We’re excited to have an author who we affectionately call “The Founding Father.” What started out as a joke has now become a thing. And when you get to know Kerry Nietz, you find that in spite of it all, he’s just a regular, albeit interesting, guy. Find out a bit more about him in our interview!
First, for those who may not know, who is this Kerry Nietz fellow?
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 is the author of several award-winning novels, including A Star Curiously Singing, Freeheads, and Amish Vampires in Space.
Into the Mind . . .
What was your favorite movie as a child?
Star Wars was an early favorite. Before that it was probably something equally speculative, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or The Wizard of Oz.
How many books have you read so far this year?
Ten! I tend to review them after I read them too. Check the right side of my library page here: http://nietz.com/Library.htm
I am. Back when I was studying to be a programmer in college—back in the Jurassic period—programming students would submit their projects (via a special PC) to a large mainframe computer and then wait, sometimes as much as an hour, for the results to be printed and filed.
There was an arcade in the same building as the computer lab, so I got into the habit of spending my waiting time playing video games. It was a good way to reset my mind following a difficult task. That habit persists in my writing routine today. After my writing is done, I often spend time gaming. Still works the same mental magic.
I’m a big Halo player since the first version, but lately I’ve been playing the second Plants versus Zombies: Garden Warfare (PvZ:GW2) game. It is great fun, plus it is hard to get overly upset when you’re killed by a giggling sunflower.
Would you rather live in Middle-Earth, Tatooine, or aboard the Starship Enterprise?
In Middle-Earth you always have to worry about something wanting to eat you, burn you, or stomp on you. Tatooine has the heat, sand, and hives “of scum and villainy.” So, it is the shielded, air-conditioned Enterprise for me.
How many books did you write before being published?
My history here is a little odd, because the first book I wrote, a memoire called FoxTales, was published a few years after I wrote it. In the meantime, and then afterwards, I wrote five novels that never found covers. My first published novel, A Star Curiously Singing, was my sixth (and I thought, my last) attempt.
Frayed is a return to the world of my first trilogy, the DarkTrench Saga, which started with A Star Curiously Singing. That series has a really unique, ultra-cool, cyberpunk-meets-sharia law setting. The main characters are debuggers, humans who have implants in their brains to connect them to the technology of their world. That implant also influences their actions. It is a world of robots, artificial intelligences, and nascent space travel. It is large enough to hold dozens of stories.
I hadn’t thought of going back there, though, until Ben Wolfe challenged me to write a flash fiction story for his speculative magazine, Havok. The first idea that popped into my mind was to write another story in the DarkTrench world, but with a different protagonist—another insecure and near-forgotten debugger. That thousand-word story was enough to get my mental wheels spinning that direction again. Next thing I knew, I’d constructed another novel, and possibly started another series.
Some of the inspiration for Frayed came from a memoire I read a few years back: I Was Saddam’s Son. That story was about a young man who was chosen to be the body double for Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday. It gives this harrowing look inside Saddam’s regime from the perspective of an unwitting outsider. My main character, ThreadBare, finds himself in a similar situation.
What is the #1 writer’s resource that you cannot live without?
The support of family and friends.
Let’s face it, writing is problematic. Composing a story is laborious and time consuming. Perfecting it is stressful, painful, and filled with trepidation. Then when you’re finished, it still might not be published—but even if it is, your heart will be slowly bled dry by poor reviews and/or abysmal sales. No one may care, and those that do, might absolutely hate it!
(Wow, that’s depressing. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah…)
So, the one resource a writer absolutely needs is people who will support him or her. A group that can commiserate, encourage, and lift up in prayer. Because otherwise, it’ll kill you.
What was your first novel about?
A Star Curiously Singing is about this debugger named Sandfly. He’s sent into orbit to solve the mystery of why a robot destroyed itself. Along the way he learns…other things…
The eBook is free right now if you want to check it out. It is on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and Apple iBooks.
What is one piece of writing advice someone has given you that actually helped you?
When I was still a coder, I happened to sit beside an elderly author on a plane. After I mentioned I’d like to write someday, he said, “Start early. You might get published before you die.”
For good or bad, that lit the spark in me. I’ve been actively writing ever since.