Friday, December 11, 2015

Whew. Fifty and no more counting!

Hello all--

In the mid 1990's, I landed in Anchorage Alaska, and that event marked the 49th state that I'd visited. I only had one more to go--which was Hawaii.  I wasn't concerned, I flew jets for a living, and it seems everyone wanted to go to Hawaii, so it would happen, and probably sooner than later.  The years passed, and each time I flew over an ocean it was the Atlantic. The total number of countries reached 40, and my state total was still stuck at 49.  Then, in 2008, I was forced to quit flying.

One Monday morning not long ago, I was thinking about my travels, and what was left on my life to-do-list.  On impulse, I booked a trip to Maui.  I'm here now, writing this from my room overlooking the ocean, and it's pretty cool.  I can't do all the things I would have done ten, or fifteen years ago, my skeleton seems most unhappy these days, but it's still an amazing place.  Also, the sunset pictured below happens outside my balcony each evening, and coincides perfectly with happy hour.  Better late than never, and who knows, maybe Donovan Nash will return to the islands once I leave?   


In other news, I received an email from my publisher informing me that not long ago, Code Black was #55 on Amazon, which makes me a best selling novelist.

Pegasus Down is officially posted on my website: and is available for pre-order with most retailers.  Order early, it makes everyone in my world happy, especially me. A gift certificate stocking stuffer perhaps?

I'm also putting together the 2016 book tour, if you have any suggestions let me know--I'll see what I can do.

Last but not least, I want everyone to have a great holiday season, cherish the people you love, and please, be kind to one another and travel safe. 


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Category Five--coming to a bookstore near you.

Hello all--

November is shaping up to be an exciting month!  On the 10th, my first novel, Category Five, will once again be back in print.  It's an amazing feeling to still have demand for a book that first came out in 2004.  A year ago I wrote about the origins of the story, and last spring I went back and read it again for the first time in over ten years.  I have to say, it held up well.  The foundation for the Donovan Nash series began with solid footing, and still continues today.  As always, thank you for being a part of the journey, and please enjoy this book again.

In the Atlantic Ocean, hurricane Helena is gathering strength, becoming the most powerful storm in recorded history. As Helena bears down on Bermuda, Donovan Nash, along with other members of the scientific research organization Eco-Watch, are called to fly in and extract key government people who have been studying Helena. For Donovan Nash, the routine mission turns deadly when an attempt is made on the life of the lead scientist. A woman from the past, Dr. Lauren McKenna, is suddenly thrust back into his life. With 300 mph winds and waves over 90 feet, Helena marches relentlessly for the vulnerable east coast of the United States. In a bold attempt to diffuse the power of the hurricane, Eco-Watch is called upon to conduct a final flight above the massive fury, where the jet suffers a catastrophic engine failure. Now the only option is to maneuver the crippled airplane into the calm of Helena's eye.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pegasus Down and Friends

Hello all--I've been working.  The edits for Pegasus Down are nearly complete (word on the street is that readers of the Donovan Nash series are really going to like this one)  Also, my first two novels, Category Five and Code Black are going to be re-released by Oceanview Publishing.  I'm so happy that everything Donovan Nash is now under one roof and will be back in print.  Enjoy!

It's a good day when I get to hold a new book in my own two hands--even if it is a review copy.

Release date:  3-1-2016 

Re-release:  November 10th, 2015                                                  Re-release:  November 24th, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pegasus Down

Hello all--

I know, I know, it's been a while, but I was waiting to gather up the news and then really go big!

Since my last post, I have managed to regain the rights to Code Black, the last of my books held by another publisher.  The good news is that my current publisher, Oceanview, now own the rights to everything Donovan Nash, and soon, both Category Five and Code Black will be back in print.

As usual, I'm now in Montana, working on the next thriller, but I did want to share something that went up for pre-order today.  Pegasus Down, March 1, 2016.

A CIA-operated jet on a clandestine mission disappears in Eastern Europe.  No mayday, no wreckage, and no known survivors.  No way to know if the top-secret extraction of a key American scientist from Slovakia, or his liberator, Dr. Lauren McKenna, code name Pegasus, are dead or alive. 

