Today I am interviewing Dan Stout, author of the new fantasy thriller novel, Titanshade.
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DJ: Hi Dan! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Dan Stout: Thank you so much for having me! I write quirky noir mysteries, often with a genre-bending twist. I’ve had a number of short stories published over the last few years, and my debut novel Titanshade, has just been released into the world!
DJ: What is Titanshade about?
Dan: It’s a noir fantasy thriller, set in a city on the edge of economic collapse. The story follows a homicide detective as he works a high-profile case, weaving his way through corrupt politicians, indifferent system, and dangerous street thugs. All of this plays out on a backdrop of magic and 1970s technology. In Titanshade there’s dirt in the gutters, disco on the radio, and a vicious killer on the loose.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Titanshade?
Dan: Oh, man—everything! I’m influenced by everything I consume, from books and comics to movies and TV. Even things that I don’t read or watch influence me, because they’re part of the cultural conversation. One great example is a series of books from TSR back in the 90s that were murder mysteries set in D&D campaign settings. I never read them, but I remember seeing them and thinking what a great idea it was. That kind of thing sat in the back of my head, combining with everything from Alien Nation to The Black Dahlia and The French Connection. The result is this book that’s a blend of all kinds of stories that I love, letting me explore what a fantasy world would look like after an industrial revolution.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Dan: A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from readers has been about how much they like the characters, and in particular how much they like the interaction between Carter and his partner, Ajax.
I do my best to make them (and all the characters) consistent in their intent, but erratic in their practices. We all have areas where we value something, whether it’s saving money or working out, where we don’t always perform as well as we’d like. Hopefully, that contradiction of action vs. intent serves to make the characters feel more grounded and believable.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?
Dan: There’s a detective named Bengles who I find pretty interesting. I didn’t get to explore her too much in the book, but I feel like there’s a lot of backstory to her character.
This may sound silly, but I try to give each character some kind of element that I’d want to explore further if I got the chance. So everyone who passes through the book has something – a scar, favorite food, an inside joke — that makes me wonder how it got there or why they picked up that habit. I figure that if I can keep my curiosity up, it’ll keep me thinking about them even when I’m not at my writing desk.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Titanshade like?
Dan: Titanshade itself is built alongside a mountain, and takes advantage of a series of geo-thermal vents that make it an oasis of warmth in the middle of a frozen tundra. It was originally settled by a group of people who wanted to set themselves apart from the rest of civilization, but with the discovery of oil in the ice plains, it was transformed into a boom town.
The nature of the geo-vent heating system means that there are distinct micro-climates, and parts of town that are far warmer than others. This reflects the economic disparity between the wealthy oil barons and politicians, and the roughnecks and rig workers who keep the city’s economic heart pumping.
Titanshade the city is very different from other parts of this world. It’s part of the Assembly of Free States, whose capital city Fracinica has the climate of Miami, the politics of Washington DC, and the canals of Venice. It’s just as corrupt and gritty, but it looks worlds apart.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Titanshade?
Dan: My favorite part of writing is the revision process. I think of it like weaving a tapestry, adding colored strands and pulling it tighter as you go. It’s during the revisions that the whole picture snaps into place. All of a sudden, the scene transforms from a bunch of stuff that happens into a Story. It happens with individual scenes, it happens with plot and character arcs, and it happens to the book as a whole. Those moments are pretty magical, and they’re a big part of the reason that I write.
(I should add a disclaimer that I’ve never woven a tapestry, and I have no idea if that’s actually how it works. If I’m wrong don’t tell me, because I like the image!)
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Dan: I hope they’ll be talking about how much fun it was. If I do my job right, there are elements here that will resonate with readers and take them on an emotional ride that covers everything from laughter to tension and maybe even some tears. More than anything, I just want to tell a good story, and have people enjoy the ride.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Titanshade that you can share with us?
Dan: “Nothing helps my thinking as much as seeing the people of the city go about their business. And nothing distracts me more than having to watch a Mollenkampi eat.”
There are a number of different species that inhabit Titanshade, and working out the way Mollenkampi eat with dual mouths was a lot of fun. Elements like this mean that two characters eating lunch can still have a sense of wonder, while also being grounded in the mundane reality of a quick meal. That kind of mix is essential to pull off the blending of noir and fantasy.
DJ: Now that Titanshade is released, what is next for you?
Dan: I’m hip-deep in the sequel, and working with my agent and editor to polish it into the best possible story it can be. I know that a lot of people enjoyed meeting Carter and the city of Titanshade, and I want to make sure I deliver an experience that’s as good or better in the follow-up novel.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/danstout
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bcX95n
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Titanshade that we haven’t talked about yet?
Dan: One of the reasons that I set the story in a fading oil town is that I wanted to examine how working class people live in a fantasy world. I’ve spent most of my life working with my hands, often living from paycheck to paycheck, and I felt that too many fantasies have a kind of romanticized view of poverty. Titanshade isn’t a sociology thesis, but I did want to explore what it would be like to be mostly worried about making ends meet in a world where there’s also magic and monsters.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Dan: Just that it was a real pleasure talking with you, and I hope people enjoy their time in Titanshade!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Titanshade is published DAW Books available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
This noir fantasy thriller from a debut author introduces the gritty town of Titanshade, where danger lurks around every corner.
Carter’s a homicide cop in Titanshade, an oil boomtown where 8-tracks are state of the art, disco rules the radio, and all the best sorcerers wear designer labels. It’s also a metropolis teetering on the edge of disaster. As its oil reserves run dry, the city’s future hangs on a possible investment from the reclusive amphibians known as Squibs.
But now negotiations have been derailed by the horrific murder of a Squib diplomat. The pressure’s never been higher to make a quick arrest, even as Carter’s investigation leads him into conflict with the city’s elite. Undermined by corrupt coworkers and falsified evidence, and with a suspect list that includes power-hungry politicians, oil magnates, and mad scientists, Carter must find the killer before the investigation turns into a witch-hunt and those closest to him pay the ultimate price on the filthy streets of Titanshade.
About the Author:
Dan Stout lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes about fever dreams and half-glimpsed shapes in the shadows. His prize-winning fiction draws on travels throughout Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim as well as an employment history spanning everything from subpoena server to assistant well driller. Dan’s stories have appeared in publications such as The Saturday Evening Post, Nature, and Intergalactic Medicine Show. His debut novel Titanshade is a noir fantasy thriller available from DAW Books. To say hello, visit him at www.DanStout.com.