Friday, August 2, 2013

10 Questions with Novelist Pete Abela (@PeteAbela)

This Author Spotlight features novelist Pete Abela, author of WINGS (see above).

Pete is an author from the city of Wollongong, just south of Sydney in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

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.

1. How did you get into writing?

My writing journey began when I commenced a journal around ten years ago. I found it a useful and therapeutic practice which helped me make sense of day to day life and get a sense of perspective. I found it amazing when I read over my journal to see the things I’d been worried about six months ago. In most instances these “problems” had simply vanished.

I found that I enjoyed the process of writing, so I progressed from journaling to an autobiographical account of my late teens and early twenties. It hasn’t been published, and it’s unlikely that it ever will be.

When I finished that, I started thinking about what else I could write. Wings is the result.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

The best thing about writing is when I get in the zone … when I don’t have to consciously think and the words just flow out.

The thing I like least is that I get in the zone so rarely. I think the last time it happened was 21st October, 2010. In between times there’s a lot of persistence required in order to churn out a decent work.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I’m now working on my 2nd and 3rd novels and each of the three has proceeded in the same way. They start with a burst of unconstrained energy where I just sit down and write. This continues until I get stuck (usually at around the 10,000 word mark). At this point I need to plan out the rest of the novel, scene by scene. Once the plan has been completed, I resume my writing and finish it off. Some part of the first 10,000 words is usually throwaway, and often it gets transformed in some way. However, I don’t regret it, because it is during those first 10,000 words - when I am flying by the seat of my pants – that I work out what the novel will be about.

When I have the plan worked out, I aim to complete around 700 words a day, six days a week.

I use Scrivener to help me organise and re-organise my work.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

It’s hard to come up with a short list, but my physical book shelf is full of (in alphabetical order) Jeffrey Archer, Desmond Bagley, Bernard Cornwell, Michael Crichton, Dick Francis, John Grisham, Arthur Hailey, Louis L’Amour, Alistair McLean, JRR Tolkein and Jules Verne to name but a few. It’s a very full shelf.

I’ve recently acquired a kindle and am looking forward to venturing into new areas including Dickens and great new Indie authors.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

I think it’s a moot point, because I wouldn’t have put quotation marks around the word successful.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I don’t know if I should admit this, but I hadn’t heard the term ‘Oxford Comma’ before you asked me this question. Google and Wikipedia have come to my aid and I can now answer the question.

I do not use the Oxford Comma unless it is required to resolve an ambiguity.

7. What is your book WINGS about and how did it come to fruition?

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.

Although Wings is a novel, I did draw inspiration from two men I greatly admire. The first is my grandfather who was a fighter pilot during World War II; the other is my younger brother who is a commercial pilot with a major Australian airline.

I consider them both to have lived through fascinating, unusual and difficult circumstances and I thought I could use their experiences as the basis for this novel.

8. What’s your current writing project?

I’ve just finished the first draft of Just Cause, a novel about a new Dad who has to deal with the loss of his job and a life-threatening illness experienced by his infant son. I’m currently editing and polishing this.

I’m also about a third of the way through Lessons from a Two-year Old. It is about a thirty-year-old IT geek who lives at home with his parents. He gets roped into babysitting his two-year-old niece once a week. She's a pain and a challenge for him, but over time he watches her and learns lessons about independence, interacting with people and enjoyment of life generally which help him turn his life around (move away from home, change his work, try relationships, get fit, etc). He'll have a few misadventures along the way, but it should finish with a happy ending.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

Julian by Gore Vidal. It’s a diary of the fourth century Roman leader and is engaging from the point of view of the story and fascinating from a historical perspective.

One of the next books I’m planning on reading is the GO-KIDS series. I’ve been told it's aviation-themed, albeit in the near future; kind of a HARRY POTTER meets TOP GUN a la IRONMAN with a dash of THIS PRESENT DARKNESS sprinkled throughout.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

The challenges we face on a day to day basis are many and varied. In trying to construct a meaningful life, we need to juggle love and career, family responsibilities and individual aspirations, joy and tragedy.

I write books grounded in reality which highlight some of these challenges and dilemmas and explore how people tackle them in different situations.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

The first chapter of WINGS can be downloaded from my website at This page also has links to purchase it from the publisher (( and Amazon.

Your readers may also be interested in reading my blog, ‘Spread Your Wings’ at which contains articles about some of the topics I’m most interested in including reading, writing, and techniques for setting goals and achieving them. You can find more about me at my website and blog ( The blog contains a number of really bad jokes. You have been warned.

Contacting Pete:
Twitter: @PeteAbela

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