AMISH VAMPIRES IN SPACE. Yeah, I said it. Don’t judge me. Four words in the English language you might find least likely to be placed into a sentence. Even less likely that the words would be used to form a book title. But that’s precisely what today’s intrepid author has done…and he’s captured the imaginations of a LOT of people by doing so.
I’ll give you a minute to catch up with that last paragraph. You might need to read it a few times to absorb it all. I know I did when I first heard about AMISH VAMPIRES IN SPACE (AViS, for short). I was sitting behind my keyboard, procrastinating on working on my work in progress by perusing the wonders of Facebook, when all of a sudden, I saw a link to a book with that very peculiar title pop up on my newsfeed. I rubbed my eyes when I saw it. Did a double take. Then I smiled. “No-freakin’-way,” I said out loud. “There’s no way anyone could come up with something so brilliant! So mindbendingly awesome as this.” And, after a little digging, I discovered I couldn’t have been more wrong. Someone was, indeed, clever enough…and brave enough…to write a book like this and I had to discover who this pioneer of the Awesome truly was.
I’ll admit, at first, I was captivated merely by the title. It was a stroke of genius. As an author myself, I thought there couldn’t have been a more ingenious title to call a book. After all, how can any red-blooded (er, no pun intended, I assure you) sci-fi/horror/adventure reader pass up on a book like this? And apparently, I’m not the only one who felt that way. The title has turned a few heads and caught the eye of a few big leaguers in the entertainment industry. In particular, a fresh new Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Take a look at this clip where AViS was specifically targeted in a very funny bit:
You can’t get any better publicity than the tonight show, right?!
So you might be asking, “Well Kent, what’s it about?” To which, I’ll reply, “Really?” Haha! But despite the tongue-in-cheek name, don’t be fooled. AViS is a serious contender in the science fiction-horror genre. Kerry took the task of writing this thriller very seriously and has created a read you won’t soon forget. So, okay…I’ll share with you what the product description says about the book:
Jebediah has a secret that will change his world forever and send his people into space.
The Amish world of Alabaster calls upon an ancient promise to escape destruction. Then end up on a cargo ship bound for the stars.
But they are not the only cargo on board. Some of it is alive…or used to be.
Now, with vampires taking over and closing in on the Amish refugees, these simple believers must decide whether their faith depends upon their honored traditions or something even older.
Seriously. Sounds truly awesome, right? You know you want to read it. I can see it on your face.
Well, back to Kerry Nietz for a minute. What was even more amazing to me when I started learning more about Kerry was the fact that he was a Christian and that his books were not just sci-fi, but they were Christian sci-fi! I LOVED that! For those of you who don’t follow Christian fiction, let me just tell you…the Christian fiction world isn’t the boldest industry out there. As a matter of fact, it can be tediously boring. If you peruse your local book store shelves, you’ll discover the majority of the titles is about the Amish…or about the end times…or about someone coming to terms with something. Kind of dull stuff. Christian publishers are notoriously rigid when it comes to “speculative fiction”. Trust me…I know. With the exception of Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti or my friend Don Hoesel, there just aren’t very many tales of the supernatural when it comes to Christian fiction. So if for no other reason, I scooped up this book as soon as I discovered it.
But just so you know, AViS isn’t Kerry’s first book. He’s got a bunch of other sci-fi/speculative fiction just waiting to be scooped up as well. At the end of this blog post, I’ll be sure to list Kerry’s Amazon author page, as well as his website so you can check them all out. But for now, let’s get to the meet of this post. Recently, I had a chance to talk with Kerry about AViS, his other titles, writing, and all kinds of interesting stuff. Here’s what he had to say:
1) You’re probably so tired of this question already, but let’s face it…it’s the obvious one to ask first. You know my readers want to know. Everyone wants to know. Amish Vampires in Space. What can you tell us about the genesis of this story? How on earth did you ever come up with the idea?
LOL. Well, maybe if I answer it in a different way, it won’t seem so tired. I have an Amish uncle that everyone thought had died, but it turned out he had been transported to another world ruled by vampires. There he fell in love with a vampire princess and—
Why are you shaking your head?
Okay, fine, the short answer is that there was this joke title that my publisher had been talking about for years at conferences. A title that, given the wild success of both Amish and vampire fiction, was sure to be a success: Amish Vampires in Space.
The title got me thinking about how such a situation would occur. I took it as a challenge to write a straight sci-fi story that could mash up all three genres and still have some depth. It is a matter of opinion as to whether I succeeded or not. But I think I did. I’m proud of it, in fact.
