A Chat with Damon Suede about Horn Gate, Bad Idea and audio books…And I made a Gin Gimlet

HornGateAUDlgLast 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.

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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.

TBWhat 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.

The Gimlet

1 oz Gin

4 oz of sweetened lemon juice

photo 1 (8)Directions:

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.




A chat with Josh Lanyon about Adrien English on AUDIO, and our mutual love of California House Wines!

Anyone who knows me in the M/M Romance fans community knows that the Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon hold a most special place in my heart. I have waxed long…and even longer about all the ways I think Josh is a genius, and on how I think  of Jake and Adrien as real people. Jake and Adrien’s romance is one of the iconic love stories in this genre, that’s a fact, but I never give them enough credit for the incredibly good mystery novels they are as well. Recently revisiting the stories on audio really brought that back for me. I must admit I had forgotten in the four years since I first read the series just how much fun those mysteries were to read.

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I had been considering getting the books on audio after hearing GREAT things about it for awhile. But actually who finally convinced me to get them was the lovely Z.A. Maxfield who was listening to the The Hell You Say in her car, during a day she and I spent together in Newport Beach last December. A couple weeks after I saw ZAM, I was getting ready for a road trip through  the Southwest with my husband and child, and I purchased the first three books in the series from Audible.com.  Man, was that the right call! My husband and I drove across a good chunk of Arizona and New Mexico completely immersed in Adrien’s sleuthing adventures. My husband who has watched me fall deeply in love with this genre in the past four years with mostly amused bemusement, was as surprised as I was to find himself waiting anxiously to hear the next chapter, and what those boys were up to.  As for me, who had read the series, and cherished that experience as one of the most emotional and wonderful I’ve ever had as a reader,  it was like learning the story again.

dangerous thingI had forgotten the involved and complex mysteries Jake and Adrien solved together. I had forgotten just how much heartbreak and anguish I lived through with those two men. They broke my heart just like the first time, and I wanted their happily ever after so bad I could taste it. Just as amazing, but different, and in some ways better, because the voices the narrator, Chris Patton, gave to the books were nothing short of masterful. He told the story in a way that made me feel completely connected to Jake and Adrien, the emotion, the humor, the anger, everything sounded so genuine. I got caught up in his voice, and the story like I was new to it all.

One of the best parts of listening to the books was remembering little details that I loved the first time around, but had forgotten about. Like for example, Adrien’s appreciation for a good California House Wine. Who said that just because a wine bottle is mass produced it can’t be enjoyable?! Adrien was never too good to order himself a glass of whatever, if the moment called for it, a kindred spirit indeed. In light of that, for this post I chose two California wines that are cheap, tasty and likely to show up on a restaurant chain menu…If they do, order with confidence, because the Sterling Vintners Collection 2012 Pinot Grigio and the Ravenswood 2012 Petit Sirah are  delicious and affordable. The Petit Sirah is a spicy, but surprisingly light red which goes amazingly well with curries or roasted veggies, and the Pinot Grigio well chilled is delicious and crisp, lovely on its own or with a light pasta or seafood dish.

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While listening to the stories I wondered many times about the process of putting a series like this one into audio. There is so much that could be tricky. From finding someone that could put the right emotions in the voices, to giving the erotic scenes the right tone, to putting a product out there that would appeal to loyal fans of the series, as well as people new to it. Chris Patton got all of this right mind you, but how did Josh find him?  How did he even start out on this process? How was it to hear his stories, his characters come to life?…On a another but not less important note…What are some of HIS favorite California budget wines? SO MUCH I NEEDED TO KNOW!! Josh graciously indulged me by answering all my questions and letting me in on how he did it. Here is what he had to say!

“Fatal Shadows was the first title I wanted to put into audio. I was very uncertain about the process. I had tried a couple of different companies and no one seemed to have a very professional approach to it. In a couple of cases I couldn’t even get an answer. Then I stumbled across the Audio Creative Exchange and the platform seemed simple and user-friendly. I did a lot of research on them, and they seemed pretty new, but initial reports sounded promising. So I nervously uploaded the book info and audition script and then I started listening to samples from potential narrators. I came across Chris Patton fairly soon — there were not nearly the number of narrators and production companies on ACX at that point — and I liked his voice a lot. But I could see from his profile that he was extremely busy, and I just assumed he would be out of my price range and not interested. I decided to wait and see what auditions I got. It took a few weeks, and I got several competent submissions, but this was Adrien! I needed that voice to be exactly right. And then to my delight, Chris contacted me and asked to audition! I heard his audition, and it was exactly what I had hoped. I knew this would be a good match of narrator and story.

 death of a pirate kingChris had the right voice — both voices were right (which is important in any romance audio book; you’ve got to have two attractive voices) and it was clear he “got” the story. He wasn’t just reading words, he understood the subtext as well. That makes all the difference in an audio book.

The process did take a while. Chris had some health issues, and some other things cropped up, but we got the book done and out there and it did very well right away, which encouraged me to try another audio. This time I went with The Darkling Thrush which had been doing really, really well since I had re-released it under my own imprint. At that point I was really starting to have fun with the whole process. It’s definitely a rush to find those voices that closely match the character voice you hear in your mind.

At the same time, it’s difficult hearing my work outloud. As gratifying as it is to hear the story come to life — and it really does come to life in a completely different, intense way through narration — it’s also hard hearing all the little copyedit errors and repetition brought to life as well. And I cannot BEAR to hear my erotic scenes read aloud. I do listen to them because I have to catch any misspeaks or glitches, but OH MY GOD. It’s torture.

I’m not saying it drives me to drink, but when I’m listening to those final files, I usually pour myself a glass of wine, lie down on the sofa, close my eyes and just listen…

Oh! And you were asking about my favorite house wines? If you’re looking for an inexpensive but decent wine there’s Rabbit Ridge’s Cabernet (although that’s not inexpensive anymore!), Salmon Creek’s Merlot, Woodbridge (Robert Mondavi) makes a nice Cabernet Merlot, Ridge Crest Syrah is another nice one, and LB Gregg sent me a bottle of Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvée 2010 – I liked that a lot. And I am not too proud to admit that I will buy Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) on occasion.

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So that is all for me today guys! Thanks to Josh Lanyon for taking the time to talk with me about all the work it took to give us this wonderful medium to enjoy his stories. I hope that this post will give you a push to pick up these audiobooks, they are very much worth experiencing. I also encourage you to get out there, and take a chance on the house wines being offered where you live, you may be surprised by what you discover, as Josh said to me “there are perfectly good house wines out there!”, I could not agree more!!

Cheers and Happy Reading!