Last week I wrote my Ode to Bad Idea and waxed long about all the things that were fantastic about that book. One of my FAVORITE things specifically, was getting to read about Trip’s, one of the heroes, and his creation of the comic Scratch. In the story we get to read how he comes up with the demon as the main character, the descriptions of his appearance are wonderful and very very alluring. There is also Scratch’s nemesis, The Judge, who promises to be a mighty villain. As a comics fan, there was so much goodness to conjure up in my mind…I was so very curious of what that comic book would look like, I wanted to see it to so bad. To my delight Mr. Suede wrote, Horn Gate, a novella with the first installment of the Scratch series, which is available in ebook and audio formats! About halfway through Bad Idea I went and bought Horn Gate on audio to pounce on it the moment I finished the book.
First things first, it should be required that this story is read in combination with Bad Idea. Actually, I find it hard to believe anyone could get to the end of Bad Idea and NOT feel an overwhelming need to read it! The build up and back story we get for it are so damn intriguing it was all I could do to not read both books at once! Not surprisingly Scratch’s story gets off to a delightfully dark and sensual start. There is a lot of mysticism in the story to build on, and like any good comic arc it uses traditional (or obscure) lore elements to create a super interesting world. This story blends in Hebraic lore and demonology, and a strong dose of urban fantasy which totally worked for me. The audio version is narrated by Charlie David who has done both of Damon’s previous novels. He did an amazing job here, and in my opinion really helped the story come to life.
Horn Gate is set in NYC. Isaac a rare volumes curator in a NYC library is our hero, on his 22nd birthday he decided to venture to a sex lounge, Gehenna, he has inadvertently acquired an invitation for. Once Isaac, who is a bit on the pudgy side and quite geeky, goes into the club he realizes just how out of place he is. There are some strange goings on at Gehenna. Of course Isaac can’t keep from snooping around, and soon he finds himself in a room with what looks to be some sort of fallen angel. Things end up getting a bit confusing when Isaac gets a bit closer to the beautiful being who seems to be imprisoned in Gehenna’s basement. He wakes up the next day unsure of what happened, but with an intense desire to see his demon again. Strange things are happening to him, and quickly realizes he might walked into something a lot more sinister than he could have imagined. His fate is linked to the his demon’s and he will do what he has to for both of them to walk out alive.
This novella (as it should!) will leave you with more questions than answers. This is the setup for an arc, so what we get is a look at the relevant actors, a sense of the setting, the world, and the tone for the story. As openers go this was delicious, basically what we have here is a whole lot to look forward to! After finishing Horn Gate, I had some questions regarding the story and putting it on audio. Damon kindly took the time to answer them for me. But, before we go on to that, let’s talk alcoholic beverages…I made a cocktail for this one, because, A. Wine just did not seem to go with this story and B. Because I hadn’t had a Gin Gimlet in a really long time and Isaac, Scratch’s hero drinks them in the story. So, The Gimlet.
Like I said, I was really curious about what involved putting Bad Idea and Horn Gate on audio, they are both extremely visual stories, but completely different in their tone, genre, etc. I took my questions to Damon, and he very graciously answered them, and then some!
Tipsy Bibliophile: How did the process of getting Bad Idea and Horn Gate on audio go?
Damon Suede: Honestly, smooth as silk. Charlie David and I have been friends and colleagues for a whole bunch of years. He did such a masterful job on the Hot Head audiobook that I had him written into my contract for both books. LOL I knew going in that he was the baseline. I knew that Horn Gate and Bad Idea needed to have the same narrator because of the overlap between them. Thing is, he gets my voice and really knows how to bring the characters to life. He always goes the extra mile to make may books dazzle and I love him for it. The truth is, I trust him pretty implicitly… He has a way of splashing around in language that’s sexy, funny, and thrilling to hear. Because he gets my voice, I knew he would dive into these books in the same way, even though they were so different from Griff & Dante’s story in Hot Head.
TB: Was there anything in particular you asked him to focus on? Where there parts of the story you were especially worried about?
DS: With Horn Gate, my biggest concern was all the insane Hebrew and demonology, but I trusted him because I know I can. LOL In a sense, Bad Idea actually felt a lock for him. It’s such a theatrical book and has a bit of a rom-com feel that I knew he’d groove on. Charlie LOVES digging into characters and finding the stuff that makes them tick, so I was certain he’d go balls to the wall on that one. For Bad Idea, I didn’t really have concerns beyond the general flow of it. Dreamspinner has been phenomenal with audiobooks and Andrew Grey has taken over the production end with dazzling results. I’m so grateful for the way he shepherded these through so quickly and gracefully. Between Andrew and Charlie, my audio was in the best hands.
TB: What was it like for you to listen to Scratch and Issac’s story on audio? For me, it was amazing, especially after the build up for it in Bad Idea. Did the images come to your mind just like they did when you were making them?
DS: Horn Gate is such a visual story, so yeah. The original idea for the comic came to me while I was drafting Bad Idea. And the more I wrote Silas and Trip’s story, the more I wanted to know the details about their collaboration. SO much of Bad Idea is about the sexiness of collaborating, bringing something to life. Also, I used to write for comics, and I truly plotted Scratch’s story out the way I would a graphic novel. I built Scratch’s series arc in his first big sticky adventure, and I wanted it to echo back and forth between the two books thematically. Not to mention, as I was finishing the rough draft of Horn Gate, Rey Arzeno came to my loft and PAINTED Scratch for me while I wrote, both of us listening to my soundtrack for the project. Amazing mojo! I’d have an idea and he’d paint it, and he could just look over and ask about the way Scratch came off the page. I love that kind of creative back and forth, when we bring out the best in each other by kicking each other’s asses.
And since (technically) I was writing the novella AS Trip Spector, that added a funny sizzle to the process because I have my personal experience in that industry, but wanted Scratch to be in his “voice” if you know what I mean. Horn Gate definitely has an urban fantasy feel, and the Indiana-Jones style digging in the musty library only added to that as the pieces came together. I loved the way Charlie built that sense of wonder/urgency/anxiety into that last build solving the mystery of Scratch. Again Charlie is phenomenal at digging the drama out of a situation and he just went for it. As he does!
Writing Bad Idea and Horn Gate turned out to be such a blessing, because the contemporary side of the two artists let me do one kind of exploration and then playing in the paranormal let me flex all kinds of other spooky muscles. That’s like muse-candy. 🙂 And coming soon I’ll have the second Scratch novella, and the sequel to Bad Idea (which will be Ziggy’s book). We’ve already had offers on an actual comic book adaptation of Scratch which is so f#$%ing exciting.
So there you have it folks. Thanks again to the lovely Mr. Suede, I learned so much about his creative process for both Bad Idea and Horn Gate, as well as some exciting news of what’s to come! I CANNOT wait for the comic book adaptation for Horn Gate and can barely contain my excitement about Ziggy and Kurt!
Totally recommend this novella! Horn Gate is available on ebook and audio version at Dreamspinner press.
1 oz Gin
4 oz of sweetened lemon juice
In an cocktail shaker mix the gin and juice with LOTS of ice. Pour on to a martini glass and garnish with a sliver of lemon peel.
That’s all for me today! Hope you enjoyed the chat with Damon, and that you giver the Gimlet a try.
Cheers and Happy Reading.