Thank you so much for joining me, Bill! When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Interestingly, when I was in school I knew I did NOT want to be a writer. I hated writing. But what I couldn’t get away from was the fact that I was pretty good at it. I wrote my first technical piece when I was 26 years old. I sold it to Radio-Electronics Magazine for $400 and thought I was rich (obviously a few years ago). That’s when the light came on.
Yay! Someone else who hated writing in school, lol! What has been the most difficult part about being a writer?
I think the most difficult thing is time discipline. Like most writers, I have a day job and I have to squeeze writing between working and family. That can be hard, especially when deadlines loom. So, if you get an email from me at 3am, don’t be surprised.
Time management is definitely a major issue for me as well. Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with your pen name?
I don’t use a pen name. I’ve been Bill all my life and when I first put the book together several people, including a publisher, said I should use William. But’s as far as I went.
Who are your favorite authors?
Right now I’m reading my first book by CJ Lyons and really enjoying it. I met her at ThrillerFest a couple of years ago and she is so nice in person but there is some creepy stuff going on in her author mind. I really like Lee Child, Joe Finder, Robert Ludlum, Jeff Deaver, Lisa Gardner, all thriller authors. I also enjoy historical fiction like Sharon Kay Penman.
LOL I love how you described CJ Lyons :) What authors inspire you?
I read all of Tom Clancy’s early stuff and all of Vince Flynn. As I have a background in Intelligence and National Security, I thought perhaps I could write this kind of story and make it interesting as well. Now I read all of the authors I mentioned earlier and take a little of the best from each.
Those are fantastic authors. What type of books do you like to read?
I read thrillers, crime thrillers, spy thrillers, historical thrillers. Did I mention thrillers? :)
Hmm, I think you left out a genre. Do you like thrillers? What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time…I’ve heard of that. What is it again? :) Much of my free time late at night I read or play video games, not the first person shooter kind but the ones where you role play and solve crimes or puzzles: Skyrim, Assassin’ Creed. I like thriller, spy, intrigue kinds of games.
I adore those video games! Where is your favorite place to vacation?
I’ve traveled all over the world for work and pleasure so that’s a tough one. If had to pick one place, it might be Amsterdam or Copenhagen. I’ll just have to say Europe. I love the rich historic connection I feel almost anywhere there.
I've always wanted to visit those places. I've only ever been to Spain and Italy in Europe. If you were stuck on a desert island and could have only three things, what would they be?
A loaded e-reader, a bottomless box of ginger snaps, and a nuclear powered laptop. I mean what else do you need? A fridge full of Diet Coke?
Congratulations Bill, I do believe you're the first person to ever say you wanted a nuclear powered laptop, lmao. Are you a plotter or a pantser with your writing?
I started as a pantser because I thought, “I know the story so I’ll just tell it.” (loud buzzer goes off and I’m covered with a big red “X”) It didn’t work at all. On the other hand I’m not organized enough to be a detailed plotter. Lisa Gardner once told me she writes every scene and sub-scene on index cards and covers her kitchen floor with them so she can meticulously organize the plot. Apparently, it works really well for her. I strike a balance with a skeleton plot that I can follow so I don’t forget anything or repeat myself. But I can still drape the story on the framework as I see the movie play in my head.
Holy crap, I don't think I could ever do what Lisa does. Wow. Good for her though if it works for her! Why did you choose to write a thriller?
I’ve always liked thriller stories and have lived a few in my time. I think a lot of the attraction for me is an intense dislike of bullies and a strong desire to see the karmic energy in the universe balanced. That sounds a bit new age and I’m not that type of person but as one who has been bullied and then gotten even, it was a very gratifying experience. I can relive that in books that I read and write.
I think that's an amazing reason for writing a thriller :) What has been the most fun about working on your books?
For me, the most fun is finally getting it right. Like most authors, I write and tweak and re-write. Michael Creighton said, “Books aren’t written, they are rewritten.” When I can put it aside, come back and the passage speaks to me, it’s a great feeling. I also have the “goose-bump test” which is often fun. I give the particularly creepy passages to my wife. When she reads them, then shivers, then throws the pages at me, I know they’re ready for the book.
