Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wings by Pete Abela: Interview & Excerpt

Historical Fiction

"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.
You can purchase “Wings” directly from the publisher (www.reallybluebooks.com) or from Amazon (www.amazon.com).

The nose of the Cessna swung around, straightening as it lined up with the runway. Scott leaned forward, attempting to judge the distance to the airport. He was concentrating fiercely; after all, this was the first time he’d attempted a landing without someone by his side giving him directions.
He eased back the throttle and adjusted the flaps. A gust of wind caught the plane and the right wing rose as the left side dropped. He looked down at the instruments and adjusted the rudder, restoring the aircraft to level flight.
When he looked up again, he was shocked to see how rapidly the runway had come closer in the few seconds required to level the plane. “Too high,” he muttered to himself, as he pushed the throttle forward, dropping the nose toward the ground. The airspeed indicator increased as the altimeter – which showed his height – dropped. He looked up again, and realised his mistake. “Too low,” he groaned as he pulled the control stick back, raising the nose. “And too fast,” he realised as the ground rushed toward him.
He was conscious that he had made a crazy, lurching descent and was still travelling too fast. He’d also dropped too far and was now lower than the ideal flight path, skimming just above the ground, well short of the runway. He thought about his options: Pull up and go around? Or try to land it anyway?
He decided to fly another circuit and make a new approach when his mother’s authoritative voice interrupted his thoughts. “We’re going to Grandma and Grandad’s place, so get off the computer, Scott. Now.”
Exasperated, Scott pushed the throttle forward and dropped towards the ground. He realised it was approaching too quickly, but he hung onto the controls grimly. A splintering, tearing sound came from the speakers and a jagged line crossed the screen.
He slammed the joystick down. Without the interruption he was sure he could have made his first successful Flight Simulator landing. He got up from his chair and trudged towards the garage, his mind replaying the sequence of events, trying to work out what he’d do differently next time.
Scott squeezed into the car with his older brother and sister. Fourteen years old, he was short and slim, with an olive, babyish face yet to be shaped by puberty. He had close cropped, dark hair, cut in the style of the character, Maverick, from his favourite movie, Top Gun.
The drive to his grandparent’s house took five minutes, leaving Scott little time to decide how to approach his next landing.

What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?
Given Wings is my first book, everyone is watching with great interest. No-one quite knows what to expect. Everyone is pleased that I have achieved my goal of being published and they offer me plenty of support – whether practical or simply giving me the space to do my thing.
My eldest son is now seventeen and he is quite intrigued to see the production side of the process – the editing, marketing and publicity. My youngest son is six months old. He regularly vomits whenever the subject of writing is raised, but given he vomits at many other times during the day, I’m trying not to take it too personally.
Does your significant other read your stuff?
My beautiful wife is a wonderful proof reader, particularly from the perspective of finding grammatical errors and logical inconsistencies.  She reads my work on the kindle and records an (almost embarrassing) number of questions and issues in her iPhone before sending them to me. I find her reviews to be of great assistance because I’m often too buried amongst the trees to see the forest.
Who are your books published with?
My publisher is Really Blue Books (www.reallybluebooks.com). They’re a brand new Australian publisher specialising in ebooks. They have a bit of attitude - which I like – and see themselves as part of the future of publishing. It’s an exciting place to be.
Plotter or Pantser? Why?
I’m actually a mixture. 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.
Do you play any sports?
I certainly do. Exercise is an important part of my life and I try very hard to squeeze it in. With a wife, four children, a day job and my writing, life feels very full at times. However, I have a weekly tennis match with a good friend (who also doubles as a beta-reader) which takes place in the evenings after the little kids have gone to bed. During winter I play soccer and over summer I try to play a few games of golf. I also try to go for one or two runs a week, usually early in the morning. If one of the toddlers is awake, I strap them into the pram and take them along for the ride.
New York or LA? Why
Given I’m an Aussie, can I reframe that question to be “Sydney or Melbourne?” Overall, I’d plump for Sydney. Melbourne is a wonderful place with a vibrant food culture and an amazing passion for sport. These positive attributes are somewhat offset by the variable nature of the weather. It’s often said that Melbourne experiences four seasons in a day.
Sydney is not perfect. The traffic is snarling and regularly gridlocked. However, the natural beauty of Sydney’s Harbour and Blue Mountains are enough to tip my vote the way of Australia’s largest city.
However, better than both Sydney and Melbourne, is the wonderful city of Wollongong. It’s located fifty miles south of Sydney and is squeezed onto a narrow strip of coastal land between picturesque mountains and white, sandy beaches. It’s big enough to have almost every amenity one would want, yet not as crowded as our capital cities. It is also close enough to Sydney that we can easily get to Sydney whenever we need to.

Pete is a left-brained computer scientist whose love of reading propelled him to take up writing. Having surprised himself and those around him by getting Wings published, he is now revelling in the fun of dreaming up marketing and publicity stunts – tasks he never could have envisaged doing ten years ago. He continues to stretch the boundaries of his right hemisphere with his writing and is now working to complete a second novel.
His left brain hasn’t been totally neglected through this process. Pete still 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. Pete lives on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia.
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.

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