Today I’m happy to bring you an interview with Kerry Kietz, author extraordinaire, and the proud owner of a new science fiction novel that just hit the shelves last month. Mask is Kerry’s fourth full-length novel published by Marcher Lord Press and he has also contributed to two other collaborative works by the same publisher. Today he’s here to tell us more about Mask as well as his current work in progress.
With that, I’d like to welcome Kerry to fantasyandfaith.com.
Kerry, it looks like you’ve hit the New Year running with a new book launch! Congratulations! Can you give us a quick synopsis of what it’s about?
Mask takes place in a Pacific Northwest of the future. America is divided into self-governing and isolated sectors, of which PacNorth is one. In PacNorth, democracy runs amuck, in that everything, including people, can be voted on.
The protagonist is Radial Crane. At night, he’s a Collector. You get voted away, and Radial makes you disappear. He wears an armored suit and mask. Has lots of gadgets he can use. By day, he’s a grill cook. That second job is part of his cover. No one knows who the Collectors—the Masks—are, so they need to appear as normal as possible.
Radial’s a believer in the system, but ultimately circumstances work to change his mind.
My story ideas always come from a variety of sources. After finishing the DarkTrench trilogy, where the character was a “thinker,” I really wanted to do a high-action story where the protagonist was more of a “doer.”
And for a while I’ve had this germ of an idea about a guy who is this government-backed armored people hunter, who at some point has a change of heart. I thought something about who he was sent to collect would contribute to that change. I even had the start of a poem that would come to me every time I thought about the story: I am the mask. The mask is me…
Popular culture was an influence, as well. All the things we can vote on today—from popular reality shows, to a simple “like” or “dislike” on Facebook. Then there’s the fact that so many people now vote in elections purely out of self-interest. The “what’s in it for me” meme.
There were many classic sci-fi stories that informed Mask, as well.
I see the main character is “Radial.” That’s an interesting choice for a name. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I honestly don’t know. The characters seem to appear on the page already named. It is like “Hello, Kerry. My name is Radial. Welcome to my world.”
I’ve noticed that dystopian fiction is a major theme in your books. Growing up, were there certain authors who influenced your writing in this direction?
Oh yeah, in fact I just posted an article on SpeculativeFaith.com about dystopias and some of the classics that influenced my writing. Fahrenheit 451, Logan’s Run, Soylent Green are some of the better-known ones.
There was also this short story I read as a kid that is significant to Mask. I can’t for the life of me find either the story or the author, but the premise was that kids could be given up (send away) by their parents until eight years of age. Mask sort of extrapolates that idea so that everyone in the society is vulnerable to expulsion, and also flips it. So instead of telling the story from the child’s perspective, I tell it from the collector’s perspective. I think it works.
Is Mask a standalone book or do you plan to write additional books to go with it?
I only envisioned Mask as a standalone, but my publisher and I have already thrown around some ideas on how the story could expand. One in particular really intrigues me. Time will tell…
Originally, I only thought my first novel (A Star Curiously Singing) was a single book too, but it turned into a trilogy that I’m quite happy with. A simple space mystery that in first draft form wasn’t quite 50,000 words, somehow ended up as a saga of over 250,000.
So anything is possible.
What projects are you working on now?
LOL. Something really different: Amish Vampires in Space.
The idea started as a bit of a joke. Amish romances have been popular in Christian fiction for a number of years now. They invariably get good placement in Christian bookstores, while speculative fiction typically gets stuffed in a corner somewhere. And even then it is usually just the Narnia novels with a Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti thrown in for good measure.
Anyway, a few years back my publisher made up this mock cover for the breakthrough speculative novel, and it was titled Amish Vampires in Space. It featured ladies in bonnets with fangs…and a spaceship.
I told him that someone should write that book. I wasn’t sure if I could write it, because the title suggests camp, and as a hard sci-fi guy, I would want to do it as if it could actually happen.
Then one day I got an idea about how it all might work. I started writing. Now I’m about 60,000 words in. It is a bit of a challenge—quite different than anything I’ve written before—but I think I can pull it off. Hope I can.
That sounds interesting! We’ll have to keep an eye open for that one. How can readers find you on the web?
www.nietz.com is my website address. I’m on Facebook, Shelfari, and Goodreads, as well.
Thank you, Kerry, for joining us today.
If you’d like more information on Kerry and his works of fiction, you can visit his website noted above. Also, click here to check out another interview with Kerry along with a review I wrote on A Star Curiously Singing, Book 1 of the DarkTrench trilogy, which I loved, incidentally.