By Jay Stringer
Can you believe it? Do Some Damage is a decade old today. We've been doing this thing for ten whole years. They say doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results, is the definition of insanity. I say it's the definition of practice. I think the site has spent a decade giving platforms to a variety of authors. Established and new. Indie and traditional. The online crime fiction community has changed and evolved a lot over the last ten years, but DSD has been here for all of it.
I sat down with the site's co-founder, Steve Weddle, to talk about how it all started, and and how the conversation has evolved along the way.
JS: So back in 2009, I was busy being funny on Twitter when I was contacted by Steve Weddle about starting a website. Steve, what gave you this weird idea?
SW: You're blaming me for this? I guess that's fair. I'd had lunch with our agent and she suggested contacting you when I told her what I had in mind. Wait, there was a part before that, though. The idea. Right. There were some group blogs out there that I was reading. First Offenders. Kill Zone. Hey, There's A Dead Guy. I loved these blogs because they were written by people who knew the business, who knew what they were doing. I guess I was interested in hearing from talented people, some with experience and, honestly, some who didn't have a clue what they were doing.
JS: That last line explains why Dave White was allowed to stick around for so long. I'm getting old and forgetful, who else was in that first crew, and did we ever get caught for the heist?
SW: We launched with me on Mondays and you on Tuesdays. John McFetridge took Wednesdays, Dave White on Thursdays, and Russel D. McLean was our Friday guy. Weekends were Scott D. Parker and Mike Knowles. So, it was all dudes, but we had a couple guys from the UK, two from Canada, two from southern states, and Dave White.
JS: 'Do Some Damage.' Where did that come from? Isn't it like a crime writers code that the title should come from a song? I'm pretty sure I suggested many fine Tom Waits lyrics.
SW: You suggested 37 lines and titles from Tom Waits songs, yes. As I recall, we’d come with some phrases and worked through what was and wasn’t available as a URL. I thought “First Offenders” was such a great name for their blog, as it was debut crime fiction authors, so you’re working on more than one level. And the DSD name was much catchier than “Have Someone Holding a Gun Walk Through the Door dot org.”
JS: I have a write-in question here from a Mr. Scott D Parker, of Texas. He says, "Am I the only original member left on his original day?" But I think Scott's just showing off, so we won't answer it.
SW: Not just on his original day. Scott’s the only old-timer still posting regularly at all.
JS: I don't know about you, but I loved those first few months. It felt like we all had something to say. The site picked up regular readers fast and some of 'em are still here.
SW: Back then, before social media was as big as it is, we met many other readers and writers and had conversations on the site itself. What’s changed, one of the many things, is that while we’re still getting our traffic each day, people are sharing the posts on Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere and having conversations there. You go back to the old posts from 10 years ago and we’re 30 comments deep much of the time, as if we were all in the same room chatting back and forth and ordering pint after pint. Now you’ll see a line from a DSD post pop up on Twitter with folks replying back and forth on a thread there. Of course, most of those folks are some of the same readers from August of 2009.
JS: It’s been an interesting shift. The way the conversation has moved out of the site, into the socials. I wonder how that’s changed the nature of blogging? Back in the day, I was happy to ask some dumb, open, or ‘big’ questions knowing that the conversation was going to be in our own room. Would I be as open to doing that now? I’m not sure. I guess now you need to be clearer about your intent straight away, leave less room for misinterpretation?
SW: The “our own room” is interesting, because it did seem that we were all friends and friends-of-friends having a conversation and not being afraid of being wrong. Also, many of us were trying out chapters from our works-in-progress and people would chime in to say it stinks or it works or needs more salt. We tried more things back then, I think.
JS: I think in those early days we could still be anything. Like, some weeks we might run a two-parter long form interview with Scott Phillips, other weeks we might have some pictures of geese. Or you’d poke the Franzenbear. I guess that version of the internet was all about what we wanted to put out, to lead a conversation. Now it’s more about what everyone else wants to say, and a blog is part of the conversation. I’m definitely better at listening now than I was back then. Also, we looked a bit like an exclusive men only-club when we started. There was only Dave without a beard. (He made that fake one out of Taylor Ham, but then he ate it.)
SW: In early 2010, Mike Knowles dropped out, and we brought in Joelle Charbonneau and Byron Quertermous for that slot. That was also the first slot in which we started alternating authors, with Joelle and Byron posting every other week, as their schedule. We’ve done much more of this, which helps give us more and more variation and diversity, more voices for the site. Soon enough, we were putting out anthologies of our own, starting with Terminal Damage, launching a podcast, kicking off a book club on Goodreads, and so forth.
JS: I miss that podcast. Back in 2010, there was a lot of room to play in that field. Really, we’d only had Clute and Edwards, Seth Harwood. Then we turned up with our show, and the asshole hosts kept going off on Doctor Who tangents, totally missing the point of a crime fiction podcast.
SW: And our “Seven Minutes With” podcast now doesn’t even mention crime fiction at all. We’re rubbish at this. That said, you ought to get the gang back together for a run at Doctor Who, at the very least. Also, didn’t you folks talk about the Bond movies?
JS: Bond, definitely. And comic books. I bet we were all wrong on so many things back then. It’s not like the internet holds grudges though, right? We got to interview a bunch of cool people on the show, too. Like Chuck Wendig, back before he was trying to destroy Star Wars with gayness.
SW: What’s nice is that we’ve had authors with a dozen credits, some with none, some critics, some bloggers, filmmakers, musicians. We’ve done book reviews and interviews since day one, and I’d estimate our review/interview count is somewhere in the gabillions, by now. I hope we’ve introduced people to a number of cool readers and writers along the way.
JS: I think one of my favourite memories was the Christmas Noir we did early on, a whole season of themed flash fiction stories. Looking back, we had some great writers chipping in on that.
SW: Yeah. We did quite a few flash challenges. When did that stop being a thing? I liked those.
JS: Are we volunteering to host one?
JS: It sounded like….
JS: Hmmm. Okay. Well, someone should host one. Not mentioning any names. We should also say, we’ve lost a few friends along the way.
SW: Yeah, I’ve mourned good people I wouldn’t have met without this blog.
JS: Well, it’s been a good run, but I guess it’s time to announce that we’re clo-
JS: ...carrying on for another ten years, yep, that’s exactly what I was about to say.
SW: At least another decade. But enough about us. What about all those other old timers who started out with us years back?
JS: Hey, wasn't I supposed to be the one asking the questions?
SW: Just answer it, Limey.
JS: Well, I'm excited to say, we've put together a small reunion tour. Can we hashtag that? #DSDReunionTour? I think we can. For the next eight days, we'll have a new post every day from a DSD alumni. Authors we've hosted here along their journey. (The real reason is, one of these people stole the key to the clubhouse's washroom, and we're bringing them all back to find out who it was. But shhhhhhhhh.) After that, we hand the keys (including the washroom) back to the current roster, as they kick DSD off into the next ten years.
Here's the schedule for the #DSDReunionTour
August 2nd: Kristi Belcamino
August 3rd: Scott D. Parker
August 4th: Holly West
August 5th: Steve Weddle
August 6th: Jay Stringer
August 7th: John McFetridge
August 8th: Dave White
August 9th: Russel D. McLean
August 11th: Joelle Charbonneau
August 11th: Joelle Charbonneau