SPS-188: The Secrets Behind Writing Bestselling Hot Romance – with Damon Suede
PLEASE NOTE: This episode contains moderate sex references.
Experienced screenwriter Damon Suede fell into writing romance novels on a dare from a friend and hasn’t looked back since. He now teaches writing, speaks at writers’ conferences, and continues to write his brand of gay romance.
- On beginning to write romance on a dare
- How genre fiction allows readers to process emotions ‘at a safe distance’
- The importance of meeting reader expectations
- Romance novels as political statements
- On the dangers of the quick churn book model
- Starting with character actions rather than traits
- The differences and similarities between writing novels and screenwriting
Resources mentioned in this episode:
PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page
Transcript of Interview with Damon Suede
Speaker 1: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show …
Damon Suede: We live in a scary world right now, right? I mean, between the blistering hellscape that our current White House is raining down in America, and Brexit, and every other hideous sociopolitical conflict of our age, I think people look to genre fiction for fantasies to help them navigate complicated emotions.
Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers. No more barriers. No-one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing? Join indie bestseller Mark Dawson and first-time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success.
This is the Self-Publishing Show. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch: Hello. Yes, it is the Self-Publishing show, with James Blatch.
Mark Dawson: And Mark Dawson.
James Blatch: Mark Dawson. How’s your week been? I saw a picture on social media this morning of you were in a foam-filled pit with your son, so I’m guessing you had death by play center this morning.
Mark Dawson: Not foam-filled. It’s a massive new … like a big warehouse in Salisbury that they filled with gigantic inflatable obstacles, and ball pits, and stuff like that, slides. It’s actually really good.
Very, very busy, and, as I said to you off-camera, I was persuaded by my five-year-old to climb up to the very tallest thing, which is a ledge. You then throw yourself off the ledge and into this big, inflatable crash mat, I suppose, and I did that, and the first thing I did was thought, oh, my back doesn’t feel so great, so yeah.
Unfortunately, it’s a case of my body not quite doing what my mind wants it to do today, but it was fun, I would say. The kids loved it, so that’s the main thing.
James Blatch: It’s all stuntman stuff, isn’t it, when they fall off a window ledge, and …
Mark Dawson: Yes. Yeah. Basically, I’ve confirmed that my second career as a stuntman might not be quite what I thought it would be.
James Blatch: Didn’t quite get off to the start you wanted. Okay. Good. Well, look, that’s a little glimpse into the world of those of us who work from home, look after children, and try to run several careers at the same time.
You really do need to look after yourself, though, because things would go downhill steadily if we lost you to some horrific injury.
Mark Dawson: That’s very true. Yes. I should wrap myself up in cotton wool.
James Blatch: I need to check our key man insurance clauses about throwing yourself off-
Mark Dawson: Yeah. Am I allowed to do that? It’s been a heck of a week. What happened to me this week? Oh, yeah. On Wednesday, my son was at a daycare center, and they gave me a call at midday saying, “Don’t want you to panic, but Samuel has fallen off a bouncy castle, and is bleeding a lot, and needs to go to casualty.”
I got there. Turned out he didn’t fall off a bouncy castle. Some little shit hit him with a metal train, some metal train toy, cut his head quite badly. When I turned up, he was wrapped in bandages around his head, and I had to take him to casualty.
Turns out, for those of us who know anything about wrestling, so I’ll include myself in that number, the forehead bleeds very, very easily, and even a small cut can produce a lot of blood, and what had happened was he had a tiny little cut. We couldn’t even see it when we took the bandage off, but he was covered in blood, so it looked a lot worse than it was. That was Wednesday.
Yesterday, my car was taken to the garage down in Bournemouth from Salisbury, and I got a call about 12 o’clock again from the garage saying, “Look, I don’t want to worry you, but your car’s been involved in an accident,” and I suppose it sums it up about me, there. I said, “My poor car.” Luckily the driver was okay.
James Blatch: Yeah.
Mark Dawson: I hadn’t even thought about that, but it’s a pretty bad smash. There’s some possibility that my car may be written off, so it’s a pretty bad smash. That was yesterday.
I’ve had all kinds of fuss and nonsense about getting new cars, and hire cars, all that kind of stuff. I’ve had lots of problems with mailing list suppliers, which we won’t go into at the moment. Maybe another time, and then today, throwing myself off inflatables and tweaking my back. It’s the summer holidays. This kind of happens.
James Blatch: Yeah. What you need is an escapist read, which is an escapist read, which is good, because that is what today’s topic is all about. It’s about romance, why romance works, a bit of the psychology behind it, and a bit of practical advice from our interviewee also about being successful, about serving the needs of your audience. You can go and pick up a nice, cozy romance, or maybe a spicy, erotic one. I don’t know.
Mark Dawson: I’m ready for action. Yeah, that sounds perfect.
James Blatch: Okay. Before we do that, I’m going to introduce and say hello to three new Patreon subscribers, and they are Miriam Kay, hello, Miriam, Erica Bloomenthal, and Amon Summers. I’m quite relieved they’re very easy to pronounce first and surnames, but we welcome Miriam, Erica and Amon. Thank you very much indeed.
If you go to patreon.com/selfpublishingshow, you can become a supporter of this show, and once you do that, you are enrolled in the SPF university, and we have a couple of live training sessions coming up at the end of this month and the beginning of the next month. Got two in short order.
One of them is on going wide, how to go wide, and one is on … what’s the other one on?
Mark Dawson: Book Brush.
James Blatch: Book Brush, I think it is. Book Brush, which is a fantastic little tool we’ve been very impressed with, to help you create your advertisements. Is that correct?
Mark Dawson: Your ads. Your ad images, yeah.
James Blatch: Ads. Yeah.
Mark Dawson: It’s very good. I’ve used Book Brush for the German and French ads I’ve been running, and rather than bother Stuart Bache with doing those ads, I’ve been able to take elements from my covers and combine them actually with a picture of me, which is working quite well, strangely enough, but combine those-
James Blatch: That’s strange.
Mark Dawson: I know, yeah. Combine those in those two markets, and they’re going pretty well, and it’s a lovely little piece of software, which I am very happy to recommend.
James Blatch: Good. Well, I’m looking forward to both of those. We’ll give you the details probably in the next episode, next Friday, where you can sign up for those if you are … well, actually, we won’t tell you where to sign up, because you’ll be invited if you’re part of SPFU, but it’s a chance to go to patreon.com/selfpublishingshow and make sure you’re in line to receive one of those invites.
