While the pandemic has been a challenge for many people, some creatives have been able to make meaningful use of the time. After the unexpected loss of his former position, one Germantown native was able to jumpstart the growth of his publishing company and release his fourth novel.
Ira Porter is the owner of Blind Ambition Publishing which he started back in 2006 with the intention of never letting his ideas die because of refusals from agents. Porter has been a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The News Journal in New Castle, Delaware.
Four months into the pandemic Porter was let go from the Journal and needed a Plan B.
He found his answer when he received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). With the money he refurbished his company by setting up a website, printing books, and buying graphic design software.
“It was a big boost for me,” said Porter. “And I’m thankful for it.”
Using the loan, Porter re-released his first three books on his website. He also released his fourth book, Pick Your Poison. It is the third book in his “Resilient Knight” series. Resilient Knight is a Philadelphia reporter who doubles as a sleuth and finds himself part of the stories he investigates as he fights to uncover the truth.
It’s no surprise that Resilient Knight is also a Germantown native, given that’s where Porter was raised by his grandmother. While the author uses his imagination to illustrate a larger story, he draws inspiration from his time as a reporter.
He says, “I wanted to draw truth to what a reporter in Philadelphia would encounter when you’re on the street when you’re covering crime.” He says that Knight’s interactions with characters in the book help readers understand what a day in the life of a crime reporter is like.
“Reality fuels my art,” says Porter about his ever-changing creative direction and how his real life serves as inspiration. “When I wrote my first novel, I was single with no children. Now, I’m married with children. So, I can take those real experiences in life and build on them and they can all be fiction.”
Porter credits Germantown as a great influence on his writing process for Pick Your Poison and the rest of the series. He recounts his years shopping at Germantown & Chelten, catching the XH bus, and visiting the Post Office on Greene Street, saying his writing is an “homage to Germantown.” Much like Porter, the book’s protagonist has family members, friends, and memories based in the neighborhood.
The Blind Ambition owner says, “I’ve read fiction novels with other protagonists from Philly, but it’d be from West Philly & South Philly.” He says that while he has an appreciation for those places, those aren’t his home. “I’m from Germantown and I wanted to highlight Germantown.”
Pick Your Poison’s focus on police violence feels extremely current, but the book was actually written about ten years ago. Porter says that while police violence is “topical” today, Philadelphia has always been a city that struggled with police and state violence.
He remembers being five and remembering how his grandmother and other family members reacted to the MOVE bombing in 1985, not fully understanding what was wrong. “Just think about that. Local police dropping a bomb on a row home that’s connected to all these other homes”.
He says the book will focus on these kinds of issues because it is simply a part of the city’s history.
Pick Your Poison is available at www.blindambitionpublishing.com, where it is available in paperback and Kindle formats.