Tag Archives: Pete Aldin

Paying for Our Passion – Pete Aldin

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

I’ve known Pete Aldin almost as long as I have been actively writing–I met him at one of the few first few conventions I went to, and ever since he has been a huge supporter of my writing career.. Pete is one of those guys who keeps quietly in the background, but doesn’t miss much. He is first to be there with congratulations, but also with an encouraging word just when people need it. He’s a very talented writer, but you’d never hear that from him–he would rather talk about the work of others than his own. It’s safe to say that the writing world–and the world in general–would be a better place if we had more blokes like Pete, and I am really happy to have him on board today.

Some blokes build a boat in their backyard. Some work on their handicap over 18 holes. Some tinker with cars. This gives them peace, and meaning, and a skillset that affirms them.

I write.

Ten years ago (almost to the day), I was turning 40 and I decided it was now or never. I’d had this dream since I was 13 years old to walk into a bookstore, look on a shelf, and see a book there with my name on the spine. And so at 40, I put legs on the dream (and fingers on the keyboard).

I started putting words on pages, meeting other writers, learning to critique and be critiqued, and so on and so on.

A passion was born. An obsession formed. An addiction slid its warm hooks into my soul.

We all pay for our passions, our addictions, our obsessions.

B is for Broken

I’ve paid in time lost with friends and family. I’ve paid in the usual author-trope of self-doubt and self-flagellation. I’ve paid in late nights.

I’ve also paid for it financially, hiring a writing coach in the early days, paying for books on writing, seminars on writing. The trickle of money that’s come from selling stories hasn’t reached anywhere close to the costs of writing them.

I am blessed to have a wife and kids who trust me. Who believe in what I do. Who’ve seen that this obsession actually staves off my other mental illnesses. They’ve backed me to work a four-day week for several years so that I can have one day to write.

And here’s the rub. That one day each week is a sacrifice. It’s holy (a word which means devoted, set apart). And I’ve been often irked when people find out I’m not working on that day and assume I’m “free.” (Lee Murray mentioned this in her own recent post on the subject).


“You’re not working this Wednesday, are you? We should catch up,” they say. “Hey Pete, you’re free this Monday; drive over to my work and we’ll have a coffee on my teabreak.” “Hey, Pete, you have Thursdays off. You can drive me to my medical appointment.”

When I try to tell them that I am working on that day, that I’m working on a novel draft, I get that awkward pause that comes when something simply does not compute. Stuttering eyelids. Twitching lips. A fading smile. Then, I suggest Saturday and invariably get the Oh-sorry-but-I-have-something-on responses. And, understanding soul that I am, I think “So it’s fine for me to lose time doing what’s important to me, but it’s not okay for you.”

Oh, sure, I forgive them, for they know not what they do. But I’m bloody well not taking anyone to the airport this coming writing day, lol.


I think this has been the biggest challenge for me: to protect that writing day and use it wisely. As much as I’d like to blame the intrusions of others into it, I am much more to blame for any time-wasting that might have happened. I am the Great Procrastinator, Doom Looper, New-Music-Hunter. It’s all to let my other job’s admin creep into my home office on a non-work day.

But I must protect that time and I must use it wisely.

To use this holy time for anything but writing is disrespectful above all to my wife who has encouraged my writing day and made her own sacrifices; I’d be better to take an extra day’s pay a week, climb the career ladder, save up for that holiday my wife deserves.

A Canadian author once told me that over his first decade, his writing cost him all his friends and at least one girlfriend. But it had been worth it in the end: he’d made new friends, he’d found the right partner, and people were reading his writing.

I’m grateful. That my wife lets me write. That I do have great friends, many of whom I have met through my writing. That people are reading my writing.

Art is important. And important things cost.

Pete Aldin

Pete Aldin has been writing stories since he was a kid. A few years ago, he finally decided to take himself seriously, and finishing some.

Pete lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, two sons and their small yappy dog. His addictions include alcoholic ciders, Fallout 4 and the FIFA franchise on Xbox. He doesn’t like pina colada nor taking walks in the rain.

He can be found lurking in the shadows at www.petealdin.com .

