Today I’m visiting Desiree Holt’s blog, and it’s fantastic to be here. Thank you, Desiree, for agreeing to host me today and let me share some of my random thoughts about how the characters themselves shaped The Dark Side.
And I am just as excited to be hosting you, Ashe. I love your books.
And I’m especially excited to be here as the third book in the trilogy, Darkest, has been on general release for a couple of weeks now. That means, for those who perhaps haven’t met Eva and Nathan yet, that all three parts can now be downloaded at once if you feel like immersing yourself in a feast of smutty escapism. Underpinning the sensuality though is a story of struggle, heart-wrenching grief and seriously gritty realism. And it’s all set in the UK, in the Bronte heartlands of west Yorkshire. What could be nicer?
The Dark Side was my first attempt to write a full length novel. In fact it grew into three novels, but that’s another story for another day. Being a generally fairly organised person, each time I sat down to write I was pretty clear in my head what came next in the story, what I was going to do with Nathan and Eva today. As often as not though, they would have other ideas. I frequently found myself haring off on an unexpected tangent, writing something I had never planned for, sparked by some random thought or remark.
‘What if he said that?’, ‘What if she…?’. ‘Maybe they could… how would that work out?’ Many of the twists and turns in the story were unforeseen and seemed to come out of nowhere. But as I read the story back now, those are often the sections I like the best. Those parts are where the characters take on a life of their own, telling their own story.
At first I found this experience rather eerie. This is my story, right? I’m telling it, I’m making it up. I call the shots here. So how is it then that I can set off in one direction, then find myself spending two hours writing something I never even thought I knew, let alone intended? But now, having listened to the experiences of so many other writers, I know this is often the case. Characters take over, start to tell their own story. We just write it for them, and share it. I suspect the stronger the characters the more likely they are to take charge of events, and I like to think that both Eva and Nathan were probably unstoppable.
The barn scene in Darker is an example of Eva and Nathan taking over and putting their own sensuous stamp on things. Here’s an excerpt from that scene. Enjoy…
I recognise that tone, and I know I need to get one foot in front of the other and do this. It’s only a few steps, and now at least I know what to expect. Sure enough, the first couple of shuffling paces are difficult, slow-going as I clench convulsively around the wildly rolling and tumbling eggs, instinctively working my inner muscles in an attempt to draw them deeper inside. He’s patient, makes no attempt to hurry me as I inch forward, and my confidence quickly grows. Too quickly. The final couple of steps are made at near normal speed, and the Ban Wa balls go into overdrive. I lurch forward, and so does Nathan, catching me before I fall. He sweeps me up and carries me back to the bale of hay where my jacket is still spread out enticingly. He plants me back on my feet, and I lean against the bale, savouring the continuing motion of the balls.
“Right, that’s enough exercise for today, I think. Maybe you could wear those around the house in future, get used to the feeling.” He catches my look of astonished scorn and chuckles. “Ah, but you’ll thank me in later life. It’ll do wonders for your pelvic floor.”
“Fuck my pelvic floor…” I’m muttering darkly, but he catches it and laughs out loud.
“Not sure that’s possible, love. Let me think about it. And that’s another piece of disrespect to add to today’s tally. Your bottom will be sore. Maybe you should shut up now.”
I’ve opened my mouth to speak again, and what I had in mind to say was far from respectful. He’s right, I definitely should shut up now.
I don’t, though. “What tally? What did I do?”
“You took the piss when you called me sir. And there was that ‘talking balls’ comment. And you closed your eyes when I distinctly told you not to. Earlier, when I was finger-fucking you.”
“But that was when I came. I couldn’t… I mean, how could I—?”
“And I didn’t give permission for you to come either, but as I hadn’t expressly told you to wait I’m letting that go. Not anymore, though. You’ll wait until I tell you it’s okay before you climax again. Is that clear? Any questions?”
I shake my head—it all seems fairly clear.
“What are you going to do?” I know he intends to punish me, that at least is obvious. And I’m incredibly aroused now, just thinking about it. I guess I’m really connecting with my submissive side at last. Or maybe it’s these bloody balls that are shifting my perspective. Whatever, I’m distinctly interested in whatever’s coming next.
“I’m going to bend you over this nice bale of hay here and spank your bottom. Hard. And you’re going to keep perfectly still, because every time you move those balls will shift and roll and you’ll be that bit closer to orgasming. And you know you’re not allowed to do that, don’t you, Eva?”
I gaze at him, my eyes wide. I’m confused, incredibly aroused and somehow managing to be scared as well. I know a spanking is fine, quite nice actually, but with those balls inside me? And not allowed to move? I doubt I’ll be able to keep still for long.
He’s watching me carefully, sees the myriad of expressions cross my face. “I see you’re really starting to get it, this little game of ours. Enjoy, Eva, if you can. Now you can. And if you think you might struggle to obey me about keeping still you can always ask me to tie you up if that would be easier.”
