PUB Retreat and PRO Speaker Co-host, Romance Trivia Extravaganza Co-presenter, What I Wish I'd Known Five Years Ago Panel
Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Having lived all over, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He has 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.
Is there a conference workshop you’ve attended that really helped you, or that you remember because it was something new or different, helpful or interesting? SO many. I love classes and attend them as often as I can. Most recently it was Emily Foster’s discussion on the Neuroscience of Love Scenes at NECRWA. Her book is spectacular and her presentation even better.
What is the biggest challenge a romance writer faces in today’s market? Discoverability. All the technology that has lowered the drawbridge to new voices has made the task of connecting with fans exponentially more difficult and complex. Writing “meh” books with “meh” hooks and “meh” appeal will not cut it in the modern market.
Do you use a critique group/partner, beta reader(s), your editor and/or agent, or some combination for feedback?I have a couple trusted beta readers who will call me on my habits and nonsense because they know all my tricks and shortcuts. My friend Emily Jordan and I have been beta reading for each other for more than 25 years and nothing gets past her! LOL
What methods of promotion have been the most successful for you? Public events, I think. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool extrovert so my favorite thing is meeting and hanging with fans face to face. That said, because I come from showbiz, I’m pretty aggressive and strategic about promo, which is how I ended up writing a book about it.
What does your writing day look like? Do you have a certain time of day you write? How many days a week? A certain word goal per day? Early morning is definitely my best drafting time, when I can just dream right into the keys without editing myself. I’ll usually stop for some kind of biodegradable nutrition in the early afternoon and then, when I’m more awake, is my best revision and editing time. I’m a 2k a day guy, seven days a week including travel days, except when I’m underwater at a public event.
Do you edit as you go or purge and go through after? Do you write multiple drafts or edit as you go, barely needing revisions when typing, The End? As much as possible I try to write first and edit after because otherwise the process is so tortured and digressive. That said, in my afternoon fiddling, I’ll sometimes go back and move things around or replace stale language if I spot it. I also tend to edit on hard copy because I think you see words differently on actual paper with a red pen in your hand.
What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot? I’m a hardcore plotter; I come from film/theatre and outlines are literally a paid stage in the production schedule. Nobody pantses a movie! LOL That’s probably a reason I often write COMPLETELY out of order. I tend to start with a juicy moment near the opening and then spatter in chunks of the first half of the story. Eventually the pivotal midpoint scene will come to me, and then an ending, and then the book sort of melts together like wax from a broken candle.
What are you working on this very moment? Two things: a contemporary “royal” romance with a hilarious, inappropriate couple and a nonfiction book on characterization based on the workshops I give, because folks keep nudging me.
What was your most memorable pitching experience? Well, I’ve been pitching for showbiz since 1993, so my weirdest ones aren’t really repeatable. LOL In publishing, probably the weirdest was for my last novel. I was with my publisher at BEA in NYC and we were headed back to the booth. She’d made a licensing deal and wanted to know about the “dirtiest book I had in the hopper.” I said it was a cowboy book, light BDSM, May/December, enemies to lovers… She’s nodding and walking, and she said what’s the title. “Lickety Split,” I replied, and she shouted “That! That! That’s the one. Are you kidding, with THAT title? I want that.” And that’s how that book happened.
Can you share with us a fan letter, email, or meet and greet experience with a reader that stuck with you? A woman wrote to me on FB or twitter to say, “You almost killed my kids this morning.” I replied, “!!!” or thereabouts. Apparently she’d stayed up all night reading my latest and never made it to bed, and while she was driving the kids to school at each stop light she put the parking brake on and read in a panic because she needed to know what happened next. That’s my career goal now: I always want people to read at the red lights. LOL
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author? The best writing comes from joy and curiosity. There are millions of people who want to do this job. Thousands that try, and hundreds who actually do it well. I feel so lucky, so blessed that I get paid to tell stories. It’s a harrowing path, having the rigor and vigor to put your butt in the chair and put letters together to try and save the world one heart at a time. As one of my teachers used to say, “Art is almost impossible. If there is anything else you can do, you must immediately go do it and do it with joy.”
What skill would you like to master? Playing the piano; I just never had the time to do it properly.
What are some small things that make your day better? Great coffee with whipping cream. Serving on the RWA board with this amazing group of authors. Walking around NYC and discovering hidden gems. The way my husband smiles when he makes a bad pun.
Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to? I’m a movie score guy; I want lots of emotional heft but no lyrics to distract me, so my default writing soundtrack is always a mix of James Newton Howard, Henry Jackman, or Ramin Djiwadi.
What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should? A TV station that only showed the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, posturing, and insanity of television production…NOISES OFF for TV.
What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of? Television. LOL And that’s not me being a snob. I’d much rather read a book or have a conversation than have someone else visualize a story for me or reduce complex emotions to soundbites and clickbait.
What is special about the place you grew up? Proud tackiness. I’m from Houston Texas and I grew up in the 80s... which means hardcore, bone-deep tackiness on a level few people will ever be able to tolerate or understand. But it gave me a certain nutty flavor, a sense of humor about the world and a deep appreciation for comfort food and gleeful ostentation. Yay, maximalism!
What do you regret not doing or starting when you were younger? Nothing. I’m not big on regrets and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.
Favorite food? Indian. I could eat Indian food every meal of every day and die happy. It’s a habit I picked up when I lived in London. Staying with Sonali Dev and eating a traditional home-cooked dinner with her parents from Mumbai was a memory I’ll treasure forever.
Would You Rather: Would you rather be transported permanently 500 years into the future or 500 years into the past? Future, definitely, because I want to find out what happens. The past I’d want to live in is imaginary.
Would you rather give up bathing for a month or give up the internet for a month? Eek. Yeah. Bye-bye, Internet. I love staying connected and having info at my fingertips, but I can’t stand feeling grungy.
Would you rather have an unlimited international first class ticket or never have to pay for food at restaurants? Unlimited travel, no question. So many places to see and be.
Would you rather have free Wi-Fi wherever you go or be able to drink unlimited free coffee at any coffee shop? Free wi-fi. My energy level is naturally high on the regular, so coffee is already something I have to measure like nitroglycerin. Free wi-fi would solve so many other social issues as well.