We are so thrilled and honoured to be hosting Damon Suede all this week as he celebrates the upcoming release of Lickety Split. So everyday, Monday thru Friday we have something special for you from the man himself. Go check out today’s post and don’t forget to enter the not to be missed giveaway and pop back tomorrow for an exciting interview, when Mary Calmes Interviews Damon.
Swoon TIME: finding the right dirt to fall down in
by Damon Suede
Thanks so much to Monique and the entire Sinfully team for inviting me over as well as planning this entire Lickety Split week just in time for my book’s release next Monday! I can’t think of a better place to explore a book that’s all about dirty, sexy misdeeds, real and imagined. I look forward to spending my week sinfully. LOL Today I thought I’d talk about where the book began.
Lickety Split got its start in a strange way.
For the past couple years, I had flirted with writing a cowboy romance. I grew up in Texas and my family still owns a ranch, but I spent a lot of my 20s and 30s running away from that history. Unaccountably, in 2000 a friend took me twostepping in NYC and I loved it… fully and unabashedly. To my shock and joy, I found myself embracing all the things I had forgotten that I loved about the Lone Star State. I bought boots, many, and country albums, ditto, and began traveling all over the rodeo circuit…which is how I met my husband, oddly enough.
By the time I’d started writing romance, I was a hardcore twostepper and rodeo buff (to my family’s great amusement), but all my books were set in New York City. Hell, nowadays I own the entire musical output of Reba McEntire, George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban, and a bunch of other folks you may never have heard of. Still, country boys are inherently sexy and plenty of them sparkle in the romance starscape so I knew the day would come when a cowboy knocked on my door for his story to be told.
In June of 2015, I was signing at the Dreamspinner booth at Book Expo America and at one point Elizabeth North asked me to take a walk up to the mezzanine and she obviously had something to share. I have an unwavering faith in her uncanny ability to nudge me in the right direction; when she grinned and squinted in that way she has, like Miranda Richardson baiting a happy strap, I knew something was up. She asked what I was working on and I described a couple of different projects I'd been revising and poking at. In that mix, I described the germ of a bittersweet, erotic cowboy story called Lickety Split and she stopped walking and pointed at me, eyes wide, "That one!"
I nodded, happy to focus on it, because it seemed easy and fun and fast. Because of my other projects, I wouldn’t have time to start for six months but I was more than ready. Rope, hay, Wranglers? What’s not to love? I trust her implicitly on such matters. She nodded to herself still mulling something and then asked, “How dirty can you make it?”
I laughed. "You're asking me how dirty I can get? Seriously? Pretty damn dirty."
She laughed back. "I don't mean erotica, but how deep can you go with the connection. Obsession. Emotion. I want you to take them all the way down into the feelings…and let the readers go with them. You know? Push it. Don't hold back. Don't hold anything back. I want that. Take them all, all the way down." Instinctively, I knew exactly what she meant, or I could feel it.
Whenever I start a new book my mind runs onto rails: on one hand I’ve got 30 years experience telling stories for a living so all those muscles and scars come and play; on the other hand, I always give myself a little challenge, a creative game that I play solo just to see what's possible. I do it for each book, and the game is always different. For Hot Head, the game was using a single POV that trick people into thinking they were two POVs. For Pent Up, I wanted to see if I could create two actual, living, breathing straight men and take them from strangers to lovers realistically. What Elizabeth was proposing was a new and fascinating game for me to play as I wrote.
Now I love erotic romance, and kink, and cowboys. Many of my favorite romances feature these tropes shamelessly and gloriously. And if I was going to do a credible job with my wispy thread of a story I needed to take it somewhere unexpected… All the way down, as she had said. It couldn't just be hot fucktimes in a hayloft. And I wasn't going to let my cowboy turned into a Bonanza cliché unless I wanted our ranch's caretaker to turn up at my front door, pissed.
