Interview: Steve Umstead

What words can accurately portray the honor and privilege it is to have a friend so encouraging and supportive as Steve Umstead?  Without the perfect words, how do I go about writing an introduction for an interview I was lucky enough to host?  This task has left me an author without words.  What an embarrassment! So, on with the interview…

How do you consume your caffeine?

Minimum two large cups of coffee in the morning. However I have been known to dip into the two ounce goodness known as 5 Hour Energy, especially in the early evening with a long night ahead.

5 Hour Energy rocks, though I’m quite confused by their Decaf option.  I’ll never understand that one! 

The obligatory question for any author.  What are you currently reading?

I’m just getting to the end of the second book in Allen Schatz’s Marshall Connors series, 7th Inning Death. The first, Game 7 Dead Ball, was excellent, and the follow up is just as good. Goes to show the quality a self-published author can put out there. And fortunately enough, there’s a third after this one.

I have yet to read Schatz series to compare to your standard, but I think it’s safe to say that your work is another example of the quality of a self-published author.

Since you’re a SciFi author, I must ask you, Blade Runner or Alien?

Ooh, good one. Two very different, yet very awesome movies. I’ll go with Alien – Blade Runner is a little too dystopian for my taste (I’m more of an optimist about the future…then again, a deadly alien isn’t exactly positive!)

No, it’s not.  But it makes for a good movie!  A little change in pace.  You are six years old and your first grade teacher asks you, “Steve, what do you want to be when you grow up?”  How do you answer?

At six, it was definitely an astronaut. It was still the era of the early space age, and what kid wouldn’t have wanted that as a job?

That doesn’t at all surprise me!  Another crazy question.  If you were an animal, which would you be?

A parweasel. Hey, it’s a made up animal, but it makes an appearance in Gabriel’s Return, and is downright wicked…

I love it!  I should have known.  Okay, one last random question before we get into some more about you as an author.  What is your favorite word?

I guess I’ll go with “cripes”, as it’s a frustration word that’s clean around my kids. I still picture Jim Carey in Dumb & Dumber when he locks his wallet in the newspaper vending machine and looks through the glass, saying “Criiiiiipes!”

I have a friend who says “Macaroni and Cheese” when she’s frustrated.  I must say, I prefer “cripes” as a swear word! 

Now down to business. If you could choose, past or present, who would be your mentor?  What questions would you ask?

Oh my, what I wouldn’t give to sit down with Arthur C. Clarke for a few hours. His vision of the future, from way back when, and how most of it came to be, and his ideas for the more distant future, would be the start of endless questions.

Sounds like you would need some 5 Hour Energy for what would have been an epic conversation! 

When did you first start writing?

Technically, the first fiction story I can remember was when I was 13 (just before high school), and I wrote a science fiction team-action type of story for fun. If I recall correctly, I never really finished it…and I really wish I still had a copy of it.

That’s the worst.  I wish I still has some of my early writings as well. But you’ve come a long way since the unfinished writings of a 13 year old.  You’ve now independently published two books, Gabriel’s Return and Gabriel’s Redemption.  Which was your favorite scene to write?

I mentioned in another interview a scene I wrote in Gabriel’s Return where I described the inner workings of a liquid explosive and gave the device an almost human quality, and that was enjoyable. But one of the most fun was a battle scene, hand to hand combat, with two quite large soldiers. Bodies being thrown through furniture, battle armor being cracked and twisted, and harsh dialogue. That was in Gabriel’s Redemption, and it was an easy write!

How much of the story did you know before you sat down to write?  Did you have a careful plan or let the story develop beneath your typing fingers?

With Gabriel’s Redemption, the story came out of a scene (Chapter 1 as it turns out) I had in my head for many years. When I sat down to outline the story, it all came out of that scene, and because it was NaNoWriMo, I had a fairly detailed outline chapter by chapter to give me a daily writing plan. With Gabriel’s Return, I knew the overall story and most of the scenes, but didn’t use an outline (honestly I didn’t think I needed it…mistake.) I’m an outliner, I’ve found out. I need that prompt each day to know what scene I’m going to write.

I still haven’t figured out which works best for me.  Both have their benefits.  Where did you find the inspiration for your characters?

I’ve been a fan of action and science fiction for a long time, and although I’ve never had the honor of serving in the military, I’m in awe of their commitment and training, so I tend to draw strong characters from those sources.

I know that your son has published a short story.  What was that like when he first told you that he was writing to publish?       

Absolutely thrilling. I know it was because he saw I was able to do it, and he’s truly a gifted young writer, so I was all for it. And it was very exciting when he did publish. He’s gotten very busy with high school now (freshman this year) so he hasn’t been able to get back to the next story, but he talks about it a lot and I’m sure it’s around the corner.

I can’t even fathom the joy that brings you! 

What advice or encouragement could you offer to new or unpublished authors?

Write, write, write. Keep writing. You’ll get better as you go, and you’ll have more works to get into the readers’ hands. Don’t write one and spend every waking moment trying to push it.

I believe I’ve heard that from you a time or two!  Always so supportive!  Is there anything specific you would like to tell your readers?

Don’t go it alone. Find yourself fellow writers. It’s an amazing group of supportive people!

I couldn’t agree with you more!  Last question. What’s next in the pipeline?  Anything details you can share?

Gabriel’s Revenge is under way, with a projected publishing date of in and around mid-December. I’m doing my best to have the complete trilogy available for the holiday season. After that, I’ve got a little time travel/alien invasion story bouncing around in my head I may give a whirl…

Sounds awesome!  I can’t wait.  Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  It’s been a joy.

Check out the hyperlinks above to find Steve’s books on amazon, or visit his website at http://steveumstead.com/

Thanks for stopping by!  For  your chance to win a free copy of either of Steve’s books, leave a comment below.  Two will be chosen at random!

Published in: on 10.13.2011 at 10:20 pm  Leave a Comment