Even though this is Damon’s first time on my personal blog, he already had a great showing over at Babes in Boyland last month, So welcome back, Damon! Today, we get to hear a little bit more about Damon, from his taste as a reader, to advice for new authors:) Thanks for coming by again!
What do you like most about writing?
Precision and control! Unlike most of life, time works with me and I can always revise my thoughts until I’m articulating my exact thought. Even if the end result never perfect, being able to work at it reminds me that the world is benevolent and magical.
What genre do you write mostly and what appeals to you most about your genre?
Actually it took me ages until I put my finger on “my” genre, but it bears out throught al my writing romantic and otherwise: Gothic Comedy… although I interpret gothic and comedy a little more specifically than you might imagine. Gothic is a suspense narrative about perception and illusion; comedy stories pass through devastation and end positively. Gothic doesn’t have to be scary any more than comedy needs to be funny. Together they become something astonishing.
Now, in truth, my writing tends to be scary and funny, but generally in odd ways. I love the glamor and shadow of gothic as much as I love the rowdy, rousing quality of comedy… but blending them creates something endlessly exciting to explore. As I grew into my own voice, I realized that I kept veering into an odd hybrid that tried to fuse romance and cynicism. With each new project, I get better at it.
Where do you get the names for your characters?
From the characters. LOL Names are central to the way I build characters and I’m almost superstitious bout taking the time to let the right name come. I read erefernces and research, but in truth the process remains subjective and a little instinctive. I always know when the right name arrives… the exact snick of the name tumbling into place. And then once the name arrives the whole story begins to write itself.
What are you working on next?
I have a full-length steampunk novel set in Gilded Age New York called Spring Eternal; this one wound up being a full-on zipper ripper; it’s more florid, kinky, and sentimental than my other books and the retrofitted world really sizzles. In the end, I wound up doing a tremendous amount of research about the American nineteenth century to identify what and where facts could shift to add friction to the fiction. And I love language anyway! An era of alternate history let me cut loose with slang and worldbuilding big time. I’m very excited about the ways things went: twisted characters in a sexy mythic adventure!
What fascinates you most about writing m/m?
MF romance sets up all these amazing florid expectations and tropes, but MF suffers from the same malaise as all normative hetero interactions… it either supports the patriarchy and the status quo or it rails against same. In general, romance doesn’t teach us to have unrealistic expectations; rather, romance teaches us to ask for something beyond the status quo. M/M takes that challenge to a logical extreme, rejecting even the notion of a “normal” happy ending in favor of positive outcomes which Mills & Boon could never have imagined.
M/M constellates entirely from issues of male intimacy, the ways in which men connect to themselves and each other… as well as the challenges and obstructions to that intimacy. That’s amazing! At its best, M/M steps outside the box pushing into unexpected relationship territory and allowing authors to face romantic preconceptions that they resist and resent. I believe that’s why the readership and authorship of M/M remains so overwhelmingly female; at core M/M offers a way to wrestle with rigid gender roles in ways that women find empowering and appealing.
What do you enjoy reading the most?
Books that push my comfort level. Writers that surprise me. Stories that take me to a world I couldn’t have imagined for myself half as well. I really enjoy skill and precision, which are hella rare when you get right down to it. A book shouldn’t be a way to pass time, a book should become time. When a book is so well-written that I stop thinking about how and why and where it’s well written and just… succumb? I treasure those authors and those books.
What are you reading now?
I read a couple books a day, so that list tends to be longish. How about the ones I’ll finish in the next few hours?
Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre, a fictional biography of Giordano Bruno called Man in Flames, and Mary Calmes’ After the Sunset. And I’m enjoying ALL of them thoroughly!
Who are your favorite authors?
Tough one, tough one. I tend to think of books the way other people think of medication or wine. I prescribe authors and books for different reasons at different times to different people. Maybe you’re wanting more of a general “admired authors list so how about:
For plot and structure: Dumas pere or Patricia Highsmith. For worldbuilding, Philip Jose Farmer, George MacDonald Fraser, C.S. Lewis. For wit and bite, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Damon Runyon, and Gore Vidal. For poetry and power, Henry James and Mikhail Bulgakov.
What would you advise an aspiring author?
Write every day. Never settle for an excuse from yourself or anyone else. Kick your own ass. Behave with kindness and professionalism or don’t bother showing up. There is no such thing as “almost” any more than you can “try” to do anything. Being an arist is not a disability. Approach your work with the relentless gravity of a brain surgeon or someone juggling nitroglycerin in an orphanage. And if you haven’t written your 2000 words today already, then why the hell are you wasting time reading my blather?! Write, now!
Here’s the thing: typing is not writing. We live at a terrible time when almost everyone has access to tool s that make typing very, very easy, but you cannot type a story any more than you can doodle a fresco. Apprenticeship persists and mastery recedes as we scramble towards it. Writing requires focus, craft, discipline, and tremendous imagination. There is NO such thing as “good enough” and anyone who said there was lied to you and may be plotting your ruin. Get better constantly. You must never settle. And you must write every day.
Expect to do most of the work if you want to collect most of the money; that is exactly fair! Your agent, your publicist, even your publisher only receive a small slice of the pie, so they should only be doing a small part of the work. Deal with it, or deal yourself out. If you are getting into the business because you think it will make you famous or rich, you have already failed. Save yourself (and the world) the migraine. If you’re serious, worry less about the individual projects than the overall career; it’ll help you handle criticism and keep you on task. Write something wonderful every day or kill yourself trying.
Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers?
Thank you. I entered the wacky world of romancer fiction as a longtime fan but a novice to novels. In the past year, y’all have made me feel so welcomed, so supported that I cannot for the life of me figure out why I waited so long to participate in a genre I love so much. The amazing emails and comments and advice have made me sorry only that I waited until I was 40 to write my first M/M novel.
Here’s a blurb from Grown Men, my new release at Riptide Publishing:
Every future has dirty roots.
Marooned in the galactic backwaters of the HardCell company, colonist Runt struggles to eke out an existence on a newly-terraformed tropical planetoid. Since his clone-wife died on entry, he’s been doing the work of two on his failing protein farm. Overworked and undersized, Runt’s dwindling hope of earning corporate citizenship has turned to fear of violent “retirement.”
When an overdue crate of provisions crashes on his beach, Runt searches frantically for a replacement wife among the tools and food. Instead he gets Ox, a mute hulk who seems more like a corporate assassin than a simple offworld farmer.
Shackwacky and near-starving, Runt has no choice but to work with his silent partner despite his mounting paranoia and the unsettling appeal of Ox’s genetically altered pheromones. Ox plays the part of the gentle giant well, but Runt’s still not convinced he hasn’t arrived with murder in mind.
Between brutal desire and the seeds of a relationship, Runt’s fears and Ox’s inhuman past collide on a fertile world where hope and love just might have room to grow.
How can readers connect with you?
Anywhere they like! LOL They can get in touch with me at:
Remember, everyone, that Ill be compiling comments to sent over to Riptide for their big drawing, so don’t forget to add your email address to the comment. That’s it for my Riptide week. I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!