Q&A: Kerry Nietz
Sandfly is a level 12 debugger - a slave under sharia law who's job it is to fix robots. But if he fixes THIS one, he may break the world. Because this particular robot was sent into deep space and what it witnessed caused it to tear itself to pieces. What it found, out beyond the stars, was SINGING. That song threatens the very fabric of society and Sandfly's masters are not happy about what it means...
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE A STAR CURIOUSLY SINGING?
Before writing A Star Curiously Singing, I read a number of books that dealt with sharia (Islamic) law and its effect on individuals and societies. Another book that affected me was Mark Steyn’s America Alone, because it was all about population statistics, and how Muslim cultures are outgrowing westernized cultures at a terrific rate. So then it came down to: What would a Muslim future look like? And ultimately: What future do I fear for my children?
My main character, Sandfly, is this technologically enhanced fix-it man. (Seems out of place, I know, but it works.) He and his kind are known as debuggers. That idea comes from my background in computer science. I spent over a decade of my life as a programmer. So I know what Sandfly’s life is all about. Pressure, deadlines, high expectations.
The plot revolves around this broken robot that Sandfly is brought in to diagnose. That comes purely from an image I once had—a writer’s flash, as it were ... the image of a man sitting in a room with a robot across from him, discussing the robot’s problems. Then I thought, what if this robot knows something that is earth-shattering?
Altogether I think it makes for a fascinating story, and it is only the first part of a trilogy. The story continues in The Superlative Stream.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
I’ve always loved to read, so I have lots of favorite authors. In Christian fiction, certainly Peretti, Lewis, and Tolkien are inspirations. In science fiction, Burroughs, Bradbury, Asimov ... actually, the names of many of my favorites show up in my books. As swear words.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
I’m in a unique position, because I’m striving to write stories that not only are good Christian fiction, but good Science Fiction. I want my books to have many levels, and to speak to a broad variety of readers. It is a tightrope, but also a fun challenge. God has really walked step by step with me in it.
That said, some find my books more subtle on the faith aspects. Others have said they move them deeply, and challenge them. Hopefully that means I’m succeeding to some extent.
Regardless, I’m a Christian, so what I believe is always going to be a factor in everything I write. I think God wanted these books published. I was on the verge of quitting when I started writing the first one. Even when it was done, I never thought it would be published. Yet now I’m working on book three, and the first two have been well received. That’s all God’s doing.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Essentially all my life. My mom still finds snippets of things I started writing as a boy. I think it took everything I’ve done and been through to make this time possible, though. To make me the writer I’m supposed to be.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I hope readers are entertained, certainly. And surprised—immersed in a new culture. And finally, a little challenged and inspired.