Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Author Interview: Pete Abela

Tell us about your novel Wings.

Wings is a stirring, cross-generational account of the love of flying inspired by the true story of Walt, a WWII RAF pilot, and his grandson Scott who has his sights set on becoming a modern day airline pilot.

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 learns about the sacrifices and difficulties Walt overcame to take to the sky, he battles his own challenges in order to follow his dream. 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. In following Scott's progress towards his dream, Walt also keeps alive the wonder of his own youth. With insights into the modern day 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.

Is aviation a passion of yours?

Passion might be overstating it, but I do have a strong interest. Aviation is a theme in my family – my grandfather was a pilot, my brother is a pilot and my father must be one of the world’s greatest exponents of Flight Simulator. Next to them, I’m a mere idler. My only claim to fame on the aviation front is that I collect Biggles books and hold 91 of them.

Do you think the golden days of aviation are behind us?

My grandfather certainly reckons that is the case. With modern advances (eg planes capable of pulling multiple Gs and computerized flight control) the balance has shifted to the technology and the pilot is akin to a passenger (his words!). In the 1920s and earlier, the planes were quite primitive and not always capable of supporting what their pilots were trying to achieve. He says that the thirties and forties were the golden age, with man and machine in close to perfect balance. It was during this short period of ten or twenty years that planes and pilots were well-matched. It’s an interesting theory.

What are your strengths as a writer? What do you feel you do well?

I write in a lean and uncluttered style which makes my books easy to read and digest. I am also able to craft natural sounding dialogue and keep my stories moving at a nice pace.

What are your weaknesses? Where do you feel you could improve?

The downside of my lean style is that I sometimes fail to impart sufficient descriptive text which can make it hard for the reader to imagine either the setting or the physical actions and reactions of my characters. This is one of the main things I focus on when I edit. I’m always asking myself, “What expressions / movements would the character make in that situation?” and “Do I have sufficient information to enable the reader to picture the scene?”

If you had to write a soundtrack for Wings what 5 songs would you have to include?

That’s a tough one because I’m not really a music fan. My gut reaction is to pick at least one song from World War II (eg “We’ll meet again”) and a song or two from the Top Gun Soundtrack (“Dangerzone” or “Take My Breath Away”). I’m struggling to come up with any others, which I think highlights another of my weaknesses: namely, a lack of ability to identify soundtracks for my novels.

Can you tell us anything about your second novel? 

My second novel is about a first time Dad called Gary. Through the course of his wife’s pregnancy, his job is threatened and he is consumed with worry about the financial future. When his son is born with a life-threatening condition he faces a new set of concerns which throws a whole new perspective onto his earlier difficulties.

Gary ultimately faces a dilemma. On the one hand, the offer of money and promotion, offset by a long commute and less family time; on the other, little money but ample opportunity to spend time with his new family.

It is essentially a medical drama, tracing Gary’s experiences through job loss, the birth of a child, medical emergency and the sometimes contradictory forces of family and finance.

Where can my readers find you online?

You can find me at:
Twitter: @PeteAbela

Thanks again for interviewing me. It was great fun.

About Pete

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.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Watch You Drown by Chris Rhatigan

Watch You Drown is a diverse collection of short fiction. These are primarily crime tales although the story Sidewinder, perhaps my favourite, is very much a Sci-Fi tale. One of the biggest criticisms in a collection such as this is that the stories are too short. To spin that into a positive - you want these tales to be longer because Rhatigan creates such solid characters and such gripping scenarios, that you really do want to see what happens next. You want to explore more of the worlds the author creates. Rhatigan's wry and pithy observations give his tales three dimensions and his fiction takes us to dark and fascinating places. An accomplished and enjoyable collection that will engage you with every twist and turn.

Genre:  Crime.
Publisher:  Pulp Metal Fiction
Format:  E-Book Short Story collection
Rating:  5/5

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Author Interview: Callum Gibson

Tell us about your novella Buckle
Buckle is a short story about a guy named Chuck and his failing relationships with the women in his life and the little spot of darkness that lurks in his brain – that lurks in all of our brains. The thing is, Chuck’s is starting to grow, it’s starting to speak, and it’s may just start to control him. It’s a horror story without monsters, a romance without love, and, in some places, a comedy without jokes.

What inspired you to write it?
A few years ago I got an email about a short-horror competition ran by some website or another and, though I really wanted to enter, I had nothing that quite fitted the bill. The problem was that the closing date was only a few hours after I’d read the email and so I set about quickly writing a 3,000 word short, and I wrote the most horrific things I could think of. I suppose I wasn’t in the best of places back then and found myself annoyed with almost everything and everyone. I felt low and lonely, bullied by fate (yeah, that’s how it felt) and perpetually hungover and in the three hours it took to write the original iteration of Buckle it seemed that all of that, um, poison poured out of me and onto the laptop. So, yeah, I was going through a bit of a rough patch and I got to wondering, what if it wasn’t just a rough patch? What if someone’s entire life was one long rough-patch? What if some poor guy’s life was a constant slog of misery, emasculation, and failure? What if he turned inward to his own fantasies as a release, and what if those fantasies were darker then he ever thought possible?
Over the years Buckle has changed and grown to, what is now, the finished thing. I wanted to write a horror but, although it is horrific in places, I consider it to be more of a love story. A sad and often demented love story, but a love story nonetheless.

