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Explaining The Epic: ‘Amish Vampires In Space’

Author Kerry Nietz on how a running gag at conferences became his full-length novel, featuring Amish, versus vampires, naturally in space.
| Sep 6, 2013 | No comments |

cover_amishvampiresinspaceI’ve read some interesting comments over the past couple weeks. Here’s a sample:

“It’s real this time.”

“Yes, he did.”

“Must. Have.”

“Umm…w-w-what?!?”

“Someone finally did it.”

“Rumor has it that Jeff Gerke finally had to pay up on that bet…”

And one of my favorites:

“Seriously…this is PURE genius.”

What are all those comments about? Why, Amish Vampires in Space, of course. The next book from Marcher Lord Press, due October 1st. My latest child.

“But, that sounds crazy,” you say. “Sounds like you’re pandering, or mocking, or trying to milk (?), what, three diverse genres in order to get yourself noticed. Seriously, what are you up to? How did this happen?”

I’m glad you asked.

Let me start by saying this was really nobody’s design but my own. I didn’t lose a bet, I wasn’t threatened, and my arm definitely wasn’t twisted. There was no contest, nor is this part of a diabolical scheme to gain readers. (Though wouldn’t that be nice?)

It started nearly three years ago. A Star Curiously Singing was already in print, and possibly even its sequel, The Superlative Stream. I’m not certain. All I know is that one day our fearless leader, Jeff Gerke, surprised us with a mock cover he created. Now, I should mention that one of the things Jeff likes to dabble in, aside from publishing, editing, and writing is graphic design. Three of my five novels feature covers he designed, in fact.

So, one day he sent us all this cover art. The imaginary author’s name was Michael Boone, and the title of the novel was Vein Pursuit. The book was part of the Amish Vampires in Space series. The cover featured a bonneted lady with fangs, a spaceship, and what appeared to be a rack of Amish hats. Jeff called it the ideal Christian speculative novel. A sure bestseller!

jeffgerke_avis3mockupThe image was great, and it became a running joke not only among us, but also at writers’ conferences that Jeff spoke at.

Years passed, and somewhere in all that time I told him that someone—some MLP author—should write that novel. I didn’t think it was me, because the title screams “camp!” and I don’t do that. Someone like Hero, Second Class’s Mitchell Bonds might be a perfect fit, though…

More time passed. More books were published. But no one wrote that book.

Then last year I started thinking about how such a novel might be written, minus the camp. The genre mishmash has lots of potential for conflict. The Amish are a structured people, governed by routine, rules, and tradition. (As were the societies in other books I’ve written.) But outer space is rarely structured, and vampires are chaos incarnate. Also, the Amish, practicing their interpretation of scripture, are non-violent. Pacifists. Vampires are not.

Then, I got the beginning of a premise, and also, a possible theme. (A discussion I had on Speculative Faith helped with the latter.) Then the characters started to arrive on the scene. I saw a middle-aged Amish man with a secret, and a space captain in a mundane job. I saw a crewmember with a bit of a prejudice and an odd habit, along with an Amisher bishop with prejudices of his own. A thief, a doctor…oh, and science! Lots of science.

So I started writing. Thirty thousand words in, I told Jeff what I was doing. After he stopped laughing, he encouraged me to continue. So I did. Ten months later I finished. The manuscript was roughly 130,000 words long, incredibly fun to write, and generally camp-free. A solid “science meets agrarian” story, with a hematophagical twist.

Jeff read it, suggested some minor improvements, and here we are today.

Amish Vampires in Space. Flying your way in October.

(Editor’s note: Marcher Lord Press has just made the book available for preorder.)

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Randy Streu
Member

This just looks like 12 different kinds of fun. Looking forward to reading it!

Dawn
Guest

OK, when I first saw it, I thought it was stupid. But now you make me want to read it.

Nathan James Norman
Guest

I re-posted the cover on my facebook page a couple of days ago and received strong reactions – both positive and negative.

Until this point I had assumed this was satire and I was thrilled to see a Christian doing Christian satire. So, I was a little disappointed half-way through this post when I realized it wasn’t satire.

But you won me over.

I’m even more excited to see a ludicrous idea handled realistically.

Is it October yet?

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

I re-posted the cover on my facebook page a couple of days ago and received strong reactions – both positive and negative.

Ergo: from a marketing perspective, all positive.