I’ve teased it ahead already. Our interviewee, who’s talking about romance, is a he. We don’t talk to a lot of male romance writers, although there are plenty out there, and Damon Suede, you may have heard of Damon. He’s got a really varied background.
He’s worked in film, directed films, he’s worked in stage plays, he teaches, and he’s a brilliant, and successful and award-winning writer. It’s a really interesting interview, particularly about romance, but not just the romance genre, but why escapism works and why we do well to remember why people pick up a book to read it when we’re planning our books and when we’re writing it.
Let’s talk to Damon, and then Mark and I will be back afterwards.
Damon, welcome to The Self-Publishing Show. How brilliant to have you on.
Damon Suede: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.
James Blatch: Bit of a star in the world of romance writers, and we’re going to delve into why you are so successful, what it is, and we always try and get some value-added, and I know one of the things you’ve been doing in recent years is teaching a little bit, imparting your own success, and so that’s what we’re all about, right?
Damon Suede: Great. I’m down.
James Blatch: Well, let’s start at the beginning because I think I read in the notes that you sent me, which is some time ago now.
I think I read that you wrote your first book by accident, or you were put up to it by somebody. A romance book, I should say.
Damon Suede: I come to romance from film and television. I was a screenwriter. I was actually a playwright, and then a screenwriter and a comic writer for over 25 years, and my husband’s a forensic investigator, and while he was out of town working a murder case, I was stuck here, basically crying and masturbating all the time.
A friend of mine was having a problem with an erotic romance novel, and this was back in 2010, and it was at that time when essentially everyone in the world was kind of doing red rooms of pain and spanking, because we were moving away from vampires.
I didn’t know about this exactly, but my friend called me, because I had a reputation as a plot fixer from film, and so she contacted me to beat out a plot, and we were on the phone for about an hour, and after about an hour she said, “If you don’t write a romance novel, you’re the laziest asshole in the world,” and I was like, “But I don’t write novels, I write scripts,” and she said, “But you love them, and you know so much about them. You should really try it,” and I said, “Well, I don’t know. My agent, my deadlines,” and she said, “I dare you,” which is the worst thing you can possibly say to me.
I wrote my first book in six weeks. I sold it in two days, and then it was number one for six months, and it made so much money I called my agent and I said, “I never want to work for the Weinsteins again.” P.S., good call.
James Blatch: It was a good call, as it turned out.
Damon Suede: I sort of dove in. I don’t know. I didn’t really look back because it was so fun, and everyone was so loving and supportive, and in film, everyone sort of wants to murder you and sexually assault your corpse.
But in romance everyone wants to help you, and there are all these readers that need books, and so they’re so excited when there’s a person that can produce exceptional content that the readers respond to emotionally, right? The minute you prove that you’re part of the club, everyone conspires in your success, which is very unlike any other genre I’d ever worked in, and I’ve been writing for three decades.
James Blatch: That’s lovely, and lovely to have that philosophy. You say your husband is a forensic investigator, which sort of sounds like you’re set up to be a thriller writer, to vicariously live off his background.
But maybe it is going the other way, because that can be quite a dark area to live in.
Damon Suede: Well, I’ll tell you, it’s funny. It’s the greatest writing resource in the world because I can turn to him and say, “Honey, how long does it take a human body to freeze solid?” The thing is, in romance, you don’t need that a lot, but it is useful for certain things.
I keep urging him to write mysteries of his own. He’s done a series of nonfiction books. We have so many friends that are writers that kept tapping him, and he’s consulted on comic books and television shows, that sort of thing, and so I finally said, “Why don’t you do something for writers?”
And so he actually did. He put out a series called Forensics for Fiction because there was so much bad material on forensics out in the market, and once I had dipped my toe into the world of self-publishing, I thought, this is crazy, because there’s no reason for us not to self-publish these. You have this expertise, et cetera, et cetera. That’s actually how I wound up in self-publish, is that … Sorry, you were going to me a question.
James Blatch: Well, no, I was just going to say, I think, actually, this is a sidetrack, but I think that’s a great area, and Thrillerfest should … organizations like that should bring in detectives just to do sessions on decomposition or body deposition sites and stuff.
I used to work as a journalist and cover these stories, and you’re right. It doesn’t always get covered accurately. But anyway, that’s a side issue, right, but it brought you into …
You were saying that led you into self-publishing because your husband was going to start publishing some stuff?
Damon Suede: Well, it’s funny. When I started writing romance, everyone said to me it was the beginning of the ebook explosion. My first book came out in 2011, and so I didn’t know it at the time, but I sort of hit in the gold rush, and it was right at the moment when self-pub had exploded.
The Kindle was about to go wide market, e-publishing as a whole was making serious inroads into the, I don’t know, the grande dames of the various genres, and so there was a sea change coming, and I didn’t really understand it at the time, because I was so green in publishing, but in my experience, because my publisher was so niche … I was writing gay romance, which is a very specific niche. Because of that, I never felt like my publisher was treating me the way other publishers might treat their authors.
I love my publisher. They’re fantastic. In a weird way, working with Dreamspinner, who … they do all of my fiction. Dreamspinner is all of the pluses of a publisher and none of the minuses, and so it’s like every benefit of being a self-published author without the headaches that come with being a self-published author.
But then, when I started looking at nonfiction, a friend of mine, Heidi and I, realized that there weren’t any really good books on general marketing for genre fiction. There were a lot of very narrow, specific titles, or things about SEO, or funnel sales, or keywords, or websites, or newsletters, but there wasn’t anything that was a general guide for genre fiction.
So we decided to write this book, and we realized we really needed to self-publish it, and she had self-published quite a lot, and so we sort of took a leap of faith, because the book we wound up reading was the choose your own adventure.
We realized that every author in modern publishing effectively has to make their own path, and so no one book was going to do the work that was necessary, and so we wrote this giant book which could never have been published in a traditional house, and we released it as a self-pub title, and it was very successful, which was really … it was fun and educational.
It was all the things that art is supposed to be in your dreams, and then, because of that, when it came time to do my own nonfiction titles, I had cut my teeth, and I knew how that process went, and what was necessary.
And then, ditto, when Jeff started doing his forensics titles, I had been through the process, and so I sort of knew what was required, and the investment that was required, and the ways that the audience found new titles because I think that self-pub has specific strengths as a release strategy, and also it has certain handicaps that you have to work around at all times.
James Blatch: Great. Going back to the romance side of things, and you talked about it being a lovely world to be in, people want to help each other, and that’s reflected in the stories and the books as well, although of course there’s a bit of tragedy and jeopardy along the way.
Do you think that’s why your book was successful, for those same reasons that you enjoy writing it is why people enjoy reading romance?
