“A masterly communicator” —Kirkus Reviews

 

Welcome to my

          Fiction & Nonfiction

for Outstanding Readers

— Steven Key Meyers

 

 
 
 
That's My Story
Queer’s Progress, a novel; Available from your favorite bookseller My Mad Russian: Three Tales;
A Family Romance All That Money, a novel;
The Wedding on Big Bone Hill, a novel; Springtime in Siena, two short novels;  Good People, a novel;
A Journal of the Plague Year, and Other Plays and Adaptations;   The Man in the Balloon: Harvey Joiner’s Wondrous 1877;

That's My Story

That’s My Story

Two Tales

That’s My Story tells two exciting tales from my exotic family history.

The first—The Last Posse—is set in 1922 Texas. Sheriff Jim Groves leads a posse by automobile and horseback after the famous outlaw Frank Holloway, whose pistols have seven notches, one for every man he’s killed. At the same time, Jim’s father’s grave is opened and his body snatched in an effort to prove the family’s rights to Manhattan’s notorious Edwards Estate. Narrating is Jim’s 12-year-old nephew Bing, who will be tasked (in disguise) with saving the day.

The second—That’s My Story—takes place in Beverly Hills, California in 1935. Jim is living in a stately Holmby Hills “cottage,” providing security to the Raven brothers, rich Los Angeles developers and boosters of UCLA’s football team. Jim’s son Shorty, the Bruins’ fullback, carries the team to a start that promises the Rose Bowl, until he’s called out as a ringer. Getting to the bottom of things, Jim—Bing again accompanying him and narrating—traces the commotion to Oil King Cassidy himself, chief booster of the Bruins’ archrivals, the USC Trojans. Classic noir mayhem ensues.

The Smash-and-Grab Press 244 pp. (paper $13. 2021, ISBN 978-1-7368333-9-1)

Excerpt (.pdf)

 

A Family Romance;

A Family Romance

A Novel

My new novel serves up tasty takes on American life as it sweeps through more than 40 years.

The first part of this family saga draws on my upbringing in Washington’s Maryland suburbs as a son of a White House correspondent for a national newsmagazine. We meet Nat and Viv Handler at their 1959 arrival in Washington. When he stumbles upon the untold story of President Kennedy’s womanizing, Nat sets out to report on it. But the more he tries to get the facts from the President’s sexiest mistress, the more he puts his job—and his marriage—at risk.

Then we make the acquaintance of Nat and Viv as students in Colorado during World War II. Viv’s involved with J.T.—her handsome bad boyfriend—when Nat begins courting her. It’s a scene of Swing Era dances, steamy backseats and rationed Coca-Cola, as J.T.—dragging Viv and Nat along—works steadily towards his fate.

Years later, in the 1980s, we follow Viv and Nat at the height of their careers through the course of a single day, living a busy life in New York City. Nat’s a magazine editor and Viv runs her own travel-operator business. Looking forward to the future, but inescapably aware of the past, they walk to work, negotiate their offices and office mates, solve crises, go shopping, see a play. Viv rescues an old friend, while Nat inadvertently brings disaster upon a colleague. Fortunately, art reconciles everything in the end.

With its vivid characters and true-to-life action, A Family Romance is my tour de force.

 

The Smash-and-Grab Press (paper, 2020 316 pp. $15.95, ISBN 978-1-7330465-1-0) Cover by Todd Engel

Author’s Note   Excerpt (.pdf)

A Journal of the Plague Year, and Other Plays and Adaptations

Free Pandemic Offering: Read my stage adaptation of Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year (.pdf)

A Journal of the Plague Year,
and Other Plays and Adaptations

Here I collect plays I wrote before turning novelist. My 1994 take on Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year is a dramatic response to the AIDS epidemic—though distressingly germane to Covid-19 as well (read the .pdf here). The one-man play Chesterfield to His Son, adapting that forbidding nobleman’s famous Letters, is a hilariously antic—and painfully accurate—dissection of a father’s love for his son. Dr. Knox and Mr. Banner examines same-sex desire in 19th-century London and the stories people tell themselves about what makes them who they are.

More characters tell themselves more stories in five sparkling one-act plays set in locales ranging from Seward, Alaska to the sidewalks of West 23rd Street: The Old Agitator continues his lifelong mission, but with modified idealism; a new arrival in Alaska does what she must in order to stay; a grandmother exiled to a suburban lawn examines her life and finds inspiraton; a man explores the temptation offered by a random encounter, and a casual philanderer finally meets a reckoning.

The Smash-and-Grab Press (paper, 2019 392 pp. $14.99, ISBN 978-1-7330465-0-3) Cover by Todd Engel

Author’s Preface

     

My Mad Russian, three tales

My Mad Russian

Three Tales

My Mad Russian: Three Tales collects three absorbing tales about the legendary Caramoor estate in New York’s Westchester County.

