Damon Suede Interview

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with author Damon Suede. Thanks for taking time to talk with me today Damon.
Thanks for having me! I've always had a weakness for falling angels… :)

To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hmmm. Well, I grew up in Texas, but I live in New York and have more than half my life, with a couple European detours in there for flavor. I'm a writer by trade. Outside of romance fiction I write for film and theatre as my bread-n-butter job, which is both more and less glamorous than it sounds.

Could you tell readers a little bit about your new release with Riptide Publishing, Grown Men?
Grown Men is the first "transmission" from the HardCell Universe, which is a paranoid future in which massive companies have replaced government, culture, and religion and run entire solar systems for profit. Art has been replaced by advertainment with aggressive product placement, and people dream of corporate citizenship so they can become voting shareholders. Employees are vat-grown and live in terror of being forcibly retired.

Grown Men takes place on a remote farming planet where a colonist named Runt has been marooned alone for eighteen months trying to scrape a living on an artificial tropical island in the middle of an alien ocean when a, mute, eight-foot tall assassin literally falls out of the sky…either to help him or murder him. Despite their differences, and the silence between them, the two of them learn to communicate and work together in this strange envirironment. It's a very sweet story in a lot of ways, although it does get kinky in a couple places. For people who might be put off by the subgenre, it's very gentle sci-fi…no aliens, no robots; my boyfriend calls it futuristic eco-romance… more of a frontier story than a biff-pow space opera.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Patience comes hardest for me. I have a bazillion ideas. I have megawatts of energy. I have 20+ years' experience working in entertainment and a killer rep team and I write 10-14 hours a day. The hardest thing for me is waiting for people to do the stuff that needs to get done to produce and sell a project to its audience. My impatience has been with me so long, that I've developed a sense of humor about it. Thank all the gods! Still, when I'm twiddling my thumbs the only solution I've found that keeps me from going out of my gourd is to start the NEXT project, pronto. One of the greatest things about Dreamspinner with my first novel (Hot Head) was the rapid turnaround when I first submitted. I had fretted and fiddled for a week, wanting the final submission to be as ready as possible. I sent it dreading the 4-6 weeks I had to wait for an answer. Elizabeth North did nothing of the kind! She got my book on a Friday night and sent me a contract about 52 hours later. That never happens in publishing, but it turned out to be a good omen (and a true one at that)! One of my favorite things about writing gay romance is how swift and clean the submission process is.

What is the most interesting thing you've done in the name of research?
Eesh. Now THAT is a hard one. I've done some crazy shit in my day: waded through hip-deep offal in an abattoir, interviewed performers in a sex circus in Germany, snuck into a fourteenth century dungeon at night. For Grown Men I did hours and hours of EEL research because of the ranching portion of their terraformed island. For Hot Head, I interviewed first responders and toured hospitals and firehouses and Ground Zero obsessively. Okay, how about this? For a graphic novel and movie I've written, which is now working its way through the publication and production shoals, I had to visit a working alchemist's laboratory in the Czech Republic with my boyfriend who was raised very anxiously Christian, and though calmer now, still anxious around such things. This was in a huge dank tower that smelled of dirty pennies…taxidermied animals everywhere…the man himself telling us stories with these chemical scarred hands in a crazy basement workroom dug straight into the sandy earth a couple hundred years ago. Amazing place. And deeply interesting. SO much material came out of that: enough for four or five projects!

If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be?
Ack! That's almost impossible. I want to meet all of them. I want to hang out and talk with all of them. I want to grab a pizza with Griff and Dante. I want Runt and Ox to barbecue eel on the beach for me. I want Tommy Dobsky to take me along in the ambulance on a ride-around. I want Beirn and Zed to sneak me onto a star freighter. I want Sticky to pull me a pint while Beth and I gossip about the Bowery. I want my steampunk lads to teach me how to tie a Snapdragon and show me how to get as greasy as I possibly can for under tuppence. I want the Anastagios to invite me to dinner and ask me to sleep over. How could I ever pick? Impossible! Madness!!

If you could pick any celebrity to be on the cover of your book, who would it be and why?
None. I think celebrities on the cover of a book damage the reader's imaginal experience. If I infect the mind's eye with a person who already occupies part of their subconscious, all that baggage gets dragged into my story. I don't mind having faces on the cover, but if they're recognizable, it reminds me of those bio-pics in which a legendary Oscar winner plays a known quantity. It's a task that serves neither the actor nor the subject because as Shakespeare would point out, the comparison IS odious. So yeah: none.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My best creative writing comes out of me in the early dawn, right as the sun is rising. No idea why…but that pearly half-light unlocks something for my Muse and the material, the voices, the worldbuilding is always at its freshest when I hit it before the day gets warm and bright. I think maybe it's because I'm still close enough to dreaming that I don't filter and my inner editor is drowsy enough that things slip through the Gates of Ivory and Horn in bigger, crazier chunks.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've always written. My two moms bought me a typewriter when they realized that I had stories to tell and needed some equipment to do it more efficiently. But the first moment I thought of myself as a real professional, this-is-my-career writer was in a theatre in London. I had been acting in shows professionally my whole life and then out of the blue a producer who knew me hired me to write a dark comedy and against all odds, I did. It was my first full-length play. Rehearsals were amazing, and the show came together like lightning.

