Author Interview ~ William Sewell

I am excited to share today’s interview with everyone. Bill contacted me here after he was referred here by Kevin Howard, my author interview from September 19th, 2012. I have had fun getting to know Bill over the past days as we set up today’s interview and worked out a few details for a SIGNED Book giveaway of his novel “Nonofficial Asset”. (giveaway details from post 10/6/12) Bill like the other author’s I have interviewed here has a sense of humor and shows great passion for his writing, even in our interview.

Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?

My novel is called Nonofficial Asset. For those who don’t know this, the CIA and other Agencies have people who work as contract spies. That is, part time, when needed. These people have special skills or knowledge and are also deniable if they are caught. Peyton Stone was a Nonofficial asset but thought he had left that behind to become an internationally known security expert. When he finds his business partner murdered in a Shanghai hotel room, he has to reach back to his CIA handler, Harry Morrison, for help in tracking down the murderer. Of course, there’s more to it than a simple robbery gone bad and as the clock ticks down to a nuclear attack by a rogue Iranian Admiral, Peyton and Harry race to untangle the threads across China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and finally to the Oval Office itself.

The inspiration to write actually came from my past and some of the things I’ve done that I can’t actually confirm or deny. My wife convinced me to make my experiences into a story. This particular story first came to me while working in Abu Dhabi. I was under contract to assist the government there with security for a new Guggenheim museum in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District. This is a Jewish American iconic building sitting in the Arabian Gulf 40 miles from Iran. As we thought through attack scenarios, some of them were far out but plausible and my mind kept running with “What if…” and before I knew it the story sort of laid itself out and started writing.

What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write?

Absolutely thrillers. I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie from racing motorcycles and cars, to flying, to scuba diving. Now that I’m, shall we say “more mature”, I have to get my rush from reading and writing thrillers.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?

Several years ago I had shopped a manuscript around and was getting good comments but no traction so I hired an editor in New York who was the guy who discovered Robert Ludlam and paid him to review the manuscript. He was brutally honest about the character development and basically told me to start over. I was crushed but undeterred and accepted that he was right. So I started over and did Nonofficial asset paying close attention to his advice. So far, the reviews have been 5-star.

When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it, the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?

I use a computer. My very, very first novel, a historical thriller which went nowhere, was done in longhand. Well, “it went nowhere” pretty much sums it up. I like the instant gratification of seeing my work in print as I produce it.

What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?

Down time? I’ve heard of that.

Thinking back to when you first started writing, have you noticed any big changes to your writing style or how you write compared from then to now?

Most definitely. Advice I’ve heard for writers – and I forget where I heard this – is “If you want to write well, write a lot, read a lot, and then write a lot more.” I’ve found that this is the best advice ever. My style at first was a bit better than “See Jane run” but it was stilted and uninteresting. I find that most authors starting out suffer that. I read Ludlam, Berry, Deaver, Child, Flynn, Lynds and others and I took a little from each of them and folded it into my style. I’m now pretty comfortable banging out a story that I feel is good.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

I look for the basics: engaging characters, a good plot line that twists and turns, and that big payoff at the end.

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

My favorite part is seeing people enjoy my work. I got an email recently from someone who is a former journalist and now has her own PR firm. See said simply, “Got your book. It’s 3:36am. Still reading. I’m hooked.” That’s incredibly gratifying. My least favorite: dealing with agents.

When you walk into a book store, where do you head first? Do you go to bookstores or have you gone viral for your reading pleasure?

I head straight to the fiction thriller section, of course. Bookstores are suffering some but I think it’s the economy more than eReaders. Book stores are still a vital part of the industry.

Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?

First rule of authorship, never quit your day job. I still have a day job to pay the bills but I put “Author” first in my on-line profiles.

What is your favorite junk food vice?

Breakfast of champions: Cheetos Puffs and Peanut M&Ms.

If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?

I actually WAS my protagonist for a time. I can neither confirm nor deny what my experiences were. If I told you, they’d kill us both.

Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?

I had a teacher named E. Bowman Barr for three years of high school. He didn’t exactly encourage me to write but he did give me a complete tool kit. He was a stickler for proper grammar and also taught mental tags and tricks to help us get it right. Who vs whom and all that.

What do you listen to when you write?? Do you need quiet or do you find inspiration in music??

I tried listening to music when I write but found to my disappointment that I can only do one thing at a time. Lol

Who was your current novel dedicated too?? Any particular reason?

I dedicated it to my wife because she inspired me to write, believed I could do it even when I didn’t and simply supported the entire effort. She’s a wonderful person.

What are you currently reading??

The Twelfth Card by Jeffery Deaver. Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher book is on deck.

Is there anything else you would like to share or say to those who will read this?

“Buy my book!” lol Actually, to readers I’d say keep reading and teach your kids and grandkids to read a lot. Read to them and teach them the joy of a good story. To writers I’d say never stop. Remember that criticism is an opinion not a truth and you can always take opinions and learn from them. Just keep writing.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cynthia Tussey Harris
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 16:31:19

    Nonofficial Asset kind of reminds me of the movie “Taken.” Just saying. 🙂


  2. Trackback: Author Interview ~ William Sewell « jack & Liz

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