Welcome back today for my first ever interview with author Kerry Nietz. If you did not stop by yesterday, please take a look at my review of A Star Curiously Singing HERE. Since I am new to the game, this will be a bit different from other interviews. I’m okay with that because let’s face it; I am “different” all around.
I conducted my interview via email this week and the answers are so wonderful, I will simply post them as they came back to me. Some of you may have questions of your own for Kerry and if we are fortunate, he may stop by to answer a few.
Same as yesterday, you may post a comment to be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of A Star Curiously Singing. Also remember to post a comment on the review from yesterday to give you a total of two entries. If you want two more, add a link to your Facebook page for each blog post and let me know by posting a link here, sending me a message on Facebook or emailing me (you can find links under my profile). My son Peyton will actually use the time-tested method of pulling the winners’ names out of a hat on August 2nd. All entries must be in by 11:59 eastern time on August 1st to qualify. I will post the name of the winner in the comments section of each blog and on my Facebook wall some time after the sun rises and I have had coffee.
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 three published books: a memoir entitled FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software and Books 1 (A Star Curiously Singing) and 2 (The Superlative Stream) of the DarkTrench Saga. A Star Curiously Singing was a 2010 Indie Book Awards Finalist in both Science Fiction and Religious Fiction categories.
Now, what you have been waiting for…
As you are reading the interview, you will note each question I ask, there is a little picture by my name. This is an anvil. Kerry walks the line with his rebellion and at anytime, I may need to drop it on his head if he gets out of line. Kind of like the NAF version of Sandfly’s implant. If this happens, just ignore his cries for help. He knew what he was getting into when he came here.
Diane – When I wrote my book, the idea came to me like a small spark. Actually it was the image of a beaten and broken girl named Ocilla. Over a few months, it grew into an all consuming blaze that just had to be written for fear of it catching fire to my clothes. I would like to know how Sandfly came to you. Was he the spark the started your story or was it something entirely different that brought you to him?
Kerry – Sandfly was always there in some form. The first image I got of this book, the spark as you put it, was of a future man sitting eyeball to eyeball with a robot and trying to, by discussion, figure out what the bot’s problem is. The next image was of that same robot on a spaceship floor in pieces. After that it was like “Oh, that’s very interesting. Now how did that robot get that way?”
Then my focus turned to that future man. At first I thought he was only a robot psychologist of some sort, but after seeing the broken robot, I realized he was a full service bot technician. Then all my years of programming and some of the “state of the world” books I’d read made their presence known. All downhill from there.
Diane – I have been hit for writing in first person/present tense a time or two in my own writing. It is not always an easy point of view to pull off and it is definitely against the grain. I have heard rumor that Jeff Gerke suggested you use first person for A Star Curiously Singing.
a) First, is this rumor or fact?
Kerry – Though I can give credit to Jeff for many things in my books, the tense choice is not one of them. The very first lines I wrote in A Star Curiously Singing were “It is hard to describe, this buzzing in my head. It wakes me, obviously. But it is hard to clarify for someone like you—someone with a freehead.” They set the tone and tense for the rest of the book.
In my first book, FoxTales, I experimented with first person present tense in the very first chapter. It was my way of bringing the reader into my world as a young programmer and a lot of people liked it. So I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted some day to try and write a whole book that way.
Kerry – So thankfully, I never had to change the POV. Though when I first sent the book to Jeff, I assumed he would make me change the tense…among other things. I knew there were lots of things about the book that were radical and cutting edge. I assumed he would say “the tense is wrong, the subject matter is too controversial, etc.” I was surprised that he didn’t want to change any of those things. In fact, his first words back to me were: “I’m about 40% in. It’s brilliant, my friend.” The kind of thing a writer loves to hear. Especially when he is afraid of the whip. <g>
Kerry – Need? Hmmm…certainly the story could have been told in other ways. I’m not sure they would’ve been as effective, though. Sandfly’s life is so mentally intensive. He’s always trying to think things through. Find solutions.
Plus he’s essentially got the internet flowing through his head. His is a very interrupt driven and fast moving world. He lives in the nanosecond. The first person present tense brings the reader right into that.
Interestingly, I often hear from readers that there is an initial shock that goes along with reading my work. Like their own brain needs to realign a bit to process it. Once their head is in though, they are usually locked in until the very end. Finishing the book in record time.
I think that’s great, awesome! Exactly what I hoped to achieve. Welcome to Sandfly’s world.
a) Have you considered marketing it to Hollywood?
Kerry – I wouldn’t know the first thing about marketing anything to Hollywood. That said, it is hard for me to imagine a good movie being made of my books. First, because so much of them are internal, and movies are by definition an external medium, I think a director would find it hard to emulate most of the real tension in the book.
Second, Hollywood would go all sorts of crazy with my work. Like, I’m sure within the first script rewrite, the principle oppressors would be Christians, and Sandfly would be played by Vin Diesel with funny eyes, or something.
