On the Shelf: Crime novelist focused on creating community with other writers


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Steve Brewer’s path to writing began in high school as a journalist, which he did for 22 years until he released his first crime novel in 1994. The Albuquerque author and owner of Organic Books in Nob Hill said it was a learning curve to switch from writing non-fiction to fiction, but hasn’t looked back since.

His first novel, Lonely Street, was made into a film in 2009 starring Robert Patrick, Jay Mohr, and Joe Mantegna. Another of his books, Bank Job, is currently in development to be a feature film by the same director who made Lonely Street.

Brewer worked for the Associated Press for 10 years, which is what brought him to New Mexico in the first place. Having worked in the journalism field for so long, he called it a training ground to be a good fiction writer. “A lot of the skills are translatable, transferable, from non-fiction to fiction. Just making good sentences, the mechanics of it,” Brewer said.

He currently teaches writing at the Honor’s College at the University of New Mexico. One of the things that he stresses to his students in writing groups, is to keep things simple. “It’s all about rewriting, fiction is,” Brewer said. “I tell people just to throw it on the page for their first draft.”

As someone who’s a veteran writer and has dealt with different paths to publishing, Brewer said that process has changed over the course of his career. “It used to be really involved and a lot of back and forth between the author and editor, and all of that has been reduced. Of course, then there’s lots of people who are self-publishing, including me. Those people need to have readers, they need to have editors before they publish,” Brewer said. “I’m married to an editor, so that was a good choice, turns out.”

Brewer said owning a bookstore was his wife’s dream. In 2018, Brewer and his family opened Organic Books. It’s been their policy to sell books from local authors and help them get their foot in the door, supporting the New Mexico writing community, something the community has in turn reciprocated. “We feel like a real success story here in Nob Hill, because throughout all of this weirdness the last few years, the store just keeps getting better. We’re making more money, selling more books, it’s all both of what we want,” Brewer said.

Having experienced publishing at every level, from big publishers to self-publishing, Brewer said he embraced the freedom and accessibility of self-publishing. “It’s possible now. If you’ve got a book in you, you can get it out there in the world It wasn’t that way when I started. You couldn’t bypass all the gatekeepers and now you can,” Brewer said.

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