I’m very pleased to introduce today the lovely Steve Umstead. He’s celebrating the release of Gabriel’s Return, book two of the Evan Gabriel series, and we’re going to celebrate with him! Stay tuned to the end of this post for details on how you can WIN your copy. There’s a fun 5MinuteInterview in here but, first, why you should care.

Here’s the scoop:

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.

Now, as I said, this is a sequel. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading it yet, time constraints and all that, but I’m looking forward to it, because I did read the first book, Gabriel’s Redemption, and Mr. Umstead is a fine writer indeed.

Here’s the skinny on Gabriel’s Redemption.

Can a disgraced Special Forces soldier find redemption, and will redemption cost him more than just his own life?

North American Federation Navy Commander Evan Gabriel was dishonorably discharged after losing his covert team on a far off world called Eden. Now, he’s being offered an opportunity to command a new team, on a new world, with a new mission, but the true motives behind the mission are unclear.

From the decaying Caribbean to politically-charged South America, from the slums of Mars to a tiny colony on a planet six hundred light years from Earth, Gabriel’s Redemption follows the disgraced Commander Gabriel as he leads a Special Forces team to an ice-bound world. Their given mission: to eradicate a drug cartel that is producing a highly-addictive stimulant brutally extracted from the bodies of the native inhabitants. Upon arriving, Gabriel and his team find the mission isn’t exactly what it appeared to be, and that they weren’t the only force dispatched to the planet.

Now that we’ve got the business out of the way, and you’ve got Amazon or B&N or whatever your preferred poision open in another tab, let’s learn a little bit about this author with a little thing I like to call the 5MinuteInterview.

So, Steve:

1: Your current trilogy is a sci-fi/adventure and I’ve seen it also billed as a military sci-fi. Why did you write in this genre?

I write in that genre, something I’ve come to refer to as “near future science fiction,” as it’s by far my favorite type to read. I certainly enjoy the far-flung adventures, thousands of years from now, with near-magical technologies and so on, but I feel like I relate better to a more realistic type of scifi. From a VERY young age I was into science fiction (and who my age wasn’t affected to the core by Star Wars?), but as I got older I tended to gravitate towards the technothrillers (Tom Clancy, back when he actually wrote his own books). When I ventured back into science fiction, that stuck with me. I love tech that can be easily extrapolated from today, or locations that aren’t entirely out of the realm of possibility. I think that gives a wide range of readers a chance to get into the story and the technology without being overwhelmed. And while I’ve never had the honor of serving our country in the military, there is no higher calling, and I love telling stories from a military perspective – to show the human behind the uniform.

2: Gabriel’s Redemption and Gabriel’s Return are the first two books in a trilogy. Do you plan to write more in this universe or are you moving on after this?

Well, I guess you’re assuming I have a Book 3 coming, right? 🙂  Actually just started the outline, and perhaps when this posts, will have already started Chapter One of the final installment. My wife asked me the same question – when you finish the trilogy, will you end the story? I did tell her I don’t plan to kill Commander Evan Gabriel, but I don’t know if I’ll go any further with it. There is a backstory, the failed mission that made the main character who he is today (in the time frame of the trilogy), that I do think I’ll go back to with possibly a novella, sort of the beginning of Evan Gabriel. But before that, I’ve got a story just dying to get onto ‘paper’ that I’ve been thinking about recently, and might make for a good NaNoWriMo challenge this year. Still scifi, but not military…time travel. Oh dear…

3: I met you at Readercon. In real life you looked just like your picture and were just as nice as you are online. So one creepy offline experience avoided. (On my side, at least.) With all the online promotion and social networking you do, have you had any odd/scary/traumatizing experiences?

That’s so kind of you to say! Like a mutual friend said, it would have been fun to pick you up in a car with plastic sheeting and an axe in the trunk, but I digress… I do find myself very much wrapped up in social media sometimes, and I’ve done my absolute best to avoid controversial subjects. I knew well before writing (I own an online business and started up the social media program for it last summer) that I would never send any type of religious or political messages…even innocuous ones. I don’t think that’s the platform for it… But as for odd experiences, I did have a ‘run in’ with a woman who vigorously objected to my reposting of an article she had linked to. She saw it as me promoting her as the author, and she was throwing around phrases like “heinously unprofessional” and “grounds for a lawsuit,” and had even taken to contacting friends of mine online to complain. (I had unfollowed her on Twitter in the middle of it – not vindictively, but as a method of ensuring her tweets would never get retweeted, thereby avoiding problems.) After a few days of explaining the system, she was fine with it, very apologetic, and ended up being a great online friend of mine

4: Does Gabriel have a favorite weapon?

Hmm, good question. In the two books he’s used several types, and worn completely two different types of combat armor. His personal weapon is a 7mm Heckart mag pistol, one with a very worn grip, that he’s had for many years. However I think his most important, and most used, weapon would be himself. He’s been fitted with an enhanced musculature for strength and speed (think Wolverine, just not nearly as silly), and he’s got black market upgraded neuretics (brain implants) that give him a huge tactical and strategic advantage on the battlefield. So he doesn’t often need an actual weapon. I think readers will see his brains and brawn really put to the test in the final book, as he’s got some personal scores to settle…so he won’t be handling them from long range.

Thanks so much, some excellent questions – and a great pleasure to meet you in person as well!
Back to your host: Awww, ain’t he sweet? Don’t neglect to check out his books, Gabriel’s Redemption and the newly-released sequel, Gabriel’s Return. In fact, let’s help you out with that. One random commenter on this thread will WIN a copy of  If there’s a nice turn-out, I’ll give away a copy of BOTH books to a second commenter. So, whatcha’ got to say to me or Steve? This your type of read? Willing to give it a try if it’s not?

Gabriel’s Return is available as an ebook for Kindle and Nook, and is also available on Goodreads.

More information about Steve can be found on his blog here: www.SteveUmstead.com