2) Let’s assume the title of AViS isn’t self-explanatory. Let’s pretend for a minute that I haven’t already shared the book description in the blog post above. In your own words, what is Amish Vampires in Space about? Who are some of the characters to look out for?
AViS is about a number of things, but primarily it is about the conflict of self-preservation and the protection of ones loved ones versus the adherence to tradition. That’s the idea that drew me to the story: What happens when you put a group of agrarian pacifists in a ship with a very real threat from which they cannot escape?
3) What a lot of people might not know is that AViS is actually considered “Christian Speculative Fiction”. As a sometimes writer of Christian speculative fiction myself, I know how fickle some Christian fiction fans can be. What has the general consensus been regarding the book from Christian fans? What about people not generally fans of Christian fiction?
Among those that have actually read the book the reaction has been generally positive. There are folks that still think it should’ve been campy, and those that can’t get over the title or cover, but there are also some really ardent supporters as well. (For which I’m eternally grateful.)
The most fulfilling thing for me, though, has been the acceptance of the book by people who aren’t generally Christian fiction fans. I’ve made some really neat connections that way—in fact, I had one of Weird Al’s biggest fans tweet me kudos on the nod we included to Amish Paradise on the cover. I actually didn’t know we’d done that until I looked back at the lyrics. What do you know? He’s right!
4) So as the video I posted above shows, AViS made it onto the Tonight Show! Even though the bit seemed to poke a little fun at it, how did it make you feel seeing your book on national (and maybe international) TV like that?
I still can’t quite believe that happened. Let’s face it, for a writer there is nothing cooler than seeing your book on the Tonight Show desk. It’s incredible. And while it was on Fallon’s “Do not read” list, what he said was actually a backhanded compliment. I even sent him a shirt.
Plus, sales for the month doubled because of the mention, so yeah, no complaints here.
5) Now before anyone thinks that you have a vendetta against the Amish…or vampires…let’s just say that AViS isn’t your first book. You’ve got quite a few under your belt. And they all look spectacular. Why don’t you tell us a little about some of them? If you had to choose just ONE of your books (besides AViS) for someone to read, which would it be and why?
Yes, AViS is my sixth book, actually. My first was a memoire of my days in the software industry called FoxTales. My first novel—part of a trilogy—was titled A Star Curiously Singing. The trilogy takes place in a future under sharia law. The main character is this techno slave named Sandfly. Then I have a short standalone, Mask, that speculates a future Seattle where everything is determined by a vote. The main character is named Radial, and he’s a collector. He comes to take you away when you’re voted out. If I were to pick just one book it would probably be A Star Curiously Singing. Hard not to have a special place for firsts, I guess.
6) Influences! We all love hearing about author influences…so tell us some of yours. Who are your biggest inspirations in regards to writing? Which authors do you read for the pure pleasure of it? Which authors would you hope would read Amish Vampires in Space if given the chance?
I’ve been a reader most of my life, so I have a lot of favorites. Most of my inspirations are sci-fi writers—Burroughs, Bradbury, Asimov, Pohl, Crichton. One of my favorite living sci-fi writers is Jack McDevitt. I really appreciate how he writes the grandeur and mystery of space. He’d also have to be my choice for who to read it too, since he’s…um…still available. Stephen King would be a fun choice too, as would some of the Christian spec-fic luminaries like Frank Peretti or Tosca Lee.
7) When you’re not writing, what are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a father of three with not a lot of free time. That said, I do like to go to the movies and play video games. My current favorite game is another genre bender: Plants versus Zombies, Garden Warfare.
8) The final question is the same one I ask every author I interview…if you were allowed to offer only one piece of sage wisdom to aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
Persevere. You aren’t going anywhere in this business unless you’re willing to stick at it, and what I’ve learned this time out is that perseverance is equally important after the book is released. I used to think it was just for getting it written and published, but now…yeah, it is for anytime. There were many times during this AViS road where it would’ve been easy to give up—especially when the new Marcher Lord Press owner said he didn’t want the book going forward and I had to scramble to self-publish. Hanging in there seems to have paid off, though. 😉
Thank you so much, Kerry, for taking the time to answer a few questions. I truly wish you the very best in all you do.
And readers and friends…please check out Kerry’s amazing assortment of books (especially AMISH VAMPIRES IN SPACE!!!). I have a feeling that if you enjoy great sci-fi or are just a really big fan of vampires, you’ll love it.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kerry-Nietz/e/B001K7TFGM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1395725767&sr=8-2-ent
Kerry Nietz’s website: http://www.nietz.com/