The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot 2014 – Pete Aldin

Pete Aldin lives in the burbs of Melbourne, Australia. His professional life is spent helping people make major life decisions and re-training people for the workforce. His private life is spent making things up.

His short stories have haunted the pages of many a magazine and anthology including Niteblade, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, A is for Apocalypse and Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. As a father himself, he has written for several parenting magazines.

He is a rabid Chelsea FC supporter, he wastes countless hours playing FIFA games on xBox and he makes a reasonable stir fry. He can often be found lurking in the shadows at www.petealdin.com.

You’ve built up a strong list of short fiction credits (including a pro sale to Intergalactic Medicine Show). What inspired you to start writing? Who are your influences?

As a teenager, I discovered Asimov’s robot tales, Narnia, space operas and believe it or not Catweazle(!) – and I dreamed of writing a book, bringing other people the same joy I’d felt.

I let that dream die in my late 20s with dozens of novel projects started and never completed, believing it was “dumb” and an unworthy expenditure of my time and attention. Late in my 30s, I began writing non-fiction articles for management and parenting magazines, as well as blogging in a community of Dad Bloggers. I had so much positive feedback, I figured, “Maybe I am a writer.” Then the experience of holding a glossy paper magazine with my name and my words in it sealed the deal. I was turning 40, I’d had a good idea for a novel since 1994 and I thought “If not now, when?”

peteInfluences: Stephen King, Raymond E Feist, Martin Cruz Smith, Harry Harrison (his Rat series) and a bunch of less-successful authors whose names I could no longer tell you. But these authors taught me about style, about maintaining a dark edge, about the art of humour in hard fiction and about poignancy. I love to make people feel  something as they read my work. I was particularly stoked when a beta reader told me she read one of my action scenes late at night and was so hopped up on adrenaline, she couldn’t sleep that night! I’m drawn to writers like that, who play with style and with emotions, who write complexity.

Congratulations on the sale of your novel to Clan Destine Press! Could you tell us a bit about the book, and the journey to finding a home for it?

Thank you! Wow, the journey. The journey. Well, I started Eventide in 1994 (or made a series of false starts, I should say, between then and ’95), then left the opening 3 chapters in a drawer until I turned 40 in 2006. It took me three years then to write and edit it. Just as I was completing it, James Cameron’s Avatar came out in cinemas, and I had to do yet another round of edits because he had used many of the same names and even the same scene(!) as I had in my novel. A month or two later, I was happy with it and started querying publishers and agents.

Two agents wrote back in the 12 months following, saying they were very interested, but at 180 thousand words (say 650 pages in a paperback) it was wayyyy too long for a first time author and could I cut it back to 100,000 words? I said, No, but thanks and put the book aside to start working on two different novels, planning them to that 100 thousand word mark.

I met Lindy Cameron at the Melbourne Continuum con mid-2013 and pitched her the idea (badly). She was gracious and asked me to send a sample and a synopsis. She got back to me and said, “Love the idea. But way too long. Can you cut it down to 130k?” Over the next three months (with some expert and serendipitous advice from Cat Sparks) I got it down to 149, 000 without ruining the story. Still too long for any publisher to risk with a paper book, but Clan Destine read it, loved it and said they would publish it as an eBook with the possibility of a hard copy print down further down the track. And I was one very happy writer!

My blurb for the book follows (though Clan Destine may well change this upon publishing it in 2015, because it could certainly do with fresh eyes!):

Corporate military cop John Ryder thought he had a deal going with his employers, one that meant he’d never do planets. Apparently he was wrong.

With the recent arrest of a serial killer to his credit, Ryder finds himself the victim of his own success when he’s sent to solve the murder of a Marine at a research facility on a classified world. Twenty years living in space – where things are clean, orderly and techno-chic, where advanced forensics make solving crime simple – haven’t prepared him for an investigation amidst the mud, dank heat and chaos of an unsettled planet.

In this place where the indigenous stone-age Jarinyi are the ancient guardians of a wonder-drug sought by Ryder’s corporate masters, he becomes increasingly aware that the role his bosses have cast him in is spin-doctor … and becomes ever more compelled to pursue the truth. Assisted only by a military policewoman whose deeply religious nature and resemblance to Ryder’s dead lover cause him an increasingly uncomfortable attraction, his inquiry is obstructed by a smarmy anthropologist siding with the locals, a scheming Lieutenant with a hidden agenda and a drug-addicted and sadistic commando whose psychosis is fast spiraling out of control.