Donovan Nash’s precarious world is rocked when word reaches him that his wife, Lauren, is missing in Eastern Europe. Using his millions, and fueled by the fear of losing his wife, Donovan and company cut a swath through Austria and Hungary.  Desperate, Donovan leverages his lifelong secret to enlist an unlikely ally―one of his oldest friends―who may very well want him dead. As Donovan closes in on the truth, another, and more deadly, reality is revealed.  A ruthless terrorist group has acquired a stealth aircraft with the ability to deliver a nuclear device. They are poised to strike―but where?  What started as a rescue turns into a full-throttle aerial chase.  Will Donavan be able to rescue his wife, as well as prevent a nuclear catastrophe?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Book tour 2015. From the road...

Since Aftershock was released, I've been to eight states, signed a bunch of books, did a dozen or so radio shows, and I've lived out of a suitcase for six weeks.  I've been sick once (cold or allergies, depending on who you talk to) I've had my poor knee injected, (ouch, by the way) as well as my shoulder injected (not as big an ouch, but still) both were designed to alleviate pain in an effort to keep my body moving.   So, all in all, it's safe to say that my skeleton is not all that happy with me at the moment--nor I with it.  This morning I received an ultimatum via my aching back. The message was clear. If I quit traveling soon, my body will let me live.  So, I'm headed for my refuge in the Pacific Northwest.

On the plus side, I had the best time ever!  I met so many new friends which is always fantastic.  But even better, I connected with treasured friends, people I hadn't seen or heard from in decades. Sharing long-forgotten memories with an old friend is truly one of the best feelings ever.

My body will calm down, the pain and misery I subjected myself to will eventually subside, and what will remain are the memories.  Aftershock book release was the best yet, and I thank each and every one of you I met in bookstores, elevators, airports, bars, and restaurants--you're all part of the smile on my face.  Thanks so much.

And to the very special people who met me 35+ years ago, and thought enough of those times to come and say hello in 2015--thank you.  You're the best, I love you all, and I'd make this trip all over again if we could hang out some more. Maybe next year?

Until then, here's a photo from the good-old days:  The author, circa 1978.  22 year old copilot on a Cessna Citation


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Interview with the author...

Hello all, I was going through my blog today, and I noticed that the most visited posts were the ones where I write about myself--or the writing process. (A process that often times consists of charts, schematics, notes, articles, books, and the ever-present calculator, and of course caffeine)   But there is also the mental process, the brainstorming and  the outlining.  With that in mind, here is an interview about writing Aftershock that I did a while back with David Ivester of Oceanview publishing:


I started writing in High School. An English teacher encouraged me to keep writing and I did. At eighteen I had an article published in a national aviation magazine and while still a teenager, I vowed to write a novel one day.
Aftershock became a concept the day I landed a private jet in Guatemala City and could see a venting Volcano from my hotel. It was remarkable.

Of course, there’s my aviation background which not only brings the reader inside a jet, but I put them in the cockpit and place their hands on the controls. With all of my travel I’ve typically been to each place I write. I feel like the less you have to invent, the better the story. I also take great pride in how much research I do when I do have to make something up—like the Scimitar. It doesn’t exist, but it could.

You bet. I’ve taken little bits of myself and sprinkled them here and there; it’s one of the joys of being the novelist. There’s the love of flying, BMWs and Canadian whisky. The travel, the interesting people, the complex logistics, they all come from my life as a professional pilot.
Yes, some know, some don’t. Some think they are but aren’t. It’s great fun and it’s all better left secret. Be forewarned, if you do know me, everything you do or say is fair game for my books.
Donovan Nash is always my favorite, simply because he’s the strongest, yet most damaged character in all of my books. In Aftershock, I loved writing Eva, followed by Montero and Lauren. I think they evolved the most during the telling of the story and it was very gratifying peeling back their layers.

La Serpiente—he was evil simply out of greed.
It’s always the logistics. Once that’s settled, it’s then the relationship between Donovan and Lauren. They’ve come a very long way since the opening scene of Category Five, to the epilogue of Aftershock.

My mission is always the same—to entertain. In this book I deal with loyalty and truth, as well as love, both past and present. There are life and death situations, sacrifice, and finally questions about revenge, friendship, and courage. All wrapped up in a fast-paced, action-filled story featuring airplanes and volcanoes. Take your pick as to what resonated--but above all, be entertained.
Ernest K. Gann, Richard Bach, Wilbur Smith, Martin Caidin, Alistair MacLean, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, William Kent Krueger, David L. Robbins. The list could go on for a very long time.
It changes all the time. I used to write in great, inspired chunks, lasting 2-3 days at a time, and then be spent. Now I chip away, writing nearly every day when a book is taking shape. Sometimes it’s easy, other days it feels impossible. In the end, there is a sense of accomplishment that rivals anything I’ve ever experienced.
Stop for the day when you know exactly what the next sentence is going to be.
That a writer should write every day, even if you don’t feel like writing.
Of course, Donovan and company can’t stay out of trouble for very long.
I want to thank my readers. You’re my biggest joy. You’re the best!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

One of my favorite reviews!