Hahaha, that's the best test ever. What has been the hardest scene for you to write?
The hardest scenes are the ones where the macho main character gets all mushy with the beautiful heroine and they talk about feelings and emotions and the like. I’m an engineer by training and disposition. I’m actually and extroverted engineer which is why I’m looking at your shoes instead of mine as we talk. Anyway, engineers are more into facts than feelings. So I have a writing partner who helps with the “girlie” stuff while I concentrate on shooting, mayhem and blowing stuff up.
Hey, I'm a girl and love shooting, mayhem and blowing stuff up :) How did you come up with the premise for your book?
I spent many years in US Intelligence and more as a security expert helping governments and businesses. My wife, also in Intelligence told me one day that I should write down some of my experiences. Well, most of them are still classified so I decided to come up with a fictional character who, if I were careful, could have some of the same adventures. So Peyton Stone was born.
Now I needed a story. One day I was in Abu Dhabi working on security concepts for a new Guggenheim Museum and while I was going through threat scenarios I realized that I was at the site of an iconic Jewish-American institution forty miles from the Iranian coast. There was nothing between me and Iran but water. What an opportunity for some crazy terrorist. After two solid days of “what if?” the story for Nonofficial Asset gelled.
I think that's so awesome that you worked in Intelligence. I take it you based a lot of events in your book around your experiences?
Most of the adventures are based on my own experiences and places I’ve been. Most of the characters are based on real people. But, of course, it’s a work of fiction. We have had many years of strained relations with Iran and I thought, “What if we put that behind us and signed a treaty? And what if not everyone was behind the treaty? And what if these people somehow got their hands on a nuclear weapon (or two)? And finally, what if they had the means and motivation to use them?” What would we do in a case like that? Well, read the book and find out.
I can't wait to read this. It sounds fantastic! Tell us more about your main characters please.
Peyton Stone grew up in the South, Georgia to be exact. He has a talent that was nurtured by his father, a Federal Probation Officer. He is arguably one of the best rifle shots in the world. That helps him in some of his adventures. He has built a career and a company as a security expert and has advised governments and businesses, even the Super Bowl on matters of security. As a Nonofficial Asset his private life as a security expert is his cover story. It’s how he gets close to foreign leaders.
A couple of years ago he made some enemies in the Middle East and they tried to kill him with a car bomb but got his wife instead. He went through a dark time but is dealing with it now. He can sometimes get reckless because he cares a lot less about his own life than he once did but he’s dealing with that as well. All of this together makes him tough, fearless and able to take on challenges that others would balk at. He hates bullies and will go out of his way to balance the scales of justice.
Well, now I'm even more excited!! Is there anything else you’d like to mention about your book?
I just had such a great time writing it and hope that everyone has an even better time reading it and getting to know Peyton Stone and his friends.
Tell me, is this part of a series? If so, what can we expect with the other books?
It is a series and the next book is due out this year. Its working title is Critical Asset and in it a laid off and now very angry former NASA scientist comes up with a way to control almost anything digital. Working with hackers from overseas, he begins to exercise his control over the power grid, financial systems and even the life and death of individual people. It will be the biggest challenge yet for Peyton Stone and his team. Two early scenes have already passed the “goose bump test” and I’m working to the end of the first draft and will then start the rewrites.
Yay, love finding new series to read!! What's next for you?
I just sent a copy to a screen agent so I’m working on the movie deal. But as everyone knows, that’s always a very long shot. I’m signing books here and there, the LA Times Festival at USC, the BEA Convention in New York in May and I’m waiting for the results of a couple of award nominations.
Oh wow, that's so exciting! Good luck with that! Anything else you want your readers to know?
This has been a real blast and I truly appreciate your having me on The Lindsay Show. Thank you!!
Thank you so much for joining me, Bill! It has been a thrill ;) Lovelies don't miss the book that's Goodreads Listopia #1 Best Spy Novel!!
