I’m glad to host an interview with author Charles Sheehan-Miles today. Charles Sheehan-Miles is the author of NA Romance novel, Just Remember to Breathe.
1) When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I started writing very bad fan fiction when I was around eleven or twelve years old, and by high school I knew that I wanted to write as a career.
2) What inspired you to write ‘Just Remember to Breathe’?
Mid-life crisis. No, really. I went through a period recently where I re-read some of my journals from when I was in high school. During my senior year I went on a brief foreign exchange trip where I met a girl I fell passionately in love with. We lived across the country from each other, and long distance relationship, plus life, got in the way. I joined the Army and went to war. She went to college. Just Remember to Breathe was directly inspired by that experience.
3) How long did it take you to write ‘Just Remember to Breathe’ from start to finish?
I feel like this is going to be the wrong answer, because normally it takes me years to struggle through writing a book. I finished the first draft of Just Remember to Breathe in 14 days, which was an intoxicating experience. I was ready to tell this story.
4) Who was your favorite character to write about in this book, and which character did you like the least? And why?
I think my favorite character was probably Alex. She’s smart, compassionate, and she’s not a pushover. I like my heroines to be tough, and she is. At one point in the story she had to make a decision that made me almost want to cry: but it was the right decision for her. I love it when that happens.
I think the character I liked the least was Randy Brewer. He’s from a wealthy family, and his parents are family friends. Alex’s parents have pushed him toward him for years. He’s arrogant, misogynist, and treats people like objects.
5) What is the hardest part for you about writing?
The hardest part for me is finding the time. When I sit down to write, it can take me a significant amount of time to get in the zone, and during my normal working life I only get an hour here, half an hour there, usually early in the morning before the family is awake.
6) If you could do something differently about writing ‘Just Remember to Breathe’, what would it be?
I’d like to explore the relationship between Alex and her sisters a lot more. I got a glimpse of it during this book, but there’s a lot more.
7) If you could have coffee with three authors (dead or alive), which authors would you choose?
Only three? Wow. I’d start with Pat Conroy. I love his writing, it’s almost musical. Plus, I met him accidentally at a coffee shop in Atlanta when I was fourteen, and he autographed a book on the spot for me, and encouraged me to keep writing. Colleen Hoover, because she’s freaking awesome. Probably Gayle Forman, because she’s one of the few authors who has ever managed to get me to want to cry continuously throughout the experience of reading a book. I still haven’t dried out from reading If I Stay.
8) What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
While I’m not someone who veils my political beliefs in fiction, I think it’s important to explore to the limit the things I’m passionate about. My books have gotten into things that matter to me: love, loss, grief, war, trauma, life. A good story should tell us something about how we can understand the world around us.
9) Are you currently working on something new? If so, can you tell us more about it?
I’m currently writing a companion book to Just Remember to Breathe. It’s not technically a sequel, it will be a standalone book, but centers around familiar characters to people who read the first one. I’m digging into a lot of own fears in this one: writing about things like autism, social isolation, bullying, and betrayal of those we trust. It’s a love story.
Just Remember to Breathe
Alex Thompson’s life is following the script. A pre-law student at Columbia University, she’s focused on her grades, her life and her future. The last thing she needs is to reconnect with the boy who broke her heart.
Dylan Paris comes home from Afghanistan severely injured and knows that the one thing he cannot do is drag Alex into the mess he’s made of his life.
When Dylan and Alex are assigned to the same work study program and are forced to work side by side, they have to make new ground rules to keep from killing each other.
Only problem is, they keep breaking the rules.
The first rule is to never, ever talk about how they fell in love.
My background: I spent some time traveling the Middle East on my own in the late nineteen eighties, then went back courtesy of the United States Army as a tank crewman during the 1991 Gulf War. After that I spent most of the next two decades pursuing dual careers: nonprofit activist and information technology professional. Eventually the two combined: from 2003 until 2009 I was completely in the nonprofit sector, served as executive director of two nonprofits and director of IT of a third.
Unfortunately, when the 2008 economic crash hit, it took my career with it. For several years I had to retool, and managed restaurants in the Atlanta area. Recently I found my way back into my chosen career: I work in veterans outreach and public affairs for a law firm which represents disabled veterans. In my free time I write books, this blog, play with the kids, and generally try to make it through life doing as much good as possible.