Steve Coulter put fiction writing on the back burner when he was a journalist and then a drummer for a punk band that signed a record deal. But about seven years ago, he decided to take fiction writing more seriously and developed a detective series using the South Bay that he grew up in as the backdrop.
Under the pseudonym S.W. Lauden, Coulter created Greg Salem, an “East Los Angeles police officer by day and a beach cities punk legend by night.” Salem and some of the other characters in his three novels are based on people he knew in the South Bay.
“The guys who would wear board shorts all weekend and they’re covered in tattoos and they listen to Black Flag still,” said Coulter, who grew up in Redondo Beach. “I was thinking about what it would be like if I had never left and was still hanging out with some of those guys from that scene that I think really fondly of.”
Coulter will discuss his novels at a mystery writer's panel, “It's a Mystery to Me,” that takes place at the Peninsula Center Library Community Room Saturday, Nov. 10, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. He will be joined by writers Gregory Harris, Sybil Johnson and Lida Sideris.
In the first book in the series, “Bad Citizen Corporation,” which is the name of his punk band, Salem is trying to solve the murder of his best friend while they were playing a gig at a dive bar in the South Bay. That was followed by “Grizzly Season” and “Hang Time,” which was published in January.
Coulter, a Mira Costa High School grad, calls the series a “heavily fictionalized” version of the South Bay “old school hard core punk rock scene.” Writing was always a passion for Coulter, who was an entertainment editor for The Beach Reporter in the mid 1990s before his band, Ridel High, signed a record deal.
“Journalism and fiction are really similar in that you kind of have to dig in and do the research and get a feeling of the background before you can dive into the story,” Coulter said. “I was writing about an area and people I had a personal knowledge of, but I hadn’t lived in the South Bay since the late 90s. I had to do my due diligence on understanding how things have changed down there from the cultural perspective.”
That due diligence changed the course of his series.
“When all is said and done, that first book is a lot about the exploding real estate market that is driving out the locals,” Coulter said.
“Real estate becomes this underpinning theme or idea to 'Bad Citizen Corporation' that drives the action throughout the series. Greg is struggling to find his place in the town where he grew up and he increasingly can’t afford to live there and can’t relate to the people around him.”
Aside from the Greg Salem series, Coulter has written short story collections and two novellas in a series about a disgraced NYPD cop, Tommy Ruzzo, solving crimes in Florida.
Coulter is also the co-host, with Eric Beetner, of the Anthony Award-nominated crime and mystery podcast “Writer Types Podcast.”
The Peninsula Center Library is located at 701 Silver Spur Road in Rolling Hills Estates.
The Nov. 10 event will feature a panel discussion and an activity for mystery lovers.
For more information, visit swlauden.com.