In 2010, Charles edited A Voice From the Planet, an award-winning collection of international short fiction, published by Harvard Square Editions. Recent work includes Gates of Eden, a '60s tale of resistance, rebellion, and love. Gates garnered a silver medal from the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards. A Bowl Full of Nails, set in the counterculture of the 1970s, was a finalist in the PEN/ Bellwether Competition and will be published by Harvard Square Editions in February, 2015.
Charles lives in Hollywood with his playwright companion and four cats.
Norm Goldman — Editor and Publisher of Bookpleasures.com: Good day Charles and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Charles: I started writing as a teenager. I was an avid reader from the age of five and matured into an odd cross-up between rambunctious youth and book-buried recluse. I was fortunate to have grown up in a literate family and was surrounded by books. I still remember my father reading every novel written by Mark Twain, and listening to his voice grow distant as I dozed off.
My reading lead me to a sense of purpose about the written word, fiction and non-fiction. As a teenager I became a romantic about America, its egalitarian and transcendentalist history, the struggles of the working class, its great, industrial energy, its wilderness.
At fifteen, I began playing folk music and surrounded myself with the musicology of every rag, blues, holler, Appalachian ballad I sang, anything by Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, Dave Van Ronk and Big Bill Broonzy. And who was this guy named Howlin’ Wolf? Yes, it was music, but folk music is highly literate and informed my understanding of history and the power of the written word.
I keep writing for the same reason I kept reading — I have things I want to talk about. I think art is a powerful tool for social change and — although I assiduously avoid being didactic — I am motivated by the simple words of another writer, Bertolt Brecht who said “Change the world; it needs it.”