Friday, April 6, 2012

Steve Umstead on the end of a series

Steve Umstead is a guy I met through Twitter. He’s a sci-fi writer, travel company owner, and a generally nice guy. He’s recently finished his Evan Gabriel trilogy, so I sent him a few questions. He sent me a few answers. Update: In the few weeks since we did this interview, Steve has announced that he'll be releasing a prequel novella that goes deeper into Gabriel's backstory. (And, no, this isn’t the first time we’ve done this. I’ve interviewed him before. You can read that here.)

Without giving too much away, give us the Evan Gabriel story. Tell us why we should commit to this three book series.

The Gabriel trilogy is a science-fiction adventure story, set in the near-future, that follows the arc of a disgraced Navy Special Forces Commander as he travels the road to Redemption (to find his way back into the life he once knew), his Return (a mission to the site of his most haunting memories), and finally his Revenge (as the final straw in his rough life has been placed on his shoulders).

As someone who is also working on a series of books, I have to know, what's it like to type that final "the end?" Is it more relief that you're done? Or is there some disappointment that it's over?

I don't think it's either, relief or disappointment -- not even sure if it's sunken in yet. It's been an entire year living with the story and the characters, but knowing how the story would end from day one meant I was prepared for it. Writing the last scene was very exciting, wrapping it all up, all 220k+ words in three stories, but relief or disappointment I don't think characterizes the feeling. Maybe just exhaustion?

Are you finished with Evan, or will we see him again? If not, is he going to be a character you can easily let go?

I thought I was finished after the first book, only to find I wanted to (a) explore that universe more, and (b) go further into the characters and Gabriel's past, so I kept going. I knew, I swore, I was done after the trilogy was complete, but in the weeks following, as I thought more and more about it, there were several places within the arc that spoke of a deeper backstory for Gabriel. I also had several readers asking the same question - will we see him/them again? Which leads naturally into a further story, but this time a prequel. I've already got a few things sketched out in an outline, as have two chapters written, of a prequel showing how he became who he was at the beginning of book one.

Is a series something you want to tackle again?

Most definitely. It was a blast creating the universe the characters lived and acted within, so to create that for one story only seems like a waste. Also, the characters themselves didn't get developed enough in one book, which was actually my impetus for doing a second and third book (even though I knew how the story would end, I never planned on a trilogy, believe it or not).

What's up next for you?

Well, drats - answered that to some extent above. In addition to the prequel, I've had a couple other non-Gabriel stories dancing around in my head (including one non-military scifi that was getting in the way of completing book three) that I will try to put to paper this year. My goal is to write and release three full-length novels in 2012, as well as maybe some novellas, perhaps tangents to the Gabriel universe (I've had several readers comment on some of the secondary characters as well).

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