Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Today we have Mercedes M. Yardley in the interrogation seat.
Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. She was a contributing editor for Shock Totem Magazine and currently works with Gamut, a new neo-noir magazine. Mercedes is the author of many diverse works, including Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls, and the BONE ANGEL trilogy. She recently won the Bram Stoker Award for her story Little Dead Red. Mercedes lives and works in Las Vegas, and you can reach her at www.abrokenlaptop.com.
- What drives you to write?
MMY: “Drives” is the right word. I don’t simply write for fun or because it’s a cheery little thing to do. I write because I’m compelled to. It’s how I figure things out and learn what I’m really thinking. I tried no to write for years, getting “real” jobs and trying to be an adult. It was a horrible time. It stole my soul away. I’m a writer to my very core.
- What attracted you to writing horror?
MMY: I’ve always been a dark little girl. I think horror is delicious and a healthy way to explore your fears in a safe environment. When the book closes or the lights come up, you ultimately get to go home and crawl into your warm bed. You felt that emotion, that thrill and excitement, with no harm to you. Horror is a way to live life fully without harm.
- Who are your favourite horror writers?
MMY: I love Joyce Carol Oates. I love Shirley Jackson. I was a big fan of Stephen King growing up, because he can handle a large cast of characters deftly and beautifully. There are some fantastic new writers, as well. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Michaelbrent Collings, Bracken MacLeod, and Lee Thompson.
- Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?
MMY: I’d suggest starting with the classics. Read Frankenstein. Read The Haunting of Hill House. Everyone should read The Silence of the Lambs and also Lord of the Flies at least once.
- Ebooks or paperback?
MMY: I’m in the unpopular minority here. I prefer ebooks, simply because my family of five people, two rabbits, a crotchety turtle, and ephemeral visiting stray cat live in a house the size of a shoebox. I have a shelf of books I truly love, mostly signed, but other than that, I read ebooks or pass my paperbacks along. I love the feel of a paperback. I love the smell of one. But practicality has to rule sometimes.
- What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?
MMY: I’m attracted to anything that says “ghostly” or “serial killer” or “chickens.” I’ll look at novels due to word-of-mouth, but then I find that I’m horribly disappointed in them. I like to find things on my own and form my own opinions. Great covers help.
- Who is your favourite fictional character?
MMY: I adore Hannibal Lecter. I find him beautifully complex. Despite his savagery and bloodlust, he is still elegant and has intricate rules that he follows. That juxtaposition and depth of character is something unusual.
- Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?
MMY: Oh my goodness, I am the very antithesis of a plotter. I can’t do it because it feels like the story has already been told, and then I’ve lost in interest in it. I enjoy sitting down and seeing what happens at the keyboard. It keeps everything fresh and new for me as a writer. If the author is bored, how on earth is the reader going to be interested? Every day is an adventure at the computer.
- Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?
MMY: They really do. If you develop a character well enough, they’re going to have their own innate personalities and boundaries. A kind, generous character wouldn’t suddenly stab somebody to death without good reason. It isn’t in their nature, and you can’t force them to do that unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. It’s a very cool and humbling thing to see that you’re trying to prod your character into an inorganic direction for them, and it doesn’t work. It’s only when you sit back and stay true to them that the story writes itself.
- Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?
MMY: I prefer silence, but I’ll use music to block out other noise. In that case, it has to be something I’ve never heard before or something without lyrics, because otherwise I’ll sing along.
- Do you do a lot of research for your stories?
MMY: I try not to drown in research. I do enough to get by, but many of my stories play with magical realism, where things Just Are. That aspect allows me to get away with the ethereality of the story without tethering it too closely to reality. I research enough that I hopefully don’t embarrass myself, but that’s about it.
- Facebook or Twitter?
MMY: Facebook all the way. Twitter is basically the comments section of the Internet, and nobody wants that.
- What really pisses you off about writing?
MMY: Writing can be terribly lonely. It needs to be done in solitude. Even if I’m in the kitchen with the kiddos and even have one on my lap while writing, I can’t be connected to my children. I’m inside my head. Preferably, I’m thinking about my work alone. I’m typing alone. I’m revising alone. The other day I was at a speaking engagement and somebody asked my nine-year-old what she thought about her mom being an author. She said, “She never has time to play with me. She’s always at the computer.” That hurt my soul. Writing takes time, effort, consistency, and discipline. It’s hard. And when we do put in the work to create something lovely, something that takes our breath away and makes us whole, it steals time from the other wonderful parts of our lives. Is it worth it? Yes, within reason. I’m still struggling with balance.
Have you read any of her books? I have to say I love her covers and can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on a copy of three of her books.
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