Killer Nashville Book of the Day

“Aftershock” by Philip Donlay / Review by Jonathan Thurston


Monday, March 16, 2015

Behind the scenes in the writing of Aftershock

I can remember clearly how much uncertainty I felt when it came time to write Aftershock. Though it was the fifth in my series, the first four had been written over a span of ten years. I wrote when and where I could while I was still working as a professional pilot and traveling the world. This was going to be different. Change had happened, and I didn’t particularly like the concept. I had one summer to write what would hopefully become the next Donovan Nash thriller. In the weeks leading up to my start date, I’d wake up at night worrying, having no real idea how long it actually took me to write a novel. If I did the math on the first four, it averaged two and a half years each (though the first one seemed like it took a lifetime). . Now I had three months. Would I be focused and disciplined, or would I burn out quickly and lay in the hammock all day waiting for happy hour?
I eliminated all distractions by renting a cabin on a quiet lake. I took my cellphone, but knew that there was no reception where I was headed. Upon arrival, I set up my desk in the corner of the bedroom. As is my custom, I fussed with my work area, creating order despite the certainty that it would be a complete mess within days. I connected the printer, and wondered if there would ever be anything to print. Once my environment was to my liking, I settled in to write. My daily commute was exactly six steps. I laid out months of research and story notes scribbled on random index cards. At the end of day one, I shut down the computer. I’d written nothing. Eighty-nine days remained.
The next day I wrote a paragraph or two, my characters and plot in complete chaos as page one finally staggered into existence. Leave it alone and keep going, I reminded myself, and page two followed. Some days it was easy, other days the process felt like a forced march. Around page one-hundred I had a complete collapse of conviction. Something felt off. I panicked, hesitated, wavered like a base runner who realizes he’s going to get thrown out at second and desperately wishes he could go back and start over. I did everything except stop and listen for the answers to my own questions. I’d been at this point before in other books, and knew that the answers I needed were out there somewhere. The question was, did those answers know about my compressed timeline? I glanced apprehensively at the calendar and pressed onward.
Mentally, I was always grinding on the story. The characters never left; this was full-immersion book writing. I asked myself a barrage of “what if” questions daily, and played out each scenario in my head, sometimes creating more questions than answers. The clock kept ticking. I’d decided long ago to never go back to page one until the entire first draft was written, as that’s the fastest way I know to lose momentum. Eyes forward – editing is for later.
It was during one of my late night musings that the first glimpse of a completely new idea flashed into my conscious mind, and then bolted off into the ether it came from. I nearly missed the gravity of the fragmented thought, discounting it entirely. Yet the idea lingered. The notion was virtually unthinkable – or was it? I’d never killed an important character before. Don’t get me wrong: killing characters is nothing new to a thriller writer, but I’d never killed a continuing character. Unconscionable, I thought. My characters are real, at least to me, and typically my job is figuring out ways to keep them alive. I couldn’t believe what I was contemplating.
In the past, I’d had days, or even weeks to make a major plot decision. Writing a book in ninety days eliminates that luxury. I had told people that the blitzkrieg book writing process was good, for it allowed me to be completely absorbed, but this was happening fast – too fast. As I continued to type, I drew closer to the point where a decision would have to be made. I slowed down, and then halted work completely. Keeping a careful eye on the time I had remaining, I contemplated the chaos I was about to unleash. I tried to calculate all of the far-reaching implications for not only Aftershock, but for the books to come. That first whisper of an unthinkable idea had evolved into what I now believed was a better book. I made the decision, and a fresh stack of scribbled notecards accumulated on my desk – the death warrant, if you will. I felt a little sick to my stomach. The next morning the writing resumed.
Damp-eyed, I made sure I did it right. I finished that one scene and called it a day. I honestly felt like I’d lost one of my close friends. Deep down I knew that I could go back to my desk, sit down, change the scene and move on as if nothing had happened. I would have been wrong had I done that. In books, as in real life, people die, and friends and loved ones feel the tragedy and mourn. The scene stayed.
It was all a bit of a blur after that, but inside of my deadline, I finally sat back and watched as the rough draft of Aftershock materialized from the printer. It was a messy first draft, but first drafts are supposed to be a bit of a disaster, like a dictionary hit by a tornado. But it was all correctable. In my hands was something I could, and would, make better. Finally, I sat in a comfortable chair, pen in hand, and read Aftershock for the first time.
Since that first read-through, I’ve gone over the manuscript many times, and although I know what’s coming, I’ve yet to escape the feeling of loss when I get to the part where my friend dies. Writing Aftershock in three months was a completely different experience for me, and I felt the stress and the pressure of the task at hand. Though I wobbled a bit on the home stretch, I never once questioned my actions. In the end, neither did my agent or publisher. The death of the character was the right move for the story, which is really what the craft of writing books asks of the author – I’m glad I’ve learned to listen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Launch Day!

