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.

photo 2 (8)

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.




Bad Idea by Damon Suede on Audio with a Brown Wine pairing…Yup, I had to break out the Scotch.

BadIdeaAUDLgHere’s the thing with brilliance… It’s not up for interpretation, it is not up for subjective deconstruction. It IS. IT. IS. The trick is whether one, as the audience, can have the humility and sense to understand there are some expressions that can’t be made to fit our mold or meet us halfway, we need to come to them. They are, and we can either let them in, and charm us,  take us to places we could never ever take ourselves, OR we can be stubborn, cheat ourselves and say, nah this can’t work for meBad Idea, the second novel by the popular and most gregarious Damon Suede, is a book that I had to get up and go to. I am a stubborn, opinionated bitch, and I hold my tongue for NO ONE. With this book, from the second I hit play, all I could do was sit,  hush up, and listen because the story unequivocally was going to run the show.

Last year at GRL Damon Suede, in his own particular Suedeish way (I don’t know how else to describe it) did a reading of the novel that was so captivating and delicious, I had to raise a hand and ask for confirmation that he would be the one to narrate the audiobook. He told me that the audio was commissioned to Charlie David, who had done Hot Head, and assured me Charlie would deliver and then some. When the novel came out, I did begin reading it, but stopped, and decided to wait for the audio. It had been so awesome to listen to that little bit from Damon I preferred to wait. Here’s the thing, Damon, he writes for all the senses. The page, just letters, I feel like they are not enough for me (not anyone else, just my person) to get the most out of his stories. He writes for the eyes as much as for the head, and so my mind can’t keep up. My eyes are busy reading, and to truly sink into all the things that Damon shows in his stories, I need my entire head engaged.

Bad Idea is a graphic novel. From the dialogue, to the sounds, to the characters, to the setting. Everything is full color and full throttle, and listening to the story made the world that much easier to conjure up in mind. I’m a comics fan, and I can always tell when an author is  too, in their stories visuals are bigger, sounds help you see, emotions and sensations are entities that get zoomed in, and brought up right to our faces, so they take up as much space in a scene, as the characters in it. So…PANELS, in my head.  Listening to Bad Idea they were all laid out clearly in mind, from one of a glistening cock engorged, ruddy and ready for the tasting, to another with the anguished face of a man standing in an almost desolate conference room, struggling to understand just how badly he had fucked up his life. A LOT of story.

The drink. For this story, which is it’s own damn category in everything, I went for the “break the bank bitches!”pairing, Single Malt Scotch.  In the book there is some consumption of Single Malt, as there was some imbibing of it by me at certain points while listening. With that in mind, I decided to go with a known commodity for me and my husband (who is more of a connoisseur), the Glenlivet 12 years. It is a delicious Scotch, nice for the savvy drinker, as well as a layman like myself. I appreciate the caramely taste and even fruitiness of it, it’s got enough peat to give it the smokiness you want in a single malt, without being too overwhelming. It’s also great value for about $58-$60 dollars a bottle.

photo (25)Now the story. Trip Spector is an artist in NYC, he is the creator of a fairly popular comic series called “Hero High”. He is neurotic, a bit of a recluse, and is riddled with a melange allergies which might be the most sophisticated case of hypochondria in the Tri-State area. It’s a miracle he can function at all. On a New Year’s Eve in Central Park he meets Silas Goolsby at a Zombie Run, and in the few moments they share, their lives get changed. Silas an FX make up artist, is instantly smitten with the shy and skittish geek. Trip on his part is equally besotted and in awe of the large beautiful man with the Southern drawl. There is not much time to exchange contact information, their time together is  too brief to be counted as ANYTHING really, but they both walk away knowing something important happened.

