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The new literary mashup: Amish romance and vampire tales
There's something strange about Kerry Nietz's new Amish romance novel.
The pretty blond girl on the cover wears a white hair bonnet and has an innocent look on her face.
But then there's the blood dripping down her face and the dead man lying on the floor behind her.
"Amish Vampires in Space," is the latest literary mashup to gain rave reviews and social media buzz.
It's part of a small but growing group of new bonnet and bloodsucker books that combine two of today's best-selling genres: Amish romance and vampire tales. In addition to Nietz's book, this new genre includes "The Living and the Undead," a serial e-book about an undead Amish teenager that recently cracked the top 100 download list at Amazon.com.
"It's gotten more buzz than anything I've ever done," said Nietz, a former computer programmer turned Christian sci-fi novelist.
The novel got its start as a joke from Nietz's publisher, Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press.
Three years ago, Gerke was frustrated that Amish fiction was dominating the Christian fiction marketplace. So he mocked up a cover for a book about spacefaring Amish undead with the title "Vein Pursuits" — featuring an Amish girl with fangs — and sent it to Nietz and some friends.
The idea stuck with Nietz and he eventually gave it a go.
"I got about 30,000 words in and realized there's a good story here," he said.
That story ended up being part "Battlestar Gallactica," part "Dracula," part "Witness," the 1985 movie thriller featuring the Amish.
A group of Amish farmers are rescued from a failed space colony by a starship, which plans to take them to their new home.
There's also a vampire on board, which causes a crisis of faith for the Amish.
Staking vampires, it turns out, is against the Amish faith. So the main character has to choose between nonviolence and survival, said Nietz.
"I thought it was interesting to take these Amish people — who are pacifists — and pit them against an antagonist who is the complete opposite," he said.
So far, the book has received mentions in the Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, as well as a great deal of buzz on social media.
Not only are the Amish good candidates for a moral dilemma, said Nietz, they are also surprisingly handy for a science fiction writer.
"If you are colonizing a planet," he said, "it helps to have someone who can plough a field and milk a goat."