February 19, 2013

Writer Wrangle + Giveaway: Charles Sheehan-Miles

There's only a few authors who can make me do a very ugly cry and Charles Sheehan-Miles did exactly that with A Song for Julia. And since I know I'm not alone taking pleasure in reading sob stories, I thought it'd be perfect to invite him to chat with us.

Braine: Hi Charles! Thanks for stopping by, I finally had the chance to talk to you. I absolutely LOVE A Song for Julia. For those who haven't read any of the books from the series yet, can you tell them something about Thompson Sisters that we won't find in the book blurbs? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: I hadn’t originally planned to write a series at all. When I started down this road, Alex and Dylan’s story in Just Remember to Breathe was going to be a one time thing, a diversion from what had become a five-year slog to complete my novel, Insurgent

What happened was this: I was writing a scene where Alexandra Thomas had gone home to San Francisco for Thanksgiving. I’d previously established she had a bunch of sisters. And so… I ended up liking some of the characters so much that I wanted to know more about them. By the time I’d finished that book and put it out there, I’d come to the conclusion that yes, I wanted to write more, and so I started working on Julia’s story. 

Braine: Thank God for that Thanksgiving dinner then otherwise I wouldn't have met Crank and Julia! What book/s influenced you and your writing the most? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: This is always an extremely difficult question for me to answer, because I read very widely in a lot of different genres. I like contemporary romance, historical fiction, sci-fi, military fiction… blah blah blah. I’d say the writers who influenced me early and significantly were Pat Conroy, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Irving and Nelson DeMille. More recently, I’m reading lot of contemporary new adult fiction: Colleen Hoover and Katja Millay being among the best. 

Braine: Debbie LOVES Colleen Hoover. I haven't read her books though, her runaway hit Slammed is too intense for me. Going back to your work, which line from Thompson Sisters is your favorite? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: That’s a really tough question! I think right now it’s this line, from The Last Hour
“Because you can’t call me babe anymore. It’s Doctor Babe to you.” 
Braine: Doctor Babe sounds sexy. What is Thompson Sisters in one word? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: Family 

Braine: Was your own New Adult phase similar to that of your characters? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: Yes and no. If there’s any one character who is most like me, it would Dylan Paris, but none of them are a perfect match. When I finished high school, I travelled for a while in Israel and the Mediterranean, then enlisted in the Army when I returned to the United States. Consequently, when most of my friends were in college and exploring the experience of being adults, I was in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and then later married at a pretty young age. 

Braine: That explains the socio-political feel of your books. Do you consider yourself to be  an army or diplo-brat? Which one is your favorite and what place is a must-see? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: I’m actually not. Though my dad served in the Marine Corps, he got out the year I was born, and I grew up in Atlanta. My work life over the years has taken me all over the country, however. We’ve lived in six different cities while my kids were growing up, which honestly is something I regret: I’d have liked to have been able to give them more stability.

Braine: You've travelled a lot, do you have a favorite city? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles:  I think my favorite city in the United States is a tossup between New York and San Francisco, however, which may be why those are two of the core locations in these books. And of course, my wife and I have spent about ten years of our married life living in and around Washington, DC, which is where the third book, The Last Hour, is mostly set. 

Braine: I used to live in the NorCal area and I agree, San Francisco is really a beautiful place. That Tony Bennet song is not an exaggeration. As I mentioned, I adore A Song For Julia. From your perspective, what is it about them that readers will find compelling? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: I think different readers will find different themes and experiences to appreciate. While these books have romantic themes, there are a lot of issues and experiences there: in the first two we’re dealing with post traumatic stress, rape, developmental disabilities, fractured families and a host of other issues. The book I’m working on now is probably the largest thus far in terms of scope (and most likely length). 

Braine: Your characters are fleshed out really well, what's the story behind their inception? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: The two initial characters in the series: Alexandra Thompson and Dylan Paris, are the closest to real life people I know. In some ways that was a very deeply personal book for me, because as a teenager I went through a similar long-distance relationship to theirs. Most of the rest of the main characters: Julia, Crank, the twins, all arose from writing the Thanksgiving dinner scene in Just Remember to Breathe. I hadn’t originally planned to write a series at all, but as I wrote that scene, I had a lot of fun, and I realized that the family as a whole had given me material for what could be several interesting books. 

I tend to snatch little details out of articles I’ve read, interesting things I’ve observed, experiences I’ve had. In A Song for Julia, the two main characters meet at an antiwar protest in Washington in the fall of 2002. I was actually one of the opening speakers at that protest, so it was a lot of fun to write about it from someone else’s point of view. 

Braine: What's are you writing next? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: My current project, The Last Hour, begins with a bad car accident. Ray Sherman (who we met in Just Remember to Breathe) is driving with Carrie Thompson and her twin sisters in Northwest Washington. Everything starts from there. Even though the “present time” of the story takes place over only about 72 hours, the scope of the book is much larger than the other two, and ranges from remote mountains of northern Afghanistan to a trial in Washington, DC, academic jealousy and competition, and draws in many of the characters from the other two books. Dylan Paris has a major role in this book, as do Carrie’s twin sisters. 

Braine: I definitely want to read The Last Hour if it's deeper than the first two books in the series.  On to the fun stuff. What book did you recently purchase? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: My most recent book purchases were Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Textual Encounters by Morgan Parker. 

Braine: Aside from your books, what other New Adult novel or series do you recommend? 

Charles Sheehan-Miles: I highly recommend anything by Colleen Hoover and Jessica Park, and I’ve been reading early drafts of a book Andrea Randall is working on, and it is fantastic. She doesn’t have a title yet, but it will be out some time after Reckless Abandon is published this spring. I would watch out for that one in particular, it’s going to be very good.

Braine: Thanks again for stopping by, Charles, and congratulations on the success of your series. We look forward to reading The Last Hour soon!

Do the ugly cry with me! 

Get The Thompson Sisters

Charles has been a soldier, nonprofit executive, short order cook, IT manager and run a restaurant. He doesn't believe in specialization. He currently works as a communications and outreach specialist for a law firm representing disabled veterans.

Charles lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife Veronica and their two children.

Fan Girls & Boys Welcome

Charles is giving away a digital copy of
A Song For Julia.
Giveaway ends March 5th.

Good luck!


  1. No - too difficult to maintain especially if you are so busy to begin with!


  2. I think it can work but it's very difficult.

  3. Yes, I am a firm believer in LDR. I've been in one for 8 1/2 years.

  4. Maybe at first, but not easy to sustain.

  5. I think once in a while a LDR is successful...but I am greedy and want my partner with me as much as sanely possible!!!

  6. I think it is possible but not easy. But then, nothing good is ever really easy. :)

  7. I think, in theory, long distance can work. I believe the couple in the relationship have to really want it.

  8. No they do not work! I think you have to be together to make a relationship work. More problems tend to happen when you are far apart.

  9. Hi all - yes, LDR is hard work! I've been in one and it was so frustrating on so many levels!

  10. I think it would be hard to get it to work. There would have to be a huge amount of trust on both sides ! Thanks for the giveaway !


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