Kerry – Sandfly – someone slight and brooding. Someone like an Edward Norton or Sam Rockwell. However, Sandfly would need to be younger than those guys, and I’ll admit to not knowing a lot of younger actors. Nobody from Twilight or Harry Potter, that’s for sure.
HardCandy – A lady who can look okay without a lot of makeup and completely bald. Hmmm…another tough one. Natalie Portman has certainly pulled off the bald thing, but she might be a little old for HardCandy now.
GrimJack – Grim can have a little meat on him and can be older. Like I almost picture him as Kevin Smith’s character in Live Free or Die Hard. Except not quite as heavy.
Scallop – He’s a bit of a pencil-pushing nebbish. Danny DeVito when he was younger?
TallSpot – A typical leading man. Maybe like a Sam Worthington or Jake Glendenhal. Actually, Jake might be able to pull off Sandfly as well. If he keeps his shirt on.
Handler – Handler is like the consummate bruiser bully with a soft spot. Like Biff from Back to the Future, but reformed.
Bamboo – Ben Kingsley, maybe? A little weathered, with a touch of sinister.
Diane – Speaking of characters, where did you come up with their names? Don’t get me wrong, I love them but they are quite unusual. Are there any great stories that inspired you to name them as you did?
Kerry – The characters named themselves as they arrived on the scene. Sandfly was the only one I gave any real thought to, and it was only a passing association: “Sand = silicon. And he’s sort of the fly in the ointment. OK, Sandfly!”
However, it is interesting to note how many of the names are similar to the types of things you’d see on forums or gaming sites.
Diane – I know from other interviews I have read by you that you are a staunch supporter of an individual’s freedoms granted by the Creator. You go as far as intertwining a gold coin with the Statue of Liberty on it into the story. How important was it for you to put that part of yourself into the story?
Kerry – Yeah, I pretty much bleed red, white and blue. You know, you grow up on a farm, where you can see cornfields for miles, and money is often tight, and then somehow manage to have the experiences and blessings I’ve had throughout my life and you develop (or should develop):
a) A real gratitude to God for having directed and protected you
b) A real love for what’s best about America, and that’s freedom.
c) A solemn respect for what others have done on your behalf to gain and protect that freedom
d) A desire to see it extended and enriched for your own children.
I’ve always said that Sandfly’s world is the future I fear for my children, and in some ways, the books are my attempt to prevent that future.
Diane – I know there are times when I write where I can honestly feel God’s presence around me. I can almost hear him laugh or feel him smile. It is an experience that has altered my relationship with my Lord for the better. Has this book and writing for God’s glory done anything similar for you, Kerry?
Kerry – Oh yeah. I’ve been surprised by how much certain sections move me. First when I write them, and then when I read them back later. Those things happen only by God’s hand. The instances when you’re just the conduit for whatever God has to say.
Plus there have been a fair share of coincidences or deeper meanings that I’ve discovered after having written something. For example, I didn’t know the meaning of the name “Abdul” when I put it in the book. Only later did I discover what it meant and realize how wonderfully it fit the character’s use as slang. Then I went back and put the definition in. That’s only one small example, though.
Even now, while working on the third book, I find little things that drop into the story that initially seem superfluous or only interesting factoids. Then later I’ll discover, “Oh no, that’s there for a reason. Always has been.”
Diane – Towards the end of A Star Curiously Singing, I found myself weeping. That is not a bad thing. I was so moved by one line and honestly it will forever remain in my mind. I quoted it in my review but it is very much worth quoting again.
“He is superlative, true–yet He stoops. He stoops!”
What went through you as you wrote this?
Kerry – Again, that line just came about organically. Like I’m dealing with this character making this startling discovery and I need some way to quantify it, to put it in words that makes sense both for the character, and for the discovery itself. And there it was. The essence of truth.
Kerry – You’re testing my memory here. I started writing A Star in February of 2008 (while sitting in an airport, believe it or not) and had the first draft done in May…I think. I did some revising and then hired Jeff to give me his editorial opinion that summer. He didn’t actually get to it until October, though.
He made some suggestions—primarily for a longer ending and an additional prologue section—and hinted that if the book had those things, he’d be interested in publishing it. I finished those revisions by January of 2009 and sent them to him. We didn’t get back into it again until June, but by then it was fairly clear that I was on my way to being published again. Another month or so of revisions and it was good to go.
As a side note, between January and June of ‘09, while I was waiting for Jeff to decide on the first book, I started the second. I had 50,000 words written before I had to put it down to revise A Star Curiously Singing.
Kerry – Probably the same thing they hear all the time: learn and persevere. My situation is a good example. My first book, FoxTales, was published in October of 2003. It was exactly six years later when my first novel (second book) was published. I was writing, revising, submitting and learning that entire time.
And to your readers: Thanks so much for following along. I hope you found some of what we said here interesting. Please check out my books! My website is www.kerrynietz.com
And that’s a wrap my friends. I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Kerry. Make sure to leave a comment to be entered for the drawing and thank you for stopping by. I will post the winners here and on Facebook August 2nd.
Peace, love and God’s will.