Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m an author from the city of Wollongong, just south of Sydney in the state of New South Wales, Australia.
For most of my adult life, I’ve been a left-brained computer scientist whose love of reading eventually led me to take up writing. Having surprised myself and those around me by getting Wings published, I’m now having fun dreaming up marketing strategies and publicity stunts – tasks I never could have envisaged doing ten years ago. I continue to stretch the boundaries of my right hemisphere and am now working to complete a second novel.
My left brain hasn’t been totally neglected through this process. I work as an IT Manager in order to help keep my wife and four kids fed and clothed. When I’m not working, reading, writing or enjoying the company of my family, I like to sneak away for a bit of exercise – either tennis, soccer or a laborious run.
Tell us about your debut novel, Wings. What led you to write this story?
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.
You said your novel was based on your grandfather and younger brother’s experiences. Could you tell us about those?
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 draw on some of their experiences as the inspiration for this novel.
My grandfather is still alive – he turns 91 in a few months. He is a man with an incredibly positive attitude which he has maintained even as he becomes frailer and loses some of his independence. My brother is laconic and humorous. In many ways, it’s hard to imagine him behind the controls of an aircraft with the lives of hundreds of people in his hands, but he obviously does a very good job.
What do you want your readers to gather from your novel?
One of the key themes of the novel is the focus required to achieve major goals. There are at least two elements required to achieve anything worthwhile. The first is a clear vision of your destination, and the second is incredible tenacity and a willingness to think outside the square in order to overcome the obstacles which will inevitably arise.
What is your writing routine like?
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 usually write for an hour or so every day – often in the evenings. I find the process much harder when I’m editing. Whereas it’s easy to set a target during the writing phase (700 words a day), editing is a much less tangible process. I normally try to set myself the one hour target for editing and leave it at that.
I use Scrivener to help me organise and re-organise my work.
In many ways it has been my grandfather. He overcame numerous obstacles during his life, including more than one major health issue he wasn’t expected to survive. He was a major contributor to me developing a love of reading – when I was a kid he scoured the markets for second hand books which he regularly gave me. He also gave me unfettered access to his own sizeable library. This love of reading is what eventually led me to become a writer.
As I alluded to earlier, he has always maintained a positive and independent attitude and encouraged the belief that right thinking is a major determinant of a happy and fulfilled life.
Where can we connect with you?
I’d love to hear from anyone who reads Wings. I can be contacted via numerous methods:
My website: www.peteabela.com contains my email address.
My blog: blog.peteabela.com provides weekly thoughts about reading, writing and goals.
On Facebook: I’d be ecstatic to have people like: www.facebook.com/PeteAbela
On Twitter: @PeteAbela
Thank you for joining me, Pete. It’s been a great pleasure! I hope everyone will pick up a copy of your novel. And I wish your grandfather a happy 91st birthday when it comes around!
Wings – Brief Synopsis
“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.