Interview with Thomas Block, author of ‘Captain’ and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

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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

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The Interview

Can you please tell us a little about Captain?

I was an airline pilot and International captain of widebody jets (just like the major characters in Captain) for many years before my retirement a dozen years ago. I’ve also been a professional writer of novels (seven International bestsellers) and magazine articles for the past 50 years, so having a writing project on tap was part of my normal routine. For Captain (my latest and, frankly, the most intricate and ambitious novel I’ve written so far), I discovered a few years ago that in the back of my mind I had a new story; a story that needed to be told in a specific way, with emphasis on character and plot, motivation and timing. As always, it would be an aviation-theme action/adventure. To me, so many modern novels (and especially modern movies!) are hardly more than comic books with storylines that don’t hang completely together and with endless and brutish snapping from scene to scene as if they expected that the audience had an attention span that could only be measured in the smallest portions possible.

So I wrote Captain, a story with a beginning, middle and (what I wanted to become a very satisfying) ending. It is a story about what happens to the crew and passengers on a particular flight from Rome, Italy to New York when unthinkable things begin to happen to their airliner. It is full of characters that readers have told me that they really loved — and also loved to hate. It is an action/adventure tale with a backdrop of real emotions. It is a novel that slowly moves from scene to scene — but at a fast pace. Is that sort of mix possible? Look at the movies Casablanca and Dances With Wolves, or the novel Lonesome Dove. That’s what I was trying to do with Captain; a number of reviewers and general readers have told me that, to them, Captain is a powerhouse of emotions while it is simultaneously packed with a very high level of action, intrigue and adventure.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

When I sat down to write ‘Captain’, I wanted to be certain to make all the aviation/airline related material as true to life as possible. One of the basic themes of the novel is the ever-growing separation between the endlessly expanding ‘rules’ in modern aviation (and our modern society, for that matter) and how things actually are (or should be) done in the real world, and I needed to keep the novel right on those plot lines if the story was going to hold together. I spent countless hours going over the airliner’s flight profiles to make certain that everything that’s going on is exactly what would happen to a real airliner flying the North Atlantic. Naturally, it wasn’t too difficult a job for me since I was an airline pilot for over 36 years before my retirement a dozen years ago, and I spent the final eight years of my career flying wide body jets back and forth to Europe several times every month.

Getting all those technical details straight was certainly one end of ‘the hardest part’, but there was also the absolute need to populate the novel with compelling characters. Coming up with that balance between ‘action’ and ‘character’ was certainly lots more difficult than simply pumping up endless streams of mindless action sequences (as too many modern movies seem to be), but creating that balance between character and action was actually the most fun, too!

Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book? If so, could you please share it with us?

It’s difficult to take much of an excerpt out of a book – particularly if it’s a thriller with a tight storyline – without giving away too much. Along those lines, one question that I’m sometimes asked is what was my favorite part of the novel to write. For Captain (and, actually, all of my novels) 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 (in Captain, such as when Lee and Tina were sitting down to talk), and other times it was just a quick line or a character impression (such as the Captain Jack scene toward the end of the book). It’s those fun times that more than keeps you going and motivated to keep pressing on, and it’s great to be able to share that experience with the readers.

What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book?

Involvement with the characters, and the ability to staying safely tucked into your favorite reading chair while realistically experiencing all the action, danger, adventure, romance, intrigue and general mayhem that Captain is about.

What was your writing process while writing this book?

I’m a morning person, so I would slug it out with the words from right after breakfast until a little after lunch. Then I would go do something on our Florida ranch – ride a horse, repair a tractor, etc – and readers are more than welcome to spend some virtual time with us by using the link to our ranch through the novels website at, or directly to

Who or what was the inspiration for the book?

My life was involved with aviation and, in particular, airline flying from when I was very young until I retired as an International airline captain a dozen years ago, when I was taking widebody jets back and forth to Europe several times every month. Because of that, my greatest inspirations were the airliner stories from Ernst K. Gann (“Fate is the Hunter”, “The High and the Mighty”, “Island in the Sky”) and other great aviation tales from Guy Murchie, Neville Shute and Antoine de Saint-Expurey. These books not only ‘set the tone’ for my subsequent airline career, but they also greatly influenced me years later as a writer and budding novelist since they were the sorts of stories that I wanted to write. It remains that way to this day, and Captain is certainly no exception to that influence.

Have you had a mentor? If so, can you talk about them a little?

My childhood friend and 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

If you are a reader, do you have a favorite genre and/or author?

I’m particularly fond of plot-oriented fiction. There 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, while others (including Nelson DeMille) say it exactly the other way. For me, I like to get the situation (storyline) going, then see how the characters will be affected by it and how they will handle it. Captain is a novel very much along those lines, as are all my other novels.

So where do the characters come from? By getting a storyline rolling along, the characters we ‘need’ to advance the plot are the ones who show up. I create a specific history for each character, including a ‘photo’ of them that I grab from seeing someone in a magazine or newspaper who most looks like the person I have in mind. These photos are generally of actors/public figures/models, and I usually don’t even know who they are – I just like the fit of their face to my character.

