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Amish Vampires In Space Hit The Tonight Show

March 18, 2014
Here’s a new twist on the old adage “Any publicity is good publicity.” A week ago a crazy thing happened. Within 24 hours of hitting Amazon with an updated CreateSpace version, Kerry Nietz’s indie novel Amish Vampires in Space found itself in the hands of Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show.

Did I mention it was on Fallon’s “Do Not Read This Book” list? 

Other books on the list included a napkin-folding title, a self-defense how-to, and a cookbook. BO-RING. They garnered some laughs, but the audience roared at Nietz’s novel. Fallon held up the book—with its cover of a bonnet-clad female vampire sporting long red nails—and deadpanned, “Just what we need. Another Amish-vampires-in-space book.” (Watch the segment.)

Since then Nietz’s week has been more than a little wild. But the rollercoaster ride of AVIS began long before The Tonight Show reveal.  

In October of last year AVIS was released from Marcher Lord Press, a small publishing house for speculative fiction with a Christian worldview. Its unique title created plenty of buzz—and some outrage from the Christian community. “I knew what I wrote and why I wrote it,” Nietz says, “so I wasn’t afraid of the detractors. I was confident that when they read it, they’d see. But there are an amazing amount of folks who do judge a book by its cover and title.” 

AVIS received two mentions each in the
Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. Nietz was interviewed many times, both in writing and audio. The book was mentioned on Dave Barry’s blog, then was written up in the Washington Post. Both were firsts for Marcher Lord Press. A few days later it won the #1 spot on “Worst Christian Book Cover of 2013” list

A seemingly bad thing, but it produced more buzz.

Meanwhile the book was garnering mostly positive reviews. (It’s currently at 4.5 on Amazon, with 21 reviews.)

Then in December Marcher Lord Press was sold, and the new owner did not want AVIS in the lineup. So Nietz scrambled to self-publish the novel. It was still selling well, and he had the potential of a national radio interview. Plus, he’d spent over a year of his life writing, editing, and promoting the book. 

The radio interview came through. Another up! But the host wasn’t thrilled with the topic, so the interview became a “web only” feature. Down again.

AVIS made the Digg.com list one night. Lots more chatter. Meanwhile more 5-star reviews came in, such as from Bittenbybooks.com and Platypire.com, that don’t focus on Christian Speculative fiction. Nietz loved doing the interviews and interacting with the passionate readers. 

The book was then nominated for the Clive Staples Award, honoring the best in Christian speculative fiction. 

In early March, a proofer friend of Nietz alerted him to a few typos in the book. Nietz made the fixes but struggled for a week to get the manuscript through CreateSpace. Meanwhile Amazon took the paper version out of print. The night after the new CreateSpace version went live, Amish Vampires in Space was on The Tonight Show. Which was followed, according to Nietz, by a “dozens of tweets (in seven different languages and countries), and calls and emails from Hollywood types.” 
 
So—just what is this book about? Nietz says it’s not a spoof, although its premise grew out of a joke. The idea originated when Jeff Gerke, Marcher Lord Press founder, mocked up a book cover featuring a bonneted gal with fangs, a spaceship, and what appeared to be a rack of Amish hats. Gerke called it the ideal Christian speculative novel. A sure bestseller! The idea became a running joke between Marcher Lord Press authors and at writers’ conferences where Gerke spoke.

But the idea began to germinate in Nietz’s head. He started thinking about how such a novel might be written, “minus the camp.” The genre mishmash had lots of potential for conflict. The Amish are a structured people, governed by routine, rules, and tradition—as were the societies in other books Nietz had 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.

Next came the premise and theme: The conflict between preserving one’s self and family versus one’s commitment to tradition. Then the characters started to arrive. Nietz pictured a middle-aged Amish man with a secret, and a space captain in a mundane job. A crewmember with 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.

Thirty thousand words into the novel, Nietz told Gerke what he was writing. “After he stopped laughing,” Nietz said, “he encouraged me to continue.” He finished at 130,000 words, adding it was “incredibly fun to write and generally camp-free. A solid science-meets-agrarian story, with a hematophagic twist.”

AVIS takes place in a future where the Amish have been allowed to colonize other worlds. One particular colony (Alabaster) has a problem with their sun that the main character, Jebediah, has been told to monitor. He then makes use of a forbidden bit of tech to summon help. Englishers (non-Amish) show up to relocate the colony. But there’s a problem on the ship that no one knows about—an extra passenger in a package they picked up. 

Enter the vampires.

What’s next for Amish Vampires in Space? It’s currently in the 72,000s in the Kindle store. Not stellar, but it has been on Amazon’s Top 100 paid Kindle list for Christian Futuristic fiction since its release, regularly rubbing shoulder with the likes of Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series and C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. And there is even talk of a movie …  

AVIS is Kerry Nietz’s sixth book. A refugee of the software industry, he spent more than a decade 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. Kerry is the author of The DarkTrench Saga trilogy and a memoir entitled FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software. Track his further work at Nietz.com.



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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

9:15 pm

I read the book, really likeded it... and I'd watch the movie if there was one
Reply
Monday, May 12, 2014

8:35 pm

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Friday, May 9, 2014

4:53 pm

I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to write content for yourself? I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome web log!
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

1:37 pm

Good day! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me. Anyways, I'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back frequently!
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5:38 pm

Loren, how cool for you. Congrats!
Reply

4:56 pm

I am the author of the self-defense book Anything Goes that he mentioned that same night. The book has been out of print for three or four years but sales of used copies went through the roof.
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7:48 am

God was definitely taking care of Kerry in making Steve Laube NOT take AVIS! Isn't our God good?
Reply
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

11:42 pm

Great article. Love the book!
Reply

9:19 pm

I think it would be a fantastic movie!
Reply

7:19 pm

Awesome. Absolutely awesome.
Reply

7:00 pm

FYI, the link anchor is misspelled. It goes to Neitz.com, an unrelated but available domain.
Reply

6:58 pm

Movie?
Reply

4:09 pm

Kudos to Kerry Nietz for his willingness to push the boundaries and try something really novel. Publicity is publicity. Congratulations!
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