Damon Suede – Building Better Worlds

Hi friends!

Welcome to the 5th Annual Read-A-Romance Month!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate this awesome genre! Come back every day to read all three “Power of Romance” posts. Check out the full calendar of authors here. You can also find links to the last four years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook.

Happy August!

#LoveRomance #ThePowerOfRomance

Indecent Stories: On Pleasure Without Guilt

Does anybody credible still slam romance fiction and expect to get away with it?

I’ll confess: I find the casual denigration of romance ridiculous on every level….embarrassing and a little pitiful. At this point I just assume these kinds of sloppy screeds reflect intellectual laziness more than real criticism. All the yelping about bourgeois values, unrealistic expectations, and overindulgence crumble to dust with even the slightest attention. Hell, mysteries, thrillers, and SFF stretch credulity with infinite impunity, but somehow two complicated people fall in love is a bridge too far? Spare me.

To anyone paying attention, the real target is all those “damned scribbling women.” Romance reflects a worldview that can’t be reduced to a soundbite or a Happy Meal in books written by, for, with, to women of every age, class, history, and educational level.… a secret circuit communicating basic truths about the emotional lives they did not and could not find in popular entertainment controlled and cranked out by people with penises.

That’s not to say that all romance readers and writers are women. I’m a dude, obviously, but I say that knowing that the overwhelming credit for the power, wisdom, and beauty of this genre goes to women who told the stories they needed. As Beyoncé would say, “Who run the world? GIRLS.”

As fate would have it, my August kicked off with the closing night of a Broadway play called INDECENT, written by Paula Vogel, a colleague of mine from my decades in theatre. It’s actually a play about a play: Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, now mostly remembered because it was closed and its cast arrested for obscenity back in 1923 for showing the first lesbian kiss on Broadway.

In practice however, Vogel’s play is really about what it means to be decent and what it means to be an artist. However you feel about LGBT issues, plenty of love stories gets slammed as indecent expressions… Because anything that allows people to come together peaceably strengthens their hope and nurtures their possibilities.

Centuries of scribbling women have been called indecent, their books likewise. In that wise, indecency is a veil thrown over emotional resonance by people paralyzed by it.

This is why I don’t believe in slamming other people’s book choices, no matter how much they differ from mine. What they love is none of my business. Every book is not for every reader and we are allowed to know our own hearts. Calling books indecent only telegraphs how little you know about decency.

Not so long ago, any romance in Hollywood film that colored outside the lines was anathema; nowadays those walls have come down in large areas of modern society. Prejudice hasn’t vanished, natch, and won’t, but its public expression has become an iffy proposition.

Unlike every other popular genre entertainment, romance has always stood up for people at the margins. Romance has happily woven glorious sunsets for everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, politics, religion, or general quirkiness. Completely sensible when you think about it. In story form that posits the centrality of human relationships, how could prejudice or cruelty trump the simple magic of the human heart?

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If I take pleasure in something, I don’t feel guilt about it. Why would I? As long as the characters involved are consenting humans, no love story can be called indecent. For my part, I believe this is why consent has become such a flashpoint in popular romance. Authors who exploit pain and vulnerability are not writing romance. And only someone who had never read romance would suggest that it traffics in pain or vulnerability. Romance only seems indecent to people who have forgotten what decency means.

Romance teaches us to love with open hearts, with strong minds, with our eyes on the horizon. Anticipation and adaptability allow us to meet what comes, whatever comes, with decency.

Our demands are pretty simple… Characters that take meaningful risks. Relationships that change us. Choices that matter. Actions that unlock possibility. Of course, who wants to read about a bunch of decent people in decent circumstances behaving decently to one another? Uhhh, everyone. Duh! We just expect the drama, magic, and frantic shenanigans that unfold when impossible choices meet irrevocable emotions. We want the art to show us the world as it could be.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. And that’s why I write and read and work in romance, because we build a decent life, a better world one book at a time.

 

Damon recommends:

 

Charlotte Stein  whose electrifying erotic romances bend towards literature without any pretensions.

Charlotte Stein  –  charlottestein.net    –    @Amazon

 

Molly O’Keefe  who balances the dark intensity and lush sexuality of her stories with impeccable wit and grit.

Molly O’Keefe    –    www.molly-okeefe.com   –  @Amazon

 

Priscilla Oliveras  who writes contemporary with a dancer’s heart and a sharp sense of dangerous chemistry.

Priscilla Oliveras   –    prisoliveras.com   –   @Amazon

 

Katharine Ashe because she builds juicy historicals which hit all my emotional and intellectual buttons in tandem.

Katharine Ashe   –    katharineashe.com   –  @Amazon

 


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment when you felt or were aware of the power of romance.

I always say that Romance is the literature of hope. I think out of all the popular genres, romance is particularly powerful because it speaks to human experiences that don’t fit easily into other media boxes…emotional rides for the asking. Capturing an authentic emotional landscape on camera is notoriously difficult, trying to do it in a couple hours even more so. Romance fiction maps this vast internal terrain glossed over by almost all popular entertainment…which is why it thrives when all other entertainments perish, and reaches audiences that other mass-market entertainments envy. Romance will always be a lamp on dark paths because it gives access to the forgotten possibilities in all of us.

Tell us about an object that has powerful memories for you.

I wear a ring that’s been handed down in my family for many generations over the past few hundred years. I come from a family of diamond dealers so it’s a big jeweled monstrosity; the first time I put it on, it felt like I was wearing a sparkly golfball on my hand, though now I often forget it’s there. The ring passes to the firstborn of each generation: it was my mother’s before it came to me, so putting it on was very bound up in her passing. I’d grown up my whole life knowing it would pass to me, and in some way it represents my mother’s special power, and also my responsibilities to my family. It anchors me in time in a way that keeps me steady as I go.