What’s next for Pete Aldin?

Another novel (a fifth novel project) after I’ve completed my current werewolf one in a month or so: this new one’s a Buddy Story set post-apocalypse. I have loved post-apocalyptic tales since I saw the Omega Man at about age 15. I’ve toyed with a few short stories, had a couple published, but the entire full-length story for this novel downloaded itself into my brain about a week ago and has been clawing its way out onto paper ever since.

A isI’m also enjoying writing for Rhonda Parrish’s series of anthologies A is for Apocalypse (out later this month), B is for Broken, etc. Still working on my fantasy short story for B. Apart from that, I’m putting short stories to rest as I need to focus on telling longer tales…

What Australian works have you loved recently?

Heaps of them. Devin Madson’s The Blood of Whisperers is simply the best epic fantasy I’ve ever read, and I’m horribly slack in getting around to the sequel. Meanwhile I’m halfway through Jason Frank’s Bloody Waters which is a charming read. Earlier this year I enjoyed A New Kind of Death by Alison Goodman (5 star thriller). The opening and closing stories in the Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land anthology were sheer genius (aw shucks -Ed), as were all the stories in Surviving the End. Also SM Johnstone’s Sleeper was a very tight and punchy YA novel I read very early this year – that’s worth a look for teenagers, especially girls.

The standout for me at the moment is the historical drama I’m 50 pages off finishing called Burial Rites. I mentioned earlier that I love poignancy in books I read. This book is so emotional, that I find myself quite choked up and even angry at times. It depicts a sad 19th Century world that is cruel to the people in it. And the prose is to die for.

Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

I am one of those people who vowed never to read eBooks…and who now owns a Kindle with about 50 books on it. From time to time, I’ll continue to buy eBooks when they’re problematic to pick up in a local store or when eBook is the only option available (as it will be with my own novel next year!) But I’m a big believer in both paper books (which become treasured artefacts) and buying from local bookstores.

ASIM_56_229_317-220x304I think the opportunities for emerging writers like myself into the near future include both epublishing and small press. With both, there is the chance to not become stuck in a rut or labelled: for instance, I had never considered the option of writing novellas until recently, since these are more attractive to both small publishing houses and are easier to create and market if an author self-publishes. This has meant I now have rough outlines/ideas for three novellas sitting in my “Maybe” folder in my office.

I think it’s a larger world for authors now, but with bookstores on the decline, it’s a tougher one for readers to find some of the new gold that’s out there.

This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot. In the lead up to the World Science Fiction Convention in London, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2014 conducted by Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright.

To read the interviews hot off the press, check out these blogs daily from July 28 to August 10, 2014, or look for the round up on SF Signal when it’s all done. You can find the past Snapshots at the following links: 2005, 2007,  2010 and 2012.

Reprint deal with Clan Destine Press

Observant followers of the scene may have noticed that Clan Destine Press have launched a new website, and have been signing some new authors – including fellow SuperNOVArians Jason Nahrung and Pete Aldin.

I am delighted to announce that Clan Destine have asked to reprint my story “Cold comfort” (originally published by Fablecroft in the anthology, “Epilogue”). Details are yet to be completely hammered out, but it looks it will be part of their new fiction imprint and it is likely that it will be paired with another of my shorts.

Clan Destine have a great catalogue of writers, and have produced some wonderful books, so I am very excited to have a chance to work with them.

More details to follow!

CDP Poster


Wednesday Writers: Pete Aldin

At Natcon this year I had the opportunity to be on two panels dealing with religion, and to say I was nervous would be a major understatement. I had no idea how they would go, or how they would be received. Thankfully, though, they seemed to go pretty well and I received a great deal of feedback over the weekend relating to them. One of the people who took the time to come up and chat about them, and say some very kind things both about the panels and my writing, was Pete Aldin. Aside from the nice words, it is always wonderful to meet someone who shares similar beliefs to you, and doubly so when they turn out to be a great guy. Not only is Pete a talented writer, but he is also extremely humble about his achievements. If I hadn’t checked out his website I wouldn’t know how well is he is doing with his writing, and I had to nudge him to mention some of his achievements in his post. Such humility is most definitely not the norm! It’s things like this, as well as his many other sterling qualities, that make it such a pleasure to welcome Pete to Wednesday Writers today.

