Times are changing … and the M/M community is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the authors leading the charge is author Damon Suede. Not only is he one of the biggest cheerleaders, kindest hearts, and all-around goof-ball for the genre, he has the business know-how and promotional savvy to back it up. Here he is to talk about AAD and how cool the future of M/M is looking.
AAD 2012: JUICING THE BATTERIES
I just spent the weekend at Authors After Dark 2012 in New Orleans with an amazing group of romance fans, writers, publishers, and bloggers. It’s no secret that I’m pretty social and I love kicking back with my tribe, so even in the August swelter the chance to kick back in the Big Easy was impossible to resist. I had heard CRAZE-balls stuff about last year’s event in Philly… and after a summer slaving in the word mines I needed a breather. Like GayRomLit, Authors After Dark really deserves its reputation as a reader-focused con. Everything targets the people who love books and support writers. The entire event emphasizes warm, personal interactions which ended up being unforgettable.
More than anything, what I saw was our books emerging from the gay-romance ghetto. In five straight days of talking with attendees, no one blinked when I said I wrote gay romance. All the LGBT romance folks on hand ended up raising visibility with warmth and humor. Many of us sold out of books. Most of us got approached by authors and bloggers impressed by the passion and loyalty of our fans. Reader after reader came up to say they would try LGBT romance for the first time because of what they’d seen of us on panels. One woman came up to scold me affectionately on Friday because she’d liked what I’d said on a panel, bought Hot Head on her Kindle that minute, and then stayed up all Thursday night reading before recommending it to her entire book group at breakfast. 14 hours previously she’d never even heard of gay romance fiction, and now she was evangelizing! Walls are coming down. Authors of LGBT romance are welcome at the genre table.
Full disclosure: I’m currently vice-president of the Rainbow Romance Writers, RWA’s LGBT romance chapter, so I’m paying lots of attention to industry flux and flow at the moment. The RRW members really been making a push to connect with the romance community at large with tremendous success. The September issue of Romantic Times has a huge feature story on gay romance and a companion piece on F/F….a seismic change in the way they handle same-sex love stories. Chapter president Heidi Cullinan just returned from a blow-out success at RWA Nationals in Anaheim with sheaves of new supporters and fabulous intel on the state of the LGBT-romance nation and the ways our publishers can take advantage. We are coming out in a big way and what once was a niche market has attracted major focus from genre players.
New Orleans proved Heidi 100% correct in her assessment. The LGBT romance publishers and authors sold heaps of titles, often to folks who had never before glanced at our books. Most surprisingly, mass market authors, bloggers, and journalists seem to be taking note. Authors After Dark has always been friendly to LGBT romance, but everyone I asked commented on this year’s foregrounding of nontraditional love stories. Something else I learned this summer: the bigger publishers are paying attention, readers are wandering off the beaten path, and walls are coming down. The closet door has swung open and won’t be closing any time soon. It’s critical that we attend events in the larger romance community because they are looking for us.
For all the beignets and dancing I indulged in down south, I’m sitting at my desk today weirdly rested. The loyalty, charm, and intelligence of the fans recharged me in ways I don’t know how to describe. We had so much fun hanging out, but somehow they fed the Muse too…and if THAT isn’t evidence of a terrific event, I don’t know what is. Talking turkey with so many romance-minded people got my writer-mind all juicy! There are stories that need telling, yo. Romance as a genre and a community is literally about relationships and those connection improve our work and our lives. I’m looking at my calendar for next year and figuring out how soon I can get together with this amazing circle of friends who keep pushing me to dream bigger and write harder.
Of course, now I cannot WAIT for GayRomLit 2: Electric Boogaloo!
Seeing general romance readers respond so warmly at AAD, I’m eager to see how GRL 2012 points me and my writing in new directions. I want to know what ideas get sparked at 3am over a dirty whiskey or how many collaborations will take root in the desert. More than ever I have this mounting sense that the crazy-amazing LGBT romance community has begun to change the world in the most unexpected ways.
BIO: Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Having lived all over (Houston, New York, London, Prague), he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter.
Though new to M/M, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He has 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.
Damon has added a print book to our GRL Reading Challenge Grand Prize. Remember to post your list for your chance to enter.