Buckeye Crime Writers member Dan Stout’s first novel, ‘Titanshade,’ is slated for release on March 12. He answered a few questions from BCW in advance of the release.
You recently Tweeted out a photo of you holding a stack of copies of your first book, Titanshade. When they arrived, can you even begin to describe what that moment felt like?
It was a pretty great feeling! There’s something much more concrete about the final product, even after seeing ARCs and proofs. But if I’m being honest, the real thrill is when I know that someone else has a copy and is getting ready to start reading. Because love it or hate it, they’ll be engaging with it. And once it’s in their head, it’ll stay there as an influence, no matter how subtle.
For me, that bit of cultural engagement is the real magic in any art, from literature to film to sculpture and more.
You not only wrote a detective story, you set it in a different world, where sorcerers, eight-tracks and disco are all the rage. What prompted you to create that kind of setting?
When I was a kid reading Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS, I used to wonder what someplace like Middle Earth would look like when the inhabitants began to develop technology. Eventually, they’d have their own industrial revolution, and then increased urbanization. And that in turn would require a centralized infrastructure and emergency services like fire and police departments. And of course, police departments mean police investigations. Add in the fact that fantastic creatures and magic are still around, and it’s a pretty fun sandbox to play in.
Tell us about your main character, Carter. How difficult was he to conceive, and then to let grow?
Carter’s voice came to me along with the core of the story. The trickier part was understanding the many ways in which he fails to understand the world around him. He’s a very observant person, but he has major blind spots. These are pointed out by those who support his case, and exploited by those who don’t.
Once I understood both his strengths and weaknesses, I was able to see the choices he’d make in a given situation. And from there, everything kind of fell into place.
How did you come up with the concept behind Titanshade?
I was a member of a writers’ website called Liberty Hall. There, once a week, a hidden prompt would be posted. If you viewed the post, a 90 minute timer would start to count down, and you’d have that long to write a story and post it to the site. All the stories were anonymized, and everyone who took part in that week’s challenge would give feedback. What was brilliant about the system was the time limit: you didn’t have time to second guess yourself, and the time frame meant that everyone understood that most of the submissions would be preliminary sketches at best. TITANSHADE came out of one of those challenges; I got the set-up and murder scene, along with a basic arc of the plot.
How long did it take you to write it?
It was almost exactly two years from writing the first sentence to my agent going out on submission with it. Of course, there were more edits after that, and in some ways I continue to add layers to the world and its inhabitants, so I don’t know that I’ll ever really be done writing that book!
What advice do you have for other writers who are still working to get their first books published?
Be as honest as you possibly can. Talk about the world as you know it, and tell stories about characters who behave in the most authentic way possible. (Even if that’s being authentically dishonest.)
When you’re honest about the truths you believe, and your characters have their own worldview, your stories will resonate with readers. From there, it’s just a numbers game before you have the audience you need to keep on going.
When does the book come out, and where can people buy it?
It comes out March 12th, 2019. It will be available in most book stores and libraries, and if they don’t have it, they can order you a copy! If you prefer to get your books online, it will be available at all major online vendors. The audio version releases at the same time, and will be available at all those spots, as well as on Audible. Links to all those sellers can be found on my website (DanStout.com).
Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about my book and my publishing journey!