Steve Heller, MFA, EdD

Chair and Professor, MFA in Creative Writing


Steve Heller grew up on a small acreage in the wheat country around Yukon, Oklahoma, where many of his fictions take place. He began his teaching career as an English Instructor at Ponca City High School in northern Oklahoma. Heller earned his MFA in Creative Writing and English from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and his EdD in English Education from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He taught at Kansas State University for 22 years, including 15 as Chair of Creative Writing, where he won several awards for his teaching and service.

A former Yaddo and NEA Fellow, Heller is best known for his novel The Automotive History of Lucky Kellerman, originally published by Chelsea Green and subsequently reprinted by Anchor/Doubleday. Lucky Kellerman was a selection of both Book-of-the-Month Club and the Quality Paperback Book Club. Lucky Kellerman also received the Friends of American Writers First Prize Award. A sequel, Father’s Mechanical Universe, was published by BkMk [BookMark] Press. Novelist Jonis Agee calls Steve Heller “an authentic American voice who teaches us about the human heart haunted by misdeeds, mysteries, and longing”. Heller’s short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and national anthologies, and twice have received O. Henry Awards. Many of his stories have been set in Hawaii, where he has lived for several extended periods, including the spring and summer of 1995 when he served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hawaii.

His first collection, The Man Who Drank a Thousand Beers (Chariton Review Press), has been called “a Hawaiian Winesburg, Ohio.” Hawaii is also the focus of his most recent fictions, including stories in Nebraska Review, Bamboo Ridge, South Dakota Review, and Spirit of Aloha, an in-flight magazine. Heller’s narrative essays have appeared in Manoa, Fourth Genre, Colorado Review, New Letters, and many other journals. In the last few years, several of his essays have been reprinted in anthologies, including In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal from W. W. Norton and Living Blue in the Red States from University of Nebraska Press. His new collection of nonfiction, What We Choose to Remember, was recently published in the World Voices Chapbook Series associated with Web del Sol.

Past Media

"I believe in three things: story, irony, and the perfect martini." Steve Heller