Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and eighth, is of novelist Pete Abela.
Pete is an author from the city of Wollongong, just south of Sydney in the state of New South Wales, Australia. His debut novel, Wings, has just been published as an eBook by Really Blue Books.
For most of his adult life, Pete has been a left-brained computer scientist whose love of reading eventually led him to take up writing. Having surprised himself and those around him by getting Wings published, he’s now having fun dreaming up marketing strategies and publicity stunts – tasks he never could have envisaged doing ten years ago. He continues to stretch the boundaries of his right hemisphere and is now working to complete a second novel.
His left brain hasn’t been totally neglected through this process. Pete works as an IT Manager in order to help keep his wife and four kids fed and clothed. When he’s not working, reading, writing or enjoying the company of his family, Pete likes to sneak away for a bit of exercise – either tennis, soccer or a laborious run.
Wings tells the story of Walt and his grandson Scott, who both have a fierce longing to fly albeit in vastly different circumstances. Walt – who grew up in the depression – found out first hand that becoming a pilot takes sacrifice and tenacity. When World War II broke out he pestered the RAF for eighteen months before they finally accepted him. Scott spent his childhood listening to tales of his Grandfather’s aerial exploits and developed an intense craving to be a pilot. However, the number of people wanting to be a pilot vastly outweighs the limited opportunities on offer.
Wings weaves together two tales: one set in war-torn northern England, and the other set in the modern-day Illawarra region of New South Wales. As Scott progresses, his grandfather declines – Walt loses his wife, his sight and his hearing – but throughout these difficulties is still there to offer support and encouragement. With insights into the modern aviation scene and life in the Royal Air Force of World War II, this is a must for anyone who has an interest in history, aviation or simply an old-fashioned love story.
And now from the author himself:
I’ve been asked a number of times whether I write in a fully planned and structured way or fly by the seat of my pants.
The answer is a bit of both. I’m working on my third novel, and so far they’ve all developed in a similar way. I start off with a rush of enthusiasm and just write. I have a vague idea about the storyline and characters but no real sense of where it’s going or how it will end.
This works for a while – usually about ten thousand words – and then I seem to run out of steam. I find it difficult to continue, and sometimes, I come to the realisation that not everything I’ve written is working.
It is at this point that I normally sit down and plan the rest of the novel. I identify the major plot developments, a good number of the scenes and what will happen to the characters. I use ‘Scrivener’ as my writing tool, and it is fantastic for creating placeholders for all of these pieces. I normally identify all of the chapters, as well as the main scenes in each chapter.
I often have to throw away a chunk of what was written in the initial burst of enthusiasm – often as much as a third or even a half – although I don’t mind because this creative outpouring plays a significant role in shaping the story in my mind.
With the novel now planned out in detail, it’s time to write again. I focus on completing each of the scenes identified in my outline, one at a time. My work is very structured when I’m in this mode, although there is still room for spontaneity. Often as I’m working through a scene I’ll get some new ideas which take the scene in a different direction than I originally anticipated. I also get ideas for new scenes which I register in Scrivener for subsequent development.
Once all the scenes have been written, the first draft is complete. Then it’s time for the real work to begin!
You can find more about Pete at his website and blog: http://peteabela.com. The blog contains a number of really bad jokes. You have been warned. Thank you, Pete.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with science fiction / fantasy author Bob Horbaczewski – the four hundred and fifty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.