Today we’re peeling the veil back from author Damon Suede who is somewhat of a mystery man. Damon is also a new guest reviewer on the site and readers and authors alike anxiously await his reviews. He is building up quite a fan base which has nothing to do with him being a newly minted M/M author. One writer, who shall remain anonymous, recently said that if she ever had a 1 star review she hoped Damon would write it. WOW!!
Damon has just released his first M/M novel after toiling in the more lucrative fields of screen writing and print. Why, I wondered, would he want to make such a radical change? I think I’ll ask him. 😕
It’s great to grill you and then turn you over to the readers. Many of us can’t wait for your first M/M book Hot Head which I will come to in a bit. But first, what can you tell us about Damon the person and the author? Is there a difference? Is one cuter than the other?
The author is WAY cuter, obviously! Damon the person has bedhead and forgets things and gets erections at inopportune moments. Damon the author has his own theme music, impeccable style, and can leap towering clichés in a single bound.
Nah. Actually, they’re both somewhere in the middle there. In all seriousness, I think most people do most things the way they do most other things. My M/M work is as much an expression of my core as my more serious, “literary” work and my shameless grease-it-up-stick-it-in showbiz gigs.
I’m one of those people who live out loud, as in, constantly… enthusiastic about anything I commit to and a live wire in social settings and relentless professionally. No shame. No guilt. No apologies. Totally choleric. I’m chronically impatient and have a bad habit of gift-of-gabbing my way out of anything. I tend to wind up leading groups I join. I guarantee that if we were sitting together at a table right now what you’d notice first is speed, aggression, and energy.
I don’t watch TV. I have a real bug up my ass about it actually, because I think television wrecks everyone’s writing, even television writers. But in the summers during rough drafting binges I’ll often plow through an entire HBO/Showtime show in one go, years after it ends. Well, back when Queer as Folk was on, I never saw it. At the time, friends, enemies, and even random strangers would thump me on the back and say, “You’re like that asshole Brian Kinney.” I had no idea what they were talking about. I finally saw the show about 2 years ago… and discovered I’m even more like him than people had realized. Truth is I’ve been living like Brian Kinney since I was about 12, for better or worse: severity, strategy, sexual aggression, sentiment, ruthlessness, pride and pain, kinkiness, control, black humor. The whole megillah. Watching that show in a 3 day marathon, he seemed like the only normal character. Which either makes me a prick or shows I have balls. Tough call.
Bottom line: folks either love me or loathe me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to dial things down and take a breath and not stomp around from the get-go, but I’m pretty intense even at my calmest.
FREEDOM! I’ve spent over 20 years writing professionally in entertainment, and navigating the shoals of ego and idiocy. Showbiz bureaucracy can do foul things to your Muse if you relax your vigilance.
So… for the past decade or so I’ve scheduled periodic breaks from assignments and commissions to create spec projects for theatre and film purely for joy, just to keep myself fresh. Often, those ventures become the most lucrative, but they’re also the most arduous. Also those once-or-twice a year artistic playpens only tap the sap; I have WAY too many ideas to keep ‘em in my pants.
I read m/m and I get M/M. Fundamentally, the genre lets me chip away at something that’s unspoiled escapism, purely for pleasure…. I love feeling free to take risks and get extreme and entertain without worrying about industry politics or producer egos.
Last summer a close friend writing an erotic romance wanted to talk plot bunnies and riff ideas with me. I had just finished a money job that had left me a little dazed; I plot very quickly and outline ditto, so we fell to chatting daily to bash through her structure making sure there weren’t any holes or traps. Well one day, about a week into our plot-wrangling and trying to solve the gaps in her book, she started scolding me and calling me all sorts of names. She said writing a romance would bring my mojo back pronto and claimed the stuff I’d brainstormed off the cuff was fresher and sexier than books she was reading… at which point she proclaimed me “a lazy idiot” if I didn’t sit down and write my own M/M novel, just for fun.
She bet me I could do it in three months; it wound up taking me about six weeks, and it did kickstart my mojo. And then I was hooked!
When and why did you decide on writing as a career?
I’d been working as an actor/singer/dancer since I was about seven and in my late teens, I’d only written jokes for a couple producers in the States, silly 11th hour polish stuff and patter for award shows.
After living in New York for college and a bit after, my then–boyfriend moved to Austria and I got myself hired for a production in London to be closer. On the sly, my wily UK agent sent out a festival short I’d written as a lark. As he predicted, the theatre dug my voice and consequently paid me to write a full-length play for immediate production… aka total lucky break and crack for my Muse. The script I wrote for them was extremely successful and I had to write another; I realized I had all these other stories to tell.
