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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. 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.

The Big Thrill caught up to author Dan Stout to discuss his debut thriller, TITANSHADE:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

For me, it was the setting. I took part in a 90-minute flash fiction challenge, and when I started writing, the majority of the first chapter came tumbling out, along with the city of Titanshade’s character and history.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

The progressively darker tone of noir is a perfect match for a former oil boomtown trapped in a downward spiral of physical and economic deterioration. Because that grit is cut with the wondrous nature of the speculative elements, the book was a joy to write. (I just hope it’s as much fun to read.)

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

My learning curve as a writer took me through many genres and structures, but almost all of them were short-form. Working in the expanded world of a novel was a difficult mental adjustment, and required countless sheets of scribbled notes and swearing. But it was also the greatest opportunity, allowing me to dive deeper into my characters than I ever had before.


Dan Stout lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes about half-truths and double-crosses. His 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. His work has appeared in publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Nature.

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