10 Questions with STEVE UMSTEAD
1. Have any new and upcoming authors caught your eye?
I’ve found myself reading nothing but fellow independent authors’ works this year - and I’m thrilled by it. I’ve read some top notch works, stuff that could (and should) easily slide into the NYT best seller list. Yes, there are some self-pubbed works that should never have seen the light of day, but I’ve been reading some good ones. Some of the best science fiction I’ve read, indie or traditional, comes from Michael Hicks with his epic In Her Name series (I’m quite happy there are six in the series). Allen Schatz wrote an excellent suspense/murder mystery on the baseball diamond series featuring an umpire as the main character (and me as a big baseball fan really loved the blending of the sport and mystery). And right now I’m reading a thriller from Helen Hanson, 3 Lies, which is superbly written, with great CIA-type tech and fascinating plot. So...go get ‘em.
2. What kind of routines to you keep when writing?
It’s gotta be quiet and set apart from the rest of my life. I work at home so it’s sometimes difficult to get away from the job, but I’ve confiscated the dining room table. My wife (co-owner of our business) knows that when I’m in the office, it’s work-work, and when I’m at the dining room table, it’s writing-work. And my kids know when I have my noise-canceling headphones on, it’s writing time, and leave Dad alone time. Music, but no lyrics. Wine, but only a couple of glasses. And no snacks - I could stand to lose a few more pounds.
3. What are THREE books, other than your own, that you think everyone should read?
While I’d love to throw out there some classics from Dickens, or Strunk & White, or various well-known fabulously famous inspirational writers, I’m in the reading biz because I like to be entertained. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy is an excellent technothriller that could be used to teach a class on multiple plot lines. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi is realistic near-future scifi at its best. And Shifter by some teenager named Zack Umstead - a young adult universe-jumping scifi novelette, first in a series. (Hey, it’s not my own book!)
4. If you could use only THREE words to persuade us to read your trilogy, what would they be?
Cheap, quick, and easy. Okay, okay... Technology, settings, and characters. I’d love to throw in a few adjectives in front of each of those, but you said three...
5. If such a choice were possible, would you prefer to live in a real or a virtual world? Why?
Real - I’m perfectly happy right where I am. I really hope one day I don’t wake up in a plastic coffin full of goo and wonder, “What is the Matrix?” So...I guess if I am living in a virtual world, don’t tell me.
6. You have the chance to spend an evening with a film star of your choice. Whom would you choose and what do you hope the evening would bring?
That question certainly suggests I should lean towards the gorgeous starlet, but I’m a guy’s guy. A man’s man. Or something like that. Tell me this - for a science fiction/action fan who grew up in the late 70’s and early 80’s, who’s the coolest cat out there? If you didn’t say Harrison Ford, turn in your man card. Seriously - Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Rick Deckard, Jack Ryan. Game. Over. To hang out with him, maybe with him playing those characters...not a bad evening.
7. You’re very active on social media. What do you like most about it? Hate most? What would you say are the top five uses of social media as an indie writer?
Oh, it’s got its ups and downs, just like any other form of communication. It’s easy to get sucked in for hours on end, and completely neglect the writing. Being on Twitter, without which I feel I would have never even published a novel, is like being in dozens of conversations all going on at once, and being able to join in when you can, (1) say hello, (2) make valuable connections, (3) get information, (4) do research on the market, and try to (5) introduce prospective readers to my books. Sometimes I feel like I’m mentioning my book too often; it’s a tough line to not cross. And I’ve never been one for self promotion. But the relationships I’ve made, and the people I’ve met (including several great ones in person...ahem, Mr. Wood included) are just incredible. Fellow writers are the most supportive group of people I’ve ever met.
8. Nominate 3 types of people for a long custodial sentence in a prison that uses painful experimental therapies to ‘cure’ its inmates. (NOTE. Obvious categories, such as bigots, tyrants, traffic wardens, estate agents, bankers, politicians and family and friends of Rupert Murdoch do not count.)
Really, I can’t say politicians? But there are so many types... Taco Bell drive through workers (they never get the order right), the Coors Light marketing staff (really? blue lines? that’s the hook? that’s why I’d buy your beer?), and landscapers who insist on mowing lawns before 7AM.
9. Would you like to be immortal? Why or why not?
I am immortal. I remember meeting your great great grandfather back in the highlands of Scotland. Silly question. Next?
10. Tell us a funny unknown fact about yourself.
I asked my wife to help me with this one, as (a) I don’t think I have too many unknown facts, and (b) I doubt any of them would be very funny. So she picked out my odd habit of looking at both sides of a Dorito before eating it. There’s a perfectly valid reason behind this, and if enough people ask in the comments on your blog, I might just reveal it...