I take a moment to think about that then lift my gaze to his. “I… Yes, I think it might be. Please.”
He nods then strides across the barn, before returning a few moments later with some rope and a handful of those plastic cable ties you can buy at DIY shops. And I smell a rat. A metaphorical one this time
“How did you know where those were? Did you plan all this?”
He smiles at me, his eyes gleaming wickedly. “Indeed I did, sweetheart. I always do.”
“I see. And I suppose you brought a whip or something too.”
“No, I’m more of a cane man myself, as you know. Or I used to be. Tom likes whips, though—I could ask him if you like. Hold out your hands, please.”
My head still whirling a little from the casual remark about Tom, I dutifully hold my hands out. He deftly loops a cable tie around each wrist, pulls it just tight enough to not allow my hands to slip through, and uses a third to fasten the two plastic loops together. Then he walks around to the other side of the bale and picks up the length of rope. He threads this through the baling cord holding the huge cube of hay together, and looks at me. “Bend over the bale, please, and stretch out your arms.”
I do as I’m asked, and he loops the rope between my wrists and around the central connecting cable tie, pulling it tight. I’m neatly fastened in place, my bottom conveniently positioned for spanking, or whatever else he might have in mind. Nathan doesn’t move back around, though, not yet. Instead he leans casually on another bale of hay behind him, apparently ready for a chat.
“Safe words, Eva. Are we still using ‘red’?”
“That’s fine, just checking. I was intending to use my hand on that gorgeous little arse of yours, but if you want me to I can probably find something else. Do you have a particular preference?”
I shake my head. “No, whatever you think’s best.” But my gaze has dropped to his belt, and I can’t help wondering…
“Good answer. You are getting into this, aren’t you? Why are you staring at my dick? I know I’ve got a hard-on—but still…?”
“I was just thinking. Wondering if…”
He glances down, sees where my eyes are fixed, on the shiny buckle of his thick leather belt.
“My, we are getting brave. Are you sure about this, sweetheart?”
“Well, not the buckle end, obviously…”
“And you mustn’t hit me too hard.”
“Now that’s my call, not yours. I work out what you need, and how much of it. You just lie there and accept it. Deal?”
I wait for a moment before answering. Then, my voice remarkably strong, given the circumstances, I give him my response. “Deal.”
He starts to unbuckle the belt, slides it slowly back through the loops on his jeans. Once free, he folds the two ends together and waits. I’m sure he still expects me to change my mind, to chicken out. Instead I smile and turn my head to lay my cheek down on the lining of my jacket spread on top of the hay. I’m ready.
I should be scared. Terrified, even. I’m tied down, naked, about to be beaten with a heavy leather belt. Instead, I feel vulnerable. And totally safe. And I realise in one of my light-bulb moments, that this is what trust feels like. And I like it.
The Dark Side trilogy, charts the sensual journey of academic musician Eva Byrne as she struggles to overcome painful shyness, sexual inhibition, and personal tragedy. Lonely, unsophisticated, fragile, and desperately seeking love and approval, Eva is easy prey for sensual and experienced Nathan Darke.
He wants her submission, and he knows how to go about getting it. Eva is quickly caught up by the whirlwind of his effortless seduction, though she has her own reasons for agreeing to join him in his world of pain and pleasure, on The Dark Side.
Inexplicably fascinated and at the same time totally frustrated by his new submissive, Nathan is increasingly drawn to her as she opens up in his hands and he realises there is much, much more to his latest playmate than he ever could have imagined.
The Dark Side charts the turbulent relationship between Eva and Nathan as their mutual fascination builds. They both discover what surrender truly means as together they explore the fragile bonds of desire, trust, risk and reward, and the destructive power of betrayal.
Until 2010 Ashe was a director of a regeneration company in Leeds, in the UK, before becoming convinced there must be more to life. She left to work as an independent consultant, and still does some of that though most of her time is now spent writing, as at last she’s been able to realise her dream of writing erotic romance herself. Ashe has been an avid reader of women’s fiction for many years, and still loves reading historical and contemporary romances – the hotter the better. But now she has a good excuse for her guilty pleasure – research.
Ashe usually draws on settings and anecdotes from her own experience to lend colour, detail and realism to her plots and characters, but her stories of love, challenge, resilience and compassion are the conjurings of her own lurid and decidedly smutty imagination.
When not writing – which is not very often – her time is divided between her role as resident taxi driver for her teenage daughter and friends, and caring for a menagerie of dogs, rabbits, tortoises. And a cockatiel. Ashe is a rural parish councillor, and she’s passionate about evolving rural traditions and values to suit twenty first century lifestyles.
Ashe has just completed her third trilogy in the Black Combe ‘family’ as well as a novella and a short story. All are due for release over the next few months.
Ashe’s books are available from most distributors