Tell us about a word that has power for you.

The word that has special significance for me is “gratitude.” I’m so grateful to be a part of the romance community, to make my living writing happy endings and spending time with fans. After decades in the showbiz rat race, transitioning to romance novels seriously transformed my life and my gratitude is oceanic. I feel blessed in the best way to get to do this job with authors I admire for readers I adore.

Tell us about a powerful book you read this year (or one that’s so powerful you’ve never forgotten it).

I’d like to recommend a sprawling, amoral comedy of manners from China called The Plum in the Golden Vase. It’s this rowdy, crowded Machiavellian saga which bristles with drama and eroticism. Unbelievably sharp and insightful, shamelessly debauched, and so unsettling and (dare I say it) political in its dissection of human relationships. Highly, highly recommended, in particular check out the Roy translation.

 

Main Drawing:

Damon is generously giving away any ebook from his backlist (fiction or nonfiction).  To enter, leave a comment below by 11:59 pm PST August 5, 2017. (US only)

He’ll be giving away another backlist title as part of the US bundles, and is participating in the international bundles.

There are many more drawings too—including international book bundles! See the bottom of the post for more information.

 


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.

Learn more:

DamonSuede.com.     |    Facebook     |     Twitter @DamonSuede

 

Buy Damon’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!

#LoveRomance   #The PowerofRomance    #ReadARomance


MORE DRAWINGS!

Each RARM post will have one main drawing each day (posted above). Authors are also contributing to weekly (US only) bundles, which will be drawn at the end of the week. Each bundle will consist of at least five books and the amount of bundles will depend on the amount of books the authors contribute.

(Damon is contributing to the US and international bundles.)

To enter to win these bundles, send an email to Week3@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “Bundles” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

International friends!

Rather than individual drawings off posts, this year we’ll do sets of books, 3+, depending on how many authors contribute. To enter, send an email to Week3@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “International” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

Week 3 contests are Aug 17 through Aug. 24

For the 5th Annual Read-A-Romance Month, many of the contributing authors  are supporting an extra-special drawing – high quality tote bags and mugs printed with a fun, pro-romance image (see below).

Read-A-Romance Month, through the generous support of many of the authors, is giving away at least 30 mug & tote combos.

Plus, at least two lucky winners will win a Read-A-Romance Month “Month of Books” Mega Bundle, consisting of 31 books!

To enter these exciting drawings,  send an email to August@ReadARomanceMonth.com (US only, apologies to international friends – though keep an eye out later in the month.

(US only, apologies to international friends – though keep an eye out later in the month. I may include an international cup/tote combo.)

You will not be automatically added to a newsletter, and I promise not to sell or give your email addresses to anyone. I do reserve the right to send you an invitation to sign up for my newsletter, which will also have opportunities to win more prizes and great romance reading tips!

 

Check out all three great posts everyday in August at ReadARomanceMonth.com.  Or you can find the posts on the RARM Facebook page.  Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.

#LoveRomance  #HappyReading  #ReadARomance

  • Kelly Jetzer

    As a proud romance reader, and an even prouder parent of a transgender son, I couldn’t agree more with your statements about consent, decency, and guilty pleasures. Thanks so much for this wonderful essay!

    • Damon Suede

      Thank you so much, Kelly! For the kind words and for being a mom raising the kind of brave, candid kid who’s going to change the world for the better! That just made my day. 😀

  • Wendi Rogers

    How many “Can I get an AMEN?” can you fit into a blog post? You are so right about the aspect of consent in any novel. If consent is not present, these days I stop reading.

    • Damon Suede

      😀 That’s awesome, Wendi. Thank you.

  • Tori Valenzuela

    Beautifully written! I agree100% consent is a must! I understand some times a incident is part of a characters past and you have to touch briefly on the subject but I cannot read a book where it is actively going on throughout the entire book.

    • Damon Suede

      Exactly, Tori. Life is complicated and consent is one of those sandtraps for genre fiction, but we really are rewriting the world a book at a time, aiming at something better for everyone. Thanks for checking this out. 🙂

  • Great essay, my dear friend. Miss you.

    • Damon Suede

      Oh sweetheart! I miss you too. Thank you. 🙂 I have so much to tell you when next we meet. 😀

  • trix23

    Eee, Damon Suede! (Been looking forward to this!) I absolutely believe there should be no such thing as guilty pleasures…if it brings joy and no harm, what’s the problem? Anyway, after reading LICKETY SPLIT and re-reading HOT HEAD this summer, I’m always amazed at how your guys always slip into my everyday thoughts. (For instance, the other day I was thinking about which Rangers jersey Dante would wear. My mind went to Messier–big talker sometimes, but backed it up somehow–but that’s just my theory.)

    • Damon Suede

      There’s no higher praise! 😀 That makes me so happy. LOL Thank you so much. <3

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    Your post is inspiring, I’m so glad that society is becoming more open to those who are different. Not that everyone is tolerant, but it’s a start. I totally agree with you that adding the aspect of consent in these novels is huge!!

  • Glenda

    It’s very refreshing to have a man supporting romance novels. Thank you! And it does give mem hope for our future that more people are accepting romances no matter the gender combinations of the romantice partners.

  • Toni

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I agree with it so much.

  • Kezia King

    What a great post! You had me nodding my head like crazy- yes! He gets it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Carol Opalinski

    Wonderful post!! Thank you!! I agree that consent is extremely important in all romances.