I created a reader survey for Captain because I wanted to get audience feedback, and one of the things I posted were the photos of the characters; you can go through our website at to find it, or directly to where you can rate your own mental image of the characters against what I used to create them. It’s a fun thing to do, and you can look at results from other readers, too.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Captain is a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, with characters that you might fall in love with and some characters that you’ll love to hate. It’s a story about a high-tech situation, but even more it’s a story about how the folks involved were forced to act and react to this sudden and overwhelming dilemma that was served on them, literally ‘out of the blue’. As the jacket copy says, “Captain is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women…”
It was an enjoyable book for me to write, and most readers have told me that it was an enormously engaging and fun book to read. Have a nice flight!


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.

Watch the Trailer!


Pump Up Your Book and Thomas Block are teaming up to give you 5 chances to win an Amazon Gift Card!

amazon gift card

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by following the details below, make sure to read carefully as this one is a little different than some of the others we have done. The Rafflecopter will still be available to be placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn’t set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain their entries.

This Amazon Gift Card promotion will run from October 1 – January 13. Five winners will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on January 14, 2013.

Each blogger who participates in the Captain virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win.

If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at) Last day to sign up is December 25. What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!


Since we’ve always been interested in what our readers have to say, we thought that you might be, too.  Go to our website at and look at both the ‘Reader Comments’ and the ‘Reader Reviews’ sections (you can locate them at the bottom of the home page, or listed along the sidebar).  Match these review/comments with the same quotation  on the raffle entry form, then simply enter the missing words from the end of each sentence (three, four or five words) from that particular reader’s review/comment.  That’s it!  Now you’re entered in the drawing for the gift certificates from Amazon!

Each Reader can enter the raffle contest one time (only one entry per email address; multiple entries will invalidate all entries from that address).  Also, no individual can win more than one prize.  To be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate, correctly enter any TWO of the six available Reader quotes.  To be eligible to win either a $25 or a $50 gift certificate, correctly enter any FOUR of the six available Reader quotes.  To be eligible to win ANY of the gift certificate prizes to be given away at raffle, enter all six of the available Reader quotes AND register a ‘Like’ at both of our Facebook sites:


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Captain Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

Friday, October 5

Interviewed at Broowaha

Tuesday, October 9

Guest blogging at My Devotional Thoughts

Thursday, October 11

Interviewed at Literal Exposure

Tuesday, October 16

Interviewed at She Writes

Thursday, October 18

Interviewed at Examiner

Friday, October 19

Guest blogging at Allvoices

Tuesday, October 23

Guest blogging at Curling Up by the Fire

Thursday, October 25

Interviewed at Review From Here

Friday, October 26

Guest blogging at Shine

Tuesday, November 6

Guest blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Wednesday, November 7

Guest blogging at Baking Beauty

Thursday, November 8

Book spotlight at Parenting From a Child’s Point of View

Friday, November 9

Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book

Monday, November 12

Interviewed at Divine Caroline

Tuesday, November 13

Guest blogging at Open Salon

Wednesday, November 14

Book review and guest blogging at Inside BJ’s Head

Thursday, November 15

Guest blogging at Loves 2 Read

Friday, November 16

Book reviewed at Miki’s Hope

Tuesday, November 20

Guest blogging at Sapphyria’s Book Blog

Wednesday, November 21

Book reviewed at Ice Fairy’s Treasure Chest

Monday, November 26

Interviewed at American Chronicle

Tuesday, November 27

Guest blogging at Lesa’s Book Critiques

Wednesday, November 28

Interviewed at Digital Journal

Thursday, November 29

Guest blogging at Beth’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, December 4

Interviewed at Examiner

Wednesday, December 5

Book reviewed at Book Angels

Thursday, December 6

Interviewed at Book Angels

Friday, December 7

Book review and interview at Blooming with Books

Monday, December 10

Book reviewed at Mommy Adventures with Ravina

Tuesday, December 11

Guest blogging at Newsvine

Wednesday, December 12

Book reviewed at Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks

Guest blogging at Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem

Thursday, December 13

Interviewed at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Friday, December 14

Book reviewed at Teena in Toronto

Tuesday, January 1

Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book

Wednesday, January 2

Interviewed at As the Pages Turn

Thursday, January 3

Guest blogging at She Writes

Friday, January 4

Guest blogging at Talisman Book Publishing

Monday, January 7

Guest blogging at Redroom

Tuesday, January 8

Book reviewed at Celtic Lady’s Reviews

Wednesday, January 9

Guest blogging at Library Girl Reads

Thursday, January 10

Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking

Friday, January 11

Interviewed at Blogher

Thomas Block’s CAPTAIN VIRTUAL BOOK PUBLICITY TOUR will officially begin on October 1 and end on January 11. Please contact Tracee Gleichner at tgleichner(at) if you are interested in hosting and/or reviewing his book. Thank you!

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