We are so thrilled and honoured to welcome the hugely talented Damon Suede to Sinfully. He has popped in to chat about his upcoming contemporary novel Pent Up, which is due for release on the 20th November and available for pre-order NOW!
Eight more sleeps! Yep, we are counting the days.
We hope you will join us in welcoming Damon here to Sinfully today and don’t forget to enter the giveaway, for your chance to win an advanced readers copy of Pent Up.
Pop Top: out-for-you as the romance of carbonation
(guest post by Damon Suede)
Pent Up started as a fun, quick project to clean my palate… bodyguard/billionaire, blue collar/blue blood, a pile of classic tropes, and a snaky romantic suspense plotline. In the writing, the book evolved into something…else. As it mutated I got to play with the steps from “no chance” to bromance to shameless homo-romance. What started as a fizzy, trope-y story turned into something contained that was bound to blow because I shook the can.
With every book I take on, I always set a secret challenge to myself. Usually it’s a craft question or a writing-nerd target… how do two homophobic firefighters find a life together? Answer: carefully. Can a murderous non-POV mute hero communicate desire and danger? Yup. Is an inspirational romance starring a sex demon even possible? Uh-huh. That’s one of my favorite tasks as a writer. How far can I push a theme or a character before things get freaky?
With Pent Up, I knew my challenge up front. Could I write an out-for-you story with two guys who are legitimately straight and play out their relationship without kitsch or shortcuts. That’s a tall order. A lot of gay romance fans love out-for-you stories, but in our homoerotic neck of the woods the number of “straight” guys who actually read as hetero is pretty low. Frankly, a novel can only be so long, and the narrative oomph that gets two dudes from “she’s so hot” to “pound me harder” is tricky-tricky-tricky.
To my mind, romance needs to slip its chain whenever it can. All well and good to write two hot alpha bros who immediately start cramming their anatomy into each other, but is it A) sexy, B) romantic, C) credible, D) sane. I want all my readers to take an authentic emotional ride. I want all my characters to breathe and move like people. And if my readers and heroes were gonna get a happy ending they needed to actually take that emotional journey together.
Thing is, I knew I wanted to write a romantic suspense because of the voyeurism and paranoia built into the subgenre. I also knew that I wanted to do a broken bad boy and a zillionaire, because bigger differences make for intense fascination and conflict between characters. Neither of these guys was going to be an ambisexual youngster. They had lives. They had exes. They had doubts. Their actions came at a serious cost. And since they were going to be full-on straight dudes, I needed to give them each a romantic history with ladies that obviously hadn’t been scratching their itches properly. I had no interest in trying to “make” two guys gay, but I could put them into an emotional situation that upended their preconceptions and dissolved the barriers dividing them…
Bodyguard Ruben Oso came to me fully formed: Colombian heritage, but raised Anglo. Newly sober, broke, and divorced, essentially on the run from his life. Living at the frayed end of his rope morally, financially, and more. By the time we meet him, his entire life has been demolished brick by brick…until his comfort zone turns radioactive.
Billionaire Andy Bauer came to me in stages: though whitebread and entitled on the surface, his paranoia and secrecy don’t come out of thin air. He’s climbed high enough to be a target and to make the fall ugly. He’s a math-genius financier and that kind of wealth is always a motive. His mistrust of family and high society have wound him tight enough to snap.
While the book began as a simple category, the guys took over and their lives got complicated. I tried to write them as three-dimensional men who realize they fit together, rather than arbitrarily linking them and then trying to find problems to keep things from getting snooze-tastic. Ruben’s alcoholism and Andy’s toxic social circle tighten around them like a noose and kicks away the chair.
Between them, they’re both fleeing pasts that built them up and burned them alive. That pressure and the literal threats from without push them into panic and understanding each other…and eventually more. Essentially, Pent Up shook that hot soda and pulled the top. With all that built up pressure, something was gonna give.
For both of them, love becomes an escape, literally and figuratively. And the heightened stakes only push them farther faster. By the time they actually greased up and got down, their emotions had pushed them off their respective cliffs. Fun to write? Hell yeah. And hopefully authentic. Writing this book taught me so much about obsession and despair, romance and suspense, the impossible and the improbable.
Let’s be honest. In 2015, coming out doesn’t mean what it did two years ago, let alone ten years ago. But the stakes remain high and the preconceptions vast. Very modern few straight guys are chill enough about homoerotic impulses to act on them, let alone explore them. What I love about Andy and Ruben is the fact that they both begin the novel without any hope at all and yet they find it together under horrible pressure. For them the external danger and the emotional risk run on parallel tracks. And THAT made writing Pent Up a blast. What Andy and Ruben taught me will spill over into other books.
Can two straight guys fall in love? Obviously. :)
If anything, really allowing these fellas to struggle and obsess made for a cool relationship to explore. And the secrets they keep from themselves and each other added crazy heft to the romantic suspense elements, and the characters besides. I always say that romance is the literature of hope. I figure if two straight-up straight guys can find their way out of danger and treachery and find each other, then anything is possible. More than anything Pent Up is a book about the things we bottle up and the things we can’t control: sex, booze, wealth…and love. And for Ruben and Andy spilling over each other was only the beginning.
Will I write more romantic suspense? Almost definitely.
In any subgenre, I like bold, raw stories, outsized heroes, crazy stakes… That’s just how I’m wired as a reader and a writer. I want things to get operatic while staying anchored to reality, and romantic suspense begs for amplified danger and powerhouse heroes. I loved testing the margins of out-for-you as a genre trope. And the framework of romantic suspense taught me so much about irony and tension, lust and longing. Shaking that soda can made me want to pull the top and catch the spray.
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 20th December 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
PENT UP: Mix business with pleasure and take cover.
Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.
Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold-running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?
What’s a bullet catcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford, and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.
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.
Damon Suede is giving one lucky reader the chance to win an advanced readers e-copy of Pent Up, to be gifted three days before the release. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.