I'm excited to announce that Aftershock, my newest novel was launched today.  It's the fifth Donovan Nash thriller, and I'm very excited by the early buzz.  My tour schedule is on my website:  If I'm coming to your city please stop by and say hello.

This review made my day.  It's from Booklist:

Donlay continues to deliver high-quality, character-driven thrillers with this latest in his Donovan Nash series. One of Nash’s closest friends, Stephanie VanGelder, is kidnapped  in Guatemala. A straightforward rescue goes horribly wrong, leaving Nash with the problem of coming up with an alternate plan. Estranged from his wife and daughter, Nash has another problem: convince his immediate family to let him back into their lives. This personal angle gives the story an emotional core, and a rumbling volcano sets the time clock on suspense and leads to a frantic turning of pages. Donlay is on the verge of breaking out ­and deservedly so. Readers who pick this fine thriller up will eagerly seek out the previous titles and wait impatiently for the next Nash adventure. --Booklist

Thursday, February 26, 2015

03-03-15. A New Novel by Philip Donlay: Aftershock

Volcanic cloud induced lightning--while it's certainly one of the least threatening aspects of being in close proximity to an active Volcano, it clearly demonstrates that Mother Nature spares no expense while whipping up one of the most destructive events on the planet.  A force so cataclysmic it can destroy the landscape--or create a completely new one.  The last place anyone should be is within a hundred miles of an erupting volcano. 

Donovan Nash is never where he should be:  Available Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Volcanoes, ash plumes, and airplanes...

One of the things I get to do when writing a novel is research--the more the better.  My latest thriller stars a volcano, though as a pilot, I was already well aware of the dangers of flying through a plume of volcanic ash.    Aftershock comes out March 3rd.  Spoiler alert...volcanoes always win.

A little of the science:

On December 15, 1989, clouds of ash from an eruption at Mt. Redoubt Volcano in Alaska nearly caused a Boeing 747 jetliner (KLM Flight 867) carrying 231 passengers to crash land after losing power to all four engines.
As the crew of KLM Flight 867 struggled to restart the plane's engines, "smoke" and a strong odor of sulfur filled the cockpit and cabin. For five long minutes the powerless 747 jetliner, bound for Anchorage, Alaska, with 231 terrified passengers aboard, fell in silence toward the rugged, snow-covered Talkeetna Mountains (7,000 to 11,000 feet high). All four engines had flamed out when the aircraft inadvertently entered a cloud of ash blown from erupting Redoubt Volcano, 150 miles away. The volcano had begun erupting 10 hours earlier on that morning of December 15, 1989. Only after the crippled jet had dropped from an altitude of 27,900 feet to 13,300 feet (a fall of more than 2 miles) was the crew able to restart all engines and land the plane safely at Anchorage. The plane required $80 million in repairs, including the replacement of all four damaged engines.
How Volcanic Ash Can Kill An Airplane

How did it happen?

It's a process that's sort of like Mother Nature's version of a "Cash for Clunkers" engine getting killed. Volcanic ash normally contains glassy materials, such as silicates, whose melting points are 600 degrees Celsius to 800 degrees Celsius. Since internal temperature of in-flight jet engine exceed 1000 degrees Celsius, glassy particles in volcanic ash inhaled by the engines instantly melt. In the course of exhaust, the glassy materials are rapidly cooled down in the turbine chamber, stick on the turbine vanes, and disturb the flow of high-pressure combustion gases. This disorder of the flow may stop the entire engine in serious cases — such as KLM Flight 867.