The title piece fictionalizes the true-life connection of Caramoor’s founders to Dr. Léon Theremin, inventor of the first electronic musical instrument, and his unexplained 1930s disappearance: Max Berlin invests in the new technology, while his wife Dora Berlin forms a more intimate partnership with the inventor. Max hires detectives, but Stalin intervenes.

In Another’s Fool, set in 1953 during the Cold War, Dora Berlin gets her music festival under way after hiring young music manager Bruce Harnes. But the FBI blackmails Bruce into spying for it, even as—jealous of his Russian ex-lover's closeness to his new patroness—he conceives a mad scheme to liquidate him.

I Remember Caramoor—my memoir of my 1970s stint as Caramoor’s teen-aged underbutler as it began transitioning from private mansion to public resource—recounts the challenges of getting to know the house, its high-society history and its staff, both below-stairs and above, at a time when its way of life was already that of a bygone age.

Revised edition 2021 paper 268 pp.ISBN 978-1-7368333-3-9; ebook 978-1-7368333-2-2   Cover by Todd Engel

Author’s Note

Excerpt (.pdf)    

 A fable of the RV lifestyle in a Kansas Eden, complete with serpents!

The Wedding on Big Bone Hill, a novel

The Wedding on Big Bone Hill

A Novel

After losing his lover and his job, Jack hits the road in an RV on a quest for Paradise, USA. He finds it in a bucolic Kansas park where he takes a workamper job, but this Eden turns out to be almost as tricky as the original when the head ranger, soon to marry Donna atop Big Bone Hill, allows her father, Percy, his deputy, free rein over the park.

Percy’s conviction is that everybody tries to get away with something, but that anyone allowed to get away with anything will try to get away with more, and he (if he alone) can see where that leads—he being the poster child for getting away with nothing. His constant search for infractions keeps everybody on edge, including his widowed friend Maureen, Dennis (who runs the entrance booth), and the Beanblossoms, workamper entrepreneurs who introduce to Eden the shirtless Rick.

When a little boy goes missing the weekend The Wedding on Big Bone Hill is to take place, Percy takes on the lonely task of meting out justice—threatening tragedy in an otherwise ruefully funny celebration of an American microcosm.

Included is the novella Junkie, Indiana (originally published in 2016). Cordelia falls for Jordan, the older teenager who lives across the way in Shady Acres Trailer Park. But Jordan’s a junkie, like his cousin Adam, their mothers, aunt and a dismaying proportion of Chuterville, Indiana. After Cordelia witnesses the cousins committing a crime, they try to shut her up—forcing her to take the only decisive action she can in this bleakest of tales torn from the chronicles of the Midwest’s opioid epidemic.

Smash-and-Grab Press Revised edition 2021 paper 212 pp. ISBN 978-1-7368333-7-7; ebook 978-1-7368333-8-4   Cover by Todd Engel     Author’s Note

Excerpt (.pdf)

Queer’s Progress, a novel

Queer’s Progress

A Novel

This compelling autobiographical story of young love features Eduardo—Cuban-born college student and page at the New York Public Library (“just a page, not a whole book or anything”)—Andrew, a young scholar new to town who falls in love with him, and Ned, older master of gay Manhattan.

As Andrew makes stumbling progress in pursuit of him, Eduardo flies from a pregnant hookup and his mom’s Harlem apartment to flop on his oldest friend’s floor, his best friend’s couch, in Andrew’s bed, at the West Side Y, on a patch of Central Park ivy—and in a jail cell or two. Ned’s machinations meanwhile churn on, trying to kick-start his literary career, as Queer’s Progress races towards a classic inevitability in a tale by turns savage and urbane, lyrical and drily witty.

The Smash-and-Grab Press Revised Edition 2021 (paper 204 pp. ISBN 978-1-7330465-3-4; ebook 978-1-7330465-7-2) Cover by Todd Engel

Excerpt (.pdf)

Author’s Note 

  “The first published examination of the works of Harvey Joiner!” —Indiana Magazine of History
     

The Man in the Balloon: Harvey Joiner’s Wondrous 1877
Harvey Joiner (1852-1932)
Harvey Joiner (1852-1932)

 

The Man in the Balloon:
Harvey Joiner’s Wondrous 1877

This lively biographical study, impeccably researched and copiously illustrated, is the first published on Harvey Joiner, once a famous American painter.

It brings Joiner to life as a 25-year-old prankster in the rip-roaring river town of Jeffersonville, Indiana. The witty wood-engraved advertising images he’s produced since he was a teenager ceasing to sell, he begins to paint the pictures he’ll become known for—landscapes filtering through personal responses and meanings the light falling from the forest canopy—while promoting himself nonstop.

But Joiner will stave off adulthood a little longer with a series of pranks, launching hot-air balloons of increasing size, until his masterwork—seen to be carrying a man in its basket—soars across the Ohio River and over the rooftops of Louisville, Kentucky.

