Friday, October 11, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH KERRY NIETZ - AMISH VAMPIRES IN SPACE!


 
“Kerry Nietz is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits—first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates’s minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile, and a movie buff. Amish Vampires in Space is his fifth novel.”
 
 
INTERVIEW WITH KERRY NIETZ
 
S.S: How long have you been writing?
 
In fits and starts, I have been writing most of my life. I didn’t get serious about it until fourteen years ago, though. My first book (non-fiction) was published in October of 2003, so this month marks a writing anniversary for me.  
 
S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?
 
Writing is my vocation, yes. Prior to that, I was a software developer, most recently at Microsoft.
 
S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?
 
I guess that would be the first time I held one of my books in my hands. When it finally became tangible. It isn’t that different from when I knew I was a father. J
 
S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author? 
 
My wife and parents. My wife, because she encourages me through those times (typically during edits) when I want to chuck the whole thing.
 
My parents are probably my biggest book distributors, though. If you know them, you are aware they have a son that writes, and probably have one of his books.
 
S.S: Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?
 
My first published book was a non-fiction book entitled FoxTales. It is a memoir of my early years as a computer programmer. I got to participate in a remarkable time in software history, one where companies could start in a garage or hotel room and still become worldwide successes. I joined such a company, Fox Software, right out of college. My story has lots of twists and turns—lawsuits, buyouts, threats of bodily harm, flying books—miscellaneous mayhem. Sometimes I can’t believe I lived it. Or lived through it.
 
S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?
 
Writing a novel is a faith walk for me. I start with a few scene ideas and a final destination. I work at it a little bit every weekday, trusting that God will give me the inspiration and knowledge I need when I need it. And He does.
 
Often I’m surprised by what comes out, both while I’m writing, and later when I read it over.  I find myself thinking: “Did I write this?” Proves to me that it wasn’t just me. It is beyond me.
 
 
S.S:  Tell us about Amish Vampires in Space. What led you to write it?
 
About three years ago my publisher, Jeff Gerke, surprised the Marcher Lord Press authors with a mock cover he created. The title of the novel was Vein Pursuit, and it was part of the Amish Vampires in Space series. The cover featured a bonneted lady with fangs, a spaceship, and what appeared to be a rack of Amish hats. Jeff called it the ultimate Christian speculative novel. A sure bestseller!
 
The image was great, and it became a running joke, especially at the writers’ conferences Jeff taught at.
 
Years passed, and somewhere along the line I told him that someone—some MLP author—should write that Amish vampire novel. I didn’t think it was me, because the title screams “camp!” and I don’t usually do that. Plus I had a trilogy of my own to complete.
 
More time passed. More books were published. But no one wrote that vampire book.
 
Then last year I started thinking about how such a novel might work, minus the camp. The genre mishmash has lots of potential for conflict. The Amish are a structured people, governed by routine, rules, and tradition. But outer space is rarely structured, and vampires are chaos incarnate. Also, the Amish, practicing their interpretation of scripture, are non-violent. Pacifists.
 
Vampires are not.
 
I got the beginning of a premise, and also, a possible theme. The characters started to arrive…soon I was thirty thousand words into it. I told Jeff what I was doing. After he stopped laughing, he encouraged me to continue. Ten months later I had a manuscript that was roughly 130,000 words long, incredibly fun to write, and generally camp-free. A solid science meets agrarian story, with a hematophagical twist.
 
SS:  There’s a lot of buzz about this story. Amish readers aren’t too sure about this mix of genres. What do you say to them?
 
I’d say wait and see.  Those that have read it—one of which is an accomplished Amish romance writer—have been positive and supportive. I think it really works.
 
S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?
 
I hope they enjoy it, and are a little surprised. It is a novel featuring Amish, vampires, and outer space so you wouldn’t expect it to be too thought-provoking. But I think there are some real nuggets of truth in there. Things even I didn’t expect.
 
S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
 
It is the most character-rich book I’ve ever written, and I love them all. Even the scoundrels.
 
One scoundrel always says exactly what is on his mind, regardless of the circumstances. Always shoots from the hip. In real life that sort of bluntness is rarely wise, but there is something appealing about writing such a character. You just unleash him on scene and see what happens.
 
Another favorite is one of the protagonists, Jebediah.  From the beginning of the book he’s in an unenviable position. He has this secret that is both a responsibility and a burden, and it leads him to more and more uncomfortable situations. His journey is a little like watching a child grow up. (Though he is middle-aged.)
 
S.S: Who is your least favorite character in this book? Why?
 
I don’t really have any. All the characters have a part to play, and in my mind, they all think they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do.
 
S.S: Any other releases you want to talk about?
 
