The Story Behind Captain by Thomas Block

The writing of my latest novel, Captain, is the most recent of the several Internationally bestselling action/adventure thrillers that I’ve written over the years. All of them have an aviation theme, although each is quite different from the others – more on that later. Let me first explain the path that my career as a professional writer has taken.

Captain1-200x300I was a professional pilot first, and began my 36 year career as an airline pilot before I began my first stints as a ‘professional writer’. I did several freelance aviation magazine article in the late 60’s before I hooked up with FLYING Magazine (The World’s Largest circulation aviation magazine) in 1970. I wrote monthly for FLYING for over 20 years, plus a number of other aviation magazines – two of which I still write for today.

My involvement with novels began on a personal note because of my childhood friend and bestselling novelist Nelson DeMille. 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 paperback-original works – which was my first experience of working with novels. Matter of fact, the major plotting and storyline for Nelson DeMille’s 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 I was ready to try some of my own fiction and, 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

But in the back of my mind I now had a new story; a story that needed to be told in what some might call an older way, with emphasis on character and plot, motivation and timing. As always, it would be an aviation-theme action/adventure – but unlike many modern stories, I didn’t want to pump in gratuitous violence, sex and mayhem. To me, so many modern novels (and especially movies!) are hardly more than comic books with storylines that don’t hang together and with endless and brutish snapping from scene to scene as if they expected that the audience had an attention span (and a companion attention to detail) that could only be measured in the smallest portions possible.

So I wrote Captain 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 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, and 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. From the standpoint of my own experiences, Captain has drawn on them the most.

That’s the story behind Captain. To get a complete overview, take a look at the Reader Reviews that we’ve assembled on our website (most of the reviews have come from the Amazon or Barnes and Noble Internet sales sites). Here is the direct link through to see what others have thought of Captain – an action/adventure thriller that I know you’ll enjoy!


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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