Monday, December 15, 2014

A Conversation with Thriller Writer Max Austin

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Max Austin
with Max Austin

We are delighted to welcome author Max Austin to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of TLC Book Tours, which is coordinating his current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find his schedule here.

Max — a pen name for Steve Brewer — takes readers back to Albuquerque for an action-packed thrill ride in the second in series Duke City Hit (Alibi; December 2014 ebook formats), as an elite assassin takes aim at — well, everyone.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Steve about his new series.

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Omnimystery News: You've written both series novels and stand-alones. How do you decide which it will be when you start a new book?

Max Austin
Photo provided courtesy of
Max Austin

Max Austin: Mostly, I write stand-alones these days, but I always have a few characters walk away at the end, in case a publisher wants a sequel. That's what happened with the Duke City books. I wrote Duke City Split as a standalone, but it interested my editor at Alibi, so I wrote two more novels with overlapping story lines and characters. The main characters of each novel are different, so they work as standalones as well. A reader can jump in anywhere.

I usually start with a plot idea I want to explore, but sometimes I set out to devise a novel for a specific character. I've written nine stories now featuring my bumbling Albuquerque private eye Bubba Mabry, and some of the characters and locations in those novels pop up in the standalones. We're all one big happy family here in the Albuquerque of my imagination.

OMN: How do you categorize your books?

MA: I write books about crooks. Sometimes, a cop or a private eye is the hero, but the crooks are the ones I find most interesting. My publisher calls the Duke City books "hard-boiled thrillers" and I think that's accurate, though the third one, Duke City Desperado, sure has a lot of comedy in it. My style has become increasingly cinematic, tighter and tighter, until now it would best be described as "dialogue with occasional shooting."

OMN: Give us a summary of Duek City Hit in a tweet.

MA: Urbane hit man discovers he has a grown son. Son wants to get into the family business. Together, they face a Mexican drug lord and his private army. #veryshooty

OMN: Tell us more about your writing process.

MA: I sketch out a novel with a pen and legal pad, covering the major characters and plot points. Then I type up an outline, generally one paragraph per chapter, covering the action from beginning to end. I stick pretty close to that outline while hammering out the first draft in six weeks or so, then I spend months rewriting and polishing.

OMN: Where do you usually find yourself writing?

MA: We recently fixed up a 65-year-old home near the University of New Mexico, and I now have the best writing space ever. A big, airy room with its own bath, fireplace and fridge. Lots of natural light, but the windows are set up high, so the view is all trees and sky. In the past, I've written in the family room, in a closet (it had a little window!), in the basement, and in various converted bedrooms. I can't work in coffee shops. Too much muttering and cursing.

OMN: What prompted you to use a pen name for this series?

MA: It was my agent's idea. He thought these Duke City novels took my work in a new, grittier direction. The name "Max Austin" comes from the names of my two grown sons, and they get a kick out of that. I hope readers who discover Max Austin will go read my books written as Steve Brewer, and vice versa.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

MA: My idols:

• Elmore Leonard, the master of dialogue.
• Donald E. Westlake/Richard Stark. (A twofer! I love all his books.)
• Ross Thomas, who showed crooks often are the interesting ones.
• Patricia Highsmith, who took us inside their heads.
• Adam Hall. Great pacing in his 19 novels featuring a fractious British spy named Quiller.

OMN: What's next for you?

MA: I'm writing a fourth Duke City novel that ties together threads and characters from the first three books. Lots of fun so far.

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Max Austin Book Tour

A former journalist and humor columnist, Steve Brewer is the author of 25 books, including Lonely Street, which was made into a 2009 Hollywood comedy. As Max Austin, he writes hard-boiled crime novels set in "Duke City," the nickname for Albuquerque, NM, where he lives.

For more information about the author, please visit his website and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Duke City Hit by Max Austin

Duke City Hit
Max Austin
A Lawbreakers Thriller

According to Vic Walters, the secret to happiness is low overhead and few demands. Living rent-free in a modest bachelor pad behind his boss's house, he has no debts, no entanglements, and no expensive relationships. He works just a few days a month, but his bank accounts keep growing.

Vic is a high-priced hitman with a legendary record of success. That is, until someone starts eliminating his marks before he can get to them … until his manager puts him in the middle of a vicious drug-cartel feud … and until a young man walks into his life with a big .45 and a startling revelation.

For Vic Walters, it's time to step out of the shadows. Which means it's killing time in Duke City.

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