Are you a planner or do you write more organically?
It depends what I’m writing really. I always have a bit of a plan, but how detailed the plan is very much depends how long/complex the piece I’m working on is. But, much like any plans, they grow and change as the writing begins to build and take shape and by the end the original plan couldn’t look more different from the finished thing if it tried.

What are your strengths as a writer? What do you feel you do well?
That’s a hard thing to answer and honestly, I’m not sure. I know I like my characters and I think I draw them in relatable ways, that no matter how huge their faults are, or how dislikable, there will always be some feature of them that will allow the reader to identify with them. I like the way my characters often say disgusting things but still come off as being quite sweet. I’ve also been told that I’m pretty good with language, that my writing has a certain rhythm to it, which is nice. Oh, and I’m good at swearing too – that’s a definite. I consider myself to be quite poetic when it comes to vulgarity.

What are your weaknesses. Where do you feel you could improve as a writer?
What could I improve on? Everything, I guess. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it – to keep writing, to keep getting better and better, to keep learning. And I also have a weakness for terrible jokes that I always stick in my stories even though I’m probably the only person who finds them funny. They mostly come out in the edit, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Who is your favourite author and why?
My favorite author is Stephen King. Everything he writes tends to blow my mind whilst melting my face and it was his book It that made me want to be a writer in the first place. There was something about the way it was written, about his characters, about… everything, that spoke to me. It made me want to have a go, in the hope that one day I’d be able to write something that would touch someone in the way his book had touched me.

If you were to write a soundtrack for Buckle what 5 songs do you feel you couldn't leave out?
Awesome question, and one that’ll probably take an hour or so to answer and, even when it’s done, it’ll probably still come back to me over and over again and I’ll kick myself for things I’ve missed. Right, I’ll have a swing at it, in no particular order.
Pain for Pleasure – Sum 41
Losing My Touch – The Rolling Stones
St Anger – Metallica
Beautiful – HIM
Dead Man’s Gun – Ashtar Command

Are you currently working on any other writing projects?
Yeah. I guess like any other writers there’s always something to be getting on with. Right now I’m going through the edit of a new novella that will hopefully be coming out soon called Year of the Rat. I’m also working on a sequel to the coming-of-age novel I wrote whilst doing my MA at university and that’s taking up most of my time.

Where can my readers find out more about you?
I’m on Twitter at @airisbad1, so if anyone’s interested in listening to my ramblings on a regular basis then hit me up on there. I’m also on Facebook if you want to pop on over to that. And finally, if anyone out there wants to hook up on the Playstation my PSN ID is airisbad. Come and join in the fun.

Monday, 21 May 2012

One Of Us by Iain Rowan

One of the best written crime novels I have read for some time. Iain Rowan's strength in this novel is the strong characterisation. The story is told from the viewpoint of an illegal immigrant, Anna. The novel uses her viewpoint solely to tell the story. The plotline doesn't skip around and it's a steady progression. I have in the past found this kind of linear novel to be a bit tiresome at times. However, Rowan’s strong narrative and excellent characterisation keep the novel fresh and interesting throughout. His steady insights into Anna's life are convincing and intelligently done. Rowan’s portrayal of the world she inhabits is dark and bleak but convincingly real. There is nothing predictable about this novel and the few surprises the author throws in blindsided me completely. Anna’s interactions are cleverly put and Rowan really gets us inside her thought processes with a depth I have rarely seen. This made the novel compelling and hooked me. Anna's intelligent scrutiny of the villains around her is, despite the darkness, not lacking in humour either.

A compelling glimpse into a world everyday people never see. A fantastic debut by Iain Rowan.

Genre:  Crime
Publisher: Infinity Plus
Format:  Paperback & E-book
Rating:  5/5

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A Cleansing Of Souls by Stuart Ayris

A Cleansing Of Souls is an unusual novel. The setting is both grounded and real but also magical and ethereal. Ayris seems to possess a magic looking glass. He presents the reader with everyday situations and then shows the truth behind them. This draws you in and you find his insights FEEL right. Ayris deals with subjects such as loneliness, regret, unrequited love, mental illness with tenderness and indeed wisdom.

A book about never losing a moment of this precious thing we call life. Other authors hint at insight and tremblingly lead you to the edge of the cliff face that is the human condition. Ayris boldy leaps off it and would have you follow smiling and yearning for more. A brave novel that will move you and will make you think. By no means a perfect novel and there are one or two loose ends but with this excellent work of literary fiction it is the journey that is of most importance. Highly recommended - for those seeking insight as opposed to action.

Genre:  Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Indie
Format:  E-Book Novel
Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Wolf Tickets by Ray Banks

Wolf Tickets is a uniquely structured book. The chapters alternate between two friends Cobb and Farrell who rampage around Newcastle seeking revenge. This is interesting as you are given two perspectives from the two main characters which switch between the short chapters. This was a little confusing at first but it didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the book for me, it served to make it more interesting. The characters in question spend most of the time together so you get two viewpoints of the action.

Now this is Ray Banks so expect his usual excellent blend of violence, swearing and ready wit. The book had me wincing at the some of the violence and laughing out loud at the banter. This is the kind of fiction I’ve come to expect from Banks and this was as enjoyable his books usually are. Not one for the squeamish as the violence is frequent and at times even extreme. However, it flows beautifully and the dialogue between Cobb and Farrell really makes the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Wolf Tickets. Highly recommended.

Genre:  Crime
Publisher:  Blasted Heath
Format:  E-Book Novella
Rating:  5/5