Charles W. Harvey is a native Houstonian and a graduate of the University of Houston. He studied fiction under Rosellen Brown and Chitra Divakaruni at UofH. He also studied poetry under Joyce James and Cynthia MacDonald. In 1987, Charles was a 1st place prize recipient of PEN/Discovery for his short story Cheeseburger, which went on to be published in the Ontario Review. In 1989 Charles Harvey was awarded the Cultural Arts Council of Houston Grant for Writers and Artists. Also in 1989 he was a finalist in the MacDonald's Literary Achievement Awards. Charles has been published in Soulfires, Story Magazine SHADE, High Infidelity, The James White Review, and others. He is the author of the novels The Butterfly Killer and Promise Goodday, as well as the author of several story and poetry collections.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I think growing up in the south is a huge influence for me. Houston may be metropolitan in some ways, but it's not that far from Louisiana or Mississippi. So it's definitely the south in my opinion. I think southerners have a lot of stories to tell. Black and white southerners have their stories about race and about people in general. My Mother and Grandmother had lots of stories to tell about Mississippi where they grew up. Houston being metropolitan also had a very predominant inner city especially in the 60's and 70's. Carl Hampton was a Black Panther party leader killed in Houston. That energy framed my teen writing in those days when I wrote poetry. I think I was trying to write about the conditions of "my people."
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in seventh grade. I wrote a poem about the moon landing. Being an only child forced me to have an active imagination. My mother and I made up stories about people in our neighborhood. We even gave them names such as "Hot Shot" "Dipsy Doo" "Drunko" "Muleface" "Dotted Cap" The names reflected something about their personality, "Drunko" or an article of clothing they wore all the time, "Dotted Cap." Sometimes we drew crude cartoons. They were crude because neither of us could draw a straight line. When I was in 12th grade I wrote a little skit for an English assignment. The teacher fell in love with it. She thought I had some kind of talent. I did well in my English and literature classes in college, but really didn't know much about how to "become" a writer. So I studied business. My goal then was to earn a lot of money, retire early, and become a writer. While in college, I didn't write a thing except term papers for class. Too much outside work keeps one from being a writer. That's why many of us hate having to have a day job. After I finished college I found a job working three days a week as a Computer Operator. I enjoyed having the days off. I realized I was kind of bored. So I thought about going back to school for some classes. I thought about taking some classes in computer programming to increase my knowledge in that area. However at the same time I wanted to write. I had a novel in me. But I had no idea about the mechanics of writing. I read a lot. But I wasn't sure about the mechanics of things quotation marks and some other things. So I had a choice: Take some course in COBOL programming or take this Creative writing course. There was a scheduling conflict, so I had to choose one or the other. I chose the creative writing course. The teacher Rosellen Brown fell in love with my work and was very encouraging. The course and being around a creative environment released a well of creativity in me from the mid to late 80's. I wrote poems at the drop of a hat. Penned several plays that actually got produced: "The Lifeline" and "The Ladies and the Iron Ball" I also won a very important prize which I will talk about later.
Poetry is alive and vibrant. These books speak universally in a voice that appeals to those who seek the truth about the human condition. These are not pretty poems about flowers and sunsets. The beauty lies in their truth.
A narrative in letters. Promise Goodday pens letters to her childhood friend Lakeisha Ann from the insitution where she was sent after killing her child. Rust Hills has been a harrowing experience for Promise for almost twenty years. Drugs, questionable "therapies," and sexual abuse from a person she named "Big Fingers" are just some of the horrible experiemces she has endured.
With hard work and good luck, David "Big Nose" Calloway navigates Houston's Jim Crow era and civil rights achievements to become a member of the once segregated Walnut Grove Country Club. There, he meets Jonathan Knapp a fellow businessman. Jonathan tries hard to befriend David. However, David remains aloof and distant. Will Jonathan's anger at being rejected send him on a quest for revenge?
