Review with Interview: Titanshade by Dan Stout

Titan Shade by Dan Stout

Synopsis and Details:

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.

Series: The Carter Archives #1  |  Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Crime  |  Release Date: March 12, 2019  |  Publisher: DAW Books  | Pages: 416  |  ISBN: 978-0756414863  |  ASIN: B07DT3HZFZ  |  Format: ARC  |  Source: Netgalley

Review with Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you have been reading my reviews for any amount of time then you know that I swoon for eye catching covers and Titanshade’s cover is exactly the kind of cover to grab my interest. The story itself was such a clever piece of fiction that I could not set this book down once I started reading it. The setting for Titanshade was a gritty and seedy isolated metropolis with characters who are all just trying to get by. There are also those who have no problem stepping on the backs of others just to get their agenda met. Detective Carter is an honest man who had been dealt many blows in his career but none worse than the blow he had unexpectedly dealt himself.

A high-profile murder had taken place and it was all personal on deck for this one because it was a savage crime that was mired with political implications. This was one crime that Carter would love to have distanced himself from but the powers that be would not entertain that idea. Instead, Carter was assigned a Mollenkampi partner that Carter could have done without. He was used to working alone and it was how he preferred it. With implications for the murder reaching a little too close to home Carter was going to have to push all his street knowledge and cred to the breaking point in order to solve the crime that had left everyone aghast at the brutality of it.

I loved reading this fantasy noir! Titanshade was a wonderful blend of magical realism, police procedural, and thriller!! It was non-stop entertainment but also managed to grab my emotions. Carter was a complex character who was a hardened detective with a lifetime of regrets but always tried to do what he felt was right. The pacing of this story was tight, fast, and will grab your interest and not let go until the end! The dialogue in this story is exactly what you would expect from a police drama and was quite clever in its delivery. Titanshade was an exemplary piece of fiction that has me very excited to read more from this debut author!!

*Thank you to Daw Books & NetGalley for this ARC of Titanshade*

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This review is based on a complimentary book I received. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.


Interview with Author Dan Stout: 

Q. First, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a midwestern guy, born and raised in Ohio. I’ve kicked around and worked all kinds of jobs in all kinds of places, but now I’m settled down and I feel like storytelling is my true calling. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had!

Q. You are no stranger to writing, as you have had many short stories published in a variety of venues, what made you decide to sit down and write a full-length novel?

2014 was shaping up to be a pretty grim year for me. I’d lost my job, my fiancé and I had taken in a foster child, and I believe I had one or two stories published at the time. My stress level was sky-high, and writing seemed like a nice dream, but not something to be taken seriously. Then out of the blue, I got an email from Nat Sobel. He said that he’d read one of my stories, and he thought I might have the right voice to write a novel. So, I buckled down and carved time out of every day to learn the ins and outs of novel-length storytelling. I won’t lie—it was a lot of work, but I’m so proud of this book, and I can’t wait to share it with readers!

Q. Could you tell us a bit about your debut novel, Titanshade, and why it is a must-read? 

Titanshade is a blend of everything I love. There’s grim and gritty scenery, humor, action, and angst all rolled up into one package. Ideally people will read and enjoy the story, and I hope that they find an emotional connection with the characters.

Q. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

There used to be a writing community called Liberty Hall that ran flash fiction challenges every weekend. Members were given a prompt and then had 90 minutes to write a story. I don’t remember the specific prompt, but one of those weekend challenges resulted in the first chapter of Titanshade and an outline for the plot.

That probably makes it sound like it came out of nowhere, but I’m a big believer in the idea that concepts roll around in the back of our brains, waiting for the right chance to synthesize and spring out. Titanshade is probably something I was sitting on for years and didn’t know it.

 Q. What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your novel?

Well, recently while working on the sequel I researched catheters gone wrong. Trust me: don’t google that phrase. No one should ever google that phrase!

Not going to lie I am sooooo excited to read a sequel and figure out where this research is going to show up, 🤣.

Q. Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.

I have a weird quirk of writing characters whose names all start with the same first letter. So, I’ll have Sam and Sandra and Sylvester in a scene, and it gets quite confusing. I know I have this habit, but I somehow can’t quite eliminate it from my first drafts. In Titanshade, the reason Mollenkampi males all have names beginning with A is an inside joke, poking fun at my own quirk. Hopefully it just seems like a bit of cool worldbuilding to most readers.

Q. What makes Detective Carter stand out as a fantasy protagonist?

On the surface Carter is bitter and jaded, but that’s because secretly he’s an idealist. He views the corruption that permeates Titanshade not with a cynic’s resignation, but with the disappointment of someone who believes that we can all do better.

Q. What was your hardest scene to write?

The scenes where Carter is doing the basic investigative grunt-work, because it’s so tricky to make a standard interview compelling and full of character development, while also driving the plot.

Q. What did you edit out of this book?

What an interesting question! I tend to put in too many characters into my early drafts, and there are quite a few who end up on the cutting room floor. There’s a radio personality named Handsome Hanford, and he originally made an actual appearance in the book. I liked his scene a lot, but it just didn’t work with the overall flow of the narrative. I’m hoping that he’ll get to show up in a later work, one way or another.

Q. Which character from your book would you most want to have a drink with?

One of the running jokes is that every time Carter is about to drink alcohol, something terrible happens. So definitely not him…

You know what? I think I’ll say Handsome Hanford, the radio DJ. I feel like I owe the guy a beer since he didn’t make the book!

Q. Do you have a favorite quote from Titanshade that you’d like to share with us?

There’s a few fun ones, but I’m partial to:

“Know the city, know the victims. Know the victims, and you’ll know the killer.

Crime fiction often focuses on the killers, and I understand why. But I believe that having empathy for the victim of a crime even if that victim wasn’t a likable person, is something we shouldn’t lose sight of.

Q. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Is it cheating if I say both?

For me, writing is like an intense workout, the kind that leaves you trembling with exhaustion, but knowing that you’ll have the energy it takes to face the rest of the day. It helps that I’m a morning person, and do most of my creative work before noon.

Q. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m hard at work on the sequel, and looking forward to sharing more about the wider setting of the world, even as we continue to focus on these characters. I’ve got a number of other projects in the works, but nothing definite. I’m a big advocate of keeping numerous irons in the fire, so hopefully some will hit and I’ll be able to come back to tell you more about them!

Q. Something for fun: You are being chased by Godzilla, what do you do?

This is the best question ever! The answer is that I’d whistle for Godzooky and have him intervene with his uncle.

My introduction to Godzilla was the 1970s Hanna Barbera cartoon, and for all the various appearances of Godzilla (and I love them all) that’s the definitive look in my head. I still keep an 18” shogun warrior Godzilla figure next to my writing desk, just so that he can keep on eye on my progress.

I love this answer! 

Q. Would you rather have a cat or dog? Why?

I’ve had both cats and dogs, as well as

an assortment of other animals, but I think that at the end of the day I’m a dog guy. There’s something magic about going on a hike or a run with a dog, then wrestling around until you’re both grinning like fools.

Q. Any last words?

Just to say thanks for having me, and that I appreciate the time investment that comes with reading a book. I hope anyone who picks up Titanshade will feel like it’s time well spent!

It was lovely to get to know you better and I know that I am looking forward to book 2 in The Carter Archives! Thank you for the interview.

🖋 ❤️ ✒️

About the Author:

Author Dan Stout

Dan Stout lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes noir with a twist of magic and a disco chaser. 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. He is the author of The Carter Archives, a series of noir fantasy novels from DAW Books.

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Categories: Excerpts, Interviews, Loved This Book!, Review

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