At that point all I didn't know much about the actual story. Something vague about a rugged cowboy, twostepping, and a city slicker fighting forbidden attraction. I knew it was about a young man returning home to a town he'd fled. I knew that he had left someone special behind that he wasn't supposed to love, someone who would been cruel to him and driven him off…a bully, a bigot, a bastard. I knew he came home to sell the family farm, the place he’d learned to loathe. I knew he didn't take his time with anything, that he spent all his time running and cutting corners. And I knew the title: Lickety Split… which I knew meant haste, taste, and a whole lot of rimming was inevitable. LOL Tip of the tongue, baby!
Every time I see her, Z.A. Maxfield teases me about the swoon in my stories, which I cop to legitimately. :) I love to make people lose control. Spare me bland characters living beige lives in suburbs. Indulge me! Dazzle me! Give me over-the-top emotion and extravagant desire and raw intensity at a sinuous fever pitch. I love to read it and write it. That is my jam like no other.
By giving me that “Make it dirty, take ‘em down” challenge, what Elizabeth did was focus ALL my energy on the swoony tension between these two improbable lovers. Patch and Tucker needed to make each other swoon in ways they couldn’t imagine at the most inappropriate times and places. She reminded me to go past the easy, greasy hokey-pokey. From that moment, my whole goal was to knock them off-balance and keep things pitched at the edge of control. Rather than sticking with a safe attraction or a rational courtship, I pushed these men further and faster than expected.
Neither Patch or Tucker is autobiographical, but as always splinters from my life wound up unavoidably embedded under their skin. Bits of my family’s ranch worked its way inside: chickens in a bathtub, a horse named Nugget, a yard full of plumbing. Fireflies and Moon Pies. Even my stepmother’s beloved pitbull Botchy became a major secondary character. In the process, I ended up discovering some harsh and happy truths about my own childhood, my own family, my own kinks and hangups, and my own start in Texas…which in many ways really is still an anachronistic country of its own. As I drafted, I dwelt on the things that made my knees week when I was 22, like Patch.
Nowadays, swooning is a bit of a relic in romances…from a time when girls were foolish virgins….and brawny, brooding men tossed them around like pillows. A powerful thing, to give into your feelings that much, to let go and (as Elizabeth said) follow your feelings all the way down. For whatever reason --family, politics, stress—for the past few years it's been hard to give for me in that much even when I wanted to.
The funny thing is Lickety Split really did turn out dirty, actually…dirty as hell just as Elizabeth North predicted, and exactly in the way she suggested. It is without question deeply erotic cowboy romance, but what I'm proudest of is the florid swoony-ness of it. I played that funny dirty game with my Muse and I won more than I could have realized. Somehow Elizabeth knew where to point me and without question, this book gave me back my swoon.
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Due for Release ~ 13th March 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary BDSM Gay Romance
Lickety Split: Love won’t wait.
Patch Hastle grew up in a hurry, ditching East Texas for NYC to make his name as a DJ and model without ever looking back. When his parents die unexpectedly, he heads home to unload the family farm ASAP and skedaddle. Except the will left Patch’s worst enemy in charge: his father’s handsome best friend who made his high school years hell.
Tucker Biggs is going nowhere. Twenty years past his rodeo days, he’s put down roots as the caretaker of the Hastle farm. He knows his buddy’s smartass son still hates his guts, but when Patch shows up growed-up, looking like sin in tight denim, Tucker turns his homecoming into a lesson about old dogs and new kinks.
Patch and Tucker fool around, but they can’t fool themselves. Once the farm’s sold, they mean to call it quits and head off to separate sunsets. With the clock ticking, the city slicker and his down-home hick get roped into each other’s life. If they’re gonna last longer than spit on a griddle, they better figure out what matters—fast.
Also by Damon Suede
Meet Damon Suede
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 romance fiction, 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.
Advance and signed copies... an early ecopy of LICKETY SPLIT the weekend before it’s available and a signed print copy after it releases along with a pile swaggy extras.