Is anyone else out there as interested as me to find out where the idea for Amish Vampires in Space originated? Well, you’re in luck! Author Kerry Nietz is here to answer all my probing questions. And he brought something for us–an excerpt from the legendary book itself! Without further ado, here’s Kerry…
Kerry, we’re so excited to have you on the blog today! Thanks for coming by and talking to us. Let’s start with the first question I ask everyone who stops by: Do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?
Hmm…probably the former. I see the difference as being one of intent. I take “Christian author” to mean a storyteller that happens to be a Christian, while “author of Christian fiction” seems more like someone who intends to write a story that will earn the label “Christian.” But that one is difficult to define too, because something that is “Christian” to one person may not necessarily be “Christian” to another.
Of course, my publisher, Marcher Lord Press, is billed as “the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction” so I clearly fit inside the “Christian” label as they define it.
As an author I don’t necessarily set out to write a Christian book. My intent is to tell a story, and to address a particular theme. Now usually that theme flows from my worldview, and I absolutely want to glorify the Lord and his purposes in what I do. But mostly, I like to tell stories. Ask anyone who knows me. That’s how I communicate: “Let me tell you what happened today…”
I think the question everyone asks when they see your book is what led you to write it. Care to comment?
Yeah, I get that one a lot.
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 a sure hit. It was a joke he shared 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 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 here we are.
In my review, I said that AViS was “strangely plausible.” Which was harder for you, to write about the Amish or to create a realistic source for vampires?
Good question! The Amish portion surprised me. I grew up in a rural farming community, so I had a good feel for what it was like to live for the harvest and raise animals and whatnot. Plus the church I grew up in was really tied to that community. You might bale hay with your youth pastor, or hoe fields for your Sunday school teacher. So I had some sense of what that sort of community was like, but without the horses and buggies. To fill in the gaps I researched the particulars of Amish beliefs and ceremonies. I was still concerned that I might be missing it altogether or have a plot point that hinged on something outside the Amish experience.
So I had an Amish romance writer—someone who’s written dozens of those sorts of books—read my story. (This person won’t let me reveal his/her real name, so I’ll just call them Dutch Wolf.) Dutch had some great recommendations for making the Amish in my story feel more Amish, but most of his suggestions were terminology things. Language usage. (“Nee” instead of “No,” for instance.) Little changes here and there. No major cultural or plot problem. So, I got a lot closer than I expected there, thankfully. I mean, I’m a science fiction guy.
I couldn’t find any vampire experts to read over my stuff, though. 🙂 So I was sort of on my own there.
I knew from the start that I wanted to create “science fiction” vampires, as opposed to the more fantastical ones found in the novels by Stephanie Meyer and Anne Rice. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is one of the few examples where there are true sci-fi vampires. Coincidentally, it is also one of my favorite books. So my goal was to emulate what he did, without copying his ideas. I’m glad you found it plausible. The Lord always helps me with these sorts of things too. Giving me the right scientific idea at the right time
I understand that AViS is the first of a series. What can you tell us about the other books and when can we expect to see them on the shelves?
LOL. Now that’s news to me. Who have you been talking to?
Seriously, my publisher and I haven’t had any real discussion about creating a series. Anything is a possibility, of course, and AViS certainly leaves some questions left unanswered. Questions that I want answers to.
But for right now, it is a standalone title. Like anything in this business, a lot depends on sales. If the public seems to be begging for more, we’ll write more. I’d like it if that happened.
Hmm. I must have seen the cover for Vein Pursuit and assumed there was a series. And now I’m starting rumors. LOL! But seriously, what are you planning to work on next?
Whew, I don’t know right now. This year has been a really busy one for me, writing-wise. I had a smaller novel, Mask, release in February, and I also rereleased my non-fiction title, FoxTales, this summer. I also helped create a curriculum guide for A Star Curiously Singing with another talented writer, Mary Agius.
And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?
If you’re at all interested in Christian speculative fiction, then Amish Vampires in Space is a good place to start. Aside from my story, there are samples from other Marcher Lord Press books included—three in the print book, and six in the eBook. I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoy. After you enjoy AViS, of course. 🙂
Thank you so much, Kerry! It’s nice to see the man behind the fangs–I mean,
kapp suspenders. 😀 Before you go, where can we find you on the web?
I also have an author page on Facebook that I frequent. Here’s that address for that: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kerry-Nietz/195064863396
Kerry also left us with a gift! The first page from his novel, Amish Vampires in Space.
It was a weight, really. Something the songs of church service couldn’t lighten. Even daily prayers and scripture reading were no help. It was always present. Always hidden.
“It is Gelassenheit,” his father had said. “Surrendering yourself for others.”
So Jeb bore the weight. It was God’s will. Like Abraham tying Isaac to the altar. We hold the knife with the faith that God will stop us from using it.
With a groan, Jebediah pushed his way out of bed. Beside him, Sarah sighed and rolled his direction. Even with the passage of decades, she still appeared as beautiful to him as when they married. A day twenty years ago now. Her in a simple white dress and kapp. He in his best black suit. Family and friends, similarly attired. A simpler time. A happier time. An early spring.
Before the secret had passed to him.
“Is it morning so soon?” she whispered.
Jeb smiled. “Ya, it is.”
She made to get out of bed, but Jeb frowned and held out a hand. “Stay in,” he said. “At forty, you’ve earned a few more minutes.”
She put the back of her hand over her mouth and yawned. “So much to do today. The Troyers need breakfast. And Eli will need help with that baby. And the garden.”
Jeb glanced out the bedroom window. The sun had not yet begun to rise. And neither moon. Only a few distant stars and the mass of what was commonly called the Morning Nebbit.
Still very dark. That was a comfort, at least.
Excerpt used by permission. All rights reserved.
Want to keep reading? You’re in luck because I’m giving away some copies. Here’s what you need to do to win:
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