Stanton Swafford was born in Los Angeles and grew up along the beaches of Southern California.
He attended the Universities of Colorado and the Philippines where he majored in economics and Asian Studies. He speaks Indonesian, Tagalog and Mandarin Chinese.
He served aboard submarines in the United States Navy during the Cold War era. One of the subs he served on was the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine.
He has lived, worked and played over many years in the Philippines, Singapore, Malacca, Malaysia and Bali, Indonesia.
During his period living in Southeast Asia, he operated undercover as an intelligence officer, ran a timber export company, and performed throughout the region as a jazz musician. His debut novel, China Sea, portrays a plot and settings derived from that experience.
He is an avid tennis player and sailor. He is a self-taught musician and continues to play piano and lead his jazz band.
Brief synopsis of your book:
Working undercover overseas is the furthest thing from Roy Mancini's mind. Then he responds to a “classified ad from heaven,” seeking someone to set up and run a new office in Asia. At last this mysterious client is revealed to be The Institute, a human intelligence (humint) task force that reports to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After The Institute hires Roy and trains him in the craft of espionage, he moves to Southeast Asia where he lives under deep cover as a coffee bean trader.
Following the recruitment of a clandestine agent from the island of Bali employed as the radio operator on a cargo ship chartered to North Korea, Roy befriends Sasha Popov, a Russian shipping executive, bon vivant, and jazz pianist. Popov is in fact a senior KGB officer whom Roy skillfully manipulates and recruits, driving him to reveal secret information about KGB covert operations.
As dots are connected, the confluence of intelligence provided by the Balinese agent and the Russian “mole” leads to the discovery of a potentially deadly international conspiracy—and leaves Roy Mancini to prevent a terrorist plot of catastrophic proportions.
Current book or project you’re working on:
I have outlined my second novel, JAVA SEA. It’s a sequel to CHINA SEA, twenty-eight years later.
What moment or event sparked the inspiration for your novel?
I have lived most of my adult life as an expatriate in Southeast Asia. The novel is semi-autobiographical. It was finally time to write it all down.
Please share three interesting facts about the characters in your book.
1) The characters are of various nationalities – American, Russian, Balinese, Filipino and Malaysian. They all tie in to each other throughout the story.
2) The story is written in the first person point of view. Thus it is written from my own experiences in the USA and Asia.
3) The reader might learn some things about the cultures in the various settings through the lives of the characters.
What is the most complex issue you dealt with, as a writer, in your current novel?
The writing flowed. The rewriting was wrenching.
Is any part of your story based on real events?
The first half of the story is derived mainly from real events. The final half is far more fictional.
If you could pick any well known or famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
Somerset Maugham. He was a major influence in the art of storytelling. But since he’s not around anymore, I’d pick Nelson DeMille. We share a similar sense of humor.
Since your story involves someone working undercover, do you have military background or how did you do research for this character?
I lived the life of an undercover intelligence officer. Also I served on the USS Nautilus, and that submarine is featured toward the end of the story. My next novel, Java Sea, will require a lot more research in the realm of Islamic terrorism. Thank you Wikipedia.
What genre and age group does your book fall into?
Thriller/Suspense. Probably eighteen years old and above.
What is the first book you remember reading that changed how you thought or felt about something?
On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Name a lesson you learned when writing your book?
1) Writing is fun. I should have started out writing earlier in life.
2) One cannot write without having lived the life.
3) Final editing and proofreading by others is SO important.
4) One needs to enjoy being an entrepreneur if he/she is going to self-publish as an independent author.
Do you foresee this book as a series?
Yes. A second book is in the works. I’d like to make it a trilogy. Will have to wait and see if I still have a third book in me. Playing one point at a time.
What would you say is the key to keeping mystery and suspense going?
You do need to create tension. Let there be surprises and twists.
What tips would you give someone writing a story that takes place in a foreign country?
Although it is indeed possible today to write a story using Google Earth and Google Maps and make it believable, a writer should really visit a foreign country for as long as it takes to absorb some of the culture. I have never been to Egypt, yet I was able to write a credible chapter toward the end of the book with the setting in Port Said (northern end of the Suez Canal). I did that entirely by using Google Earth & Maps and Wikipedia.
How many books have you written?
Do you write everyday or only when the mood strikes you?
I write every day. Committed writers cannot wait until the inspiration hits them.
What part of being an author excites you the most?
I suppose it is having something out there that my family and friends and posterity can read.
Do you have a writing process or do you just write?
I wake up early. Make coffee. And start to write.
Do you have any ideas for your book and Hollywood? Actors, directors, music.
Yes. China Sea would make a great movie. However I’m not sure anyone would want to budget for the overseas settings. The settings could not be created inside a Hollywood studio.
Which book to movie conversion is your favorite?
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. One of the few movies that was as good as the book.
If you could spend one day with one person who has passed on who would you choose and why?
My grandfather. He was a great influence. He too was a writer. I just wish I could give him a copy of my novel and ask him to critique it.
Personal favorite info:
Drink – These days? Probably Mountain Dew.
Food – Asian
Vacation – Life has been a vacation.
TV show – Morning Joe
Sport – Tennis
Book – The Complete Short Stories of Somerset Maugham
How can people connect with you? firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodreads: Stanton Swafford
Where can readers find your book?
ITUNES: Search for China Sea by Stanton Swafford on your iPad or iPhone.
GOOGLE PLAY: http://bit.ly/ChinaSeaNovel