Damon Suede: I always tell my readers and my students romance is the literature of hope. People come to a romance novel because they want a strong central relationship and they want a positive outcome at the end. They want optimism, hope at the end, and I think that romance inherently rewards any author who can bring unfettered joy, can bring energy to the table.
There’s a hunger in all of us for the things that poke our various no-nos, and I think that romance is unique in its need, its ravenous hunger for positive emotion. Listen, we live in a scary world right now, right? Between the blistering hellscape that our current White House is raining down in America, and Brexit, and every other hideous sociopolitical conflict of our age, I think people look to genre fiction for fantasies to help them navigate complicated emotions.
There’s a great quote from Keith Oatley. In Such Stuff as Dreams he says, “Genre fiction is an arena in which we can process emotions at a safe distance,” and so it allows us to tap danger without putting ourselves in peril.
I think that the reason that romance is so supportive and is so loving is because everyone who has published a book knows how hard it is, and yet everyone who has published a book knows they can’t write enough to satisfy the demand.
Romance writers have always driven publishing. They’ve always produced literally the most titles and the biggest titles, and we’ve always had this giant readership that is so passionate, and so committed, and so vocal about what they want. And so I felt really blessed because I fell into it as a genre, but accidentally I fell into a genre that wanted to help me be a happy success, right? Not just a success, but a success that enjoys the success.
James Blatch: That’s an interesting scratching the surface on the idea of people reading the book for escapism, which is something we completely take, and good romance authors say you’ve got to offer this escape, that’s what this is all about.
What you’re saying is it’s a little bit more than just an escape, it’s a way of dealing with things.
Damon Suede: I think of characters. Again, I come to fiction from other forms of entertainment. If I’m directing a movie or if I’m writing a play, my actors are going to come to me and ask for certain things. Actors have to act, right? They have to do things.
This ironically led my second self-published nonfiction title for writers, because I had this method of characterization and story planning, and the first time I talked about it with writers, they thought I was insane, and I was like, no, no, no, it’s not enough to say he has a really, really big package, or her eyes are hazel. No one cares about that.
What they want is the feelings. They want the emotional access, and so, yes, escapism, but when we say escapism, what are we escaping to and what are we escaping from?
I think that different genres offer readers different emotional rollercoasters, and so they come to us, and they want a ride. No one goes to an amusement park, and gets on a merry-go-round, and expects to be flipped upside down and pulled inside out. The merry-go-round is something gentle. You climb on the horses, and then up and down, and up and down, and it’s a gentle, easy ride that’s suitable for children.
There are other people who go to an amusement park and they do want to hang upside down, and they do want to be hung from their fingernails, and they want to barf when they get off, and that’s a different kind of emotional ride.
The real crime in any entertainment is you don’t deliver what the audience expects, and worse, you don’t exceed the expectations, because it’s one thing to meet the expectations, but then I think you also have to go beyond if you want to have a career with any longevity.
James Blatch: Does this put a responsibility on us as writers, and particularly romance writers? Are people reading books to go into how they can solve the problems in their life, how they can process things? Because you would make stuff up, right? I’m not a psychologist, and you may or may not be one.
Do you feel a responsibility on how people go about solving the problems in their stories, that people might be taking a lead from that?
Damon Suede: It’s funny. There’s a great book about trashy film. I’m a trashy film junkie. I love exploitation film of the ’60s and ’70s, and there’s a great book called Laughing Screaming, which argues that trashy comedy and slasher films are actually Freudian therapy for people who won’t sit on the couch, that what people do when they experience certain kinds of entertainment is … it’s almost expressionistic.
They pull out their insides, and they look at their insides, and I think they process them, and I don’t think you can call that therapy, necessary, because I don’t know how woke, how grounded people are, but I do think that every reader comes to a text, and they want an emotional experience.
They don’t come to learn, they don’t come because they want you to teach them about Cardinal Richelieu, they want you to take them on a ride, and they want to feel things that they wouldn’t feel in their day to day lives, because, frankly, I don’t think the romance novel about tax attorneys buying oatmeal and then having mediocre sex and falling asleep will ever sell, because we can have that in our lives really easily. No.
What people want is they want extravagance and lushness, and I think that, in every genre, there are certain limits that you always have to test and push, because people become inured to different kinds of emotional experiences.
I think that’s the life and death of every subgenre is that, in the 1960s, the neo-Gothics, Victoria Holt or Mary Stuart wrote these beautiful books which were all about governesses going to mansions with gloomy secrets and spooky children, and the cover was always a woman in a white nightgown running away from a house with a lit window in the corner.
The thing is that, for about 10, 15 years, that emotional ride was really powerful for people, and then there came a moment where it wasn’t powerful anymore.
Ditto, when people talk about romance novels, they talk about bodice rippers, but bodice rippers actually only existed for about a six-year window. It’s a very, very narrow slice of time.
James Blatch: They’ve got longevity, haven’t they, in popular culture.
Damon Suede: But it’s because they make a good news item, because I can stick someone with giant tits, both male and female tits, on a news program, and grease them up, and put a wind machine in their hair, and then you say, “Ah, yes, I know what those books are.”
Here’s an odd fact. Fabio was only working in the industry for about four years, but everyone remembers Fabio as being a huge star in romance because of the publicity machine behind him. But if you ask any American now who do you associate with romance novels, they’re going to say Fabio because of the marketing of a campaign from the 1980s. That just seems so weird to me.
It would be as if I said to you, “What do you think of science fiction?” And you said, “Oh, I love R.U.R., that Czech science fiction play from the 1920s. Science fiction is really, really forward-thinking,” because that’s where we get the word robot. But how many people who read science fiction have ever read a Czech play, like, a modernist play from the soviet era?
We, for some reason, in romance, I don’t know, we’ve sort of taken all this funny, four-year, six-year window, and it’s become the myth romance.
I’m a history guy. I love market research, and looking at the evolution of things, but I do think it’s odd that everyone always expects it to be tits falling out of dresses and men with flowing hair, when actually if you look at romance, even the covers have changed so much over the last 30 years.
James Blatch: Well, that’s good, because I think what you’re saying is it’s not really people taking literal advice from you.
It’s them going through that emotional journey, and that’s helping them process things, for those of us who don’t lie on the couch.
Damon Suede: And that the journey changes, right? Is that the journey that you needed to take in 1979 is not the same journey that a reader in 1989 or ’99 or 2009 needs to take, because we live in a different moment.
Martha Graham once said no artist is ahead of their time. The artist is the time. Everyone who makes any kind of art, and when I say art, I mean art of any type. I mean graffiti, I mean the weird doodles kids do in their notebooks during algebra, but whoever makes art is expressing time, where they exist in time and space. You can’t get away from it.
