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For this hop we've decided to invite to UTC a talented author and just outstanding person so we could ask him a bit more about the book we decided to give away. I had the opportunity of meeting Damon Suede at RT earlier this year and that was one of the highlights of the convention for me! HOT HEAD by Damon Suede just happens to be one of my favorite books I've read in 2012 and I can't wait to share this with all of you.
Well, I’ve told the story a few times (at Behind the Story and Jessewave), but the germ of the story came from a real FDNY firefighter I knew.so the idea had been with me for a couple years, definitely. When my friend dared me to write a romance, my first thought was, “How can I generate the kind of intense angst that I like in a book?” And then my second thought was, “How can I turn a real life tragedy into a full-blown romance?”
HARD HEAD is the second book planned in the Head series, focusing on Tommy; when will it be published? Can you give us some deets about what to expect?
Originally Hard Head was scheduled to come out exactly a year after Hot Head, so we were aiming for June. Unfortunately a couple other writing jobs got in the way because film waits for no man. And then I didn’t want to rush it out the door because I didn’t want to screw the story up. As it is, the book is nearly ready to roll, but Elizabeth and I need to sort out a release date. Right now, the Spanish and Italian version of HOT HEAD are out, with French, German, and the audio book all hitting shelves shortly.
As for Hard Head details, I don’t like spoilers, but I can tell you that the book focuses on Tommy Dobsky having to rebuild his entire life from rubble, problems within the FDNY that get ugly, that dealing with his sex-addiction and self-destructive impulses complicate the romance, and that Griff and Dante return as strong secondary characters. Is that too vague? :) I’m trying not to give anything away in advance!
How many books do you have planned for the Head series?
Originally I imagined the “Head” books as interconnected stories about blue-collar guys in New York finding love unexpectedly. There’s something inherently sexy about men who don’t know their own appeal and also the parts of New York that don’t always get shown in pop culture… so I can imagine a healthy run of “Heads.” :P Already I know what the third book is going to be because of stuff Tommy taught me while writing this one. As long as characters keep talking I’ll keep writing.
Will we get to see our beloved Griff and Dante throughout the remainder of the series?
Absolutely. Griff and Dante are too important to NOT spend time with them whenever I can! LOL And their relationship continues to evolve and deepen as the stories braid together. I love the impromptu families that make up so much of New York’s neighborhoods. The truth is, first responders in NYC know each other; it’s a very tightknit community, so these fellas have to be bound up in each other’s pasts and futures. And that translates to the world of the Head books.
In addition to HOT HEAD, you wrote a m/m short story for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group last summer. Tell us about it, and what new plans do you have in store stemming from this short story?
Last summer I wrote a story based on a photograph which inspired a world that I wound up calling the HardCell universe which is a science-fiction future in which corporations own everything and “advertainment” has taken over the galaxy. Again, I figured the best romances need big juicy conflicts.
As I was writing it, the story ballooned into a novella called GROWN MEN which Riptide publishing released last October. My boyfriend calls GROWN MEN “futuristic eco-romance” instead of sci-fi adventure because it’s almost a frontier story set on a brand-new planetoid, kind of gentle but rugged. And since I didn’t want to let the Goodreads M/M group down, I penned a second “transmission” from that universe called SEEDY BUSINESS which was about sperm piracy (yes really!)
So the HardCell books are all about pairs of unlikely lovers trying to battle this massive slimy corporation and saving the galaxy one gay romance at a time. :D There are LOADS of other stories to tell. The next book will be about a celebrity spokestar romance and corporate espionage, and then there’s one about sex resorts and illegal hormone candy. LOL Fans keep asking so they’ll all get written eventually.
Do you have a preference in writing contemporary romance or sci-fi?
Not at all. After Hard Head, I’m finishing up a steampunk novel called SPRING ETERNAL set in an alternate 1881 Manhattan. What I really prefer is fleshed-out worlds and fresh language. Science fiction lets you imagine outlandish possibility, but it doesn’t change the task of building a memorable romance. The truth is an author does just as much worldbuilding in a contemporary story as they do in a hardcore paranormal or sci-fi saga. Readers want to be pulled into the dream and I want to pull them!
Who are some of your favorite authors? Did you have an inspiration to help with your love of writing?
