Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kerry Nietz Visits The BookShelf

Please welcome Kerry Nietz to the Barn Door Book Loft.

Kerry says he 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. Mask is his fourth novel.

Is there a story behind your book Mask?

My story ideas always come from a variety of sources. After finishing the DarkTrench trilogy, where the character was a “thinker,” I really wanted to do a high-action story where the protagonist was more of a “doer.”

And for a while I’ve had this germ of an idea about a guy who is this government-backed armored people hunter, who at some point has a change of heart. I thought something about who he was sent to collect would contribute to that change. I even had the start of a poem that would come to me every time I thought about the story: I am the mask. The mask is me…

Popular culture was an influence, as well. All the things we can vote on today—from popular reality shows, to a simple “like” or “dislike” on Facebook. Then there’s the fact that so many people now vote in elections purely out of self-interest. The “what’s in it for me” meme.

There were many classic sci-fi stories that informed Mask, as well.

What started you on your writing journey?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have some story idea bouncing around in my head—scraps of something written on notebooks or stored in computer files.

The pivot point came when I was still working in the software industry. I was on a plane traveling from Ohio to Washington and just happened to sit beside an elderly gentleman who was a published writer. It was a great conversation—me just picking his brain about his life. At one point I mentioned that I wanted to have a book published someday. His response was simple: “Well, start early. You might get published before you die.”

That was when I started thinking about writing fulltime.

  What distracts you from writing the easiest?

The Internet! It is necessary evil in a writer’s life. On the one hand, it is an invaluable tool for research, networking, and marketing. On the other hand, it is like a flashing light in the periphery of your visiondistracting you when you need to focus.

 What kind of books do you enjoy reading? 

Science fiction is certainly a favorite, but I enjoy all genres of books, both fiction and non-fiction. I maintain a list of books I’ve read and reviewed here using a Shelfari widget.
I’m also a Vine reviewer on Amazon, and cross post my reviews on Goodreads, as well.

So, if you’re interested in what I’ve read lately (or over the last few years) the information is readily available.

What is your favorite season of the year?

If it weren’t for the leaves, it would be autumn. I just really like the outdoors when it is still warm enough to walk without a coat, and the colors are starting to change. The mosquitos are gone, humidity is low…it is just a pleasant time of the year for me.

Unfortunately, we live in a woods, so much of my time in late fall is consumed with leaf collection. It is pretty epic.

The kids like the piles, though.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about

All my books start with theme, really. I think it is the most important part of the story, the thing that gives it resonance.

My earlier trilogy, the DarkTrench Saga, was all about the nature of God and Christianity in relation to other belief systems.

In Mask, the themes are much more subtle, because it is primarily an action piece. Ultimately, it is about the responsibilities of self-governance, and the value of human life.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)  

The first verse that comes to mind is Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Though I come across as easygoing to most people, I inherited a tendency for worry from my paternal grandmother. That verse helps me keep things in perspective.

It also makes it clear that there is an effort of our own will necessary when worries come our way. We need to consciously give them to God. It is a good thing to remember.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

LOL. My next book is something really different: Amish Vampires in Space.

The idea started as a bit of a joke. Amish romances have been popular in Christian fiction for a number of years now. They invariably get good placement in Christian bookstores, while speculative fiction typically gets stuffed in a corner somewhere. And even then it is usually just the Narnia novels with a Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti thrown in for good measure.

Anyway, a few years back my publisher made up this mock cover for the breakthrough speculative novel, and it was titled Amish Vampires in Space. It featured ladies in bonnets with fangs…and a spaceship.

I told him that someone should write that book. I wasn’t sure if I could write it, because the title suggests camp, and as a hard sci-fi guy, I would want to do it as if it could actually happen.

Then one day I got an idea about how it all might work. I started writing. Now I’m about 60,000 words in. It is a bit of a challenge—quite different than anything I’ve written before—but I think I can pull it off. Hope I can. The goal is to release this fall. (My favorite season!)

Purchase the book:

Or ask your local library to order it in for you!

Kery Nietz  has agreed to give away a copy of his novel, MASK. 
The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. 
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


bluenichols said...

Would love to win a copy.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to this story! I'd love to win a copy, though I suspect I'll still buy one too. :)

Abbi Hart said...

This book sounds really interesting! I haven't heard of it before but now I'm intrigued! I'd love to win a copy!

Kerry Nietz said...

Thanks for commenting, everyone! Abbi, Mary and blue--you're entered!

Teela said...

Kerry, your book jacket sur makes one do a double take (or as I was doing, trying to enlarge it so that I could see the "MASK" better!....ooohhhhhheeeerie....

Aaron DeMott said...

Amish... vampires...???

Sam Graber said...

Software Programmer and writer, that's a good combination. Hopefully that's where I'll be in a year or two.

Kerry Nietz said...

Teela, the cover was created by Kirk DouPonce of and I think he did a stellar job.

Aaron...:) Well, yes, anything is possible in science fiction...

Sam, thanks. There are many simularities between the two fields. More than most people would suspect. I hope you achieve your goal!

Thanks for commenting everyone!

Kathrine Roid said...

I read the series back when it first came out, and found this giveaway when I decided to see what you were currently up to. Amish Vampires in Space is neck-and-neck with Amish Vampire End-Times fiction for genre mash-up awesomeness.

I'd love to win a copy of Mask. :) giveaways [at] fb [dot] pierian [dash] spring [dot] net

Kathrine Roid said...

To clarify: I meant the DarkTrench series. Although you don't have any other series I could be referring to, so I suppose that was not too unclear. XD

Kerry Nietz said...

Thanks, Kathrine. If you're on Facebook, like my author page to keep up with what I'm doing. (I try to update my website fairly regularly too.)

As for AVS, I'm hoping for some awesomeness. There really is some interesting themes to be explored there. Hoping I can do it justice.

You're entered!

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