James Blatch: This must be a naïve question, but does gay romance differ at all from straight
Damon Suede: Well, I’ll tell you, it does and it doesn’t. I’ll tell you how it doesn’t differentiate, is that gay romance is romance. It’s about two people having a relationship, and it ends happily. In that sense, it’s just a romance.
On the other hand, gay romance does a couple of things that heterosexual romance can’t do because of our sociopolitical situation, because of the way people read gender and sexuality, because of a lot of weird political hot buttons right now. Gay romance is a political document. If I say two dudes getting together or two woman getting together is a happy ending, I am making a political statement.
This is the same thing that happens in the African-American romance community, where there was a time when you could not have an African-American couple on the cover of a romance novel. It was not perceived as a romance.
That could not be a happy ending, and if you think about it, that’s a political statement, right? You’re saying these people are never afforded the opportunity to have an HEA, a happily ever after.
The minute you say, you know what? Actually, you can have a happily ever after, you are making a political statement. Now, the irony is that actually, in 1961, when Mills & Boon was putting our a doctor and nurse romance, that was a political statement, too, for its time, because that was about woman declaring agency and women taking age of their sexual freedom, and their emotional freedom, and their martial status, and all that other stuff.
It’s not that it wasn’t political then, it’s just that the politics have shifted. Over time, everything has stretched, and I think that happens in all genre.
Look at what’s happening right now in science fiction and fantasy, and you see the wild embrace of multiculturalism, because, frankly, science fiction and fantasy are about world-building, and so, of course, they have to look outward, of course they have to take the world on board. Ditto horror. What we thought of as scary in 1917 is very different to what we think of as scary in 2017, or 2019 or whatever.
James Blatch: Exactly. You had your first success, which surprised you and took off from nowhere, and where are you today?
How many books have you published and what sort of series are you writing?
Damon Suede: I’ve done a book a year, so I think I’m at seven now, eight now. It’s been amazing. You know, it’s funny. I feel I’m the worst example for baby writers, because my first book happened so quickly, and it blew up instantly. I lost best romance of 2011 to a book you might have heard of called Fifty Shades of Gray. The amount of attention that was ladled over me right out of the gate was so unreal.
Because, remember, I come from film, right, so in film the screenwriter is a little bit lower than the person who cleans the toilets, and so to be in a genre where you tell a story, and then an audience reads the story, and then, when they like the story, they tell you they like the story, I couldn’t believe how exciting and how liberating it felt to have a story, tell a story, and then have people respond to the story, and it was addictive, right? I couldn’t get enough of it.
From that point, I decided this is what I’m going to do, full-time romance, and I stopped writing film and TV, and I really committed to fiction.
But I should say, the one thing I did not do … I was urged early on. This was right at the beginning of the book-a-month, book-a-week, book-every-few-days, like, these crazy churns, with books being pumped out for volume.
I knew from film and television what a trap that was, because I had watched film studios do that and television studios do that, where they were like, if we have 1,200 channels, we have to produce content for 1,200 channel. I knew that if you got on the treadmill of producing a book a quarter, that would lead to a book a month, which would lead to a book a week, and eventually you stop writing a book.
It’s not even a book anymore, and you can look at the current plagiarism scandals, and the ghostwriting scandals that are going on right now, not just in romancelandia, but in cozy mystery, and in parts of sci-fi, where people are generating all this content in a mad frenzy, without actually thinking about if it’s a book or not.
I always tell my students that certain books are typed and certain books are written, and I think a lot of our books are typed today, and the trouble is, if you want to survive in any publishing, and I don’t just mean in self-pub, or small pub, or traditional big five pub, anybody that is not willing to stand out is going to get dragged below the waves because there’s too many of them.
There’s just too much volume and you’ll drown in it if you cannot find out what’s extraordinary about your voice and communicate it to people. Find your audience and get to them the right way.
James Blatch: You write when you want to, or there’s a balance, I guess, between writing when the mood takes you and wanting to actually earn some money as well.
Damon Suede: No. Again, this is a showbiz thing. I write every day. I’m ruthless about it. I write every day. I’m an early morning writer. I get up at 4:30 and I hit it.
The thing is, no one can get me on the phone then, and I know that I won’t be bothered, and so I can get five to seven hours of good content in. The trouble is, I’m really picky, so I don’t edit while I write, but when I finish writing, I’ll stop, have a cup of coffee, grab some eggs, and then I’ll go back and edit, and what I write, I’m very critical of.
Having said that, my drafts that I turn in to my editors are super clean. My edit process is usually very, very fast because I’m ruthless about it. I’m an old hooker. I’ve been doing this a long time.
James Blatch: It’s funny how some people, and I think I’m one of those people, who’ve found that particular approach a bit of a trap.
I’ve had to clear myself of that habit of constantly going back and reworking something I’ve written at the expense of moving forward.
Damon Suede: You can go mad. I teach a lot. I teach all over the world now, but really all over the country, and I always know that an author is going to have a hard time if they tell me they’ve been working on the same book for five years.
Flaubert, it took him, what, seven years to write Madame Bovary? Of course, that was with a different level of technology, but the deal is these books aren’t Madam Bovary, and they shouldn’t be, and when you descend into the La Brea Tar Pit of a book, it can drag you under, and so I do think there’s a value in getting it done, getting it out, getting it done, getting it out, and I’ve had books that have eaten me.
Just in the last eight years, I’ve had at least two projects where I started, I wrote a draft, and then I just descended into hell because I couldn’t make the book be what I wanted it to be, and what the fans wanted it to be, et cetera, et cetera, and you can make yourself bananas trying to find perfection.
James Blatch: Did you walk away from that or did you finish it?
Damon Suede: Well, there’s two answers. In one sense, yes. What I did was I’ve learned the power of the shelf. This is actually a trick I learned from writing film and theater, is that pages don’t die, right? Books can’t burn, so I’ll set it on the shelf, and there will come a day later when I’m in a different headspace.
I can come back to it, and I’m clearer, because often it’s because I can’t get out of my own way, and so I shouldn’t say I’ve walked away from them. I’ve put them to bed like bad children. They’re in a crib somewhere, in a creche, and I’ve stuck a bottle in their mouth, and then one day I’ll go back to them.
James Blatch: Nursing them. Letting them incubate slowly, in some dark recess in your mind. How do you go about your books now?
Do you plot them out, or do you do this as you go along in the way that you revise?