Some readers find comfort in reading poetry like one feels at ease with a cat on the lap. But some poems rocket you out of your comfort zone. They have the audacity to get in your face and shake your rump up. Robert Frost said, "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." However, I believe words should also be the founders of thoughts
In this fictionalized account, Money Mississippi, notorious for the brutal murder of Emmett Till has had a one hundred and eighty-degree turn from its old ways. A mile from the infamous Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market sits a big shiny blue Walmart along an avenue populated with fast food restaurants and a Starbucks.
Catnip Gray is no ordinary house cat. At first glance, you might be fooled. He sleeps late, stays up all night tomcatting, eats birds, and seems to care less about his human’s shenanigans. However unlike most cats, Catnip has a taste for Slim-Fast and runs a detective agency. He also has a soft spot for beautiful female cats in distress.
Who is out of control, the crazy government or the citizens telling their tales of woe? Absurdity versus reality—is there a difference? These four widely read stories will have you scratching your head and wondering what the author might have been smoking. But don’t worry it’s all in his head and it’s all a matter of time before you hear the news and go, “Hey wait a minute, I read that somewhere.”
Elliot Cross is the Butterfly Killer. He targets anyone with dreams and aspirations. In this short story we see his cunning ways. He stops at nothing to gain his victims confidence. If you have a dream, he's ready to make sure you don't live to achieve it.
NaNoWriMo 2014 book. Last updated
The Literary meets the Erotic
Maura and Sidney are a young career couple going through the motions of being in love. As they climb the corporate ladder, their marriage is comfortable, but lacks excitement, until the day Maura comes home early and catches Sidney having sex with another man. Maura's reaction will surprise you when her emotions pull her into a very unusual arrangement.
Antoine Rucker is a young twenty-something up and coming Black IT Executive for a major insurance company in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia. On weekend nights, he's a street hustler turning tricks near the infamous Bulldogs Bar. Will Antoine's nightlife catch up with him? Will he overcome the demons that drive him?
Life is no fun without spice and humor and a little bit of naughtiness. And if your roommate makes you wear a pig’s mask while having sex in front of thousands on a gay video chat line, so what? Maybe. This book of stories takes you on a ride—from the college dorm to the streets of New Orleans. Who says guys can’t get it on at the Doctor’s office or even a hospital morgue?
The poems "How I Got Over" and "Unfucked" tell the story of the angst of love. There are no chocolates, roses, or cupids in these "love stories." These poems tell the bitter truth about love. Romance is for dreamers. In these poems, the candy has turned bitter and the roses have dried up.
Edgar, an aging transvestite can't find any satisfaction. A poem that explores the dichotomy of possessiveness, love, and hate that afflicts and confounds all humankind. A deep poem that requires much of the reader to sift between the lines.
The gay anthem, We Are Here has been included to give a true meaning to all that is gay and proud.
From the scalding hot story The 520i to the ubiquitous When Dogs Bark and its award winning Cheeseburger (PEN/Southwest Discovery Prize 1987) this book will keep you turning the pages. When Dogs Bark 2 is an exciting reprint of WHEN DOGS BARK by Charles W. Harvey in ebook and soft cover formats. The new When Dogs Bark 2 has new stories and new poetry to make you go "hmm."
Buck Wile's cousin takes him to a gay bar for the first time. A little drink and and a little smoke puts Buck in a mellow mood. He meets Jake. A ride on the motorcycle and more herb breaks down all of Buck's inhibitions. All is going good until Jake's "girl" steps in the picture. She's not the lady Buck thought she was. A couple of gunshots and he's roaring out butt naked on the ol' Kawasaki.
Urban Tales is about us, at least some of us. They are about us being funny and about us loving, lusting, and sexing. Only us could have "Dozens" players in our Christmas story. Only us know how to tip over on the down-low. These stories are streetwise, but yet will make you think and won't shortchange you.
