August 2015

Q & A with Steve Coate

1. Can you tell us a little what your story, "Jacked," is about?

"Jacked" is about a corporate drone who realizes much too late that he's in over his head where he works, in a future where ethics and the law, along with how people perform their jobs, have become something quite different from what we're used to today.

2. How did you come up with the idea? Why did you pick the story setting?

Believe it or not, I saw a news story on TV about workplaces spying on their employees with an app on the workers' smartphones. That got me interested enough to go looking for more to read about it. This sat in my brain for awhile, where it percolated with other things I had read and experienced, particularly fiction relating to the mental arena, like Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man, and Julian May's Galactic Milieu series of books, that broached subjects of personal freedom, individual rights, legality, and ethics. I wanted to approach some of these same topics and provide an enjoyable tale for the reader or listener, while at the same time making them question how those topics are dealt with in the framework of the story. Corporations that constantly move (and often cross) the ethical line have long been staples in science fiction, a genre that I love. Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, later adapted into "Blade Runner," and the "Alien" films are just two examples that pop to mind. As to the setting, I have to point to my longtime love of science fiction to explain thinking of a future where such a story is plausible, and as to the room where everything takes place: I figured any future corporate entity that would hire this type of worker, would, by necessity, have the kind of room where this story takes place.

3. What is your inspiration for writing as a whole?

Life inspires my writing. Whether it's something I've seen, heard, read, or otherwise perceived or experienced, it then goes into the ol' brainpan, where it rattles around with everything else in there for awhile, until I decide I've got something worth writing and the words come tumbling forth.

4. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I've been living in Florida for two decades now, but I was born in Athens, Georgia, and have lived in Virginia, both Carolinas, Texas, Kansas and Illinois. And because it's always the question I get after that response: No, I was not a military brat. I began college life as an English major, but quickly realized there are only two things to do with an English degree. You can teach or write. Though I hail from a family of teachers, I didn't want to teach. I very much wanted to write, but all research pointed to that not being a financially viable option. The general public always hears about the writers who make a big splash with their debut novels and rake in the royalties, but few hear about the more obscure guy (or gal) toiling away while supporting themselves with a 9-5 job. I changed my major to journalism and worked with some wonderful people at the student newspapers at Broward College and Florida International University. Now, I work as a copy editor at the Pulitzer-Prize-winning South Florida Sun Sentinel, in Fort Lauderdale, where I started out as a part-time editorial assistant. Before my journalism career I slung newspapers, worked in fast food, catering, dry cleaning, sales and at two amusement parks.

5. Where can listeners find more of your work?

I've had nearly a dozen stories published. Listeners can see a full list at, my not-updated-nearly-enough blog.

6. Any new work we should keep an eye out for?

I have a short fantasy called "Wolf's Bane," due out at the end of the month in Purple Sun Press's anthology Coven, and a sci-fi tale, "Mine Sweeper," in the Gold Shader's Game Fiction: Volume One anthology in September.

7. (And just for Juli's curiosity: What are you reading now?)

Having recently devoured Andy Weir's The Martian, I'm currently reading King of the Bastards, by Brian Keene, from Apex Books and the e-version of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves from William Morrow.

Editor's Note: If you enjoyed this story, you might be interested in reading the whole anthology, Only Disconnect, with many more great stories. It's available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Copyright Third Flatiron Publishing 2015