Where Readers & Writers Connect
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At Readers’ Realm, we believe that writers must first be readers. Do you enjoy reading?
Oh yes, I’ve been a reader all my life. In fact, some of my favorite moments in grade school were paging through that scholastic book catalog the teacher handed out. Trying to figure out all the books I wanted, and then trying to figure out how to get my parents to get them for me. Looking back, I’m surprised they supported my reading habit as much as they did, because I know there were times when money was tight. I read every book they ever bought me, though. (And I still have many of them—saved for my children.) The money wasn’t wasted.
What genres do you read most? Who are your favorite authors, and what makes them special to you?
I read all across the spectrum, though my favorite genre is science fiction. There is so much freedom there to wrestle with big ideas. And It is amazing the variety that can be found within a single category of fiction. Everything from the Hunger Games to Dune to the works of Michael Crichton.
If I were to put it into a single word, I think it would be “resonance.” I love the authors that not only entertain, but inform and challenge. I have too many favorites to list, but if you happen to read one of the books in my DarkTrench saga, you’ll find some of the names there. They’re used as swear words.
When did you decide you wanted to write?
I don’t know if I can remember a specific time I decided to write, as I’ve be playing with the idea since I started reading. (My mother has scraps of stories I wrote when I was very young.)
The event that focused me on getting a book published, though, happened on an airplane. I was flying from Detroit to Seattle and happened to sit beside an elderly gentlemen who told me he was a writer. “I’m one of the rarest of breeds,” he said, “in that, I’m a published writer.”
I mentioned to him that I wanted to write a book “someday”.
“Well start early,” he said. “You might get published before you die.”
It wasn’t long after that that I bought a computer and started writing. (I worked for Microsoft at the time, but surprisingly didn’t have a machine at home.) It took quite a few years before I got a book published, but I’m happy to say I’ve been through the experience multiple times now.
So I guess I exceeded his challenge.
How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?
I think I’ve written nine book-length manuscripts. Four have been published, and another I hope to have published within the next year or so. I have a published short story in the Ether Ore anthology, as well.
How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?
I rarely do research to begin with. Typically my books begin with a couple key mental images and a theme for what the book is about. As the book progresses, I do research as the plot requires—especially if it starts to wander into science, or belief systems, or technology that I’m not fully versed in. This happened a lot with the DarkTrench trilogy, as it takes place in a future world under sharia (Islamic) law, yet also has lots of high tech and astronomy. I did research in all those areas, hopefully enough to give it an authentic feel.
What genre do you usually write? What made you choose that genre?
Christian speculative fiction, specifically Christian science fiction.
To be honest, I think it chose me. Yes, I have a computer science degree with a minor in science (filled with astronomy and physics classes) but I’ve written stories in different genres. I even had a non-fiction work entitled FoxTales traditionally published. The science fiction stories seem to be the ones that are really moving people, though. It’ll be interesting to see where I’m at five years from now.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest book is entitled Freeheads, and it is the conclusion of the DarkTrench trilogy that began with A Star Curiously Singing. That first book centered on this future “fix-it man” named Sandfly. He is essentially a techno-slave in a future where the whole world is under sharia law. So, if the master’s robot breaks down, Sandfly is the guy who is sent in to fix it. As part of his lot in life, Sandfly has an implant in his head that not only helps connect him to the machines in his world, but also controls his behavior to an extent. Keeps him obedient to the rules.
During the course of A Star Curiously Singing, Sandfly comes to the realization that certain truths of his universe might not be exactly as he’s always been taught. The second book (The Superlative Stream) follows his pursuit of that new knowledge, and Freeheads sort of brings that knowledge home. The trilogy is a Moses story, of sorts.
I don’t want to give away more than that, in case someone here wants to read it.
What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Set a specific time for you to write every day, and stick to it. Getting published is primarily about perseverance. You’ll never finish a book if you write only when you’re inspired. It just doesn’t work like that. You have to set a schedule and write during your set time whether you feel like it or not. That’s what I do, and often I’m surprised at how even the “I don’t feel like it” days produce good work.
How did you get your first book published? How long did it take? Was this the first book you had written?
The first book I got published was my memoir, FoxTales, and it actually was the first full length manuscript I’d ever written. It went through some major rewrites along the way, though. Plus it took four years from the time I decided to be a writer, to the time I saw my name on that first cover.
And after that, it took another six years until I was officially a novelist. (A Star Curiously Singing was published in 2009)
So, yeah, perseverance is key.
Thank you for joining us at Readers’ Realm, Kerry. Let’s finish off with a possibly deep question: Why do you write?
I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. I can’t help it. Ask anyone who knows me. That’s just what I do. I like to entertain, inform, and challenge. Just part of how I’m wired.
Reader’s Realm is giving away the Kindle edition of A Star Curiously Singing – Click here to Enter and Win!
For more information about Kerry Nietz and his books, you can check his website:
2011 Readers Favorite Finalist for Science Fiction and Christian Fiction
2011 EPIC Book Award Finalist for Science Fiction
2010 INSPY Book Award Shortlist for Speculative Fiction
2010 Indie Book Awards Finalist in both Science Fiction and Religious Fiction categories