Nonofficial Asset...Buy it Now!
Peyton Stone never quit his day job. But it's his other profession that might just get him killed.
Islamabad. Baghdad. Shanghai. Kazakhstan, Kabul. Langley. For Peyton Stone, that's a work commute. But his is no normal job. On the surface he's a world-renowned security expert. But his real occupation is serving as a "nonofficial asset," a contractor working for the CIA when the government needs complete deniability. While advancing American interests globally, Stone discovers that those interests can exact a steep personal price. And when his business partner is murdered in a Shanghai hotel, ominous ghosts from his past return and he's drawn deeper into the covert maze, on the hunt for a stolen nuclear weapon and the rogue Iranian admiral hell-bent on using it. In Nonofficial Asset his skills, training, tactics, mettle, and allegiance to family and country are all pushed to the limit as he races to prevent nuclear catastrophe.
A captivating international espionage cliffhanger, William Sewell's new spy thriller is not some fake fantasy conjured by an uninformed novice writer working from his safe, local Starbucks. This is an adroitly told tale of very real and likely scenarios by someone who has been in some, if not most, of these dark bunkers--and lived to tell about it. A 30-year veteran of the clandestine services, William Sewell is a communications security expert by day. But like Peyton Stone, he has another profession. Exploiting his behind-enemy-lines intelligence experience, Sewell infuses Nonofficial Asset with an authenticity that can only be gained from real-world experience in the trenches.
Buy it Now:
If William “Bill” Sewell believes in a guiding principle, it comes from world champion racecar driver Mario Andretti, who said, “If things seem really under control, you’re not going fast enough.” Sewell spends his life pushing to find that razor's edge between velocity and control.Connect with Bill:
Rasied in Dublin, Georgia, Sewell began his clandestine adventuring as a boy, with rifle in hand, hunting imaginary Nazis, the Japanese army, and even Yankees in the Peachtree state’s backwoods. A Vietnam and U.S. Air Force veteran, Sewell left military service to become a contractor for the U.S. government. In addition to working with the Departments of State and Defense, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, Sewell also consulted on security matters with the governments of Kuwait, Australia, India, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, China, Canada, and even with the European Council of Mayors. But Sewell also pursued an alternative profession—with the U.S. intelligence community.
“There’s a thrill to participating in covert enterprises. And of course there’s the patriotic aspect of doing some good for your country. Unfortunately, I’m not yet at liberty to talk about much of what we did. But we had a lot of fun. . . .”
Though his speech is carefully measured, it’s clear that Sewell experienced a lot during his tenure. For example, while a contractor with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Branch, Sewell witnessed tectonic political shifts that had real consequences in the field. “The end of the Cold War was a strange time because the rules were changing in the Soviet bloc at different rates in different places. For us, the challenge was that some of the good guys became bad guys and some bad guys became good guys. It was a very fluid and uncertain situation. So to be safe, we pretty much trusted no one.”
Sewell also experienced the direct effects of what can be a very dangerous business. “At the end of the first Gulf War I went over to Kuwait, working with their interior ministry. Aside from the terrible cost in lives, the war had turned Kuwait into a pile of rubble. The old bustling Suk (marketplace) ceased to exist. Our huge hotel? There were only six functional rooms left, because Iraqi soldiers tossed a grenade in each room as they walked out. The Iraqi army blew up or stole everything of value; they even pinched an entire roller coaster from an amusement park! But the Kuwaitis were determined to rebuild, and they did a spectacular job. I was very proud to work with them in the years after the war.”
In addition to his work abroad, Sewell has provided security expertise for numerous domestic events and venues—including the Super Bowl, NFL and MLB stadiums, airports, infrastructure, and many corporate headquarters and locations.
Putting his remarkable experience to good use, Sewell has now penned Nonofficial Asset, a clandestine thriller featuring his doppelganger, Peyton Stone. It is the first installment in the Asset series.
William Sewell lives with his wife in Southern California.