Interview with Sheldon Charles

Published 2017-09-05.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not really, but I had really good English teachers from a young age so it was probably a story I did for one of those classes.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually from friends. Most of the people I know enjoy reading and have excellent taste in books, so I take their recommendations seriously. Of course, I have run into the occasional book I don't like, but when I consider the number of outstanding books I might not have discovered otherwise -- totally worth taking the chance.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I like my Kindle, but early on I used a PalmPilot and rediscovered my love of reading because of it. I was carrying the device for work and one day I chanced across some Mark Twain short stories that were published for the device. Because I had the device with me all the time, I suddenly could read anywhere -- and without carrying a book with me all the time. It convinced me that e-readers were going to cause a renaissance of sorts for busy people who suddenly had a new capability.
Describe your desk
It is an L shaped affair, with a work table for one leg, and a piece of marble countertop atop two filing cabinets for the other. In the corner, where the two pieces meet, I have what I refer to as a "zoo". You know all those sets of super hero action figures that you only have one of (usually your favorite)? It consists of a bunch of those characters plus bits and pieces of other sets. In and amongst the figures are three lava lamps that provide a visual focal point to ponder things. Having the zoo available is handy, like when I need to visualize a scene with multiple people in it - I can build dioramas on the fly. On the worktable is my computer and monitor plus an Amazon Dot that I use for occasional entertainment and information. The marble top holds a desk lamp and provides open space where I can write things long hand or do other work for which I need space. (You can see a pix of the zoo here: )
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was a military brat and spent the first 20 years of my life moving from base to base across the United States and around the world. After that, I joined the Air Force and spent another 20 doing the same thing as an adult. I have had opportunities many people have never had, have seen the world and been part of many cultures. It gives you a very different view of the world, people, and places -- that gives my writing a very different spin than others -- many of the places I write about is based on personal experience having lived there.
When did you first start writing?
As an avid reader, I found myself drawn into writing. My first public display of my talents was in 2009 when I climbed back on a motorcycle after a thirty-year hiatus. While riding, I found myself flooded with thoughts, words, and visions of tales I should tell. So, I did. I started a blog to record those events. I found myself writing about people, adventures, and observations. It was not long before I expanded into fictional tales written.

The blog evolved into a weekly, when I was assigned to Kuwait, then writing about my experiences living in the Middle East… humorous and poignant. It was there, during a meeting, I expressed a small bit of regret that I had yet to become the storyteller I envisioned only to have LtCol Dan Ellis, point out that I had become the storyteller – using the written word. Sometimes it takes someone outside of you to point out a truth you are too close to see. I am grateful Dan did, as it caused me to write and publish my first novella and to begin writing tales in earnest.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The writing world is a lot of Catch-22s. To get a book considered by a publishing house, your Agent must arrange for it to be considered. To get an agent, you must be published. So there is no way to get one without the other or vice versa. People break the mold a lot of different ways and slip in through the cracks. I see Indie publishing as a way to do that as well as a way to tell tales that might never even be considered by the economics driven world of publishing.
What do you read for pleasure?
I usually read three books at once, that way I have something for whatever mood I am in: Something fictional (techno-thriller, mystery or adventure), something humorous and something historical or educational.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being read and hearing from readers what they thought about what I have written. Some like my characters, some like my plotlines, some the dialog -- and some want to tell me how they would have preferred the story to go differently.

One of the most complimentary things I've had happen was when I let a few folks read the first few chapters of a book to make sure I was on the right track. Among the response I got was one that demanded to know what was going to happen to one of the characters, because they really liked the person I had created. It felt awesome to know I had created something that was vivid enough to spark that kind of emotion.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"From Within the Firebird's Nest" was a story developed over five years. The base plotline came to me, but there were things I couldn't figure out at that time -- so I set it aside. Over the years I figured out how to make the story work and the characters I wanted to include. My discovery of numbers stations provided the final tool I needed to drive the entire story, and I began to write.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a story I actually started a while back and set aside: A computer wiz contacted by a woman who “friend zoned” him in adolescence wanting help for her ex who is being framed for a brutal murder. The victim is the trophy wife of a powerful man who benefits from falsely attributed honor and stature because of his background and military career. I hope to publish by the end of 2017.
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Books by This Author

Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 45,230. Language: English. Published: August 9, 2021 . Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
An anthology of short fiction selected to provide you with a brief escape from where you find yourself right now. Each will allow you to leave this reality and take a quick trip into someplace completely different. Have no fear. It's a nice place, and whether in the past or another world, it's okay, they know you there.
Pimping Out My Sister-In-Law*, Volume 1
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 26,430. Language: English. Published: December 23, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Literary collections » American / General
An anthology of short stories selected to provide you with a brief escape from where you find yourself right now. Each will allow you to leave this reality and take a quick trip into a different one. Have no fear. It’s a nice place. Even better, they know you there.
Ferdinand's Gold
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 90,640. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Dex discovers millions in gold bars hidden inside a cargo load following Ferdinand Marcos’s escape. He convinces three associates to help him steal it. Unknown to them, the gold belongs to Col Madulás, head of Marcos’ secret death squad who vows to recover it and take care of any loose ends. Now the four are trying to hold on to the treasure while avoiding certain death. Based on real events.
Blood Upon the Sands
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 142,140. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
Since the earliest days of Kuwait’s independence, the Bedoon have faced government-sanctioned discrimination. To accelerate their expulsion, an ex-KGB agent turned mercenary is secretly hired to manipulate the political climate by influencing public opinion further against the vulnerable populace. Can an American journalist and a Kuwaiti horse breeder unravel a sadistic mercenary’s conspiracy?
From Within the Firebird's Nest
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 119,960. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
In this riveting thriller, an international team of spies and civilians must stop a disgraced former KGB official from reviving a deadly bioweapons program known as the Crimson Firebird Initiative to exact revenge on the United States. Crypto codes, numbers stations, and sleeper agents all factor into this ultra-high-stakes story of international intrigue.
Three Paperclips & a Grey Scarf
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 35,060. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Evan Davis takes a three-month assignment as a press embed in Afghanistan. Before departing, a friend hands Davis a hastily gathered good luck charm: three paperclips. Over the months in country he gets to know the men of a small team of US soldiers that he is deployed with and rediscovers his muse writing about their experiences in Southwest Asia for a truth hungry American public.