Damon, I am so excited to have you here visiting Joyfully Jay. I must admit I am a fan to an almost embarrassing degree. Not only do I love your books, but I have been enjoying hanging out with you over at the Goodreads M/M Romance boards, chatting about all sorts of fun and naughty things!
Yay! Thank you, and that means you know I don’t really hold back AT ALL. 🙂 So don’t hold back.
Your new book Grown Men has just been released from Riptide Publishing and I reviewed it yesterday on the blog here. I was very excited to see that you continued the world you had created in Seedy Business, your short story for Hot Summer Days ( I could practically smell the spunk in the air after reading that one!). For folks who haven’t read the books, can you tell us more about the HardCell world?
The HardCell Universe imagines a slick, paranoid future in which massive corporations manage entire solar systems, art and religion have been replaced by glossy advertainment, and cloned employees struggle against a consumer culture that sees them as disposable. These stories make fun of pop culture so there’s definitely a snarky, satiric component under the romance. I’ve called each story “transmissions” because I feel like this universe is already starting to happen, around us.
Like all sci-fi, the HardCell Universe winds up being about the present moment, modern life as we know and live it; the futuristic business just lets me play the dangers of intimacy in contemporary relationships with the pressures and chasms that challenge our hearts. I think great romance arises from characters beating impossible odds and grim circumstances. Big shadows make bright lights! If there’s one thing I can guarantee, my characters’ Happy Endings always feel earned. LOL
I see that you have Seedy Business available as a free download on your site. Do you think folks should read that before starting Grown Men, or does this book stand alone?
The two stories truly stand alone. I only intended them to enhance each other in retrospect. I felt like I wanted the HardCell world to be contiguous between them, without the events overlapping. So Seedy Businesstells a tale that’s tangentially related, that throws a little light on Ox’s backstory, but it’s gravy from a narrative standpoint. You don’t need to have seen it at all. The Riptide folks purposely didn’t read Seedy Business so they wouldn’t be affected or hampered by it as they got to work on Grown Men.
Now, in practical terms, these two HardCell stories share a pair of genetically enhanced twins named Ox and Beirn, identical physically and light-years apart emotionally…but their individual journeys diverge drastically. In a sense, getting to know one of the brothers in one story only sheds light on their motivations after you’ve read the other book… So taken in tandem, I think of them as more of a psychological teasers building on the reader experience than an explanation of behavior or expository backstory. Does that make sense?
I was really intrigued because in Seedy Business, Ox has been taken advantage of by his brother and is sort of the victim in the story. Was it difficult to then turn around and make him the hero of his own book, or did that flow easily?
Not difficult at all, because the characters were so different from the start. Ox was always so different from his brother. Beirn (in Seedy Business) is such a sociopathic monster. Ox (in Grown Men) has this gentle integrity to him and he cannot speak, which changes the stakes a lot. The mystery of Ox’s past and the obvious danger he brings with him charge the story of Grown Men because of the tension (and drastic separation) between the brothers.
It’s funny. In a lot of ways Seedy Business is this brutal, animalistic story told as a gentle fairytale; its two heroes are sociopathic dirtbags and the tension arises between their circumstances and their natures. Likewise, Grown Men focuses on a sweet, pastoral story told through a paranoid, claustrophobic lens. Its two heroes try to carve out a little corner of the galaxy for themselves, but they remain essentially noble in spite of catastrophic pressure.
What interests me in a lot of relationships between men is the insane power dynamics they navigate in a relationship. So much of the patriarchy instructs boys to detach and destroy. For two men to access their feelings AND access their feelings for each other, all kinds of phantasmagorical ground has to get covered believably and viscerally.
Grown Men is the first book in the HardCell series. Can you tell us more about what to expect from future books? Will Ox and Runt be the focus of the rest of the series, or are you introducing new main characters?
For me the most important component of science fiction is the coherence and perspective of the world created. HardCell has turned out to be such a robust Universe already. I’m a crazed worldbuilder, so I literally sat down and figured out the political structures, the economy, the mythology, the creative environment…I wanted it to make sense and to hang together organically.
