Monday 27 June 2011

Steve Brewer interview: Calabama

Calabama by Steve Brewer
Amazon UK, Amazon US

Steve Brewer is the author of CALABAMA and 17 other crime novels. The recent Hollywood comedy LONELY STREET was based on his Bubba Mabry private eye series, and his car thief novel BOOST is currently under film/TV option.

Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words?

CALABAMA is hillbilly noir set in far Northern California. A young wastrel, his life in a spiral, gets mixed up in a doomed kidnapping scheme.

How important is a good title?

Very important, particularly in this case. As soon as I first heard the term "Calabama," I knew I'd write a book to go under that title. "Calabama" refers to the rural, redneck interior of California, a place my protagonist, Eric Newlin, wants to escape. Eric wants the California Dream, and he ends up in a Calabama nightmare.

How long did it take you to write?

Three months to do the first draft, then another four months of rewriting and polishing. That's about standard for me.

Do you enjoy writing?

I do. I've worked as a writer since I was 18 years old, first as a newspaper/wire service reporter, then as a syndicated columnist and author. Fiction is the most fun.

What's your favorite part of the writing process?

The part at the beginning, where I'm dreaming up the story and writing the first draft. Rewriting is always a slog, though I sure seem to do a lot of it.

How much difference does an editor make? And who did your cover?

My wife Kelly Brewer is a professional editor with thirty years' experience. She's also done several of my covers, including the one for CALABAMA. I find it very handy to have such a person around the house, and suggest all you writers go find your own.

As a writer, how would you describe your ideal reader's taste in crime fiction?

My ideal reader loves novels that mix humor and suspense, and dark novels that push the boundaries of the genre. This reader's crime fiction favorites would mirror my own: Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, Ross Thomas, Ken Bruen, James Crumley, Mo Hayder, James Sallis, Daniel Woodrell, Patricia Highsmith, Martin Cruz Smith.

What crime book are you most looking forward to reading?

Elmore Leonard is writing a new novel, "Raylan," featuring the U.S. marshal from the TV series "Justified." I'm a big fan of the show, and its popularity was one reason I decided to publish CALABAMA as an e-book now rather than let it bounce around New York publishing houses. Fans of "Justified" will love this book.

If you had to re-read a crime novel right now, what would you choose?

I was thinking just yesterday that I should read Pete Dexter's "Paris Trout" again. One of my all-time favorites.

Do you have other projects on the go?

My agent (Doug Grad) has a couple of manuscripts, LOST VEGAS and THE BIG WINK, that he's showing around New York. I'm doing final revisions on a light-hearted mystery called A BOX OF PANDORAS.

Calabama by Steve Brewer
Amazon UK, Amazon US


  1. Nice interview and thanks for the reading list. I know all of those authors' works -- some well -- except Mo Hayder. So I'll have to check her out. (Where should I start?) I'm still too traumatized by Paris Trout to read it again. For more rural Georgia, you should check out Feast of Snakes if you haven't read that.

  2. nice plug for Kelly; since you aren't sharing, would you please clone her?