If everything is going according to plan, I am currently sitting beachside with a copy of Titanshade in one hand and a margarita in the other!
**If everything is not going according to the plan, someone might want to send bail money.
After vacation edit: I survived. No bail money required!! I was grateful enough to start Titanshade beachside and hope to finish it by the end of the month!
But, you are not here to talk about my beach adventures. You are here because of your desire to consume and devour books and hopefully find a new book obsession, right? Lucky you, I have this fun little interview with the author of Titanshade, Dan Stout and all of the info one could desire about his newly released noir fantasy thriller...TITANSHADE!
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.
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 his 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 Mad Scientist Journal.
Everyone welcome Dan Stout to Booked & Loaded!
B&L: Welcome, Dan! I have been looking forward to getting my hands on Titanshade after being struck curious by its cover and totally intrigued after reading the blurb! I will never apologize for being a cover junky!!!
Dan: Thanks for having me. And no need to apologize— I am unashamed about my love for cover illustration and design! This past year I scored a major holiday haul when I was gifted copies of Art & Arcana and Paperbacks From Hell, both of which are deep dives into the kind of cover art and illustration I loved as a kid and an adult.
B&L: What did expect before seeing the cover for yourself?
Dan: So, one of the incredible things about working with DAW Books is that they love it when the author has a vision for the cover. My editor, Sheila Gilbert, asked if I had any suggestions, and I was able to pitch a rough idea. When the cover artist, Chris McGrath, got involved, he got an advance copy of the manuscript, and checked in regularly to make sure the artwork was in-line my vision of the characters. DAW just connected us on email and let us go at it. Seeing my characters come to life like that was geek heaven.
Of course, Chris is a brilliant artist, so he took my rough concept and delivered something far beyond my initial ideas. He pretty much blew my mind with every sketch and iteration. He also brought a ton of small details that help put it over the edge—things like the aviator sunglasses that really make the cover pop.
B&L: Do you feel it accurately reflects the feel of Titanshade?
Dan: Absolutely! After seeing Chris’s artwork, I knew that the final look was going to be good, but the finished design exceeded my expectations. From the slight tilt to the artwork to the spray-paint feel of the title logo and the distressed treatment give the book a torn and ragged feel that’s a perfect match for the story inside. It’s so clear that the team at DAW really got the feel of the book and took the time to bring it to life. I’d love to give a shout-out to Katie Anderson, who did the jacket design, and Alissa Rose Theodor, who did the interior.
B&L: What inspired you to write a book where 8-tracks are high tech?
Dan: I’m really fascinated by the concept of fantasy worlds apart from ours: the Middle Earths and Krynns and so on. But they’re so often these pseudo-medieval settings, that I would always wonder what would happen once they had an industrial revolution, and started seeing increased urbanization. Eventually, these cultures would evolve, and go through eras similar to our own, while still very different in feel.
I guess I could have worked in any era in this world, but the late 70s/early 80s felt right for the grit and grime of a fading oil boomtown.
There are more and more post-industrial fantasy novels appearing on shelves, led by titles like Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence or Fonda Lee’s Jade City, so I know I’m not the only person interested in exploring these concepts. It’s a really exciting space to be creating in right now!
B&L: If you could have dinner with any ONE character in Titanshade, who would it be and why?
Dan: Hmm… Well, it’d definitely be one of the Mollenkampi. I spent a lot of time thinking through the mechanics of how they eat and breathe, so I’d love to actually see it in action. Partly because it’d be awesome, and partly to check my work!
As for which one, I think I’d go with Angus. He’s not the most sincere person in the book, but he’d be an amazing source of gossip about the other characters. If I could sneak a microphone into that lunch I’d have enough material for another three books.
B&L: What do you hope readers enjoy the most about Titanshade?
Dan: Titanshade is a novel filled with grim events, violence, and mystery. But those elements are undercut with an optimism about people’s ability to find connections and help one another. Don’t get me wrong, if someone reads the book and just enjoys the surface action, I’ll count that as a win— providing an enjoyable read is no small accomplishment! But if they find themselves moved by those smaller, quieter moments… that’ll be something special to hear about.
B&L: What is next? Are you planning to write more in this world?
Dan: Absolutely! I’m hard at work on the sequel, and I’ve got a few short stories and novellas laid out. The shorter works will be interesting dives into the world beyond Titanshade’s city limits, and I have a heist novella plotted out that I think will be fun to explore.
B&L: Since music seems to be close to your heart if you were stranded on an island with ONE album to listen to and you could have your pick, what would it be?
Dan: Oh, man… that’s tough! Since you don’t want to be here all day listening to me tick off the pros and cons of a hundred different albums, I’m going to go with a Titanshade theme, and say The Velvet Underground & Nico. To me it functions as a bridge between garage rock of the 60s and the droning wail of Giorgio Moroder-style disco.
And since you brought up music, I’ve got to mention that DAW has helped me create a Titanshade-themed playlist on Spotify. It’s got a blend of classic rock, disco, and retro-funk. If you’ve got a Spotify account, just search for “Titanshade” and the playlist should pop right up!
B&L: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and for giving readers a fascinating new world to visit!
Dan: My pleasure. Talking about this stuff is pretty much my favorite thing, and I appreciate you having me on!