Steve Coulter

Steve is a San Francisco based novelist using fast-paced, short-horizon fiction to explore a future shaped by today’s reality. His work is enriched by his varied careers—soldier, construction worker, teacher, journalist, state legislator, corporate executive and library commissioner. He has a BA and MA in Journalism and was a Lambda Literary Fellow in 2008 and 2013.

You want more? Really? OK.

This is not intended to be a history quiz but may seem like it, given the journey back in time. Politics, telecommunications and public libraries span much of his career, some overlapping. Writing novels only recently.

Ma Bell

Steve joined AT&T in 1981, three months before the announcement of its breakup, and then, as VP of External Affairs for Pacific Telesis/Pacific Bell, helped the company navigate the political, technological and market chaos of the next twenty years.

Steve in Business Week

Telecommuting with a friend.

Favorite memories

  • Pushing the company to address the AIDS crisis and become a national model. Many companies, perhaps most, were panicked by the issue in the 1980s.
  • Testifying before Senator Ted Kennedy’s Labor Committee supporting passage of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1994 to outlaw firing employees just because they were LGBT. Only one company testified. Not a popular business issue back then. Now it’s almost mainstream. So, progress.
  • Telecommuting, making the company an international icon of moving work to people, not people to work, reducing pollution and enhancing employee flexibility.
  • Focusing attention on the needs of the disabled in designing network interfaces so everyone could participate in the Information Age (a quaint term popular way back when).

Home Means Nevada

The Assemblyman and a very special constituent.

The Assemblyman and a very special constituent.

That is actually the name of the state song. Best not to listen to it.

In the 1970s, he served four terms as a State Assemblyman in Nevada at a time when Republicans and Democrats were (mostly) cordial and willing to work for the common good.

He focused on issues of the elderly, environment, child abuse and strengthening the shield law for journalists. In those years, being gay and in elected office was complicated.

San Francisco Public Library

Steve spent 20-years helping re-build the San Francisco Public Library system. Much of the time he was President of the Library Commission, appointed by Mayor Art Agnos, planning and constructing the New Main Library and beginning the renovation of all 27 branches.

Mayor Agnos makes his appointment in 1988

Mayor Agnos makes his appointment in 1988

The New Main in Civic Center is built on the ruins of the old City Hall destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Parts of the 19th century jail were found during excavation. He is probably best known for his role in helping a fabulous group of activists create the James C. Hormel LGBT Center, a national intellectual resource, archiving LGBT history, achievement and pride.  It is a place where young people, questioning their sexuality, can find honest answers.

Odds & Ends

A random class in college—The Bible as Literature—led to a lifelong interest in the nexus of religion and politics. At the height of the Vietnam War, he was drafted into the U.S. Army within weeks of college graduation. His most important class: “eighth grade typing.” He admires public school teachers, librarians, nurses and small business owners. He was a journalist here and there. He pounded a lot of nails; hammers were still mainstream back then, not nail guns. In 2016 he celebrated his 40th anniversary with the same man. They were married twice; the California Supreme Court overturned the first one. The Court was good the second time around.

What is Short-Horizon Fiction?

He writes about a future America near enough that we can understand why what we do now impacts the life of real people a few generations ahead.  He creates a serious political underpinning to make us think but not let it get in the way of a fast-paced action adventure, full of conflict, loss, bravery, love and triumph.  Finding the right balance is the challenge.  Read in joy, reflect at leisure.

And if you are into politics, say a fan of Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, think about the scenarios they discuss for America, the future of the middle class, the right to vote, freedom.  Those forces, twisted in a certain direction, become Spartak’s world.

The story is told in the voice of a 16-year-old boy in high school, but his world is not one where children can be children. Fortunately he has serious values, an analytical mind and a remarkable set of physical skills. Birthing complex, likeable characters in challenging worlds is more fun (and sometimes more insightful) than non-fiction, at least for this former journalist. The protagonist has a fluid sense of sexuality, meaning he is bisexual, a non-issue in a century.  And the great LGBT culture wars of 2016 (e.g., job discrimination, bathrooms, transgender rights, marriage, etc.) are unimaginable in 2116, grist for stand up comics.

For the author, high school in a 1960s small town was a discombobulating experience when you knew you were different. Gay wasn’t even a term used then.  When discussed at all, in hushed tones, it was sometimes homosexual or pervert. Media rarely covered it unless it was an expose. And library books listed it under mental disorders.  Who could admit to being one of those ghastly things? So high school (and politics) is novelist utopia, back then, today and in 2116. Just ask Spartak.

Steve, his dog and Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe.