COUNTING DOWN THE STORM (Temporarily Unavailable) A Novella by D. Ryan Leask
For two days the storm has taken over the city, and two people's lives. A man convinces himself that his life is worthless when his lover leaves him for another man. Alone and depressed, he allows his life to sink into the bowels of civilization. When a wife and mother discovers that her husband is having an affair she abandons logic and gives in to the perilous abyss of jealousy and revenge.
Re-Launch Tentatively Scheduled for Oct 17th:
¦Goodreads - For All E-Readers ¦Smashwords - For All E-Readers ¦Diesel E-Books Store - E-Pub ¦iTunes - For Your iPad/iPhone/Mac¦ ¦Kobo - For Your Kobo¦Sony - For Your Sony E-Reader¦Barnes & Noble - For Your Nook¦Direct From the Author - Mobi E-Pub or pdf¦

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PART I: Interview With Steve Umstead Author of Gabriel's Redemption and Gabriel's Return


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I've been waiting a few months for this to come out and I'm so stoked that it's finally here!  GABRIEL'S RETURN
On the far-off icebound planet of Poliahu, North American Federation Navy Commander Evan Gabriel suffered the loss of several team members in order to free a native species and save his brother. Now he is being called away on a new mission by a friend in trouble, and by a name from his distant past. He and his surviving team must again travel across the galaxy to the planet where he lost his naval command, and his original team, so many years ago: Eden.
Evan Gabriel must face three distinct threats on Eden: the well-armed terrorist group that has been raiding Eden City, the dangerous planet itself, and his own haunting memories of his past.
Gabriel’s Return continues the epic science fiction/adventure trilogy with characters new and old, devious political intrigue on the moon and Mars, and deadly jungle combat on Eden.

I had the joy and privilege of meeting Steve on Twitter after he judged a round of Leah Petersen's #FiveMinuteFiction flash fiction contest.
After getting to know him better as well as all of the folks in #PubWrite on twitter I was drawn into the world of Independent Authors and self publishing as well as writing as a whole. I credit Steve with helping me get a novella I self published in hard copy a few years ago back onto the "shelves." Much of the help I got was by simply knowing Steve and being in his circles (speaking of circles he also dragged me into Google+).
When Steve asked me to interview him and write a review for Gabriel's Return I didn't hesitate for a second!

Website: | Twitter: SteveUmstead | Google+: Steve Umstead | Facebook: Steve Umstead Writes
Author Pages:
Amazon | Independent Author Network | Facebook Author Fan Page | GoodReads

I may have gotten a little carried away with my interview questions, but after all how often does one get to interview someone so interesting, who writes really well, has a cool day job and so totally into techno-gadgetry?  Without Further Ado…

Where(ish), When(ish) were you born?
Where(ish) would be scenic (tongue in cheek) New Jersey, wait, I take that back. I'm tired of apologizing for living in New Jersey! It's not the "Jersey Shore", and I'm not from Joisey where the Sopranos were. I'm 20 minutes from Philadelphia, an hour from Atlantic City and the beaches, and I've got a house with a yard. So take that, Jersey haters! Sorry...and when(ish) would be in and around the time the moon landings were taking place (that should be enough of a window to let you know I'm no spring chicken).  [I think many people forget that it was called The Garden State for a reason]

How does the time and where you grew up effect your writing?
The time is an easy one. Think Star Wars. At the impressionable age I was when that hit the theatres, it deeply affected my imagination and my interests. As I went through school, high school most notably, I always had a strong desire to read & write science fiction, and most certainly it goes back to that Star Wars era. Oh, and at the same time was Buck Rogers (and Erin Grey, rraawwrr! [wow, I hadn't heard of her but found a pick, rraawwrr indeed!]) and Battlestar Galactica. And in grade school, I'd rush home to see Starblazers on television. As for where, that's tougher - I don't know if where I grew up had any effect; maybe just the fact that it's a laid back, suburban area as opposed to the hustle and bustle of a big city gave me time, and space to act out my imagination.

Although we don't learn much about Gabriel's Childhood how much of the story that brought him to where he is in his life is your own story?
I seem to get that question a lot, as in how much of you is in Evan Gabriel. And quite honestly, it's not much. He is an entirely made-up character. I mean seriously - hardcore military guy with a haunted past...yeah, not me at all. I've never even held a gun, let alone killed anyone (that was public, at least). However, the opening scene of the series is one I've had in my head for many years, and one that created the entire character. It was based on an experience I had on a trip to the Caribbean, and I incorporated that into the scene, and combined it with some of my knowledge of Jamaica, to write that scene - which became Gabriel's Redemption.

Do you believe in:
Yes, of course - to not believe somewhere in the billions of stars there isn't some form of intelligent life would be very closed-minded.
Not at all, every one of those stories of UFO sightings is either made up or was seen incorrectly. If/when aliens come here; everyone will know about it, not just some pickup-driving toothless hillbilly. And why exactly do aliens kidnap them, and not learned scientists?  
It's a matter of time frame. Humans have been...self-aware, let's call it, for a few dozen thousands of years, but the planet has been here five billion, and will be for five billion more. The most important part of the Drake Equation is the time frame - aliens would have to coincidentally visit our planet at the exact same we're here, which is a pinpoint in the lifespan of the planet.
Nope, sorry fantasy/horror writers. Dead is dead.
Sea Creatures (Lochness Monsters and the like)?
Hmmm...yes, I suppose so. We've explored the space around our planet and moon more than we have our own oceans, so I'm sure there's something down there we haven't seen yet. Nessie? Meh, not so much - again, only hillbillies have seen her, right?

In our lifetime which of these are the most likely to go from Science Fiction to Science Fact?
Aliens, or at least an alien life form, so to speak. I think it's only a matter of time before life is detected on another planet. Animal life, not just spores or bacteria. Whether I'll be around when we visit that planet… I guess I can dream.

How much does your "day job" in the travel industry lend itself to your writing in terms of setting and characters?
A few times per year, And I will certainly use those settings in future works, as they're a lot of fun.

If space travel became as common place as a vacation to the Caribbean could you get me a good deal on a trip to a beautiful planet of warm seas and white sandy beaches?
You know what the toughest part of being in the travel industry is? Everyone wants a, can't anyone pay regular price??  [Can't blame a guy for trying!]

David Paetkau From Flashpoint
Is there any one person who embodies Evan Gabriel?
Good question, I never really sat down and thought about it. I suppose physically he was modeled after the somewhat-obscure actor David Paetkau from the CBS/CTV series Flashpoint, but that's as far as that went (I had a photo of Paetkau in my Scrivener files to glance at when it came to describing the character). I guess he's got a little of my impatience/cut to the chase attitude, and maybe a little Bruce Willis-Die Hard anger and exasperation when faced with certain situations. So no - not one person!  [that's really cool!  For some reason I always pictured him more like Ron Pearlman]

You have attempted, (and succeeded in my opinion) to make a science fiction story that not only caters to seasoned sci-fi fans but also makes it easily digestible for those of us that don't understand the inner workings of a Frion-Destabilizing Chriptohydrenic Twift Drive.  How did you manage to do both?
Thank you kindly, that's something I'm very proud of: being able to write science fiction that doesn't exclude non-hardcore SF fans, and can even appeal to other genre readers. I'm a big fan of near-future sci-fi, as I find it more believable (no Twift Drives in my writing). The tech and settings are based on what's happening today, just extended a little further. Brain implants that can communicate with others and plot maps are just another couple of leaps from an iPhone; retina and palm scans exist today, as do rail guns and body armour. Other planets and wormholes? Those are staples of sci-fi that I think everyone accepts at this point.

The planet of Eden with it's beautiful but deadly fauna sets a wonderful picture of what may be waiting for us on distant planets.  In your worldly travels have you come across a place that inspired it or was it all you’re your fertile mind?
It was wholly-created from imagination - I mean can you picture a state park where monkeys throw acidic sap on people walking by, or that have that have swamp lilies that digest meat & tissue? However, a few years ago I went to Costa Rica, and we did a full day of a rainforest hike up to an active volcano with hot springs that surrounded it. When I put together Eden, that's the thick foliage and streams/mountains that I used as a base for the dangerous world.  [Wow!  What a beautiful place, I can picture that for sure.]

Gabriel's Return is the second of a three book series.  Is it for sure going to end after three books or is their beginning to be a whole large series evolving?  I myself would like to see a prequel or two.
Funny, my wife just asked me the same question the other day. As it stands now, the series is a trilogy only. However that may change, as I've grown a bit attached to Gabriel and some of his team members. I do plan to go back after the trilogy is complete and do a novella prequel, as you say, which will explore his original mission on Eden five years ago, the mission that made him who he is today.  [I can't wait!]

How has Evan grown since Gabriel's Redemption?
Well, it's been six months since the end of that story, and with his new position in Security on Mars, he's probably put on a few pounds…Oh, grown as a person? Right… Well, he's learned to compartmentalize his past, as part of what had affected him so deeply did get worked out to some extent at the end of Book 1. He's also found that he can trust family and friends again. However, his new mission, which takes him back to the site of the massacre on Eden that affected him so deeply long ago, may draw him back to his uncertain self.

I can see your stories having mass appeal however I note a serious lack of romance.  Can we look forward to some "steam" in the third book?  I know that Evan is pretty tied down to Renay but is there anyone on the crew to take a Captain Kirk role (*wink)?
Hey, there's a bit of romance in Gabriel's Return! Well, a small bit - small enough that many female readers mentioned it. So yes, I probably could have had more of that. Book 3 will have some strong male-female connections as part of the main plot, but they won't really be romantic. There is a secondary character, Galen Sowers, who is somewhat of a ladies man - at least in his own mind. I guess I'm not cut out for writing romance.  [That's okay, I'm not really cut out for reading it!]

Coming up next...
Technology, and Steve On Writing




  1. Steve, Steve, Steve (shaking head and sighing)

    "... pickup-driving, toothless hillbilly..."


    How 'bout I not picture Snookie and her gang when someone mentions New Jersey and you take a trip south of the Mason-Dixon line to experience some real southern hospitality. (Watching "Hillbilly Hand Fishing" on TV does not count as research).

    If you get a flat tire or run out of gas in Jersey, how many cars pass by without a glance? And if someone does stop, how certain are you that they aren't going to rob you? (I've never been there, so I honestly don't know.)

    Give me a dentally challenged, good 'ole boy (or gal) in a pick-up truck over a too-busy-to-help, texting-while-driving "learned scientist" in a Subaru any day.

    You're a genuinely nice guy (as well as a brilliant writer) and I know you didn't mean anything offensive by your off-hand remark, but I couldn't let it go unchallenged.

    I use stereotypical hillbilly characters in my novels, but I'm a redneck Okie so I can get away with it. ;-)

    Best of luck with your blog tour and novel launch.

  2. Jeez, ate my comment - trying again.

    Charlotte, tongue in cheek of course! I'm just quoting/using the stereotypical alien-abduction movies as a reference. They never kidnap the scientists...

    And there's a big difference between a southerner and a hillbilly... :)

    Thanks for the comment!