booksWriters Networking: James Myint Swe

James Myint Swe, a member of Lambton Writers’ Association, shares his passion for the Burmese people and their culture through his political and historical writings.

JMSweG: When did you first know you were a writer, James?

J: I consider myself a late bloomer and did not realize till much later in life that I need to put down in writing information mostly based on my life experiences. When I wrote my final high school exam I recalled getting the highest marks for history and politics as I could remember details vividly. This gave me some motivation to continue researching and writing.

G: How do your previous work and life experiences influence your writing?

J: I worked in health care services at St Joseph’s Hospital in Sarnia for more than twenty five years. While working as a full time health worker, I became involved, along with my wife Janis, in advocating for human rights and helping refugees along the Thai Burma border with health care and humanitarian needs. To effectively let the world know about the situation and the sufferings the refugees were facing in the remote camps of the jungles, we had to involve ourselves in writings and presentations. Writing became one of my outlets to escape the mental anguish of human sufferings.

G: What are the genres in which you write?

J: I write politics and history. Graduating with BA Honours in Political Science from University of Western Ontario together with my experiences in international lobbying around the world for Burma/Myanmar refugees and democratic changes opened my eyes to the fact that the younger generations do not have the awareness or understanding of politics. With the support and encouragement of my professors, I published my final thesis “Contemporary Political Structure” in 2007. Contemporary political structure is a hypothesis theoretical formula which could be used to help understand world politics we are facing and how it could effect the next generation.

Another topic is history: I write non-fiction as well as historical fiction. My book based on fifteenth century history of the Portuguese involvement in Burma/Myanmar, a historical fiction “Cannon Soldiers of Burma”, was published in 2014 and has become a popular book for people of all ages who are interested in the history of Burma/ Myanmar.

G: Are you currently working on a project?

J: I am in the final stages of preparing to publish the Burmese version of “Cannon Soldiers of Burma” which could be published by February 2016 in Rangoon/Yangon, Burma/Myanmar. I’ve also completed the “Historical Perspective of the Cannon Soldiers of Burma” which gives the historical background of the novel, “Cannon Soldiers of Burma”.

G: Do you have a favourite location for writing?

J: I do not have a favourite place but a quiet environment is much preferred. My small office is the spot where I usually do most of my writing.

G: What kind of books do you read?

J: Since I was young I had a keen interest in reading books and articles pertaining to history, politics, economics, business and everyday issues. I read mostly works written by politicians who based it upon their own experiences. I am also fascinated with good historical fictions based on past history.

G: Do you wish to share anything about your personal life?

J: I am a Burmese /Myanmar Canadian settled in Sarnia, Canada for forty years, with my wife Janis and three kids. After working at St Joseph’s Hospital in Sarnia for twenty five years, I retired from health care and continued working in Washington DC in United States. I work for refugees, healthcare and humanitarian needs at the refugee camps on the Burma/ Thailand border. My wife and I received a Peace Medallion from Sarnia YMCA in 1995. In 2009,we were on the Sarnia Mayor’s Honour List for our services for humanitarian works.

G: Have you participated in writing contests?

J: No, I have not been involved in any contests, but I would be happy and hope to receive some recognition or reward for my writings.

G: What works have you published to date?

J: Political theory “Contemporary Political Structure” in 2007.

In 2014 “Cannon Soldiers of Burma”

G: What are your thoughts on traditional vs indie publishing?

J: Both publishing venues are useful and good for the authors. Publishing is only a connection between the author and the readers; if we can choose either one to fall into the hands of the interested reader I will be happy. For me I was interested to learn the process and the market by self publishing first. When I learn and understand the connection and have written another good novel, I will be happy to publish the traditional way.

G: Anything else you wish to elaborate on?

J: First of all the main reason for me to write history and politics is: to share with the readers what I have learnt in my lifetime. Most of my writings are derived from numerous research and countless books that I have read. The writings come from my heart and my desire to share with every one the result of my findings. Some of the subjects seem to be too large but all we need is to learn one page at a time. In this way we can learn and understanding the people and the world. It is a noble foundation to share the knowledge with anyone who is interested. For example political discussion is mostly consider a taboo subject in our society. Lack of political discussion has given less understanding for the younger generation. Politics is based on our social, cultural, and family values we carry on for generations. If we neglect these foundations or give way to the corruptions, we will eventually lose our identity.

History is a continuation lesson for us to follow; it is more of learning, educating and understanding our human progression in stages. History is mostly written by both sides of the opposition groups so we have lessons to learn by reading and taking the lessons of failures and the success of the past. Reading and writing history allow us to learn from past mistakes and gives us an understanding between the divided human races.

booksSpoken like a true historian and political activist with a humanitarian’s heart, James. Thanks so much for this interview.