Damon reviewed one of my early works, one that was written in a flurry of anxious, anguished desperation when I realized: A) I had become entangled with an unethical and mean-spirited publisher several years ago B) I had received an invitation to submit to Amber Quill Press and it was a legitimate invitation (I nearly died of shock) and C) I had NOTHING to offer Amber. Panic in Detroit, as it were. I'm still rather fond of A Different Breed but I recognize that I wrote it a bit too quickly.
So did Damon. He wrote one of the most thoughtful, insightful reviews I have ever received from any reviewer. He had obviously enjoyed the story but he pointed out in a funny, gentle, slightly manic way that it had flaws. I agreed and thanked him. He didn't attack me as a writer or as a person. He simply told me what he thought, something that's become more and more rare in reviews.
I saw Damon around and about on the intertubes after that, but then he announced he was releasing his own novel. Squee of excitement in the reader half of my brain, so of course I stalked him, er, showed up at the release party on GR so I could ask a hundred trillion questions. See, some authors are all out there on a visible level. You read their work and you know what it's all about. There are no questions. I'd seen enough of Damon at this point to know there was a lot of weird shit going on in that manic brain and if you poked a bit, you might get to see more.
I do love Hot Head and have read it several times and, yes, there were layers of thought that went into the story, an outpouring of things that had to be said. In the still-raw emotional wreckage of 9/11, it was an anthem, a remembrance, and a poignant journey.
And, damn. Griff is hot.
But it's no longer my favorite Damon story. He delved into SF shortly after that and wrote two related pieces, a short titled "Seedy Business" which was fast-paced and often darkly hilarious, and a more serious piece, Grown Men, which I absolutely adored. It didn't have the widespread success of Hot Head but the sad fact is that contemporary will always outsell SF. I loved it. Lurved it. Damon understands world-building, I think, in a more instinctive way than a lot of romance writers - material culture, political motives, and economic structures are all important pillars of how a character will react and respond to situations in any new world. Heck, it's vital to what situations there will be in the first place. You could easily dismiss Ox and Runt by saying "oh, there's that old M/M trope again, the big man/little man one." You could, if you're one of those readers who can't absorb anything past the most superficial and obvious. They are a couple of the most unique characters I've yet to come across in any genre and their story is quite astounding. (Some of the sex gets rather inventive, too, but that's a different story.)
I actually met Damon at last year's GRL and got a lovely hug and was rather tongue tied and shy. He is, if you have not met him yet, a human typhoon. He often sweeps into a room, rattles it about, and sweeps out again. The man has so much energy it's kind of scary to watch sometimes and while his brain is capable of darting in several directions at once, it's the intensity of focus as he sweeps in and out that makes heads turn. (OK, and he's not bad to look at. There, I said it.) The kilt did make an appearance at the readings (I have grainy pictures) and there was some pretty elastic dancing as I recall.
Anyway. Damon's new project A Bad Idea is one that I'll want to snap up. Currently reading through Horn Gate, which I do believe is related - and it has the Itch series attached to it on the DPS website. You gotta love the promise of a series...
This year, maybe I'll siphon off a little of Damon's energy. Discreetly. Not too much. I don't think he'll notice, do you? ;)