This week’s guest author on the Crime Cafe has one of the coolest “day jobs” of any author I’ve had on the show. Check out the book cover to the left there. That’ll give you a hint (maybe). And, no, he doesn’t do origami make paper planes for a living. He flies real ones! So cool!

Les is doing an equally cool giveaway. The winner will receive a gift certificate for two that includes a free breakfast or lunch flight with the author himself, and a signed copy of Paper Wings. The flight will depart from the relaxed, Florida town of Flagler Beach, halfway between Daytona Beach and St. Augustine, and within an easy drive to Orlando and Jacksonville. The certificate is good for one year.

All you need to do to enter is contact Les Abend by email at lesabend[at]sbcglobal[dot]net with the words “Crime Cafe giveaway” in the subject line by Tues., Nov. 12. As for your message, it’s enough to say “I’m in!” or words to that effect (I think). 🙂 Because that is one heck of a prize!

Having said that, let’s hear from the Author Himself, Les Abend.

Airline pilots and novels: Who woulda’ thought?

Except for the grey clouds that I might have flown through on any given flight, as an airline pilot I dealt with a world that is mostly black and white. Checklists. Procedures. Protocols. The cockpit is not an environment for a philosophical discussion. If an engine chooses to catch on fire, pilots are not apt to have an open conversation about the merits of shutting it down. We follow strict guidelines for flying the airplane and strict guidelines for handling the emergency.

In contrast to my pilot profession, writing affords me the opportunity to go outside the boundaries. And although I have been a contributing editor to an aviation magazine for many years providing insightful stories of my experiences, a novel allows me to simply create. I find the writing both exciting and challenging. It is a passion I have enjoyed since I stopped peeing in my diapers.

That being said, I wanted to write an entertaining story that appealed to readers of all interests but still provided insight to my airline pilot profession without bogging down in technical jargon. Although I do include a sprinkling of technical terms, they appear in context under the assumption that readers are intelligent enough to understand their meaning.

This isn’t my first rodeo…so to speak. I wrote a novel that was never published…and for good reason. An agent took an interest and then passed on the book, but not without taking the time to offer some valuable advice. A piece of her advice was to write another book and consider the first novel as good practice. Once I licked my wounds, I was able to see the error of my ways. The agent was right.

In that regard, I wrote, “Paper Wings.” It is a much better product. Even if you’re not a pilot, the characters are relatable to anyone. The plot has a plausible scenario with some twists that keep you guessing. The dialog is peppered with realistic humor. And the pacing of the action will have you turning the pages.

Everybody enjoys a good suspense thriller or whodunit. I’ve just added airplanes to the mix. And I’m hoping you’ll enjoy it enough to continue reading the genre as a series. The series is intended as the Cold Case of airplane accidents. The main protagonist, Hart Lindy, will reappear. I’m sure that you’ll find him likable and unlikable all at the same time.

An airline pilot writing a novel? Try it. You might like it.


At the age of six, in my hometown of Syracuse, NY, I boarded an American Airlines Lockheed Electra with my spirited mom. After receiving the obligatory tour of the cockpit, I was handed a certificate, a pilot’s hat silhouetted in the background.

The certificate, signed by the captain, promised me an interview with the airline’s chief pilot 20 years from the date. Thinking that the notion of becoming an airline pilot would fade over time, my parents allowed the dream to remain a childhood fantasy. But the dream never faded.

Twenty years later, despite the fact over 500 pilots from the airline were on furlough, I marched into headquarters and received my interview. Well, it was a courtesy interview given by the equivalent of an H.R. administrator. Undaunted, I persevered in better times.

Eighteen months past the certificate date, with a lot of flying experience on my resume, I became employed as a pilot for the airline of my dreams. And now, thirty-four years later, and a handful of airplanes behind me, I retired. My final office space was the left seat of a Boeing 777.

Les Abend in the left seat!

So where did writing a novel enter the picture? Creativity is certainly not perceived as an attribute of my profession. And although I have visually creative parents, I can’t draw stick figures.

Writing has always been my other passion. The act of putting words on paper to communicate thoughts, ideas, and emotions is as much an enjoyable challenge as the act of flying an airplane. Throughout my flying career, the concept of writing a novel has always been a goal.

In pursuit of my endeavor, I got sidetracked. Believing that a little name recognition might help my cause, I submitted some unsolicited articles to FLYING MAGAZINE. Fifteen years later, I remain a monthly columnist and contributing editor.

And at some point, CNN Op-Ed solicited my writing contribution on various airplane and airline matters. I was then asked to appear on camera after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Honestly, I’ve never had a friendly relationship with cameras. My wife can verify that a camera to me is like kryptonite to Superman. But somehow I became a CNN aviation analyst. It’s been a tremendous experience.

I am fortunate that the magazine contribution allows me to write stories, mostly providing insight to my airline experiences. Regardless, writing fiction is a fun departure from my typical factual diatribes.

Although “Paper Wings” is not my first novel, (the first novel was an unpublished practice run…as it will remain for everyone’s protection), it will be the first in a series of mystery, suspense, thriller, whodunits similar to Cold Case…only with airplanes.

I am gratified that WildBlue Press has offered me the opportunity to fulfill the dream of my other passion. It is flattering to be among the talent of so many great writers within the WildBlue community. I hope to make it a satisfying relationship, especially for my readers.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This