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I have the privilege of introducing you to author, Kerry Nietz. His newest book, Amish Vampires In Space, made quite a splash a few months ago and I think you’ll enjoy reading his thoughts on the whole thing.
Okay, Kerry, before we go any further: Amish Vampires in Space? What is that about?
What, you want me to give you the plot?
No, I mean, that seems crazy. Why on Earth would you write such a thing? And who published it?
Well, it doesn’t take place on Earth—
You know what I mean.
Right, I know what you’re getting at.
The story’s genesis goes back a couple years. Amish novels were all the rage, and my publisher, Jeff Gerke, sent out a mock cover to the Marcher Lord Press authors. An obvious spoof. It featured a bonneted female vampire with some Amish paraphernalia behind her. Also behind her was a large window with a view of an orange planet. Enough to make it clear that the setting was in space. The novel’s title was Vein Pursuit and it was part of the Amish Vampires in Space series. Jeff said it was the ultimate speculative novel! A genre crossover that was sure to be a hit. He shared the joke at writing conferences he attended, as well.
A year or so passed, and at one point I told him that someone should write that Amish Vampire in Space book. I didn’t think it was me, because I tend toward hard science fiction, and the title screams: Camp! Plus, I had a trilogy of my own to finish. (The DarkTrench trilogy, which started with the award-winning A Star Curiously Singing.)
Then last year I got this idea about how it all might work, and not be campy. A theme emerged along with a couple key characters, so I started writing. Before I knew it, I was 30,000 words in. I emailed Jeff to tell him what I was doing. When he stopped laughing, he encouraged me to continue. I finished last June and sent it to him. He liked what he read, so went through the editing process.
Amish Vampires in Space was published in October 1st of this year.
Wow, so you essentially took a joke title and ran with it.
Pretty much. A joke title that turned into 135,000 words of story.
I’d avoid dropping it on your foot, but it really isn’t that big. The print version is just over 600 pages, but there’s lots of bonus material in there. Samples of other great Marcher Lord Press stories—three in the print version, six in the eBook!
The story itself is around 500 pages.
Huh. So was it fun to write? Any big challenges?
It was great fun to write. A speculative novelist’s playground! Plus the characters really drove the plot. They just started showing up on the page and took over. AViS is my longest book, but it felt like it could’ve been much longer if I hadn’t reined the characters in a little.
The biggest challenges were a) creating authentic Amish characters, and b) contriving plausible science fiction vampires. I had some help with the first one, in the form of a friend who’s an Amish romance writer.
I was pretty much on my own with the second….but not really. God is always gracious to me when I’m doing research. Providing just the right science or intriguing idea when I need it. It is a difficult process to describe, but it has happened with all my sci-fi books. It is typically like “Well, Lord, I’ve written myself into a corner here…whoa, oh wait, this will work. Thanks!”
So you have other science fiction books. Do those mock other cultures as well?
Hold on, let’s get one thing straight: My intent in writing Amish Vampires in Space wasn’t to mock the Amish at all. To me the whole scenario seemed more interesting if everything was played straight—including the Amish and their culture.
To that end, I asked my Amish fiction writing friend to read the completed manuscript. He had lots of good suggestions to make the Amish portion more authentic, but he didn’t find my portrayal exploitative. At least, no more so than the scores of Amish novels that are already out there. And in some ways my portrayal might be more genuine, because I don’t overly glamorize the culture either. I tried to write them like any other free willed people: capable of both good and evil.
I often explore other cultures in my books, though. My DarkTrench trilogy speculates a world under sharia (Islamic) law. Those books center around this techno-slave named Sandfly. He has an implant in his head to help him connect to the future version of the internet, but it also controls his behavior. Again, the intent wasn’t to exploit or demean, but to extrapolate a future that some in that culture would like to see happen. (Just search for “caliphate” to see what I mean.)
I also have a book entitled Mask that examines a slice of American culture. More specifically, the idea that everything is up for a vote, including sometimes what is considered “good” and “evil.”
Sounds like you’ve written a fair amount of words.
I have over 560,000 words in print now. Hard for me to believe. I’m actually sort of shy.
Hmm…me too. So what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Start early. You might get published before you die.
LOL. That’s something an elderly author once told me on a plane. We happened to be sitting next to each other on a flight from Detroit to Seattle. (I worked at Microsoft at the time.) When he told me he was a writer I said that I always wanted to write.
“Start early,” he said. “You might get published before you die.”
That’s good advice for any dream, actually: Start early, you might accomplish it before you die.
Yeah, that’s something to think about. Thanks for sharing.
Welcome. And now I want to say “our books”.
That’s the clue for the scavenger hunt folks. Write this down before you move on: our books.
Right. Is there anything else you want to say?
Isn’t Kerry a riot! I hope you enjoyed his interview as much as I did. Be sure to tell him so in the comments here and check out his books.
BEFORE YOU GO, write down the Stop #19 clue:
Your NEXT STOP is Kerry’s very own website.
*BONUS PRIZE! If you’d like to win a book from my Angel Eyes trilogy (winner’s choice), leave a comment here about Kerry’s interview. I’ll announce the winner at the conclusion of the scavenger hunt.