Damon Suede: I have to tell you, I don’t believe in plotters and pantsers. I don’t think there’s any difference, and this makes people enraged, but I come from a world in which, if you don’t outline, you don’t get paid, so in film, you must outline because there are hundreds of millions of dollars involved, and people literally pay you for the outline.
When I came into fiction, and people were like, “I don’t know. I figure it out,” I realized what was happening is that what a pantser was someone who wrote a big, messy, ugly outline that they called their rough draft, and then they had to go back and rewrite it a lot.
It wasn’t that they didn’t outline it. When they outlined came at a different point in their process, but the truth is we’re all different, and our muses are all different, and we find things in different ways.
For my part, I tend to be much more on the plotting side of things, but I’m always trying to leave space so that there’s room for pantsing, because I think you do want those moments when a wild hare is up your butt and your book goes an unexpected direction.
The thing that I do that is, I think, different from what most writers do, and this is actually how I wound up writing that craft book, Verbalize, is I don’t start from a character description. A lot of authors start from what I call impersonal ads, like what’s the height, what’s the weight, what’s the eye color, hair color, what’s their job, where do they live, and they fill these things out like they’re filling out a singles ad on Grindr, right, and the trouble is that you can’t actually write that.
If I say I’m writing an INTJ Korean soprano with an eye patch, that doesn’t actually tell you anything about who that person is. What I do comes from working in entertainment, which is I start from the character’s action. If I know what the character does in every scene of the book, if I know how they are in every scene of the book, then I can write them in every scene of the book, and so what I start with, every character, is I start with a verb. I pick a single active, transitive verb for the character because an action is what an actor needs to act.
To make sure that the scenes are always dramatic, I use that transitive verb as a touchstone, and the reader may never know what that action is, but for me, it keeps me coherent. It keeps everything focused, and it keeps everything aligned.
If I start from the action, then that means that the name of the character, the clothes the character is wearing, their hair color, eye color, weight, their job is all related to the action of the character. Then what I do is, as the book progresses, because obviously, I like to structure things, because I’m really a plotter, an outliner, I then take synonymous tactics.
I’ll take that initial action, let’s say that the action of a character … like Velmonte in Les Liasons Dangereuses, his action is to ruin. He ruins everything. He ruins reputations, he ruins virginities, he ruins his friends, he ruins everything.
But in each scene, he has a different tactic, a reaction, and so in each scene, I take a synonym of ruin. In one scene, it might be corrupt. In another scene, it might be poison, and another scene might be to pervert, and another scene might be to stab.
Each of these things is a different way to ruin something, and what happens is, when you plan the story that way, at the end of it, it’s totally active because you’ve used the most active language, which is a verb, and the reader doesn’t even know what you’re doing, but they shouldn’t.
No one goes to an amusement park to look at the blueprints for a rollercoaster. They want the rollercoaster, but the deal is, by starting from the action, you’re actually able to, A, always create characters that are immediately compelling, to always have chemistry between characters, because your antagonist, your protagonist will have antonymic actions, so that there’s always good friction to rub between them, and then, simultaneously, anything that they do on the page will feel authentic, because they are being themselves, and that’s what readers say, is they’re like, oh, I would know this character anywhere.
That’s because the character is acting like themselves. They have an action, and then from that, everything else in the book sort of aligns.
Not only does it work for characterization and dramatization, but it’s also how you sell a book. The language that you use for blurbing a book, or for log lining a book or anything else is active, transitive verbs. That’s what people buy.
In fact, if you go read books about marketing copy, that’s what people use to tell stories. No kids comes to you and says, “Mom, tell me the story about the brunette.” What they say is, “Tell me the one where the character … ” and then they tell you an action, right? It’s how people shop for stories. It’s how we decide what genre is for us.
I actually think all genre is different actions clustered together meaningfully. I’m about to do a class, actually, I’m doing a masterclass at RWA this summer, about this very topic, because I think that, when you move from romantic suspense to paranormal, those are two subgenres that are very close to each other in romance fiction.
But the thing is, the differences between them are differences of action, so that in paranormal, you have a lot of characters that do things like bewitch, or tame, or unleash, or enchant, right, but if you’re in romantic suspense, it’s things like pursue, stalk, chase, hunt, because the cation is the story. Anyway, I didn’t mean to monologue about that. Sorry.
James Blatch: No, no, it’s great, and I’ve got a followup. It sounds like the perfect theory in that it has a micro and macro existence, in that the macro, it’s you describe the character, the whole character.
On a micro-level, every scene you can do this what’s the action for the scene?
Damon Suede: It’s totally applicable. If you’re a plotter, great. Then you take your action, you take a list of tactics, and you just literally make a list going from least interesting to most interesting, right? You want to end with the big bang, and so that’s your plot, is a list of verbs.
You can plot your entire book with a thesaurus, but let’s say you’re a pantser. Let’s say you’re like, no, screw that, I don’t want that. Fine. No problem. You take a big pile of verbs, and every time you’re pantsing a scene, you take a verb. You take that tactic, and you stick it in the scene, and you say, what’s happening now, and you say, oh, right, Lizzy Bennet in this scene is judging someone, right, because judge is a tactic. Lizzy’s action is to provoke, but her tactics are like judge, goad, ridicule, mock.
By knowing these things, that lets you make smart decisions.
I had a cowboy book I was doing, and the main character’s action was to rush, and his cellphone plan was Sprint. Now, the readers would never know that the cellphone plan is related to his action of rush, but subtly, behind the scenes, I’m sort of seeding in all these little details, and the reader’s like, yeah, yeah, that character’s always in a hurry, but they’re not really sure how they came to that conclusion.
James Blatch: That’s great, and also that would inform you, if you do that properly, it informs you when your characters are being too passive, when things are happening to them rather than … because if you can’t verbalize, which is your great word for this.
If you can’t come up with that verb, it might be a hint that this scene is not quite right.
Damon Suede: Well, it’s that thing, too. I think one of the great dangers, as publishing is … I don’t want to say falling apart, because I don’t think it is. I think it’s mutating again, it’s evolving, right, and as self-pub explodes, and as the nature of the relationship between traditional publishers and the marketplace changes, I think that authors have an increased responsibility to do their jobs without input.
Because the truth, people will often say, “Oh, I’m waiting until a real publisher publishes me,” but the truth is, there are a lot of traditional publishers that don’t edit at all, and they’re actually people in the self-pub world that have way better editorial, way better marketing, way better covers, because they’re claiming agency, they’re taking control.
I think that blends over into craft, because if you’re an author whose income depends on entertaining an audience and bringing back a loyal readership every time, you better deliver.
You don’t have time to waste. There’s no wiggle room because there’s so much noise, and you have to be signaled.
