From The Booking Desk:
I am thrilled to welcome Bryon Quertermous to BOLO Books today, not the least of which because he is one of the few people with a name that is harder to spell than my own.
But seriously, Bryon is well-known and respected in the crime fiction community. His debut novel, Murder Boy, is out today from Polis Books.
Since my day job is in the journals division of a university press, I asked Bryon to discuss the academic life vs. the writing life and how the two blended in his excellent novel.
Without further ado…may I present to you, Bryon Quertermous.
I knew I wanted to be a writer from early in elementary school, but it wasn’t until high school when I started to think about what that would look like as a career. Thanks to a few teachers and a rash of romanticized movies, I spent my high school years thinking I would be a high school English teacher. Once I was in college though, I realized getting certified as an English teacher involved more math than I was willing to go through and I started thinking about teaching college writing. I spent quite a bit of time and energy on this path and was convinced I was a rising star in the field of rhetoric and composition. I wrote papers and presented at conferences and really enjoyed myself. It wasn’t until the end though, after almost a decade of schooling when I was looking into PhD programs that I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. The energy and excitement of my early days had been beaten down by politics and competition and exposure to the realities of the modern academic job market.
It took me a few tries to leave academia for good (and technically, I’m still employed by a university) but when I finally closed that door I knew I made the right decision. I still think about what might have been but I realize the job I want in academia doesn’t exist anymore. I’d still love to find a way to teach writing but without all of the other crap that comes with a faculty position. And that brings us to my first novel, Murder Boy. The academic writing program presented in this book is just awful and I’d like to get it out there right off the bat that it’s not based in any way on my own experiences. Rather it’s a mishmash of all of the stories I heard from friends and colleagues about how awful their programs were.
My own troubles with academic creative writing were more in my mind. I read too many lit journals and too many lit blogs and too many interviews of literary writers. I couldn’t figure out what kind of writer/teacher I wanted to be. I didn’t have the background (or frankly the talent) to get into one of the big name programs like Columbia or Iowa or Michigan but I was too snooty to go all in with my pulp influences. The best part of writing Murder Boy was finally being able to merge and purge all of those experiences. Age and experience had given me perspective while my old journals gave me the trigger to tap back into that obnoxious time in my life to build my main character Dominick Prince out of those experiences and play a crazy pulp version of the What If game with his life.
And now things have come full circle and one of the first events I’ll be doing after the official publication of Murder Boy will be as the keynote speaker for Educator Appreciation Week at the Barnes and Noble in Flint, Michigan where I spent most of my college years. The irony of writing a book about a disgruntled student kidnapping his teacher and then being asked to kickoff Educator Appreciation Week is enough to make this whole crazy experience worth it.
From the Booking Desk:
Thanks so much for stopping by BOLO Books today, Bryon. I hope that readers are intrigued by Murder Boy from this small glance behind the scenes.
Folks, stop back at BOLO Books on Friday for our review of Murder Boy. In the meantime, why not support Bryon and pick up a copy of the book today.