Antagonists in a Writer’s World

I can’t express how “freaked out” I was by David’s invitation to contribute to Wednesday Writers. “Who am I to post writerly stuff alongside authors whose stories I’ve enjoyed, and sundry other wise persons?” I asked myself. As I tried to come up with ideas for a post here, the background buzz of anxiety expressed in that question eventually gained my full attention long enough for me to realise that it held a clue, an indication of something I could write about (and with full expertise): those things which hold us writers back…

I started writing as a young bloke, churning out a fair amount of cute-but-crap scifi and war fiction between the ages of 13 and 20. During early high school, my friends were my fans as I filled a procession of exercise books with a post-apocalyptic saga set in Melbourne. The saga involved teenage boys battling “mutoes” and other dangers. None of it was great, but it was a start. And writing was a passion.

Somewhere in my early 20s, the wheels fell off. The typewriter (yep, I’m that old) and the notebooks got mothballed or trashed. I stopped writing.

During my 30s, I thought about writing speculative fiction a lot. I wanted to. But I didn’t. And I kept on “didn’t-ing” until I hit my midlife wake-up at 40, whereupon I decided to back myself and have a go. At 46, I’m now officially new to this author-thing, with a mere four notches on my short-story-sales-belt and a novel under submission. I’m at the very beginning of the life that 13-year-old Me always wanted, and I regret those missing decades where I allowed myself to be sidelined as a writer.

I’m not alone in being thwarted as an author. Just as the fictional hero of your favourite novel faces hurdles and battles along his/her journey, so the author who created them faced their own barriers and thwartings in bringing that hero to life. We-who-write have our own story arcs. We face obstacles, handicaps, try-fail cycles, small successes and painful setbacks – even enemies – as we forge ahead on our quests to publish stories that resonate with other people. Here’s just a few of the ogres we battle…

“I’m No Good”

Self-doubt is the most common hang-up and obstacle I hear other writers saying they face. And I suspect it bullies many budding authors with amazing talents into keeping their talents in a metaphorical box beneath their bed. It certainly plagued me enough when I first said, “Dammit, I’m gonna be a writer”.

But I’m finding that these days I face it far less often than I did a couple of years ago. Maybe it’s because seeing your name in Andromeda Spaceways or Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show feels validating. Maybe it’s a practise thing – the more you do it, the more confident you feel. Perhaps it’s because I have great writing buddies who keep things in perspective for me, journey-friends. Or maybe it’s because I’m a closet Cognitive-Behaviourist and work hard at keeping my self-talk healthy. Different things will work for different writers in overcoming the demon of self-doubt…but they will only work if we utilise them to oppose that inner enemy.

Having said that, sometimes when a writer hears that inner voice uttering those words, well, maybe there’s a reason to pay attention. No, I’m not saying that when the writer reads over their first draft and it’s clunky, cheesy and crass, they should abandon their entire writing dream. I am saying that perhaps the voice of disgust is just their Inner Editor nudging them to fix something. That’s not a cause for depression; it’s an opportunity to improve.

“I should be doing something constructive”

I hate this one. And the main reason I hate it is because it gets me with embarrassing frequency.  There’s always something more important or pressing that I “should” be doing with my time. Life is full of “shoulds”, of demands and desires that accomplish diddly squat. Fortunately I have a wife who tells me “Writing is constructive. Go write”. I don’t think I’d have stuck with it if I didn’t have her. Not all writers are that lucky.

Whether it’s the washing up, playing xBox with the kids, the vacuuming, ringing your poor old mum, doing your tax…it’ll wait! If we live balanced lives, we have to carve out time for our writing. We have to say NO to stuff. We have to honour the commitment we’ve made to ourselves and our (future) readers.