I was down at NINC last September, and someone said something about, oh, blah, blah, blah, traditional publishing is so different, and I thought it’s not, actually, because everyone I know in traditional publishing is thinking about marketing, and sales, and covers, and SEO, and everything else, just the way self-pub people are.
The difference is they have one extra component at their table, which is the publisher, who handles certain things on the backend, and they have to decide if the trade-off, what the publisher does for them, is worth the money that they pay for the publisher to do that stuff, and in some cases the answer is yes, and in some cases the answer is no.
Mark Dawson always says this is the best time in the world to be an author. This is the perfect time for us to be here on the Earth doing what we do, but it also means with great power comes great responsibility. We have to take charge. We have to.
James Blatch: Yeah, and it’s worth pointing out that, when we’re working by ourselves, we are the author. We also run the business. We have an agility to adapt and change things, much more than the traditional publishing companies, who wish they could say to somebody, “This is a really good type of campaign. Let’s do this,” without going through five levels of corporate approval. We have an advantage.
I don’t know if the person in NINC was complaining about the difference, and saying, oh, they’ve got an advantage on us.
I think we’ve got lots of advantages on them.
Damon Suede: I think one of the things that we forget is how nimble we can be if we’re courageous, but if you’re not willing to be courageous, working on your own can actually be worse than working with a traditional publisher because if you’re not willing to make hard choices, if you’re not willing to get out the ax when you need to, if you’re not willing to make the hard calls, having all that power can cripple you. It can paralyze you.
At the same time, if you want to make those kinds of nimble decisions, and you’re working with a traditional publisher who’s not able to make a decision unless it’s three years out, how are you going to survive?
I think this is why we see so much of a rise in hybrid publishing because people do want access to certain resources that distribution and traditional publishing afford them. At the same time, they want the sort of flexibility and the evolutionary options that are there for self-pub.
James Blatch: I know that you preach the same language Mark does about treating the publishing side as the business, for people who are self-pubbing, is to be applied. You shouldn’t be that person who’s not courageous, not prepared to make changes. You’ve got to think how is this business going to work, and treat it as a business.
Damon Suede: Right.
James Blatch: We’ve been talking loads. I’ve got a few more things to get in, which I haven’t even touched on yet, because I wanted to talk to you a little bit about screenwriting and how that’s informed your novel writing process. And, of course, a lot of people listening to this might want to go the other way as well, and having started with novels might think that screenwriting is something for them, and there’s lots of content being produced now, so there’s options there.
Do you think screenwriting and novel have a huge overlap, or are they totally different animals to you?
Damon Suede: I’ll tell you. It’s a little bit like a fish and a bicycle. They both can travel, but they do it in very different ways and with very different tools.
One of the things I found funniest in a professional sense when I first started writing genre fiction was how many screenwriting manuals were lobbed around as guides for fiction writers, because that’s like cutting a steak with scissors.
I mean, yes, you can cut a steak with scissors, but that’s not what it’s built for, and so a lot of the plotting manuals that you see, and frankly a lot of the guides to dialog, a lot of the stuff about … a lot of the things about structure in story, and story development and hooks come from the world of screenwriting.
The trouble is it’s a completely different medium with completely different challenges and a completely different audience, and so there are things you can learn from it, but you sort of have to know what you don’t know to get something useful out of it, and I’ll be honest, I love writing guides. I collect them. I’m a junkie. I read them all.
I love all of it, but I’ve also worked in those other mediums, so when I look at a book designed for a screenwriter, I can think to myself, that’s something that you would tell to a baby screenwriter who’s never worked in Hollywood. Or that’s something you would tell to an indie screenwriter who’s going to be making this out of inheritance money, which is a very different set of problems. This isn’t something that would say to someone writing a series romance for Harlequin, or someone writing a cozy mystery for St. Martin’s.
Each of those is such a different setup with different challenges and a different audience, and so I think there’s always utility in the lessons of any craft. I read a lot of poetry craft books, not because I want to be a poet, because let me tell you I do not, but because I write a lot of sex scenes, and I think that when you’re writing a love scene, it is the time that you can experiment the most with things like sound, and rhythm, and autonomy, and symbol, because the reader wants that. They want things kind of elevated.
But I’m not reading the poetry guide to learn how to write a better sestina. That’s not my purpose, and so I think any tool of any art can give you a window into your own art. It’s like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but I also think you have to consciously ask yourself how does this apply to me, how does this apply to my work.
It’s funny. At romance conferences, I get asked to be on a lot of how can my book become a movie panels, and I always feel a little bit deceptive doing that.
In fact, the first time I ever did it, a group of authors … the room’s packed, and everyone’s all excited, and on the panel with me were a woman who had written a screenplay in college, 18 years prior, a man who liked movies, and me, and I realized that they liked the idea of this movie panel, but they hadn’t actually asked if it was a real panel that you could actually present to me.
And the thing is, it wound up being a good discussion with the room, but the thing I had to say right off the bat was, “Guys, if you want your book to become a movie, I’m going to tell you right now, the odds are against you. It’s like climbing a mountain with your lips.
The book that you’ve written is probably not even filmable, because you’re not looking at it the way a screenwriter would,” and when people complain about a book not being like the movie that is made from it, it’s because the media is different, and so you have to learn how to put on that other hat if you want to do that.
Now, having said that, look, right now Netflix is having this romantic comedy renaissance, and they are adapting a lot of fiction. They’re also radically altering the fiction that they’re adapting, and so it’s not that you can’t do it, it’s that you have to be aware that you’ve been riding a horse and now you’re going to have to learn how to ride a dolphin.
It’s just a completely different monster, and with film, even more than fiction, with film it is always about the money. It is always about who is paying, when they’re paying, why they’re paying, where it’s getting made, but it always comes down to the money, because film is about putting butts in a dark room looking at a wall, and a book is something quite different.
James Blatch: I never start writing a scene thinking, how much would it cost to put this scene on, which, of course, when you’re a screenwriter, is a very real consideration when you start writing a scene.
Damon Suede: Well, I’ll tell you, my first book, I remember when Hot Head came out, I was at BEA, Book Expo American, here in New York, and it was this big showbiz thing, and lots of hustling and deals going on, and Fox Features, one of the executives from Fox Features came to my publishers booth, and they were like, “We want to buy your book,” and I was like, “No, you don’t. You don’t want to buy my book,” and they were like, “Yeah, yeah, we do. We do. We saw it. We were tracking Fifty Shades, and we think … ” and I was like, “Guys, it’s gay firefighters.”
