Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Mercedes M. Yardley.
Mercedes M. Yardley has two broken laptops, three kids, a husband and no time to write, although she tries her very best.
She likes to write stories. She likes to write poems. She likes to write essays and sometimes they're funny, sometimes they aren't.
She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, and Nameless: The Darkness Comes, which is the first book of what she is calling The Bone Angel Trilogy.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH MERCEDES M. YARDLEY
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
MMY: I’m the girl next door with muffins and a skinning knife. I like to discuss sociology, lipstick, and the death penalty, all hopefully within the same conversation. I just like to do a little bit of everything. The dark, lovely, and venomous has always held fascination for me, partially because it’s so very real. I have three little kiddos and they just light me up.
- How did you become a writer? Have you always been interested in speculative fiction?
MMY: I’ve always written. I made up stories for my friends and wrote in school, and yes, I always had that spec fic slant. I love writing worlds where the impossible comes true! It’s such a joy. I had a few crazy jobs for a while, and wasn’t writing because I was focusing on being A Very Adult Person. But after we had our son, we discovered he had special needs, and it was imperative that I stay home with him. That’s when I began writing for publication, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
- What are your favourite authors and novels? Have any of them been a source of inspiration to you?
MMY: One of my favorite books is a novel called AUGUST FROST by Monique Roffey. It’s a beautiful magical realism story about a lovely, lonely boy and these intense physical changes he goes through. It absolutely inspired me. The only other thing that came close to it was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. Both of these books made me think, “I can write like this?” Yes, yes, I could. Dreamy and ephemeral. Write the fantastic. These novels let me know it was possible.
- You write dark and fascinating stories that differ from mainstream fantasy stories. What inspires you to write this kind of stories? Where does the love for dark stories come from?
MMY: I’ve always been a little melancholic, even when a little girl. I always looked on the bright side of the dark side. There’s just so much going on, so much tragedy, and it always hit home. That said, I love dark stories with sunshine around the edges. I adore monsters who love. My stories are dark, but there’s a lot of humor and goodness that shines through. The characters are all dealing with heavy situations, but with grace throughout. I enjoy that. That’s how most people are. We’re really a pretty amazing bunch.
- Your latest novel, Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, will be published soon. What kind of a novel is it? Could you tell us something about it?
MMY: Ah, this is my favorite thing I ever wrote! Pretty Little Dead Girls is a cheery book with heavy doses of magical realism and horror. It’s about a young girl named Bryony who is destined to be murdered, and her goal is to live life as fully as she can before she goes. There’s a high body count and a likable serial killer. It has talking flowers and uses lyrical language. It essentially has a narrator like a traditional fairytale. It’s a very dark and whimsical piece. The sweetest of murders. A charming tale of the dead.
- Is Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy a standalone novel?
MMY: It is! It’s full and complete at its end. But I do have several stories in other places that take place in the Pretty Little Dead Girls world. There’s a tale in my short story collection Beautiful Sorrows that is basically our murderer’s origin story. I have a short story in the upcoming Genius Loci anthology that takes place in Bryony’s desert. There are fun little tie-ins like that. This novel is full of Easter Eggs.
- You recently wrote an urban fantasy novel called Nameless: The Darkness Comes (The Bone Angel Trilogy, Book #1), which was a bit darker urban fantasy novel. The protagonist in this novel, Luna Masterson, sees demons and has been dealing with all things demonic for a long time. How did you come up with the idea of writing about this kind of a protagonist?
MMY: Luna, the main character of Nameless, is quite literally the Anti-Bryony. In fact, that’s what my writer’s group called her for a long time. Where Bryony is wide-eyed, good-natured, and naïve, Luna is cynical and prickly. I wrote Pretty Little Dead Girls first, and I wanted to try my hand at the opposite type of heroine. Luna is tough and sarcastic. I love her dearly.