We were three weeks into the run. We'd just opened and gotten wonderful reviews. And in the middle of the opening scene the whole audience began ROARING at a nonverbal joke. For them to have gotten the humor or followed the plot they had to be paying attention. The laughter kept building and building until people were barking and shouting with it, falling out of their seats. I was so happy and they were so happy with me and I realized that after 15 years of being on stage and holding the audience in the palm of my hand, I had found something better. Suddenly I realized that the entire audience was inside my head and seeing through my eyes. That's what the play did for them: it let them see the world from my perspective. I'd known that in the abstract but THAT night I understood what that meant. The connection was so deep and the pleasure so fierce… WELL, at that moment I thought I'm never going to act again (and I didn't). At that moment I knew: oh THIS is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. And I did.

Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
Everywhere I can imagine. LOL Writing is what I am and what I do. I can't imagine my life without it. I never want to settle. I never want to rest.

Whose opinion do you value most when it comes to your writing and why?
I have a small group of writers who have known my work for years. Real opinions, intelligent analysis are rare and precious, and these folks know the business cold. I trust them unto death because they kick my ass without apology and catch all my habits and whip me towards all my horizons. THEY are the final arbiters because they know when to push me, they know where I'm headed, and they refuse to let me settle for "good enough" in any case. And I love and honor them for it.

If you had a warning label, what would it say?
MIND THE GAP. I'm loud and intense and opinionated and enthusiastic about things; I think people often believe I'm being hyperbolic for effect. Actually I MEAN all these things I say; I believe in them passionately! I sound exactly like this in real life. At GayRomLit, readers kept coming up and saying, "You're EXACTLY how you seem online." I think that's fantastic…I'm a writer so I DO want my words online to convey how I am. I'm always trying to close the gap between expression and understanding. I think that's the task of every writer.

All our words have to make this tremendous leap from mind to mind… and that gap is the most terrifying, important part of living or art. How can I know if I'm saying what I mean? How can you know if you're hearing what I'm saying? How can I communicate as swiftly and clearly as possible? How can I say things that cannot be articulated? Words fail us, but they're all we have in the end. Mind the gap, always. The secret to life is paying attention.

What's the most interesting obscure fact you know?
LOLOLOL Umm, I know some pretty weird facts. I collect historical trivia. How on earth do I pick one. How about this… and I'm basing this on your website name. In Islam, but more specifically in Sufism, Iblis is the equivalent of Christianity's Satan. Iblis is the fallen angel who was cast out of Heaven for disobedience. The thing to know is that Iblis was not cast out for sinning, but rather for disobedience. Unlike humanity, angels have no free will and yet when Iblis, the most glorious of the Heavenly Host, was instructed to bow down before Humanity and serve mortal creatures he refused. Iblis loved God too much to submit to a lesser being, even one that possessed free will. Iblis loved God so much that he was cast out of Heaven for not loving Humanity a little.

Now that's not the fact; that's backstory. Here's the interesting part, when Sufis speak of the Divine, when they talk of Heaven, they will say to one another, "Would that I might love God as much as Iblis!" In Judaeo-Christian terms, that is roughly equivalent to saying I wish I could love God as much as the Devil does.

Lucifer's sin was loving God: the greatest M/M romance never told. :)

Which one of the characters you've created is most like you?
All of them. None of them. That's an impossible question to answer because it presumes things that aren't true about the way I write. Again, I can't imagine picking just one. I wrote them all and they all have slivers of me in them. And yet none of them are me. I would never put "myself" in a story, because that's A) facile and B) feeble. Characters should stand on their own. Once I enter into it how can they have their own lives? LOL So my answer would depend on the day you asked…I've been Runt and Griff and Beirn and Beth and well, ANY of my characters at some point. Know what I mean?

What can your fans look forward to in the next twelve months from you?
Spring Eternal. This one is a big steampunk zipper ripper set in Gilded Age Manhattan. I've really gone to town and it's turned out to be this big, greasy, florid spectacle…totally delirious and rambunctious. Rogues and gadgets and nefarious plots. I think readers will groove on it big time and I can't wait to throw the switch and invite folks aboard. :)

Hard Head: This is the sequel to Hot Head which focuses primarily on Tommy's story. He's the sexually compulsive, self-destrutive paramedic from the first book and many readers have asked about what's in store for him. I've already written more of this than I "should have" because Tommy has been very insistent. Griff and Dante will definitely be a part of the story, of course…and I'm psyched to spend some more quality time with the Hot Hookers.

And in the far distance, a contemporary rodeo romance based on my experiences with the gay rodeo circuit and my family's ranch. Not cowboys exactly, and not a ranch either…but a sort of "country" romance. LOL

Is there anything else you would like to add today?
Just my thanks. You asked some great questions and I'm thrilled to be invited to visit. Iblis makes a great host!

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us today! Readers can find out what Damon is up to by visiting: his Website, Goodreads, Facebook and Google+.

Damon Suede's book Hot Head is currently in the semifinals for Best Romance of 2011 over at Goodreads. It is the only M/M novel so nominated and is up against titles by Nora Roberts, J.R. Ward, and Gena Showalter. If you'd like to see a gay romance claim that spot please take a moment to give it your vote.

Interviewed by: Tammy