I was like, “You do not want to buy my book,” and they were like, “No, we do, we do,” and I was like, “Guys, chapter 17 is a 6.1 million night shoot. I know the place that would produce the effect. I can tell you because I’ve been on those sets. There is no way you can shoot this for under 23 million. I didn’t write it to be a movie. Now, if you want me to go write a book that’s a movie, I can tell you how to do that. I can write that, but it’s a different set of challenges.”
In fact, one of the things that I did in my first book is I specifically wrote scenes that couldn’t be filmed because I was so tired of thinking, “Ah, no, that’ll never get past control. That’ll never get past the suits. There’s no way they’re going to pay for that effect,” because in a book, I didn’t have to worry about. That was such a liberating feeling.
But I think, if you do want to be looking at filmed entertainment, I should say, more than features, because I actually think authors are much smarter to look at long-form television, which, frankly, the BBC and Channel 4 have been doing much better than Americans for the last 20 years, but long-form television adaptation for a six-hour, eight-hour miniseries.
If they want that, they have to write the book that can do that, and I’d guesstimate, and this is a raw guesstimation, just in romance alone, maybe 2% of the books published could be made into something filmed, just because of the way they’re structured. They’re too internal.
James Blatch: Yeah. Well, you used the word liberated then.
It seems to me like discovering this ability to write novels that people like has been a liberation for you in your life.
Damon Suede: Absolutely. I feel so blessed, I really do. It’s funny. When people talk about film they’re like, oh, glamorous, and the truth is, like all glamorous things, it’s only glamorous from the outside. I loved working in showbiz. I learned a lot. It was a big chunk of my life, several decades, and all of those lessons apply every time I write or sell a book, because a lot of the marketing that I do comes from lessons that I learned in show business.
But I feel so blessed to be in genre fiction, especially right now. What an amazing industry, what an amazing time to be part of this world, because right now we are the loam. We’re like the fertile compost heap that all of pop culture is growing out of, and so I think that we discount our own power at our peril, because we are moving needles. We are changing things one page at a time, one reader at a time.
James Blatch: There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
Damon Suede: Exactly.
James Blatch: My final bit, then, Damon, you’ve mentioned that you spoke at RWA and NINC.
Where could people see you this year if they want to soak up some of this wisdom in the room?
Damon Suede: Oh, God. The truth is, I travel about 30 weekends a year. I’m teaching and doing conferences, so if you go to my website at damonsuede.com, that’s D-A-M-O-N-S-U-E-D-E dot com, there’s literally a classes page that will show you my full working calendar, where I’m headed, but I am all over the place. I am on every coast.
I’m going to be in Bath in November. I’ll be in Alaska in September. I’m all over the place. But the best way to find me is to look online on my website. I have a regular schedule that’s updated, and if you like audio classes or podcasts, I do always record my masterclasses for Romance Writers of America, and those are downloadable from the RWA website.
James Blatch: And damonseude.com for your list. Damon, it’s been brilliant talking to you. Thank you so much indeed. I feel it’s been-
Damon Suede: Oh, no, thank you so much. Really a pleasure.
James Blatch: … it’s been a tour de force of an interview, and I’ve certainly appreciated it. I feel we could go on for another hour, but we have our own limits, but let’s have you back on at some point, and we can drill down into some of this stuff.
Damon Suede: Any time. It would be my very great honor. Thank you so much.
James Blatch: Yeah, it’s Damon Suede. I was disappointed he wasn’t dressed head to toe in suede, which I think is what you were hoping.
Mark Dawson: Well, that’s the dream, yes. We would have loved to have seen that, but … Damon went down very well at NINC last year, so great to get him on the podcast. Very interesting.
James Blatch: He’s going to do the rounds, I think, at the events this year as well, so we’ll catch up with Damon, and yeah. I haven’t read a Damon Suede, and I’m not sure what … I can’t remember from the interview now what sort of subgenres we went into, but I wonder how prevalent male romance writers are overall in romance writing.
We don’t come across a lot, but I know people do every now and then introduce themselves to me, and they are male romance writers, but I wonder how much of that is straight, how much of that is gay, how much of that is all the subgenres of romance, and whether some writers have a nom de plume that’s the opposite gender.
Mark Dawson: Yes. You’ve answered your own question there. I’m sure there are lots of … and I know there are lots of male romance writers, but a lot of them will pretend to be women, or may not pretend to be women, they’ll just be ambiguous with their pseudonym, so could be J.R. Blatch.
James Blatch: Or Lesley.
Mark Dawson: Lesley Blatch. Yeah.
James Blatch: Hilary.
Mark Dawson: Hilary Blatch. That would work quite well, yes.
James Blatch: There was a Hilary Blatch. Hilary Blatch was a … I have to mention her now. Hilary Stanson Blatch was a women’s votes … suffragette, that’s the word.
Mark Dawson: There you go.
James Blatch: She was a suffragette.
Mark Dawson: You got there in the end.
James Blatch: I think she was in the United States, actually.
Mark Dawson: Okay. Yeah. Entirely possible that … well, it’s more than possible. I know there are lots of authors who are writing romance, but not necessarily saying that they’re men, and I can kind of understand why that might be. Yes, I don’t think it’s that unusual.
James Blatch: Yeah. It’s commercial considerations, and lots of people change their name, and not because they necessarily want to hide their own identity, but because, one, their name … There’s something about aesthetic about some names, okay? Fred Bloggs, if that happened to be your name, might not look as good on a romance cover as Sylvia DeBeer or something, so people do come up with names because they aesthetically seem to work better on the cover of a book.
Mark Dawson: They do, yes. Absolutely. I can think of plenty of examples.
James Blatch: John LeCarre.
Mark Dawson: Yes. Exactly. His name is David … I can’t remember his name, but yes, he’s a very good example. There are plenty of authors like that.
James Blatch: Yeah.
Mark Dawson: J.K. Rowling, obviously that is her name. It’s not Joanne Rowling. I think she chose J.K. because she didn’t want people to dismiss her work because she was a woman writing fantasy. I think that was the reason for that, and then obviously she’s got another pseudonym as Robert Galbraith, writing police procedurals. Yeah, interesting.
It’s probably a podcast topic in terms of what people choose to name themselves when they write books.
James Blatch: Well, a little book update from me, I’m in the final stages now obviously of the marketing, and potentially need to come up with a name. I mean, I’ve got a name, James Blatch, which is on the cover at the moment, but I could have J.R. Blatch, and this decision is one that’s going to stick with me for a while, so need to make a … J.R. Blatch I think works quite well.
Mark Dawson: I don’t know. I think James Blatch is fine.