I never looked back. As it turned out, I’d unwittingly trained as a writer/director over the first 20 years of my life by doing a lot of “great works” in rep. As in: anything Shakespeare and Marivaux can’t teach you about stories isn’t worth knowing.
The thing is, if you distil all of my talents, all of my habits, all of my strengths into a single action, what I do across every area of my life is articulate things. I grew up in a fiercely verbal family reading 1200 words a minute. I spent years dissecting other people’s words and trying to make sense of them to audiences. I read constantly, write constantly, talk constantly. And every job I do, writing, directing, producing, even performing (when I still did)… was about finding the way to connect my mind to someone else’s mind to express an idea. I’m always trying to make the synaptic leap that separates people from each other. Actually that’s probably why M/M has been such a blessing; it is an entire genre about connection!
I read your bio which made me wish I had known you a lot earlier when it seemed you had so much fun. You have been a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… Is there anything you haven’t done? Are there photos of you as a stripper? If so, can I have a few for my “art collection”? (That’s what I call the Friday Guys.) 😆
I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. Even now I still have a helluva lot of fun, but back in my salad days I took no prisoners. My mom raised me to live hard, love hard, work hard, play hard. There are plenty of things I haven’t done, but most of them are things I didn’t want to do: like, I dunno… banking, retail or restaurant work, serious team sports, elective surgery, or sex with Republicans. 🙂
There are photos of my unclothed corpus, and even video of me dancing back in the day. For several years, whenever CNN did a spot on NYC debauchery, they used footage of me in latex hotpants and harness boots whipping my goods around in a suspended chrome cage. I didn’t even know I’d been filmed, but since I was an employee of the club, my release was on file. A friend saw it one night and called me laughing so hard the words didn’t sound like English. So I got to be CNN’s archetypal go-go-gay for a blip in time… Hurrah!
Also, I did racy body modeling through college, and those images still crop up on blogs now and then, though I’m but a shorn, bearded shadow of my dishy younger self. LOL I don’t think anyone needs to see those, if they haven’t already….
Tell us briefly (if that’s possible) 🙂 about your love for Gordon Merrick. I hope I’m not opening the stable door here Damon. 😆
Gordon Merrick is the patron saint of M/M! If you’ve seen my deranged paean to the man over on my website you have a sense of my fervor, but let me do the soundbite version. I stumbled over The Lord Won’t Mind by accident back in the early 80s when I was about 13. On a shelf in a Texas mall, I found a mass-market gay romance that spent SIXTEEN weeks on the NY Times bestseller list?! Feel that fact. Until that moment, all the gay fiction I’d read was pretty sombre and/or pornographic. My mom had loads of post-Stonewall queer lit at home, hell, she knew a lot of the authors, but in 1983-or-4 positive LGBT fiction simply wasn’t exactly thick on the ground. Plus, Merrick had lived this insane, glamorous, openly gay life as a jetsetting blueblood, actor, and (!?!) spy.
Merrick’s books offered totally demented guilty pleasure written by and for and with a ferocious, unapologetic queer aesthetic. They were pulpy trash, yes, but also deliriously romantic and erotic and entertaining. Looking back at them now, I see their prejudices and shortcomings, but they seem like a pivotal moment for popular Gay Fiction. Yet Merrick remains largely ignored, because (like gay pulps, which I also adore) the books weren’t “serious” literature, but erotic escapism. Typical anti-romance, bourgie bullshit, if you ask me. And you did ask…. LOL
What was the genesis of Hot Head? >
Well, my best galpal in the world went through a stretch of about 7 years dating only tortured, firefighting sex-addicts (seriously) in these doomed operatic love affairs with roses and screaming. During that time, I sat drinking with a lot of FDNY members, listening to crazy confessions as they tried to win my friend with their suffering. So one night, I’m at my summer house drinking whiskey on the porch with this doe-eyed meathead with a neck the size of my thigh. It’s late and my friend is asleep, so it’s just the two of us, laughing a lot, recounting blind dates and vile sex stories. He starts complimenting gay guys from his gym, a lesbian doctor from Cobble Hill who’s so smart, and I can tell he’s trying to be sensitive and hip and “down with the homos” which is friendly enough… He wanted to let me know he felt comfortable and happy hanging out with me, I guess. Nice.
Out of nowhere, he gets serious and quiet for a while… After a few minutes, he blurts out that he was once in love with a guy … even though he’d been married, one time he’d loved a man that way: his best friend who worked at a different firehouse. Both of them adamantly hetero, sharing hookers at the same time and puking on each other down the Jersey Shore. He couldn’t explain why or how, but he’d realized he had romantic and sexual feelings he’d never confess.
