http://www.acfw.com/ to find the link. Welcome, Kerry. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I spent a good chunk of my life as a programmer in the software industry, first at a company called Fox Software and then for Microsoft. The main character in A Star Curiously Singing is this technologically-enhanced man (named Sandfly) whose entire life is spent fixing machines. So, clearly there is a part of me in Sandfly. The pressures he faces—trying to solve difficult problems, deadlines, having the boss breathing down your neck—are all very familiar to me.
There are many differences between us too, though. Sandfly is bald, for instance.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I was in a Whirlyball league for like two seasons. Maybe not too quirky, but there can’t be that many people who play sports involving bumper cars, trackball scoops, whiffle balls and electrified floors.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
About the same time I discovered I was a reader. My mother still finds scraps of things I wrote when I was a kid—the beginnings of stories. I didn’t get serious about it until much, much later, though.
In my early thirties, I happened to sit beside an elderly gentleman on a plane who was a published writer. When I mentioned that I hoped to write a book someday, he said “Well, start early! You might get published before you die.” I took that as a sign. I’ve been hacking away at something ever since.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Though science fiction is a preference, I read a broad range of books. In fact, I tend to alternate between non-fiction books and novels. In non-fiction, I read everything from biographies, to current events, to politics and works to encourage my faith. Some of my favorite fictional authors are: Michael Crichton, Jack Mcdevitt, Frank Peretti, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have another published work, a non-fiction book entitled FoxTales. It is a memoir of my first years in the software industry. Twas a crazy, crazy time. I also have about a half-dozen books in my personal slush stack. Some are pretty good, others are just stepping stones—learning experiences—that brought me to where I am today.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I work out regularly. Normally three times a week. It is a habit I started almost twenty years ago. I’m also in the habit of having a daily quiet time, no matter how hectic life seems to be. Lastly, I think my family keeps me sane. Anything that makes me laugh that much has to be good for me.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Similar to how many people figure out which Bible verse to read for the day. I let the dictionary fall open, stick my finger on a word, and voila, character name!
Actually I find two words, slap them together, and call that my character name. That method only works for A Star Curiously Singing, though, because the characters live in a future where the rules for naming have changed. I have pretty unusual character names: Sandfly, HardCandy, TallSpot…
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Of course, it is. Just holding that book in your hands for the first time is a special thrill. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
This isn’t one of those psychological profile questions is it? Because that’s way too much information to be giving out on the Internet.
Alright, just to confuse the judges, I’d like to be something mythical. Perhaps a were-rabbit.
My readers really like the fun questions. What is your favorite food?
Hey, my workout partners could be reading this! Do I want them to know that I can’t resist ice cream in any form, especially if it has candy in it? Heck no!
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Getting someone to pay attention to all the insight I was trying to bestow on the world. Actually, that might still be a problem…especially after this interview.
If you’re asking technically, I’m sure my publisher would say I skimp on description. That’s a fairly common problem, though. The solution is to have someone read over your work with a discerning eye. Someone brave enough to say: “Turn the lights on in this scene. I can’t see anything!”
I love a person why says that. Actually, I teach workshops on how to include description in books without overwhelming or boring the reader. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Start early. You might get published before you die.
Tell us about the featured book.
A Star Curiously Singing is a speculative Christian novel with a decidedly cyberpunk feel. It takes place in a future hundreds of years from now, where much of the world is living under something akin to sharia law.
It is dualistic society, where average people live on the streets in near-squalor and the powerful ride above them in cable-car-like conveyances. This latter group is shrouded in high tech, to the point of needing specialized debuggers to handle their machines.
That’s where my protagonist comes in. Sandfly is a debugger who’s summoned to solve the mystery of why a bot malfunctioned. The unusual circumstance? The bot has been to space. Deep space. Something about the trip made it malfunction…
Please give us the first page of the book.
I’ll do better than that; I can give you the first couple chapters!
Just go to: www.marcherlordpress.com/A_Star_Curiously_Singing.htm
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Either http://www.kerrynietz.com/ or http://www.nietz.com/ will work. (That’s right; I own the whole Nietz domain. I’m holding the entire family hostage!)
Thank you, Kerry, for spending this time with us. I look forward to the ACFW Book Club discussion of your book.
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