Tim George
Guest

I just remembered joking around during an interview with you and Stuart Stockton about he his wife writing a novel about aliens and school marms. Looks like you beat him to the punch. Good for you!

Jeff Gerke
Guest

Hey, Nathan: It’s not October yet, but you can preorder it today! We just put the preorder page up. And as a bonus, if you preorder the print version today, you’ll get the e-book version (Kindle or ePUB) for free on release day.

Here you go: http://www.marcherlordpress.com/bookstore/science-fiction-2/amish-vampires-in-space-by-kerry-neitz/

Izzy Stevenson
Member

I can’t *wait* to read this. 😀

Although, I’m a bit sad to hear it won’t be camp. 😛

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Neitz writes great sci-fi (such as The DarkTrench Saga). Camp isn’t his genre.

But taking the title and theme seriously is almost doubly hilarious. For this premise, I say, straight-up camp would be too easy.

Jeff Gerke
Guest

That’s you fan fiction opportunity, Izzy. 🙂

Keven Newsome
Member

The good news is, if you make it a trilogy you already have a title!

Kathleen Valentine
Guest

All that needs to be added is “spanking” (for the mommy porn crowd)–“Spanking Amish Vampires in Space.”

notleia
Guest
notleia

I’m torn. I want to +1 because it made me laugh, but now I have that image in my head and I’m somewhere between WTF and Oh, LAWD, no.

notleia
Guest
notleia

Wait, does this thread count as invoking R34, the Necronomicon of the Internet?
………..
Okay, everybody, if you don’t have a specialized shelter, stay in your houses, grab all the blankets you can carry, go to the middle of the house, get in the bathtub, and cover up until the supercell passes. We’ll keep you advised.

R. J. Anderson
Member

If it makes you feel any less lonely, I got that joke. 🙂

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Jessica Thomas
Guest

That’s messed up, right there.

Rachel Smith
Guest

I’ve been waiting for SIX YEARS for someone to do this. In one of my writing circles we’ve been bandying about for nearly five now about doing crazy Amish stuff like this, because none of us like the Amish trend and are beyond ready to see it die.

Joanna Wilson
Guest

I snorted into my cup of tea when Nietz suggested it sounded like something Mitch Bonds should write …. as I’ve known Mitch from early high school. And suddenly, I could hear his voice joking about the idea, wearing his “author’s hat.” 😀

Also, I find it funny that the game he grew up playing with his friends from church has been turned into two books ….. with characters based on people I know. ….. I wonder who would get to be the vampire in that story….? 😀

notleia
Guest
notleia

And the LOL of notleia was mighty, so that it disturbed the tropical fish in the aquarium nearby.

But if it’s less awesome than straight-up camp would be, I would haz a disappoint.

merechristian
Member
merechristian

I don’t mind no camp, just please tell me it’s not grimdark.

Sounds interesting, though I hope it isn’t the author taking potshots at Amish fiction. I don’t read the books and don’t like them, but I don’t like an author grinding axes.

Psyched about this book. Will it be available in ebook format right away?

D. M. Dutcher
Member

I’m not sure. The premise is pure camp and exploitation, and making a serious novel out of it might be tough. That’s not to say I won’t buy it, but even though Kerry is a great writer, trying to make a serious exploitation novel is a tough thing.

Paul Lee
Member

It seems impossible that it could avoid being a joke on some level. Even I remember seeing the old gag cover a long time ago. The title and concept is an in-joke for us, even if Kerry’s motive for writing was serious. The premise is so wild that a serious treatment would be more ironic than an overblown campy treatment. At the very least, the existence of this book is a meta-joke.

D. M. Dutcher
Member

Christian fiction is probably the least likely genre to use irony or meta-humor in, though. I don’t know, I’ll have to wait and see.

notleia
Guest
notleia

I, for one, would love to see some irony and meta-humor. There’s certainly a general attitude out there that Christian fiction must be in earnest in everything at all times, and I’m questioning it, hard.

D. M. Dutcher
Member

Oh, it’s not that irony or meta-humor is bad, it’s just that CSF hasn’t gotten to the stage where plain humor is okay. It might be a tall order start doing the former before the latter.

Kirsty
Guest

Isn’t Hero Second Class humour? (I’ve not read it, but it sounds like it)

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

So the Amish vampire books that are out in the general market are ones readers visiting Spec Faith didn’t know about? (See for example The Amish Bloodsucker Trilogy by Barbara Ellen Brink.)

Props, Kerry, for throwing space into the mix.

Becky