I don’t know how much of my wanderlust and curiosity has to do with having been born in a hospital on a hill by the Panama Canal, where the jungle, two oceans and two cultures converged.
I do know I wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old. Books filled me, lifted me, and helped me escape. I knew, though, that as much as books taught me about the world, and about writing, I wanted to see and experience as much as I could for myself. So I became a journalist. There were two reasons. One was to get a chance to travel (on someone else’s tab) and to be thrown into situations that would let me learn about people, and life. The other was that I figured I would meet one of those gruff, hard-boiled, cigar-chewing editors who I always imagined charged through the newsroom surrounded by clouds of smoke, shouting “Stop the presses!” That person, in my mind, would either take me roughly under his wing, or tell me I had absolutely no talent and even less of an excuse for befouling his newsroom with my worthless presence.
I never met him. But I did meet an incredible array of outstanding mentors who, I quickly became convinced, were trying to kill me. They sent me to war (albeit a very small and brief one), into hurricanes with instructions to get into the eye (so many times I lost count), and aboard a boat into the water off Havana where we were rammed by Cuban gunships.
They also gave me a chance to drive a race car, travel aboard just about every form of conveyance known to man except a blimp, and share a Pulitzer Prize with my colleagues at the Miami Herald.
I only wrote about some of that.
I also only wrote about some of the things that happened to me as a television reporter at a local Miami station, or as a national and international correspondent for the Fox News Channel. Contrary to what most newspaper reporters think about television reporters, TV taught me to be a better writer, I think. It reminded me of the importance of thinking visually, of writing tight, and of using my ears to listen for more than just words.
Together, all my time as a journalist offered me exactly what I hoped it would – a chance to hone my craft, to polish my writing and my powers of observation, and to witness how people behave when a tornado has taken everything they ever had, and how they act when they’ve won the lottery. Disasters and danger bring out the best and the worst in people; so does success.
So I write. About everything I can. Every chance I get. And, as an editor, I try to help others who love words discover how they might use them better.
OK. Here’s the press release/book jacket version:
Carlos Harrison is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor and writer of more than a dozen books in English and Spanish. A former national and international correspondent for the Fox News Channel, Harrison also has written two award-winning television documentaries and seven feature-length screenplays, as well as hundreds of newspaper articles and dozens of magazine pieces.
As a journalist, he has traveled most of the Western Hemisphere and parts of Europe, driven into the path of South Florida’s devastating Hurricane Andrew and flown into the eye of a Category 3 hurricane over the Caribbean Sea with NOAA’s famous Hurricane Hunters. After Hurricane Hugo destroyed 97 percent of the structures on St. Croix, V.I., his efforts brought in the National Guard to establish order and to evacuate dozens of international guests trapped in the ruins of their hotel. He covered the invasion of Panama and was reporting clandestinely from inside Cuba at the start of the mass rafter exodus in 1994.
As a reporter at the Miami Herald, Harrison shared the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News, covering the arrest of Yahweh Ben Yahweh, a national religious cult leader accused of ordering the murder of one of his followers.
In television, Harrison covered hundreds of stories including the hostage crisis at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru, where
Tupac Amaru rebels held over a hundred of men and women until government troops raided the building and killed or captured the hostage-takers; the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva; and the changing dynamics of the global economy in Sao Paolo, Brazil. He worked at the NBC and Fox affiliates in Miami before becoming a national and international correspondent for the Fox News Channel.
In print, Harrison has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor; magazine writer for numerous national travel, celebrity and business publications; and as Deputy Managing Editor of People en Español. His books include Ricky Martin’s spiritual/inspirational memoir, Me; four Spanish-language self-help books with psychologist Dr. Isabel Gomez-Bassols; a cookbook with Emilio and Gloria Estefan; and Path of Miracles: The Seven Life-Changing Principles That Lead to Purpose and Fulfillment, written with Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
His most recent project is The Ghosts of Hero Street, released by Penguin in hardcover, audio and e-book formats in May 2014.
Harrison lives in Miami.
Copyright 2010 Carlos Harrison. All rights reserved.