The subject of demons had been coming up a lot. My daughter was having nightmares about a man she called the Tip Toe Shadow, so I put him into the book. There were also all of these ghost hunting shows on where everybody shouts, “It’s a demonic entity!” and the cast goes scurrying around. I wondered how it would be to have a character interact with something so terrifying that others couldn’t see. Would they think she was crazy? Obviously they did. It was just a very cool book to write.
- Nameless: The Darkness Comes combines urban fantasy and dark fantasy elements in a fluent and entertaining way. Was it challenging to combine urban fantasy and dark fantasy elements?
MMY: It wasn’t challenging at all. It wasn’t an intentional process. “I must combine this and try this and add this.” Some people plot quite well and know exactly what they’re going to write ahead of time. I can’t work like that. I literally sit at the computer and type. What happens? What am I thinking of? What internal issues am I processing? Which character shows up?
Mouth, for example, surprised me. He wasn’t even supposed to be in this book. One day he just showed up while Luna was working in the garden. What a pest! And then suddenly he’s a major character. That wasn’t supposed to happen! Book Two is very much Mouth’s story. He’s pulled in directions he never would have expected. All this from some yappy little demon that simply strolled onto the page? That’s how it works for me. Organically.
- If Nameless: The Darkness Comes were to be filmed, who would like to see play Luna?
MMY: Oh my goodness. This is where I realize that I have no idea who any of these actresses are. I’d say maybe Ellen Page. She does snark and vulnerability beautifully. Perhaps Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Thank you for letting me dream big and think about this question.
- Are any of the happenings or characters in your stories and novels based on real happenings or persons?
MMY: Oh yes. Absolutely. But in a very twisted way. I’ll take an aspect of somebody’s personality and use it in a character. Or a snippet of conversation. I’ve never had a child kidnapped, thankfully, but I’ve felt fear for my children’s safety. So I can write about that.
I wrote Nameless: The Darkness Comes while I was getting my motorcycle license. So I gave Luna a bike. One day I took a bite of an apple and saw the imprint that my teeth left in it. That scene was written into a story. I name characters after my friends. Little nuances of life tend to weave themselves into my work. Chances are, if you’ve ever said anything to me at some point in time, you’ll show up somewhere. Keep an eye out. If you see something and wonder, “Could that possibly be me?” then it probably is.
- What has been the most rewarding moment in your writing career so far?
MMY: Quite honestly, the release of Pretty Little Dead Girls is it. Ragnarok Publications is releasing it perfectly. They’re doing a hardcover signed limited edition, and one of my favorite artists, Galen Dara, created the cover. She was my dream artist for this project because her work is so hauntingly ephemeral. Seeing this story come to fruition because of the love and care of others….this is it. This is my dream, right here. I couldn’t be more pleased.
- What are you currently working on?
MMY: Today I wrote a little bit on a dark horror novella. I’m one of four female authors participating in a project called The Grimm Mistresses, and we’re each tackling a different story from the Grimm Brothers. It’s releasing in February. I’m also working on the sequel to Nameless. I blocked off a couple of months to write a realistic fiction novel titled (for the moment) The Kitchen Witch. That’s the novel that’s eating me alive at the moment, but I can’t start it until I finish up my other commitments. I’m co-hosting a writing podcast with my literary nemesis Matt Betts. It’s called My Nemesis and Me and we just have a lot of fun baiting each other. Then I have several other ideas on the back burner! A comic book, another dark novella, a nonfiction book on Williams Syndrome, which is a rare genetic disease that my son has…there are more projects. I’m busy, but I like it that way.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
MMY: Yes! Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is releasing from Ragnarok Publications on September 29. I’ll be having a Facebook release party with games and prizes that everybody is invited to. Also, feel free to contact me at any time. I’m on Facebook at Mercedes M. Yardley (author’s page), and also my personal Mercedes Murdock Yardley page. My website is www.abrokenlaptop.com, and you can find me on Twitter at @mercedesmy. I love interacting, so hit me up.
Thank you so much for letting me talk shop with you. It was a pleasure.