thomasblock2ABOUT 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
Thank you for this interview, Thomas. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you've been writing?
I've been a professional writer for almost 50 years. I originally wrote only for magazines, but when my childhood friend (bestselling author) Nelson DeMille returned from the army, he decided that he wanted to become a novelist so Nelson and I worked together constantly on all his earlier stuff that eventually lead to his big successes. We actually wrote the plot for his breakthrough novel By The Rivers of Babylon while driving a UHaul truck filled with furniture to my new home in Western Pennsylvania in the early 70's. Once Babylon was a big hit, Nelson helped me with my own first novel - Mayday. That novel became an International bestseller in 1979. Years later, with Mayday long out of print, Nelson and I decided to work on a revision of it together and put it out again with both of our names on the cover. That version of Mayday is still on the Nelson DeMille backlist (and still with my name along with his, of course), and it eventually became a CBS Movie of the Week that aired in October, 2005.
Can you tell us briefly what your newest book is about?
First I'll quote the jacket copy: "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."
Now, how about a few views from others? (all of these are extracts from various media and reader reviews; you can pinpoint the exact sources and see the complete collection of reviews at our website at www.ThomasBlockNovels.com):
"While this novel is quite entertaining on the surface as a thriller, it also runs deep with realistic emotion."
"Thomas Block has the credentials to create an airline story that begins innocently enough but quickly turns into near disaster. An airline pilot for more than 36 years, his inside information is evident when he writes of pilots, stews, dispatchers, the FAA, TSA and the intricacies of intercontinental flight. He's written several books, and numerous articles for major aviation magazines. This book is guaranteed to grab you from page one and hold on until your dinner is cold… you'll tremendously enjoy the book as an action packed thriller with lots of side stories going on …if a book can really be a "page turner," this one is."
"I think men & women will love this book. If you love high drama and always wonder what goes on inside an airline jet that gets hijacked or has any kind of problem, well, here is about as good as it gets… Captain is a real sit-on-pins-and-needles type of book that you will not want to put down once you start reading!"
"Inviting characters, thrilling plot and a true roller coaster ride of emotions, CAPTAIN packs a walloping frolic through the 'friendly' skies."
"The characters are really great...I loved the banter. I definitely suggest checking Captain out. It has its own charm about it, and the characters are just hilarious. Not in a hokey, trying-too-hard way. In a realistic way...This is one of those rare gems they speak about so often. It promises to be a unique read, a deep and complex adventure through adverse situations."
"It is one of those books you don't want to put down and can't wait to get back to. It is so good, you also hate to read it too fast because you'll finish it! Great characters, lots of suspense."
"A great plot involving calamity, joy, sadness, triumph, horror, techno-craziness, bureaucratic BS, white-knuckle panic, commercial greed and several love-conspiracies all into one book!"
Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?
As the reviewer and reader comments for the novel have indicated, Captain is not simply an aviation-theme adventure/thriller - it has a great deal more going for it. A great many of the very positive responses have come from folks who said they knew nothing and/or cared very little about aviation and airlines. The story is really about the people involved and the airliner that they are in (or working with) is simply the vehicle that is carrying them to places that they never intended, imagined or wanted to go.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
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 www.ThomasBlockNovels.com to find it, or directly to www.SurveyMonkey.com/S/Captain 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.
Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?
No book can be all things to all people and novels, in particular, are prone to being subjective. That means that a writer will get positive comments and also negative ones. While it's tempting to simply count the numbers (and Captain has gotten far more very positive comments/five star reviews than any of the other category of comments), the quality and message of the particular reviews/comments are what I look at; I want to see if what I was aiming at is what the readers have responded positively toward. When I do get the invariable negative comments, I go back to read the positive things that people have said. Since many readers have said that they have absolutely loved this book, that tells me that I accomplished my writing goal, at least as far as a good number of readers are concerned.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
I've got a very nice office in my home at our ranch, and that's where I do all my writing. I'm an organized kind of guy, and I need all my research material, my storyboard, my photos and other support material nearby when I work. I can get ideas and make a few notes when I'm out and about, but real writing occurs in my office.
What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?
You might think that having been an airline pilot for over 36 years, with many years spent flying big jets back and forth to Europe that I wouldn't need to 'research' any of the aviation details, but even that isn't true. In order to make everything 'fit' and be absolutely realistic, I research every event and setting that goes into a novel. In Captain I spent a good amount of time on my North Atlantic plotting charts and also in research on the psychology of fear and panic. In my other novels I did likewise: for Forced Landing I spent a full week at sea on a United States Navy submarine, and a few days onboard an aircraft carrier. For Airship Nine I flew blimps and traveled to the Antarctic. For Orbit I went to NASA facilities and climbed aboard the original Space Shuttle (before it flew for the first time) and also flew the Space Shuttle simulator. Research is very important because many readers are smarter and more keen-eyed than you might initially want to believe.
Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?
After I wrote the first draft of Captain, I got myself an agent (my original agent is long gone) and he sent it out to the NY publishing houses. I assumed that I would soon find some editor who saw the potential in the story, then we'd sit down together and the two of us would agree on some editorial alterations to polish it up - that's the way it was done in the old days when I was writing the other six novels, from the late 70's through the late 80's.
But I soon discovered that it's not done that way any more. Modern publishers were now looking for something to immediately throw to the top of the bestseller list; anything that seemed like it might do less wasn't a contender. After several curt rejections that included 'airplane stories just aren't in these days', I pulled Captain back from my agent and decided that since I believed very strongly in this novel I would use the modern Indie option to publish. I took Captain back for a couple of months to add those final revisions and touches, then put it out in print and all ebook formats.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
In many of the social media outlets, and with Interviews like this one! I've also been able to utilize the aviation press, since I was pretty well known for all the aviation magazine writing that I did for over 40 years.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Nowadays, novel promotion is akin to being in the bottom of a granite quarry with a small chipping hammer; just keep chipping away.
What's next for you?
Our reader survey indicates that over 86% of the readers of Captain would like to see a sequel, so I've been giving some serious thought to that proposed project. I'm also still doing a great deal of novel work for and with Nelson DeMille and, on top of that, I need to go ride my horse and keep our ranch up and running; basically, my days are pretty full and it appears that they'll remain that way for the foreseeable future!
Thank you for this interview, Thomas. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Our main website is www.ThomasBlockNovels.com, where you can find all sorts of information on all our novels and everything connected to them (and from that novels website you can also directly link to our ranch website). We are also on Facebook at two locations:CaptainABOUT CAPTAIN
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.