Welcome back, Kerry. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Yes, I think that’s true. I’ve been grateful for the positive support my books have gotten so far. At last count the first book of the series (A Star Curiously Singing) has forty-seven 5-star reviews on Amazon. The first two books have both been finalist in numerous award contests, and last year ASCS was the Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal Award winner in the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy category.
I can only see that as God’s blessings. Especially since I never thought the first book would be published. Typically “Christian” and “Science Fiction” are two circles that don’t intersect. A real hard sell to a publishing house.
As for the future, I hope to keep writing stories that people will enjoy. Stories from a Christian worldview that still have a little “weird” in them. J Thankfully, the advent of micro-publishers like my publisher, Marcher Lord Press, means there is an outlet for those types of stories.
Tell us a little about your family.
Sure. My wife’s name is Leah and we’ve been married for nearly ten years. We have three children, ages six, five, and one. They keep us busy. In addition, we have an ancient cat that we would forget we had if she wasn’t so vocal at mealtimes.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
My reading is more focused on speculative fiction now than it ever was before. Some of that is because I like to study other stories and storytellers. To both learn from what others have written, and to keep my own writing fresh and unique.
Much of my genre focus too comes from publishers and authors asking me to review their speculative titles. Sometimes that’s for the review itself, and other times it’s because they want a cover recommendation. (I consider both an honor.)
Probably the largest overall change in my reading habits is that I try to review everything I read. I almost don’t feel like I’ve finished a book until I’ve written about it. J Plus, I know how important reviews are in today’s online book-buying world. I like helping other writers succeed.
As you know, I do, too. What are you working on right now?
I have a couple stories I’m bouncing around on. Both speculative. Both science fiction. I’m not sure if the bouncing is a good sign or not. I spent nearly four years of my life in the world of the DarkTrench Saga. I felt like I knew the characters and situations intimately. Now I need to find another story to grab my interests. At times it is a struggle.
What outside interests do you have?
At this point family clearly takes a good share of my time. Our kids are young enough that someone always has to be supervising. I relish that, though. I was in my late thirties when our first child was born. So I was ready to be a father. Plus, they’re delightful and interesting little people. A bit trying at times, but also surprising and incredibly distinct. Like the best books you’ve ever read.
I’m also a regular at the gym. In fact, last year I participated in the
5K Pump and Run. It is this bench press and running competition. (An odd mix, I
know.) You bench a percentage of your body weight as many times as you can and
then you go out and run a 5K. Each rep on the bench takes 30 seconds off your
final running time. There were over 800 people signed up last year, and I
finished somewhere in the middle. Not bad considering I was never an athlete in
Aside from that I’m a movie buff and a bit of a video game player. Mostly Halo. I have dozens of friends on Xbox Live with names like DaBest, MasterPhoenix and RockAndRoller. Ages unknown, but I suspect most are younger than me.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I don’t give a lot of thought to setting. It just sort of comes for free.
My stories start with images. For instance, A Star Curiously Singing came from a series of images. One was of this future robot analyst/repairman sitting in a room talking to a robot. Trying to verbally diagnose it.
Another image was of that same robot in pieces on a spaceship floor. So then I realized this robot must’ve gotten damaged on a deep space mission, and this analyst fellow must have put it back together and is now trying to understand what went wrong. Next I realized this space ship was a new design, and the place where the analysis was occurring was a space station.
So there I had two important settings: a special ship, and a space station.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
For a Christian like me the obvious answer is Jesus, but unlike other people from history, we can spend time with Him, not just for an evening, but any old time of the day. That’s the beauty of our relationship. Jesus is always available.
Given that, I guess I’d say George Washington. I think much of what he was and did is lost to modern
. As are the lives and
sacrifices of all the founding fathers. It would be great to just sit with America and hear the
stories that were significant to him. To hear how his faith directed and
supported him. Washington
That would be awesome. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
How important marketing is, and how much of the responsibility for that marketing falls squarely on the author’s shoulders. Most of us technology/science fiction guys aren’t, by nature, extroverts. (Ever see the sitcom The Big Bang Theory?) We’re more comfortable dealing with internal worlds—computers or fictional worlds—than we are the world outside. So trying to become an expert marketer is difficult.
Marketing is so important in today’s world, though. And I’m learning. It would’ve been nice to know in advance what a large percentage of time marketing takes, though. I might’ve taken a few classes. J
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
I recently read the book Radical by David Platt. In it the author makes a strong case that American Christians—with our large churches and constant striving for more and more stuff—have largely missed the point of the Gospel. That we’ve surrendered the mission of the Church to the altar of the “American Dream.”
It is difficult to read that book and not be convicted in some way. So I guess I’m still digesting what I read and trying to figure out what that means for me in this New Year. It’ll be interesting to see where the Lord leads.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Write whether you feel like it or not. You’ll be surprised how often even the “bad” days turn out good work.
Writing is a faith walk. So think of it that way. No, you may not know how it is all going to end, or what situations will happen along the way. But God does. So start walking, start writing, and eventually you’ll get there.
Don’t let the negative reviews outweigh the good. And don’t think everyone will love your work. You’re not writing for everyone. You’re (hopefully) writing to please God. Remember, even Jesus had critics. You will too.
Tell us about the featured book.
Freeheads is the third and final book in the DarkTrench Saga, which began with A Star Curiously Singing. In the second book, a couple of the characters were in space, essentially searching for the truth about God. This third book follows their return to Earth, and what they do with what they’ve learned. Of course, some things have changed since they left, and some things haven’t.
At some level, the DarkTrench Saga resembles the life of Moses, wrapped in a cyberpunk meets sharia (Islamic) law veneer. I’ve taken many of the standard sci-fi tropes—robots, extreme technology, a dystopian future, space travel, alien intelligences, reluctant heroes—and tried to put my own unique spin on them. I think it is lots of fun, but I hope it also has deep meaning. That was my goal, anyway.
Please give us the first page of the book.
2000 AH, Day 62, 9:23:42 a.m.
In a digital mind the simplest thing is a “bit.” It is the smallest divisible part, just like we used to think the atom was in the physical world. Consequently, bits are important. The machine revolves around them. Everything is measured in bits, or in the thousands of them.
A single bit has a value, and that value can be either one or zero. Or—to revert to the electronics from which computers take their substance—either “on” or “off.” Power is traveling through the bit, or it is not.
It wasn’t until after the first computers were created that we realized that they—in at least one way—approximated our own brains. In the human brain, the simplest thing is a “neuron.” It is the smallest divisible part. That neuron has a value. It is either firing or not firing. Reacting or not reacting.
The power is either on or off…
DarkTrench lets out a singular shriek on the stream, wrenching me from my reverie. Seated in the ship’s nest, alone, I check the screen in front of me and then pan the rest of the room’s screens. Looking for an answer. All show a spinning metallic “DT”, DarkTrench’s approximation of sleep.
At the front of the room, on both sides of the curved central screen, the diamond-shaped panels are slid back. Beyond them I can see the light tunnel we travel in. It billows as we carve through the light-years. Space is an afterthought to the ship, an empty annoyance in our swirling pathway home.
“What is it, Trench?”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is www.kerrynietz.com, or www.nietz.com. I’m also on a number of social networks. There is a graphical list of them at the bottom of my website home page.
Thank you, Kerry, for giving us another peek into your world.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Freeheads - paperback
Freeheads (The Dark Trench Saga) - Kindle
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