The other day, a distant friend commented on a Facebook post about the Max Austin books, saying, "How did I not know you were writing under another name?"
This from a woman who's a big deal in the mystery community, one who organizes conferences and programs panels and knows everybody. And she didn't know about Max Austin? At first, I thought she was yanking my chain (she does have a wicked sense of humor). But no, she really hadn't heard about my pen name.
This is the worst thing about using a pen name. Friends and fans have never heard of Max Austin, while I've dropped off their radar. If they think of me at all, it's to wonder when the next Steve Brewer novel will be published.
I've done all I can to get the word out, to the point where I was sure all my social media "friends" were sick of hearing about DUKE CITY SPLIT and DUKE CITY HIT. But it turns out people still haven't heard about these new books, which were published in 2014 by Alibi, the new e-book imprint at Random House.
Using a pseudonym for the Duke City books wasn't my idea, and I wish now I'd fought to publish under my real name. I'm very proud of these books and, in some ways, they indicate a new direction in my work. I'm writing books about crooks these days, as opposed to mysteries with clues and red herrings and good guys and bad guys. In my latest thrillers, most everyone is a bad guy. Some are just worse than others.
The pen name was supposed to indicate this change in direction, and the publisher liked the idea of a hot new voice instead of an old warhorse like me. But we've suffered from the disconnect. I've published two dozen books under my own name and developed a small following, but that hasn't yet translated into sales for Max Austin. In some ways, it feels like starting over after more than 20 years in the business.
So, here I am, saying it again: For now, at least, I'm Max Austin, and I really wish you'd give these new
DUKE CITY DESPERADO, comes out in June. It's a comic thriller with great cover art, and I hope it finds its audience.
DUKE CITY DESPERADO is available for preorder now. Like the other two books, it's only $2.99.