Kerry Nietz is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits, first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates’s minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile and a movie buff. He has one non-fiction book, a memoir entitled FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software. Amish Vampires in Space is his fifth novel.
What was the inspiration for your story?
Amish Vampires in Space was an intriguing mental challenge for me. It was like grabbing three seemingly unrelated ideas out of a hat and trying to find a way to connect them.
The inspiration came from a joke title my former publisher (who has since sold the company) used to throw around at writers’ conferences. Since his was a speculative fiction house, he used to say that the only Amish fiction he was interested in was something on the order of Amish Vampires in Space. He even sent his authors a mock cover of the idea. At some point I told him someone should write that book. I didn’t think it was me, because it seemed campy and that’s not what I typically do.
Then I got some ideas about how it all might work and not be campy. I started writing. When I reached the 30,000 word mark I let him know what I was doing. He encouraged me to continue—with no guarantees of it being published, of course. When I finished writing, over 100,000 words later, I sent the manuscript to him. He liked what he read, and here we are.
What kept you going throughout the writing process?
Perseverance. It is the primary advice I give starting writers: You have to persevere. There are few aspects of a writer’s life that don’t require unrelenting consistency. With the writing itself you need to have that time when you write every day (or every weekday) and the goal you’re looking to achieve and you need to do it. Every time.
Who is your most meaningful character and why?
Though there are many important characters in this story, it is primarily about Jebediah. It is his journey. He’s a product of his culture, yet he’s faced with a situation where to survive and protect those he loves, he may need to forsake certain aspects of that culture. So it is not only a physical struggle, but a mental and spiritual one, as well.
Can we expect to hear more from these characters in the near future?
I think so, yes. Though there is a fair amount of closure at the end of the book, there are still some unanswered questions. Plus, the characters intrigue me. I want to know what happens to them next. I’m over 70,000 words into a sequel now. I’m hopeful it will turn into some good.
How has this story touched your life?
It has certainly brought more attention than anything I’ve ever written. It has been mentioned on Twitter nearly every day since it was first published, now ten months ago. There have been lots of interviews, multiple mentions in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, an article in the Washington Post, a mention on Dave Barry’s blog, and a mention on the Tonight Show by Jimmy Fallon.
Most importantly, though, it has allowed me to meet a lot of interesting people and make a bunch of new friends. That’s always a good thing.
What motivated you to start writing?
It is something I’ve always wanted to do. I was a big reader as a kid and often tried my hand at writing even then. My mother still finds scraps of things I wrote. Little abandoned reveries.
The final push came on a plane trip over fifteen years ago now. I happened to sit beside an elderly gentleman who identified himself as a writer. “And I’m one of those most uncommon creatures,” he said. “I’m a published writer!”
When I told him that I’d always wanted to write, he said “Well, start early. You might get published before you die.” Shortly thereafter I bought a laptop and started actively writing. My first book was published in 2003.