Dark books can have a ton of heart – and Bryon Quertermous’s certainly do. Bryon’s books often place his characters in horrible situations, where they have to deal with the emotional ramifications of grief. Yet, when I had the honor to serve with Bryon on a committee judging short stories recently even though we were swamped with entries (and I was particularly clueless about how to manage the judging spreadsheet), Bryon remained a font of good cheer. I guess he really is as resilient as his characters, and that makes me even happier to be able to introduce him here!
How does a book start for you?
It’s usually a combination of things starting with either something that’s bothering me or something I find interesting and want to learn more about and then progressing to finding the right character or characters to tell the story.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
One of the victims keeps surprising me and it’s really starting to piss me off. The idea originally grew from my obsession over parents losing kids and how much it bothers me when I read stories like that. I knew I wanted to write a book about a dad who’s grief turns toxic after his son is murdered and started knocking that out. But I quickly realized that just telling this from a white suburban male’s POV was doing the story a disservice and started to dig into the character of a 19 year old female drug dealer who is shot along with the dad’s kid but survives. The girl and the dad both have questions about what happened the night of the shooting and they both blame each other to varying degrees, but as I’ve tried to get in this girl’s head she keeps trying to shake me loose. She’s by far the smartest character I’ve ever written and that’s been giving me fits, but if I can get her story right I think it’ll be great.
When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
The book I’m working on right now is set in Detroit and the surrounding blue collar suburbs. I always envisioned this as a blue collar version of a Harlan Coben novel or a blue collar domestic suspense novel. I love both styles of books, but they always seem to take place in fancy urban areas or really upscale suburbs. I don’t know those worlds and I don’t find them as interesting as the sketchier and fading middle class worlds I grew up.
What are you working on now?
Some folks who have known me a while online always joked that my TBR pile was split between books with pink covers (women’s fiction, domestic suspense, romance, chick lit, etc.) and black covers (noir, hardboiled, etc.) and the book I’m working on now is my first attempt to mesh both of those styles. So far it’s been fun, but we’ll see how it all ends up.
Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?
I’m happy for any question anyone asks me and I never wait for anyone to ask me if I feel like I have something to say. So thanks for the opportunity.
Bryon Quertermous is the author of the novels Murder Boy and Riot Load. His short stories have appeared in a number of print and online journals of varying repute. He was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger Award from the Crime Writers Association. Bryon lives somewhere between Ann Arbor and Detroit (metaphorically as well as physically) where he can be found screaming at the TV during football and baseball season and playing Ninja Turtles and My Little Pony with his kids the rest of the time. Visit him online at bryonquertermous.com or on Twitter @bryonq