The First Two Pages: “Mercenary” by Bryon Quertermous

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

Holly West has hit a home-run with the first anthology she’s edited: Murder-A-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Go’s, released just this month by Down & Out Books. Here’s an glimpse at the project from the collection’s description at the publisher’s website:

The Go-Go’s made music on their own terms and gave voice to a generation caught between the bra-burning irreverence of the seventies and the me-first decadence of the eighties. Anthems like “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and “Vacation” are an indelible part of our collective soundtrack, but more than that, they speak to the power and possibility of youth. Inspired by punk but not yoked to it, the Go-Go’s broke important musical ground by combining cheeky lyrics, clever hooks, and catchy melodies, perfectly capturing what it feels like to be young and female in the process.

But beyond the Go-Go’s effervescent sound and cheerful pop stylings, a darkness underlies many of their lyrics and melodies, hinting at the heartache and frustration inherent in growing up. In other words, plenty to inspire murder and mayhem.

I’m pleased to host a series of contributors to the anthology, beginning today with Bryon Quertermous talking about his story “Mercenary.”

Bryon is has two novels under his belt—Murder Boy and Riot Load—as well as a number of short stories. In his essay here, he looks not only at his current story but also back at his earlier novels and ahead toward his goals for his future work. Read more about him and his work at his website here.

I hope you enjoy his reflections below, and stay tuned for two more essays in the weeks ahead: Jessica Laine on “Lust to Love” and R.D. Sullivan on “Tonite.” And thanks to editor Holly West for helping to organize these essays!

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.


1 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Mercenary” by Bryon Quertermous

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Tonite” by R.D. Sullivan – Art Taylor

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