Travis McGee and Me
By Chariss K. Walker,
author of The Vision Chronicles
I was an eclectic, voracious reader from a very early age. Throughout elementary and high school, I read everything I could get my hands on without censor, from Jacqueline Susann and Margaret Mitchell to Ayn Rand. The school librarian was aghast and attempted to ban me from reading the top-shelf books usually reserved for seniors. As an adult, I continued to read from the New York Times Bestsellers List. It was during my forties, after facing several unconventional life crises and a move to the east coast of Florida, that I stumbled on the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. It was exactly what I needed. I soon discovered that crime mysteries were my favourite genre—especially mysteries with a larger than life protagonist such as Travis McGee. I liked that MacDonald’s writing style was unpretentious, down to earth, and spoke to a wide audience of readers. McGee’s character was believable even though he possessed some unbelievable features and his voice echoed social unrest of the times. Oddly enough, the first book I read was The Green Ripper (1979). It led me to the beginning of the series.
The Green Ripper spoke to me on a deeper, subconscious level. It seemed a cautionary tale, speaking to those who blindly allow others to control their lives. Any organization, religious or political, has the power to do that.
I admit that I indentified with Travis McGee’s character because he was flawed and broken in some ways. So was I. I had suffered great personal loss and grief that left its scars. Those experiences affected everything in my life then and influence every word I write now. Travis McGee required a lot of ‘alone-time’ on the Busted Flush houseboat. He sometimes drowned in obsessive self-reflection. Mostly, he was brutally honest with himself and admitted his shortcomings as he ruminated and mused aloud. A “tarnished, white-knight” description pretty well summed up his ideology. He jumped into the fray first and asked questions later, often finding himself in over his head. At that time, I needed a hero. Travis McGee fit the bill.
Although my writing career began with nonfiction books on metaphysical topics, it soon changed to writing about fictional characters with mystical and metaphysical abilities and experiences. These are the things I know, the ideals I have studied for over thirty years. Still, the Travis McGee character surely influenced my own writing style and works as noted in The Vision Chronicles series. We meet Mike Lewis in the first book Kaleidoscope. Mike is a successful man on the outside—larger than life both physically and professionally—women desire him; men admire him. On the inside, he’s twisted-up about his paranormal ability to see visions of the future through a kaleidoscope and struggles to accept himself. In his dichotomy and human condition, he’s spent so much time self-obsessing that the last fifteen years have passed him by. The Vision Chronicles series is about self-acceptance and change as Mike learns to appreciate his ability. When he stops fighting his gift, it changes as seen in the titles of the following books, Spyglass, Window’s Pane, Windows All Around, Open Spaces, Stream of Light, Lamp’s Light, and Clear Glass. The title change is significant because it reveals that Mike ‘sees’ more clearly. Each book covers approximately eight weeks in the chronicles of his transformation as the changes happen quickly once accepted.
Like the Travis McGee series, The Vision Chronicles is a thriller/suspense series where the protagonist must come to terms with his truth and accept who he is in order to find real happiness. Acceptance is the first step to change.
About Chariss K. Walker:
Chariss K. Walker, a farmer’s daughter and reared in the Mississippi Delta during the 1960s, lived a sheltered life. Her initial escape was reading. Through books, she traveled and experienced much of what the world had to offer until she could realize her own adventures personally.
She won her first writing contest in sixth grade while competing with the entire school. Chariss always knew she was a writer, but busy with family and serving her community, it wasn’t until 2008 when that became a reality with her first published book, Make a Joyful Noise: Searching for a Spiritual Path in a Material World [iUniverse, May, 2008]. This nonfiction book won six awards for inspirational/devotional in 2009 and is available worldwide in paperback and eBook.
The Vision Chronicles eight book thriller series [Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, February-March 2014] is available in paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and available worldwide through online retailers in eBook format.
Crescent City (An Alec Winters Series, Book 1), a psychological thriller/horror, [Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, January 2, 2015] is available in paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and available worldwide through online retailers in eBook format.