ABOUT THOMAS BLOCK
Thomas Block has written a number of aviation-oriented novels, many which have gone on to acquire best-seller status in numerous countries. His novel writing began with the publication of “Mayday” in 1979. That novel was rewritten with novelist Nelson DeMille in 1998 and remains on DeMille’s extensive backlist. “Mayday” became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005.
Several of the other novels by Block include “Orbit” (a top bestseller in Germany, among other nations), “Airship Nine”, “Forced Landing” (also done as a radio serialization drama in Japan), “Skyfall”, “Open Skies” and his latest novel, “Captain”. Thomas Block is still writing both fiction and non-fiction, and has edited and updated his earlier novels into ebooks in all the major formats and also into handsome full-sized (6″ by 9″ Trade Paperback) printed versions.
Block’s magazine writing began in 1968 and over the next five decades his work has appeared in numerous publications. He worked 20 years at FLYING Magazine as Contributing Editor, and as Contributing Editor to Plane & Pilot Magazine for 11 years. Block became Editor-at-Large for Piper Flyer Magazine and Cessna Flyer Magazine in 2001. During his long career as an aviation writer he has written on a wide array of subjects that range from involvement with government officials to evaluation reports on most everything that flies.
An airline pilot for US Airways for over 36 years before his retirement in April, 2000, Captain Thomas Block has been a pilot since 1959. Since 2002, he has lived on a ranch in Florida with his wife Sharon where they board, compete and train horses.
His latest book is the suspense/thriller novel, Captain.
Visit his website at www.thomasblocknovels.com.
To puchase a Kindle copy: http://www.amazon.com/Captain-ebook/dp/B007KQHK2I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332328330&sr=8-1
To purchase from Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/captain-thomas-block/1109625740?ean=2940014237529&itm=1&usri=thomas+block+captain
To purchase from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/160858
When and why did you begin writing?
I was a professional pilot for a long time (I finally retired a dozen years ago), and a professional writer for almost as long as I flew airplanes. But the writing portion of my professional life hasn’t retired in the least; matter of fact, it’s been cranked up a peg or two in the past few years. That being the case, that means I’ve been a professional writer for over 50 years.
I flew for an airline for 36 years, ending my career crossing the North Atlantic several times a month as I plied my way between the US and various European cities — just like my characters do in my latest novel, Captain. My professional writing began a few years after my airline flying, first strictly with magazine work but then on to novels as I began helping my childhood friend Nelson DeMille as he began his own bestselling novelist career. Over the years, I have assisted Nelson DeMille with a good many of his novels in one way or another, and you’ll find that fact in most of his novels on the acknowledgement page.
Who or what influenced your writing over the years?
Without a question, it was bestselling novelist Nelson DeMille. But I was actually a ‘professional writer’ before he was, because I was working for FLYING Magazine, doing monthly columns and features, when Nelson returned from the army in the early 70’s. He decided that he wanted to become a novelist, so I began helping Nelson with all his earlier works – matter of fact, the major plotting and storyline for his big breakthrough novel ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’ was written by the two of us in a Uhaul truck while taking my furniture to western Pennsylvania after the airline I flew for moved our crew base from New York to Pittsburgh.
In 1978, with Nelson’s help and introductions, I signed a contract to produce my first airplane action/adventure novel Mayday – which went on to be an International bestseller. In 1997, Nelson and I took the out-of-print Mayday, revised and updated it together, then republished the novel with both our names as co-authors. That version became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005, and is still readily available from Nelson DeMille’s extensive backlist.
During the 80’s I wrote five additional novels that had a good run of success throughout the world. For various reasons I didn’t find myself writing any novels through the 90’s, although I did do even more work with Nelson DeMille through that period and well into the new century. With all of my old novels long out of print (excepting Mayday), I realized that with the dawning of this new era of publishing for both print editions and ebooks, that I could go back to those old novels (the rights to those works had since reverted back to me), extensively revise and update them, and then send them back out to see the light of day once again — now dressed up in their modern-day clothing. All of these novels were basically airplane-theme action/adventure, although they ran a gamut from hypersonic airlines on through Airships and even a detective story. You can see all of the details of these novels — which continue to sell nicely and receive good reviews — at our website at www.ThomasBlockNovels.com.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I like action/adventure and plot oriented fiction. While it is an argument that goes back to when novel writing and storytelling first began, from my point of view it is plot that determines character. Others (including Nelson DeMille) say it exactly the other way. I like to get a situation (storyline) going, and then see how the characters will be affected by it and how they’ll handle it. Captain is very much along those lines, as are all of my other novels.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
I’ve got lots of favorite quotes and, in fact, I like to use them at various spots in my novels. After all, why try to improve on something that has basically ‘said it all’. One particularly pithy quote that certainly meets the requirement of having ‘said it all’ is this succinct thought from noted psychologist Abraham Maslow: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” I like that quotation so much that I used it in Captain to lead off a section where it more than applied to what was about to happen.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
From all I’ve seen, I’d have to agree with the cliché that ‘Life’s a journey, not a destination’. That being the case, the entire journey has been basically a satisfying trip for me (don’t get me wrong; I have bad days, too – but as the old song goes, “…too few to mention…”). On the skills side, over the years I developed myself (and with lots of help from others) into an airline pilot, a magazine writer, a novelist, and now into a ranch owner and horse-involved person. All of those directions have been satisfying and meaningful personal journeys, so I might as well be proud of all of them – especially since I can’t changes any of what has already become ancient history!
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Every book brings its own challenges. Since I wanted Captain to be extremely accurate from a piloting/flying point of view, making certain that all the zillions of details that go into flight planning a Trans-Atlantic flight (especially one that had these many problems) were lining up just as they should. That stuff took LOTS of visits to the book’s details and my North Atlantic plotting charts.
Naturally, you run into stumbling moments during the creation of a novel, but what gets me through them is keeping my eye on the next target – which is often a scene that I’m really looking forward to getting into. In Captain, there were a number of little ‘scenes’ in my head that just had to occur, and whenever I was approaching one of them I was really buoyed up about getting to it and through it. Sometimes they were entire sections (such as when Lee and Tina were sitting down in the airliner’s cabin to talk), and other times it was just a quick line or a character impression (such as the Captain Jack moment toward the very end of the book). It’s those fun times that more than keeps you going and motivated to keep pressing on through other areas that haven’t quite formulated in your mind as yet.
What inspires you to write, and why?
All of the above reasons, plus the overall fun of being able to put together a story that begins with just a small and misty thought in the back of your mind and develops into a full-blown adventure for both the writer and the reader. Captain was a fun book to write, and many who have read it have said that it was an engaging, compelling and exciting ride for them, too. Enjoy the story!
Thomas Block has created ‘Captain’ – his most ambitious, intricate and action-packed aviation tale yet . It is a chilling and all-too-real story about a routine Trans-Atlantic airline flight that suddenly turns absolutely insane. In the doomed airliner’s cockpit, inside the passenger cabin and on the ground, a complex array of characters have been propelled at jet speed into a sudden and frantic race for survival.
‘Captain’ is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women as they attempt to deal with and ultimately fight against the odds and circumstances that are stacked against them. ‘Captain’ is a novel that pits man against man while also pitting man against machine. It is a story about the need for human judgments, hard-learned experiences, gut feelings and unbridled perseverance in an effort to rise up against a world where the strict adherence to written rules, regulations and procedures have been accepted as the norm.
‘Captain’ is about the way real airline pilots think, feel and react, especially after those giant airliners that they’ve strapped themselves to have suddenly turned vicious and unpredictable.