Ack. This question always makes me feel deranged when it crops up. Thing is, I read so many different folks and love so many kinds of books. I dunno: Jane Austen, Mikhail Bulgakov, Philip Jose Farmer, Gore Vidal, Ursula LeGuin, Edith Wharton, Honoré de Balzac, George MacDonald Fraser, C.S. Lewis, Mark Helprin, Damon Runyon, Madeleine L’Engle, Henry James, Anita Loos, Umberto Eco. And that’s only fiction… I dunno. How can you limit favorite authors to a finite pool? What I love about ANY author is their distinctive voice…a way of seeing the world that isn’t a cliché, a fresh idiom and a fierce bent, a sense of structure and an awareness of literary tradition. We all stand on great shoulders. Great writing always makes me want to kick my own ass and do better. LOL
M/M romance is a genre that primarily is written by heterosexual, married women, and read primarily by the same demographic. Why do you think this genre has such a hold over a demographic that doesn't actually live the lifestyle?
Great question and one I think about constantly. I have this theory, in fact I wrote a sort of essay on this subject, but briefly… I believe that gay romances allow female authors and readers to explore human relationships without the baggage of the “normative” relationships. Expressing and experiencing these fictional unions is appealing because it offers them an open field to explore and refract romantic possibility. Like gay men, I think many straight women often resist and resent the gender roles into which they’re forced by the patriarchy. In gay romance, none of the hetero rules need apply and so the terrain is fresher and funkier.
As a m/m author writing m/m romance, how much realism to these romantic situations do we see in your writing *cough*HotHeadCouchScene*cough* **waggles eyebrows**?
LOLOL Well, I’m a gay man writing gay romance, I can verify that my sex scenes are pretty fucking realistic. :P I have an dynamic, healthy sex life and I’m pretty much devoid of shame or guilt when it comes to erotic activities. Or to put it another way, I KNOW that those scenes reflect the real world because I share those characters’ anatomy and I have participated in those activities from both sides. LOL Of course, I’ve never been Griff or Dante on that exact couch… but that scene was about as realistic as I could make it without finding doppelgangers making it a documentary.
For what it’s worth, that couch scene was one of the first scenes I started writing and one of the last I finished. It got build molecule by molecule over the entire 6 weeks it took me to finish the book. And I get a lot of mail about that scene, which I find incredibly gratifying because I KILLED myself to get that moment of connection right.
You work full-time in the screen and film industry, in addition to writing. How do you find a balance to continue doing both?
Not sleeping or eating! LOL No, seriously… I probably work too much and my boyfriend keeps me conscious and fed, basically, because he drags me to bed and cooks me dinner. I’m pretty obsessive when it comes to work, and when I’m in the zone I can go for days without coming up for any real air. The real trick is to walk away from the writing sometimes. I take walks. I make time for friends and colleagues. The main thing is to step away periodically so that I maintain perspective and stay healthy. And for that, my boyfriend is key. He is my rock.
Since this is a hop that is meant to stand against homophobia and spread the love for M/M romance, do you have any words to say on this topic?
I was raised by a lesbian mom and I remember 20 years ago her telling me that one day gay marriage would simply be a fact and that LGBT people had already begun the march towards equality. At the time I thought she was nuts, but it’s happened in my lifetime. That being said, we have a fuck of a long way to go and the only way any kind of substantive change happens is by taking action. Children die every day because we haven’t found ways to let them know that hope has value. Adults struggle in loveless marriages like cows in quicksand and they die in slow motion because they believe that they’re pleasing their families or employers or gods or whatever. Entire communities and factions labor to extinguish anything that differs from their imaginary “norms” through brutality and deception. Even in 2012, there are people who would rather burn down the world than live in it.
Every writer that gives voice to an LGBT love story that points the way to choice and possibility they open a door that anyone can step through. Every time a reader picks up an LGBT romance and finds hope in it, the path gets brighter. Every time a book finds its way into hopeless hands and plants a seed, the world gets stronger.
I’m a proud member of the Rainbow Romance Writers which is the RWA’s LGBT romance chapter. Our motto is, “Changing minds, one heart at a time.” And we are, every one of us who reads or writes LGBT romance.
Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to M/M, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. You can get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.
Where there's smoke there's fire.
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 10 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 Dante is nearly bankrupt and proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay-porn website where uniformed hunks get down-n-dirty… Now 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?
Hot Head is a homoerotic romance about that moment when you must stand strong, tell truth, and love like you're dying.