Infamous Ehrlich aide Joseph Steffen resurfaces as horror romance novelist

Joseph Steffen, who became known as “the Prince of Darkness” during his days of notoriety as an aide to former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), has resurfaced in a new role: author.

Steffen’s new novel, “Death, Wish,” lives up to his old nickname.

The story, set in the Fells Point and Canton neighborhoods of Baltimore, is built around the return of the lead character’s dead wife just days after her burial.

“Not a vampire, not a zombie . . . just dead at age 27,” says a blurb promoting the book on Amazon.com. “And it is at that point that this creepy, sad and sexy rollercoaster ride really begins.”

Steffen, who was forced to resign by Ehrlich in 2005 over a political dirty trick, said in an interview Friday that the idea for the novel came to him rather unexpectedly.


Former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, left, is photographed with his then aide Joseph Steffen, in this undated file photo. (WMAR-TV2/AP)

“One day, I took a nap and woke up and the whole idea was in my head,” he said. “I started writing that night.”

Steffen said it had been 20 years since he last wrote a novel. He has never tried to get a book published before.

He said he considers the 331-page novel “a horror story” and warns that it has “one very hard-core sex scene about half-way through.”

Besides spreading unfavorable rumors about then-Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley (D), Steffen also became known in Annapolis for his role in helping the Ehrlich administration fire state employees after taking office. He reportedly kept a a Grim Reaper figurine on his desk.

Steffen said he currently works as an opposition researcher in politics but declined to name any of his clients, who he said are located between New York and South Carolina.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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