And then his buddy died in 2001 at the World Trade Center. They’d both worked the scene, but only this man had come out alive. I’ll never as long as I live forget the look on his face telling me this horrible story… the pain and disappointment he still carried, and the longing for his friend. An ocean of patient suffering sloshed around inside him and this terrible, impossible secret he could never share with anyone he knew. And that’s where Hot Head came from: unspoken love, unlikely lovers, and a happy ending written the way it should have been.
This is what the blurb says:
Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly.
For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish. Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera.
Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?
You mentioned on your site that Hot Head is the first book in the “Head” series about blue collar men finding unexpected love in NYC. Have you started the next book in the series and if so, when do you expect it to be released?
Indeed! The next book in the series is Hard Head, which focuses on a self-destructive paramedic who’s a secondary character from the first book who practically assaulted me with a book idea of his own. That actually might be finished as soon as July, but I just got hired to write a musical (yes, really!) and that’s been eating up a lot of my extra M/M hours.
Before I really get cranking on Hard Head, I have a crazy steampunk novel which I’ve got about halfway completed… very different from the “Head” books, more baroque and whimsical and crazy filthy-kinky. Hoo-boy! It’s set in the Gilded Age in New York and eminently skullduggerous! I really dig splashing around in the research and the language so it’s been a treat to draft. Still, if all goes the way it has been, I’d say Hard Head could get out to the world by the winter solstice. Heaven willing and the creek don’t rise.
And then comes Bone Head and Block Head and more steampunk and …. 🙂
Since you have been writing for a couple of decades what, in your opinion, is the most enjoyable part of what is basically a solitary occupation? What’s the worst?
For me, the best thing in any writing is the moment of empathy… when you realize that the work resonated, that someone GOT it, that for even an instant another living soul saw through your eyes or shared your heartbeat or busted out laughing with you on the other side of the world. That spark, linking two lives is so powerful and visceral. That physical resonance characterizes romance in many ways, because romance WANTS you to cry, wants you to gasp, wants your heart to thump and your no-no places to moisten. Another reason M/M has been such a joy for me. It’s a very physical genre and at the best of times wrings physical reactions from its readers. I love the spark of minds rubbing together.
The worst thing about writing? The waiting. I’m so impatient that the idea of sitting around while the world moves like winter molasses makes me want to rampage through the streets with a machete. I don’t need instant gratification certainly, but people can move so slowly. Sometimes, you finish a piece and you want it OUT where people can get at it, but the reality of the business makes that impossible. Hey! Writing is weird. I don’t mind the pressure. I don’t mind the solitude. I don’t mind skipping meals and sleep to get it all down. This late in the game, I don’t even mind the rejection. But waiting and waiting for something you made and loved to see the light of day can be brutal. As my agent says, “You don’t have to love the process, but you have to live with it.” That’s another blessing of M/M: things move so much swifter in this e-publishing neck of the woods.
You may not know this but we have a few boyz who lay around in the hot tub all day on the site and they love to interview authors, especially guys. They have two questions for you:
Ask away; I was born in hot water, and get into it often. 🙂
Boxers, briefs or commando?
I like a soft, snug fit, generally. 🙂 With boxers, I’m always sitting on my junk and racking myself. Commando, the friction and sweat drives me crazy and I’m always tenting in front of the wrong person… I often wear kilts in hot weather for comfort, and going commando-while-kilted is a matter of principle…. That said, for GayRomLit I’m already thinking I may have to cocksock it under the pleats or I’ll end up shackled and pregnant in the Marigny.Otherwise I’m practically a nudist when I’m working (naked now actually!) (Did I really need that visual Damon? Oh Gawd!!!!) whether in my loft or at my summer house. So if I’m commando, I’m pretty much birthday-suiting it. But for undergear: briefs.
Can they visit you and your husband and sample some of your….. ummm…. charms? (I would be very careful how I respond to them). 🙂
Hot meat in speedos is always welcome, but we’ve been monogamous for ten years. LOL We’re one of those couples who knew instantly, finish each other’s sentences, yadda-yadda. On the other hand, I’m a ruthless flirt and get pretty extreme on the dancefloor. If you think the boyz could bust a nut from public frottage, I wouldn’t send them back blue-balled to your Jacuzzi. lol
Last, yes I’m almost done, what does Damon do for fun?
A ton of reading. Flirting. Conversation. My weekly two-stepping excursion. Long dinners with close friends and spicy food. Prowling bookstores to add to my library. Bad movie marathons with the gang over (I’m a passionate collector of rotten cinema). Cold weather vacations, even skiing, when I can sneak away. Quiet times and loud times with my beautiful boyfriend! Working hard at things that matter to me. Living out loud. (I would never have guessed that last part Damon. Who knew? !!! lol)
Thank you for the time Damon.
Damon is donating a swag pack of goodies including bookmarks, magnets and a personalized signed bookplate to one lucky commenter.
Damon Suede’s Contact Information