Trip can’t stop thinking about Silas, he can’t decide whether to reach out, or to forget about it or what the hell to do. He is a nervous wreck all the time, between the extended hopeless crush (obsession) on his very straight editor, Cliff, which has made him romantically disabled, and his social awkwardness, it’s not easy being Trip. Thankfully he has friends (who are fucking fabulous, and I’m pretty sure Jillian is my long lost white Siamese twin) and they constantly encourage him to be a bit braver, and to stop squandering his time. So by some miracle, or bout of temporary insanity he actually goes against pretty much all his instincts, and tracks down Silas. Silas immediately gets in touch with him, and they start up something.

Silas is unfiltered joy and life. He seems to be a bit of a slut, and a LOT of a geek, and he smiles and pushes and wants and takes from Trip. He makes Trip nervous and happy and horny all at the same time. So many things, they are so good together, in EVERY way and Silas challenges Trip on all levels. Tells him the truth, gives him no quarter. Silas can see the greatness in Trip, and he tells him, all the time. Just talks, about how he feels, and what he’s thinking. Trip is like in a whirlwind half the time, so many new and bold things are coming out of him just from being around Silas that he can’t even remember who that sad sack  he was was even called.

Silas makes Trip want to aim for things he never dared. Like go out and write his own story. The one HE wants to write, not what would sell better in the mass market, or what would make Cliff happy. His own story, and that feeling, the urge to take risks is the scariest thing of them all. Because he can’t trust it. It can’t be real. Silas can’t be real. How could Trip be so foolish to count on something that good happening to him?  A treasure like Silas has no place in Trip’s life. No matter how happy he feels, and no matter how much his dumbass heart (the same one that thought he had a chance with Cliff!) tells him it’s the real thing. Silas wants Trip to be happy with his work, to do what he loves. So he encourages Trip  to start his own project and pretty soon it takes a life of its own. They ARE happy, but Trip has his walls and Silas has his insecurities, and quickly things are too bad to ever be good again.

The narration by Charlie David (as Damon promised) is outstanding, and it really helped bring out a lot of the dimensions I would have missed with the ebook. To me this book is two stories, it’s a a romance, and it’s a tale of creation. We get to see Silas and Trip fall in love and figure out how to join their lives, but we also get to experience the coming to life of Trip’s comic. Some of my favorites moments in the book were Silas and Trip collaborating on the characters, the story, the world that they would live in. It was fantastic, I wanted to get my hands on a copy SO BAD. The erotica, was top shelf all the way. It was delicious, raunchy and just on that side of dirty. Exactly as it should be, for two people who are learning each other by feel and taste, and cannot get enough of what they’ve found. It is whole lot of melt your face sex to be enjoyed, word of caution, DO NOT listen to the sex scenes and drive, you WILL crash your car.

I could probably go on for a very long time about all the things I loved about this book. But I think I’m going to stick to the things I loved, because I felt personally connected to them. New York City as a character. As one of the millions who at some point in their youth called New York City home, I must say Damon gives me that city to revisit just like I love her most. Full of good, flawed people trying hard to find their place in that crazy wonderful maze, making communities of city blocks and families from friends. Laying claim to the person they knew they COULD be, when they left the place they came from to go make New York their own. The secondary characters, which were fantastic like Kurt and Ziggy. I specially adored The Stones. Mostly because they reminded me of my little unit of three. There is nothing scarier to me than the prospect of suburban life, or a child who thinks  the world is a zipcode, or that anything comes in one variety. So, for those reasons I loved the scenes with Jillian, Ben and Max. Also, the comics and the make up, I delighted in the scenes where things were being created. They made my mind work overtime with colors, textures, and images. Silas and Trip where at their best when they were making together. Love, art, humor, wicked sex…anything really. Lastly the words, I LOVED the words, and felt so close to so many thoughts, ideas and feelings in this story. Many grins and sad smiles were forged.

I think I’ll leave it here, I’ve rambled enough. I HIGHLY recommend this audiobook, it packs in too much goodness to describe in a single review, and will give you a chance to flex all your emotional muscles. Including the one that makes the ugly cry. Go forth and purchase, you will not regret it.

Bad Idea on audiobook is available for purchase here.

Cheers and Happy Reading!