I have to be honest that one of the things stopping me from pursuing writing in the past was the fear of what other people would think of me.

I haven’t mixed with a lot of spec fiction fans over the decades (thankfully, that’s changing). So when I first began to write, friends would look askance at me – especially when I told them what I was writing. (They would have been okay with it if I’d been writing some political or religious or self-help tome). Even now, when I tell a stranger I write scifi/fantasy/horror, I can see the panic creeping across their face as they scan the room for the closest escape route…that or their eyes glaze over until we return to talking about something “normal”, like football (shudder) … or politics or self-help books.

I work in a high school. When I was scratching out a first draft for this post on a school excursion (on a train), the student sitting next to me turned around and said, “Watcha doin’?”

“I’m writing an article for a friend’s blog,” I replied.

Slowly she uncurled an index finger, levelled it at me and said, “Nerd.”

I said, “Thank you.”

Why on earth should someone else’s negative opinion define me? And if it’s important that I feel “normal” as a spec fiction writer, then I should spend more time with other people who read and write it.

Because it is normal. And it’s cool.


This is a little like the weirdo one, only stronger. When you come from a strong faith background like I do, the power of opinion (read judgment) can be all the more hobbling when it’s levelled by those who share your basic belief system. Now to be sure, there’s a massive spectrum of attitude amongst Christians toward scifi-fantasy-horror (everything from “Beam me up, Harry Potter!” to “That’s of the devil!”) and unfortunately many of those who think it’s a little suss denounce it loudly.

As an ex-pastor, I’ve found it most difficult to come clean about my passion, my dreams and projects with the very people with whom in some ways I should feel most at peace.

There’s a whole other story there, but basically it’s been a matter of reminding myself that while the perspectives and ideas of others are valuable, in the end I define myself. And I define myself as Writer. I can write about dark deeds and still be devout in my faith (Sheesh, just read some Old Testament stories! Young hoons call a prophet “Baldy!” and a bear comes out of the forest to tear them apart? Tell me that’s not horror).

Anyone who thinks I can’t be a Christian and write this stuff is merely ignorant on that topic. And that’s okay. And it brings me to my last writer barrier…

Sheer Unadulterated Ignorance

I suffer horribly from the syndrome of “I dunno what I dunno”. It struck me first when I finally completed my first novel only to find from two interested agents that it was 80,000 words too long for the industry. (“If you could cut it back to 100k, Mr Aldin, we’d be happy to take another look”. “Er, it’d be easier to write a whole new novel to the 100k word limit, but thanks for the heads up.”)

Ignorance can waste your time, it can waste your efforts. It can make you bark up the wrong tree or walk past the tree up which you should be barking (Did that make any sense at all?).

Ignorance can discourage, because you don’t know answers that are a mere Google search or Skype call away.

And the answer of course is to learn, to become a student of spec fiction, of the craft of writing, of the business of publishing, of the world of other wonderful writers and ideas that surround us and remain at our fingertips in this amazing age of globalisation and information. Ignorance is no excuse.

As I conclude this rambling string of ideas, it suddenly hits me: the obstacles and enemies we writers face also provide areas we can mine for wonderful conflict in our spec fiction tales…

Seeking to combat a galactic-scale threat, an alien comes to earth to forge an alliance. Doing this means going against his own orthodox religious precepts which teach that mingling with other species is evil. For his decision, he is treated as weird by the earthers he’s come to negotiate with and now he’s wondering if he’s good enough to pull this off, while his clan-wives back home keep telling him there are far more constructive things to do with his time if he wants to save his race…

Bam! Angst. Obstacles. Conflict.


Like all good narcissists, Pete Aldin writes about himself and his writing at http://www.petealdin.com/. He occasionally blogs about parenthood from the male perspective at http://freakedoutfathers.blogspot.com.au/. He lives in Melbourne Australia with his wife, two sons and a small yappy dog. His addictions include Strongbow sweet apple cider, Medieval Total War and the FIFA franchise on Xbox. He doesn’t like pina colada or taking walks in the rain.

When he’s not writing, Pete works with GenYs and high school students as a tutor, life coach and social worker. He is a member of the Australian Horror Writers Association and Codex Writers Forum.