A tale of lust, bitterness, and betrayal. Sister Gloria, a young black woman, is a new member of Mosque Number Eight. She secretly lusts after the young fiery, Minister Q. He pays her scant attention, focusing his energy on his vitriolic sermons of black pride. Will she brood in silence or make her desires known?
Available as this Short Single or as part of the collections Odd Voices
Odd Voices in Love is a collection of stories about love from award winning author, Charles W. Harvey.
These "love" stories are not your usual romantic fare. There’s no savior on a white horse coming to rescue any damsel. There's not a lot of swooning or romantic walks along the beach.
A young man’s coming of age story. Innocent and sweet with menacing undertones. In the Power Plant our protagonist works in his University’s boiler and chiller facility typing reports and running errands. He’s nineteen and trying to deal with his attraction to men while feeling he should be in love with women.
Available as this Short Single or as part of the collection Odd Voices in Love
These evocative short stories are excerpts from the soon to be relaunched novel The Road to Astroworld. The stories highlight important time periods from the novel--Promise's innocense in wanting to go to Astroworld instead of a funeral, the demise of Pete Chesterfield the man who molested her, and Promise's poignant letters from the assylum she's committed to when as an adult she kills her child
(Formerly Christmas in The Bottoms)
A very soulful and satirical version of the classic: "A Christmas Carol." Narrated by a pair of jive talking "Dozens" Players named Madd and Dog2020 aka Maddog2020. It's a bit of fantasy, macabre, and morality tale. Our Scrooge is the miser Ebenezer Jenkins who owns Glad Wrappings Funeral Home and BBQ joint. You don't want to know what's cooking in his pits.
Omar and Rock Hardwood share an apartment in Atlanta, the Black Gay capitol. Omar is the goody two-shoes young college student and a member of "Rebirth" Baptist Church headed by Pastor Daddy Longlegs. Rock Hardwood is his stripper roomie. Despite being so-called opposites, the young men seem to always wind up in some very erotic hijinks in their tiny apartment.
Poetry from the award winning Poet and fiction Writer Charles W. Harvey. These are not religious poems nor Bible verses. These poems hit you right between the eyes. They are right in your face and offer no sugar coating or apologies. Don't be fooled by the title.
Is the party over at thirty-nine? Cleon doesn’t think so. He’s about to turn forty and still wants to hold onto his youthful days. So he brings himself to buy a new computer and goes on a quest to find the love that has eluded him. He’s eager to try out a new dating app. Will he find love or disappointment?
A short collection of poems from Charles W Harvey. This collection captures the spirit of the 1960's and takes us through the 1990's. They are terse, funny, and bluesy. But most important the voice is real.
A collection of poetry by award winning author Charles W Harvey. Reissued from the popular When Dogs Bark. These poems tell the unvarnished truth. They are not about daffodils or a walk in the park. They speak of the grittiness of love and touch the underbelly. A few might have you rushing to the refrigerator for your favorite cucumber.
When Dogs Bark, The Short Story made its debut in 1995 in Story Magazine. Soulfires published it in 1996, the same year it appeared in the iconic and awe-inspiring anthology SHADE. When a man is troubled, he growls, whimpers, or barks his a$$ off.
Betty is a take-charge woman with a weakness for men down in their luck. Her men soon prove themselves to be unfaithful and suffer Betty's wrath. Her latest nameless lover is no different. Betty and her whip send him on his merry way.
Available as this Short Single or as part of the collections Odd Voices and Urban Tales.
This short story by Harvey captures the enigmatic relationship of two brothers from Ghana. Listen in as Elijah tells his story to a Reporter who has come for a story on an elaborate burial coffin. Humor, irony, and bitterness all intermingled in this short piece.
The people of Ghana are known for their elaborate coffins. Check it out on Google as you read The Blue Train to Heaven.
The New Edition was hot, Prince and Michael Jackson were cute, and Hattiesburg Mississippi was a small mostly crime-free town until the mid-1980’s when gangs and drugs descended. Still that doesn't stop a young girl from falling in love.