HardCell lets me take a crack at so many things spiraling out of control in our world: celebrity, mass-market creativity, rabid consumerism, cubicle ethics and corporate hegemony. The thing is, Ox and Runt (and Beirn and Zed) fight the established order
imposed by HardCell management. That MUST go further, right? I know there’s a novel about glamorous advertainers and hormonal espionage, and another about antidepressant candy and corporate sex-resort scandals, and an expose of insurance addiction and designer cloning in the Employee hatcheries. Ideas I got, out the
ying-yang! And each couple would be itself a kind of revolutionary force helping to undermine this suffocating HardCell society from their own distinct corner of the corporate empire.
If readers groove on Grown Men and the interest is there I’d like to see a series that works its way up the executive chain of being book by book…couple by couple… division by divison… and ends with an army of lovers retiring the CEO and dismantling HardCell HeadOffice! Manlove as revolution…Homos save the cosmos… Sh’yeah! [LOL, I love it!]
According to your bio, you have held about 900 jobs in things ranging from model to bookkeeper to bartender. You have also been working as a writer for years, but recently made the move to romance. What made you decide to take on romance writing (and specifically m/m romance)?
LOLOLOL Yeah, I’ve had a lot of extremely odd jobs in my wicked life, but writing has always been at the core.
I wrote my first romance novel (Hot Head) on a dare. Quite literally. A friend of mine was in the weeds writing an erotic romance asked me if I’d talk her through some plot problems. We wound up spending about a week beating out a plot that would sustain a novel. In the course of that she said, “If you don’t write a romance you’re a lazy asshole.” That got my attention. And then I thought about it seriously.
I’d read romance my whole life, and gay romance for several years…and somehow I’d never thought of doing it myself. Well, I DO respond to dares, and so I plunked down and wrote Hot Head in six weeks. Shocked the bejesusout of me because it just poured out of me. Incredibly liberating to not have studio suits looking over my shoulder and ramming their hand up my semicolons. And then once I’d done one, I wanted to do more. Writing gay romance has been a completely magical experience because it sets me free to play and dream and explore in ways you can’t in mass-market genres and media.
The reactions to Hot Head sealed the deal. I knew I had a bazillion stories I wanted to tell, worlds to explore, relationships to build…and so I got cranking on a steampunk idea (Spring Eternal) and then a sci-fi germ that became Grown Men, and more besides. I love that romance is so visceral, that it connects on such a deep level with people’s emotions and aspirations. That’s thrilling to me artistically, because it foregrounds possibility and unleashes amazing questions about intimacy and hope. What’s not to love!
Rumor has it you have a kilt and you look awesome in it. Confirm or deny? (I must admit reading Hot Head only increased my kilt fascination!)
Well, I can’t vouch for how I look in them, but I own severalkilts, both traditional tartans and utility kilts (Utilikilt being my go-to model). I’ve worn and loved kilts for years. My father’s family is Scottish so I come by it honestly and have a family tartan, etc. And because of my build (big legs, high butt), I’m sorta built for a kilt, if you know what I mean. They emphasize my salient assets in ways that make my boyfriend possessive. LOL.
I bought my first proper kilt when I was living in the UK in the early 1990s. I’d always thought they were sexy as hell and then I got invited to a wedding on a cattle ranch outside of Aberdeen. Well, of COURSE I had to go in a full Prince Charlie! And I did. Let me tell you, a tent full of whiskey-soaked Scotsmen in dress kilts dancing reels together on the side of a mountain is something you need to see before you die. Some of the hottest fucking men I’ll ever encounter on this Earth. Soon as I got back to London I ordered another kilt (in our “hunting” tartan) and then I began investigating “casual” kilts.
Fast forward 20 years and I have a collection and they see a lot of use.
|Damon modeling his
kilt at GayRomLit
|Damon in his kilt with
Heidi Cullinan at GayRomLit
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all my questions! If folks want to know more about you or your books, how can they find you?
Well pretty much everywhere! I’m like trash that won’t burn. 🙂 But the easiest places to reach me are:
- FB Fanpage
Thank you so much for coming today! As I said, I am a huge fan and so excited to have you here. You are welcome back any time so please come visit!
Oh, I will. 🙂 Thank Y’ALL so much for making me feel welcome and asking such terrific questions!
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. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.
And now for the giveaway! One lucky commenter will win First Wave Winner’s Choice: Pick any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles). The contest will stay open until Tuesday, November 15 at 11:59 EST.
And now the fine print:
- By entering the contest, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay and leave your email address if it is not in your profile.
Be sure to leave a comment to enter!