It’s day four in our celebrations for the upcoming release of Lickety Split by Damon Suede. Today we learn about ROLE MODEL: on graying temples, the May/December trope, and the dangers of playing dad. Go check out today’s post and don’t forget to enter the not to be missed giveaway and pop back tomorrow for another post from the lovely and very charming Damon Suede.
ROLE MODEL: on graying temples, the May/December trope, and the dangers of playing dad
by Damon Suede
Hey there! Again, many thanks to Sinfully for making this entire Lickety Split week such a fun, funky celebration of the things I discovered while bringing Patch and Tucker to life. :)
For today’s post, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the twenty-year age gap between my two main characters… specifically Patch Hastle is 22 and Tucker Biggs is 43 and they’ve known each other since Patch was a kid. That kind of May/December dynamic has flourished in popular romance for centuries because it thrills some readers even though it rattles others.
Eloisa James and I have cocktails about once a month to talk shop and gab, and when I first mentioned this project to her and the 21 year gap, the first thing she said was “But that’s really tricky. Are you sure you wanna?” She was more right then I realized. Power dynamics are always intense in a romance, but with two dudes even more so because of gender politics and patriarchal expectations. And then you factor in a twenty year age difference and things can go SO wrong.
Conversely, the first time I told Chris Rice about Lickety Split his eyes and smile lit up and he started shouting, “Are you kidding?! That book’s MINE. Spiritually. You don’t understand how much I need it. You’re writing that book for me and I’m preordering ten thousand copies immediately!” He wasn’t alone. Even when I was drafting the book, I’d say the logline to folks, and the minute I said “falls in love with his dad’s bigoted rodeo buddy” their eyes would get wide, their faces would flush, and they’d make grabby hands in panicked glee. May/December pushes serious buttons in both directions.
Age may just be a number but it has serious implications for the ways people connect. Even before I started drafting I remained keenly aware of the dangers of a daddy/boy vibe and I spent a lot of time thinking about how to thread that needle…allowing the disparity to create delicious tension without tipping over into role-playing or objectification of these guys. FWIW, my husband is a federal investigator who worked “kid cases” for many years and he is fiercely attuned to anything that even verges on age play… so I was determined to get this relationship right without playing it safe OR playing the pseudo-incest card. This was a tricky thing to work out and I approached it with the relentless focus of microsurgery. LOL.
I think the key with balancing these guys was keeping their relationship in the present. Patch’s high school fantasies about “Tucker the Hot Cowboy” had to fall away as he came to know Tucker the man and Tucker as Object melted into Tucker the Subject. And vice versa... Tucker has only ever thought of Patch as a reckless pain in the ass. That did two things: it made their emotional growth critical and it eliminated any creepy daddy/boy imbalance that would have turned their relationship into abuse or fetish. They may have lived near each other when Patch was younger, but in fact they meet for the first time as men.
At every point, I gave Patch significant authority in the story, both by keeping his POV front and center, and also by keeping the lines of desire clear and credible in both directions. And likewise, I let his experience of Tucker to be driven by his journey from boyish fantasy to mature awareness of Tucker as an actual person with problems and worries of his own. The reader took that journey with him, so that Tucker evolved in their awareness from hot, cocky cowboy to a complicated, flesh-n-blood man who’s all the sexier for his realistic foibles and flaws.
The May/December trope persists because it’s complex and charged and it creates crazy dynamics in a story. Forbidden fruit has serious power in a narrative, and though they aren’t breaking any rules, I knew Patch and Tucker had to navigate that disparity. Their angry history, their scars, their preconceptions...all of that played out in the chemistry, the connection, and of course those hyperbolic sex scenes.
Complicating matters is Tucker’s long, close friendship with the dad, which obviously adds some intense overtones...but again by defending Patch’s agency and also unpacking the entire notion of “Daddy-ness” as a sexual fantasy rather than a squicky porn setup, the age disparity definitely changes and charges their connection which (like the light bondage and edging and isolation) amplifies the emotions. THAT’s what I wanted: that insane amplification that takes them right at the risky edge.
Main thing: I never took the easy way out with this dynamic, because I felt like that choice was boring, facile, and did my characters a great disservice. I’m biased of course, but they are so much more than lovers from different generations. If you seriously DIG May/December this book traces that divide often and at length, and if you instinctively avoid age gap stories, you might be surprised at the way these two come together.
To my joy and relief, everyone who’s read the book — from passionate May/December fans to leery reviewers that side-eyed the blurb but took a chance—has totally embraced their relationship regardless of their ages… because Patch and Tucker FIT together so dramatically and fundamentally. That was one of my biggest worries and one of my proudest discoveries.
More than anything, I’m deeply gratified by people’s enthusiasm for Patch and Tucker’s dirty, crazy love story.
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.
Just in case you missed this weeks Featured Posts from Damon Suede
Monday: Day One… SWOON TIME: finding the right dirt to fall down in.
Wednesday: Day Three… Farm WORK: building Hixville and the Hastle farm for Lickety Split
Thursday: Day Four… ROLE MODEL: on graying temples, the May/December trope, and the dangers of playing dad