James Blatch: The other exciting thing that’s happened this week is that the findings … I gave it to my dad to look at, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, and one of the things he said straight away is, looking at the cover, that the pilot is wearing the wrong clothes.
He’s wearing World War II Mae West, and flight suit, as the Americans call it, and you need to be 1960s jet, which is silver helmet, oxygen mask, a different kind of Mae West life preserver, and so I had to really dig around to find it, and nearly all of the good pictures are in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, which they do license, and there’s a form you fill in to license.
Oh my goodness. That turned into a bit of a nightmare. I asked to license this image. I did the cutout, replaced the pilot. Stewart had a look at it. All worked nicely, and then the Imperial War Museum, who’ve inherited these pictures, by the way, from the taxpayer, effectively, from the RAF, said that they felt that any cutting out of their images would trivialize the subject, and they refused permission to use it.
I don’t quite understand. I think they’re being a little bit precious about it because, as I say, these pictures are the public’s pictures. They happen to be looking after them. To decide that you can’t use one of their images in any way, shape or form, unless it’s exactly just the whole photograph, is a bit restrictive. It’s not as if I’m using it on a work of extremes, of pornography or something like that, which I can imagine they’d have a policy.
Mark Dawson: Yes.
James Blatch: After that disappointment, the exciting news is that Stewart’s suggesting is we go to two of the big costumers in the UK, who basically hoard all these old uniforms and costumes going back hundreds of years, and they supply to the film and stage industry. He works with them quite regularly to get a bespoke stock picture, and of course, they do have a range of this uniform, and they need a model.
Mark Dawson: Oh, dear.
James Blatch: This is the exciting thing, is that I’m now in touch with them. We’re going to arrange a date, and I could be the silhouette on the front cover of my own book. I cannot wait.
Mark Dawson: Oh my goodness. That’s very self-referential.
James Blatch: Well, yeah. I reveal myself.
Mark Dawson: No, I think it should be Mr. Dyer.
James Blatch: Yeah.
Mark Dawson: The Indian contingent flying 1950s nuclear bombers. I think that’s what we really need.
James Blatch: Can you imagine? That could be my next book. Yeah, so I’m currently doing that. There’s a lot of effort going into this cover.
Mark Dawson: Can you imagine if John was flying Vulcans in the ’50s? Commander Dyer.
James Blatch: We might not be here anymore.
Mark Dawson: Where are you?
James Blatch: Yeah.
Mark Dawson: Have you taken off yet? Not yet. No. Just having a sleep.
James Blatch: Or, yeah, they have very long flights over to the far east of Russia. He could have just slept, carried on to Japan. Yes, no, let’s not imagine that. I’m sure John would be a very … he could have organized some of the aspects of the flying, perhaps not doing the flying.
Mark Dawson: Possibly. Yes.
James Blatch: Or releasing the bombs.
Mark Dawson: No, maybe not.
James Blatch: Or navigating. Maybe he could do the radio. Turn the radio on and off.
Mark Dawson: Maybe. Yeah. He’s got a nice radio voice.
James Blatch: Bless John. We’ve missed him. He’s been away for a couple of weeks, and he’s back, I think, today. They’ve been in California. I imagine they’ve had a fantastic time. I’ve seen the odd picture, and I’ve just booked my outbound flights for California next year, so fair warning, Dawson. I’m going with the family about this time next year away.
Mark Dawson: Okay. I’ll bear that in mind.
James Blatch: Good. Okay. That’s it.
Thank you very much indeed to Damon Suede for the excellent interview. You may get a chance to bump into Damon if you go to a couple of the events.
Next week we will talk about the live training we’ve got coming up as part of SPFU, and I’ll also refresh your memories that we have a couple of live events in the autumn as well. We’ll be delighted to see you at those. But until then, I’m about to go to Yorkshire and see some in-laws.
Mark Dawson: I’m about to go and pick up a replacement car to replace my dear departed Porsche.
James Blatch: When you own a Porsche, and they provide a replacement car, is it of equivalent status?
Mark Dawson: Well, that’s what I asked for, and they’ve actually put me in touch with … the hire car company have what they call an exotic collection. I looked at it last night, and it did actually look quite nice.
They’ve got things like Lamborghini Huracan, and they’re not ideal for getting child seats in the back. I looked at that. Decided against it. They’ve got things like Bentleys, Rolls-Royces. Those are not on the available platter for me, unfortunately, so I think they’ve given me a Range Rover Sport, which will do. That will be fine for a trip in a week or two.
James Blatch: Okay. Well, remind me to ask you about the Range Rover backseat, because I need to have a question answered, because I’m potentially going to borrow one next year for our skiing trip. This is a trivial bit of information, but-
Mark Dawson: Listeners are interested to know that you want to know about the backseat of a Range Rover. We can update everyone, because I know people will be excited. I’ll let you know next week.
James Blatch: Yes. We’ll put out a special bulletin during the week.
Mark Dawson: Yes.
James Blatch: Maybe get young Tom to include it in his spotlight podcast.
Mark Dawson: Absolutely.
James Blatch: We should give a quick plug for that, actually, whilst we’re here. That is released on a Wednesday at all the usual channels, but the YouTube version, even though there’s no imagery, he’s not done a video like this one is, one that people seem to draw people to, and they’ve been some really excellent interviews in that, including your truly. I mean, as in you, not me.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, me. Yes.
James Blatch: Yeah, well, both of us, but you’ve been the most recent.
Mark Dawson: I have, yes, and I listened to it this week. David Penny was on this week in historical mysteries. It was very good. Young Tom is getting better as an interviewer, as we have ruthlessly telling him not to say things like cool and radical. Whatever young kids say. We’re basically trying to turn him into an old Blatch. The Blatch model.
James Blatch: Yeah. He needs to regress to Edwardian standards of everything.
Mark Dawson: That’s the dream.
James Blatch: Good. Okay. Thank you very much indeed, Mark. Thank you, Damon.
Thank you, everyone, for listening this week. It’s been our pleasure, as always, to bring the podcast. We’ll be back next week. I think we are talking, from memory, about Amazon advertising, Amazon Marketing Services. They’re not actually called that anymore, are they? What are they called? Just Amazon ads?
Mark Dawson: Amazon Advertising. Yeah.
James Blatch: Amazon Advertising. There you go. A very, very important platform, so big interview next week on that. Great. That’s it. Have a great week writing and a fantastic week selling your books. We’ll see you next Friday, and finally, Mark, you can say it.
Mark Dawson: It’s goodbye from me.
James Blatch: And it’s goodbye from him. Goodbye.
Mark Dawson: Bye.
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