I’m fond of all my “children.” I have a sci-fi trilogy that speculates a world under sharia (Islamic) law. The main character is this technological slave named Sandfly. He has an implant in his head to connect him to the future version of the internet, while also keeping him on the straight and narrow via little shocks called “stops.”
 
The trilogy starts with A Star Curiously Singing. The third book in the series, Freeheads, won the Epic award this year, and was just named a medalist in the Readers Favorite award competition. What is neat there is that in both cases the book was entered in a mainstream science fiction (not Christian-specific) category, even though it is clearly a Christian book.
 
This February my standalone sci-fi novel Mask was published. It takes place in the Pacific Northwest in the not-too-distant future where everything is decided by a vote. The main character, Radial, is a collector. If you get voted out of the city, he’s the one to come get you.
 
I also rereleased my memoire FoxTales this summer. New cover, new revisions, and the addition of some fun souvenirs from my files (maps, funny memos, and whatnot).  I’m happy with how it turned out.
 
S.S:  Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.   
 
I enjoy traveling, especially to places I’ve never been. A couple places I’d love to visit someday are the Holy Land and Australia / New Zealand. And maybe the Moon. J
 
S.S:  What is the silliest thing you have ever done? (Besides writing Amish Vampires in Space. LOL!)
 
I don’t know how silly it is, but for a couple years while I was at Microsoft, I was the captain of a whirlyball team. It is a sport played with bumper cars, whiffle balls, and TracBall scoops. And the floor is electrified. (Stay in the car!)
 
S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
 
When I was in my early twenties the company I worked for was sold to Microsoft. As a programmer, I had two options: I could leave everything and everyone I’d ever known (except the people I worked with) and move 2000 miles across the country, or resign my job and stay where I was…with no severance. It was traumatic. There were lots of unknowns, positives and negatives on both sides.
 
In the end I made the move, but reaching that decision was hard. One of maybe four life altering decisions I had to make over the course of my life. Tough.
 
S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?
 
www.kerrynietz.com (or www.nietz.com)
 
S.S.: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
 
I appreciate the opportunity to be here. I encourage your readers to check out Amish Vampires in Space, and all the novels of Marcher Lord Press. They’re lots of fun.

Leave a comment, along with your contact information, for a chance to win a copy of Amish Vampires in Space!!!

 

16 comments:

  1. I love Amish books and well this sounds creepy and way out there and i really want to read it and see where it goes. thanks for a chance to win
    Shirley Blanchard jcisforme@aol.com

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  2. I love it that someone decided to take the joke semi-seriously and actually write such a monstrosity and am intrigued to see where Nietz took the concept.

    I can be reached at mboomc[at]gmail[dot]com

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  3. Great review, Kerry! I so look forward to reading your books!

    jsbailey@jsbaileywrites.com

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  4. I'm already a big fan of Kerry Nietz, and recommend him anywhere I have the chance. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of this book. Although I never read the Amish genre, I look forward to this (which is not typical "Amish").

    hudson5107@att.net

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  5. I think I'll add A Star Curiously singing to my goodreads. And I have to read this, just so I can say I have.
    veritas6913@gmail.com

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  6. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. You've been entered!

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  7. Just found the interview thanks to Jeff Gerke on Facebook. Wonderful! I'm really looking forward to this, and also Freeheads! :)

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  8. Nice interview

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  9. Thanks for the ineresting interview. I read anything Amish and I like vampires. The cover looks kinda scary for an Amish loving reader but I would love to read it and see what it is about. I am curious so I would love a chance to win and read it. Thanks.
    kmgervais(at)nycap(dot)rr(dot)com

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  10. MsRubyKat -- If I were to categorize it, I would say the book is more suspense than outright horror. Much closer to a Hitchcock movie than a slasher film. And squarely in the sci-fi realm. Closer to I Am Legend than 30 Day of Night. Does that help?

    Marion and bn100 -- thanks for stopping by. Gotcha entered!

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  11. Good interview. I have been looking forward to reading this interview ever since Nancy Mehl mentioned it & received TONS of comments on her post--quite a controversial topic to combine Amish with vampire & space! I would enjoy the opportunity to win this book, so I can 'check it out'. If it is not my cup of tea, I know several people who would enjoy, if I passed it on. ;-)
    Vicki
    Vmarney at hotmail

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  12. The title alone is enough to elicit a laugh. I told a friend of mine about it and she suggested that I put a zombie in one of my cozy mysteries. You have influence, Kerry! Love to read your book!

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  13. I have enjoyed your other books and would love to win a copy of this one. I cant wait to read it. bluenichols@gmail.com

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  14. Vicki -- Yes, I expected the sharia-law trilogy to be the controversial books. Not the bonnet and buggy story. Shows what I know. :)

    EE--I think a cozy zombie mystery is a great idea!

    Blue--Thanks!

    Got you all entered!

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