Before his wondrous year is out, Joiner wins the commission of a lifetime and paints his enormous masterpiece, Ruth Gleaning in the Fields of Boaz, for the Christian Church in Utica, Indiana. Analyzing the Bible story of how Ruth achieves security, he places the young widow in harvest fields at day’s end, a moment of respite he makes personal by recalling his own widowed mother’s dilemma and depicting the fields of his boyhood.

In The Man in the Balloon: Harvey Joiner’s Wondrous 1877, an American painter steps out of the shadows of neglect.

Excerpt (.pdf, 4.35 MB)         Author’s Note

Biblio Publishing ISBN 978-1-62249-101-8 125 pp. (paper 2013)   Photograph from Notable Men of Kentucky at the Beginning of the 20th Century (1901-1902), by Benjamin La Bree (Louisville: George G. Fetter, 1902, p.119)

Springtime in Siena, two short novels

 

Springtime in Siena

Two Short Novels

Springtime in Siena offers a pair of faux memoirs—period takes on American ways of growing up that rush with verve and wit to opposite endings.

The title piece, Springtime in Siena, follows a hungry young academic leading a semester-abroad group to Tuscany in 1974. Gary sleeps with students of both sexes while mulling the coming post-Watergate, post–Viet Nam era. Coldly modifying his voracious appetite, he winds up with everything he’s dreamed of—but still hungry. In The Man Who Owned New York, Albert’s a new curate in Manhattan’s richest Episcopal parish in 1907 when a Kansas farmer comes to town claiming title to the church's property. The farmer’s proofs looking as irresistible as his daughter, Albert weighs what he really wants out of life—and commits a gaudy crime.

The Smash-and-Grab Press 196 pp. $12.
(paper, revised edition 2020, ISBN 978-1-7330465-4-1; ebook, ISBN 978-1-7330465-6-5) Cover by Todd Engel

Author’s Note          

Excerpt (.pdf)

“The kind of novel Chandler or Hammett might write today” —M. Lee Alexander (Detective Fiction) All That Money, a novel
 

All That Money

A Novel Inspired by Real Events

Celebrity crimes often breed rumors that the victim was complicit. In the 1934 Lucie Spode White kidnapping case, the rumors are true.

Falls City’s sexy Depression belle is a high-living heiress whose husband expects her to get by on her pin money. Only 25, she won't come into her inheritance until she turns 30: How can she possibly make it? Generous—if ruthless—with her favors, when she can’t raise the cash for a room at a hot-pillow motel, Lucie enlists her handsome young lover Harry Thrall in a scheme to anticipate part of her inheritance. Just a prank. Can’t be a crime if she’s in on it, right?

Though pants-on-fire Harry worries that one of them (and he knows who) will end up on Death Row while the other lives it up on Easy Street, he enters into the spirit of the thing. After all, Harry needs money if he’s going to get to Hollywood.

So off they go, and in come reality and the F.B.I.   Lucie finds herself trapped in a closet with a gash in her head, while G-Men dog Harry across the country.

Inspired by the sensational kidnapping of Alice Speed Stoll, All That Money is a fast-moving, rollicking ride with Lucie and Harry—and Special Agent Joe Albright sniffing out the trail!

Revised edition 2021 paper ISBN 978-1-7368333-1-5 168 pp.; ebook ISBN 978-1-7368333-2-2   Cover by Todd Engel

Author’s Note

Excerpt (.pdf)

“A crackling good read!” —Toronto Post City Magazines

                     Good People

                                          A Novel

Good People, a novel

When Rolling Stone proclaims comedy “the rock and roll of the Eighties,” Rex Black decides to take his Upper East Side comedy club public!

Rex recruits Wall Street titan Siggy Brewster to handle the IPO, scouts new clients, builds new clubs, appeases his Mafioso landlord and plays chicken with Madonna in a Central Park running lane. His wife Perri helps Rex chase his dreams, as do Ashley, his blue-blooded club booker; irrepressible Joey (A&R, for the empire’s music side); Rex’s assistant Michael and Michael’s partner, bar manager Conor. Circling them, her fin hardly breaking the waves, sniffing for the blood she senses will soon dye the water—and desperate for her break—is comedian Rosetta Stone.

Fast, funny and heartfelt—and a heart-breaking prophecy of the Trump era—Good People plumbs the American appetite in summing up an era of surreal greed.

(revised edition paper 2021 ISBN 978-1-7330465-8-9 222 pp.; ebook 978-1-7368333-0-8 Cover by Todd Engel

Author’s Note  

Excerpt (.pdf)

 

BIO
 
I was born on a farm in western Colorado, earned degrees in English Lit at The City College of New York and Columbia University, and currently live in the Midwest. I can sometimes be reached at stevenkeymeyers@stevenkeymeyers.com.

              If I had a blog