Award-winning novelist Charles Porter is back! Today we’re chatting about the third book in his Hearing Voices series, Shallcross: Animal Slippers.
Born in 1944, Charles Porter grew up in Stuart, Florida on the St. Lucie River in the same old wooden house where his father was born.
First going to public school, then Catholic school, Porter graduated from Belmont Abbey college with a degree in philosophy. After traveling for two years around the United States in a camper pickup truck, he went to work in his father’s lumber yard following his father’s untimely death in 1963.
From a young age, Charles trained western horses, worked on a cattle ranch, competed in reining at local rodeos while he fed a deep love of music and poetry placing him on stage for a time, as a singer/songwriter.
In 1988, when he sold the lumber company, his interest in the sport of dressage grew, and now he devotes much of his time to schooling, coaching, and the buying and selling of imported horses at Peak Rock Farm.
Continuing to write poetry and music, in 2006 he turned to prose. His first novel in The Hearing Voices series was Shallcross: The Blindspot Cathedral, published in 2015, followed in 2017 by Flame Vine.
Porter lives in Loxahatchee, Florida and South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He has a son, Michael, who is a circus performer and lives in Las Vegas.
Hello again, Charles. We chatted two years ago with the release of your second book in the series, Flame Vine, and now here you are with the third book. I see it was picked as one of the best Indie Books by Kirkus, and it is in their magazine in September with one of their blue stars tacked to it. Good!
Thanks. I wish the Indie writers got as much attention as the Indie film makers, wouldn’t that be nice.
It would, do you enjoy writing a series?
I’ve read a lot of series – Tom Jones by Fielding, the Nick Adams Stories, and back to film again, we’re all hooked on Netflix.
Tell me about your new book, Shallcross: Animal Slippers.
The back cover says:
YOU CAN’T OFFEND NATURE
From the cloud lands of South Florida – from the novels Shallcross and Flame Vine comes another story in the life of Aubrey Shallcross. What happens when nature turns into super nature? In this eco-warrior tale, two bull alligators, The Dragon and Two-toed Tom, are formidable living vessels inhabited by the ghosts of Jules Verne and the famous Seminole, Osceola.
They are soon discovered on a remote creek by Aubrey, someone medicine would call schizophrenic. Aubrey can see and hear the spirits that captain the huge reptiles and together they form an alliance. Vern and Osceola collaborate with a Seminole Medicine man Billie Monday and his soldier Freddie Tommie, to stop run away development and the giant gators are soon sent to destroy certain building projects with toxic trails. Aubrey joins them in creating chaos and misery when the bulldozers come to fill in the wetlands and level the woods.
This whole series you write takes place in South Florida, that’s where you’re from, right?
I am. You know what Freud said, “Wherever you are from, from the age of one to twelve, you are the rest of your life.”
I read the interviews in the back of your books that say you used to hunt alligators for their hides.
This was in the fifties and sixties. It was illegal then, but hides were selling to black market buyers. We would meet them in wooded areas like some drug deal. The hides were sold and turned into belts, shoes, purses. Alligators are very prolific. There are 1.3 million alligators today in the state of Florida alone. They are everywhere and always were. I don’t hunt anything anymore. Don’t even like to kill a bug.
You dedicate your books to an organization called The Hearing Voices Network, please tell me a bit about that.
The Network is worldwide. It started in Europe around 1991. It exists to provide solace and friendship to people who have audio and visual hallucinations; people who refer to themselves as voice hearers and loathe the term schizophrenic. I loathe that term too.
I read in the interviews you refer to yourself this way, can you say something about that if you are comfortable with it?
Yes, I have a history: When I was twelve someone turned a radio on in my head and never came back to turn it off. By the time I was nineteen I came to understand the radio was only playing to me and no one else. It was a fierce struggle from time to time, and it could get so messy I called my head the Mess Hall when that happened. I always kept it to myself, and by the time I was forty-five things were better; even good radio now and then. When I turned sixty, I started couching the radio in stories, and now I guess you know my writing process.
Your main character, Aubrey, is a voice hearer.
He is, and like a lot of people who keep it to themselves, he is high functioning.
Your books have some interesting illustrations before chapters and on the pages.
I have such a predilection for pictures.
Thank you. It’s been fun talking to you again.
Thank you, Lisa, for having me.