Interview with Kerry Nietz–East of the Sun
Please welcome our author for this week–Kerry Nietz! Kerry is the author of A Star Curiously Singing and its sequels. The novel is about Earth, hundreds of years in the future, when much of the world is living under sharia law. It is a dualistic society, where the average human plies the streets in squalor while the rich and powerful ride the strings—the cables—far above them. These latter Masters are so shrouded in technology that they need specialized debuggers—implanted and controlled techno-slaves—to manage their machines for them.
Sandfly is a debugger. A connected man. Via the stream he can hear the songs of millions of machines, down to the microscopic level. And fix them. That’s his job, his duty. It guarantees a place for him in Paradise. He has little choice in the matter, however. Aside from providing access to the stream’s vast storehouse of knowledge, his implant ensures Sandfly’s strict obedience.
For Sandfly, no job is different than any other, until he is assigned the mystery of a bot’s destruction.
The catch? The bot has been to space. Deep space.
Space makes Sandfly extremely nervous.
But that is the least of his problems…
A Star Curiously Singing has strong references to Middle Eastern and Islamic culture. Why the Middle East? What specifically drew you to incorporate that into your series, rather than some other culture or religion?
Islam has been in the headlines for decades now, so it was a topical thing to write about. But really, research crafted the world for me. Prior to A Star Curiously Singing, I studied the effects of sharia (Islamic) law throughout the globe. I read a couple books written by female sharia survivors: Now They Call Me Infidel and Because They Hate. I also read Mark Steyn’s book America Alone, which is primarily a book on demographics. It talks about how the western childbirth rates, outside of America, aren’t keeping up at replacement level. Unless something drastic happens, countries like Greece, Italy, and Japan won’t have any native citizens in a few generations. I read another book, Stealth Jihad, that highlights efforts to enact sharia in America. Together they got me thinking about what a world completely under sharia law would look like. My stories take place nearly 600 years from now, when something similar to that has happened.
There are so many misconceptions about the people and cultures of the middle east most especially, I think, about those who follow Islam. What are some of the worst ones that you’ve encountered?
One misconception would be to assume that it is one large, monolithic society. The Middle East is composed of 17 different countries, 16 of which are Islamic. (With the democracy of Israel smack dab in the middle.) Some of those countries are kingdoms, some democracies, some theocracies, some dictatorships. There is also a large division within Islam—the Shia and Sunni branches. That division explains why many Islamic countries don’t get along. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is Sunni controlled, while Iran is Shia controlled. Those two aren’t friendly.
The Middle East is rich in contributions to art and literature, not to mention music, mathematics, etc. When putting together a list of books, the Arabian Nights comes instantly to mind, but do out do you have any other suggestions set in the Middle East or written by Middle Eastern authors?
I’ve mentioned a couple books above written by Middle Eastern authors. Another one I’ve read that had an influence on my latest novel, Frayed, is “I was Saddam’s Son” written by Latif Yahia. Latif was forced to be a body double for Saddam Hussein’s eldest son Uday. It isn’t a cheery book by any means, but it does give a glimpse into the corruption and depravity of a well-known dictator. It also gives you some sympathy for what the Iraqi people had to live under, prior to their liberation.
Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, and hate leads to the dark side. How can we combat the fear the west has for the east that is so prevalent today?
I think the biggest thing to remember is that the conflicts aren’t generally between individual people, they are between ideologies. As part of that, it is okay to love the people, and not agree with what they believe. Not all belief systems are equal, or necessarily good, but all people are valuable in God’s eyes.
Also, many of the conflicts in the Middle East have multiple sides, though religion and racial heritage usually plays a part.
My advice? If you really want to change the world, don’t be angry or fearful—be a missionary. Change it one heart at a time.
And is there anything else you’d like to say to readers, on any subject, that I’ve neglected to touch upon?
The eBook of A Star Curiously Singing is free for a limited time. Check it out, and if you like it there are two sequels and a parallel story I just released, entitled Frayed. Thanks for having me on your site. I enjoyed your questions. Insightful and thought-provoking!
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 is the author of several award-winning novels, including A Star Curiously Singing, Freeheads, and Amish Vampires in Space. Follow Kerry on Facebook, Twitter, or check out his website.
Katie Lynn Daniels is the author of Supervillain of the Day, and the mastermind behind Vaguely Circular. She blogs about science and things that are peripherally related to science. You can read all her posts here.