because a handsome man is stroking her hand. But none of that happens. Instead, I just whisper, “Yes, I’ve thought about it. Fantasised. And no, I’m not a virgin.”
He smiles at me, a sweet and gentle smile, absolutely compelling, drawing me in. He continues to caress my hand. I’ve stopped trying to tug it away.
“This sounds interesting. Delightful, in fact. Have you any other fantasies you’d like to share with me?” His tone is soft, beguiling and very sexy.
I shake my head. “No, not just now.”
“Pity. Maybe later then. So, what are we going to do about your yearning to be spanked? I’d love to oblige you. And I think I ought to tell you, I’d really, really love to fuck you afterwards, though I’m not going to insist on that. I’m offering you a free, no-strings erotic spanking, with an optional fuck-fest to follow. Would you like that?”
There’s silence, and he waits. The last word here has to be mine. He knows it, I know it.
Is that me? Is that really my voice saying yes? And am I really thanking him for his kind and generous offer. And telling him I’d really like to try the fuck-fest too? I suppose I must be, because he’s smiling broadly now, his sexy grin taking on a hint of the distinctly wicked. And my knickers are soaked.