{Interview/Apex Publications Tour} Bram Stoker Award Winning Author Mercedes M. Yardley Talks To Kendall Reviews

Mercedes M. Yardley is a whimsical dark fantasist who wears stilettos, red lipstick, and poisonous flowers in her hair. She is the author of many diverse works, including Beautiful Sorrows, the Stabby Award-winning Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, Detritus in Love, and the BONE ANGEL trilogy. She recently won the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for her story Little Dead Red. Mercedes lives and creates in Las Vegas with her family and menagerie of battle-scarred, rescued animal familiars.

Mercedes is a member of the Horror Writers Association and co-chair of the Las Vegas HWA Chapter.

Beautiful Sorrows

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Apex Book Company (23 Feb. 2017)

There is a place where sorrows pile up like snow and rest in your hair like cherry blossoms.

Boys have wings, monsters fall in love, women fade into nothingness, and the bones of small children snap like twigs.

Darkness will surely devour you–but it will be exquisitely lovely while doing so.

Mercedes M. Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows is an ephemeral collection encompassing twenty-seven short tales full of devastation, death, longing, and the shining ribbon of hope that binds them all together.

All month long Apex are going to be celebrating all of the amazing books that they’ve published over the years with new reviews, author interviews, and author guest posts! Just because a book isn’t a new release doesn’t mean it isn’t fantastic and worth some of your precious reading time.

Apex Publishing are offering 25% off everything in the Apex store all month long with discount code SEPTEMBER

Please visit The Apex Book Company Store to take advantage of this fantastic offer.

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Certainly. I’m an author of delightful, dark things and I live in Las Vegas. Vegas is fantastic for inspiration because we’re constantly bombarded with bright and shiny lights as well as the sickness running underneath. I have three kiddos, one who has Williams Syndrome and autism, so the house is always chaotic and busy. I’ve learned how to write despite the distractions. I write novels, shorts, nonfiction articles, and I’m working on a graphic novel and a children’s book. I enjoy having several irons in the fire.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I love watching creepy movies and playing video games. I like to make quilts with dark, unexpected fabric, such as skulls and ravens. I took up watercolor in the last year, and that is so much fun. I find that I paint sweet pictures with a little bit of a twist. For example, a truck with its bed full of flowers and “I HEART MURDER” on the license plate, or a beautiful monarch butterfly with angry eyebrows and a tiny handgun. It helps me not take myself so seriously and be upset if a painting doesn’t work out. If I could do anything, it would probably be traveling. We just returned from a trip to Iceland and I felt like it renewed my soul. We also stopped by the Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery, which was utterly somber and enchanting. And it had a replica of necropants! Necropants are exactly what they sound like: enchanted pants made out of human skin. I’ve never seen anything quite like that museum.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

My grandmother gave me a book titled “Unicorn Magic” by Ida Mae McIntyre. It was a lovely old children’s book about an evil wizard who creates a woman out of straw and tries to marry her to the prince. This book helped me learn how to read, and the story and pictures stayed with me. It was a magical book with slightly sinister overtones. The straw woman was quite frightening as a child. It went out of print long ago, but I managed to track down a copy and now my children read it.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

My favorite album. That’s tough. One that always makes me smile is the “MAYBE YOU’VE BEEN BRAINWASHED TOO album by the New Radicals. I’m going to have my favorite bright cheery songs playing at my funeral, and “You Get What You Give” from that album will be one.

Music is important to my writing. I wrote my first novel to the Sufjan Stevens “COME ON! FEEL THE ILLINOISE! album. The novel I’m currently shopping around was inspired by Placebo’s song “Follow the Cops Back Home.” I was driving, heard that come on, and immediately pictured a scene in my head. Two worn, weary people were walking down a long lane together. Life had done something to them, and I was curious to see what that was. I wrote a short story titled “Music to Jump By” about a man who creates a soundtrack for his suicide.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

I’m loving the movies coming out by A24. They contain so many layers. I wouldn’t exactly call them quiet horror because some of the scenes are quite shocking, but nothing is taken at face value. Heredity is as much about grief as it is anything else. The VVitch is an atmospheric beauty about alienation.

My personal favorite go-to is the Insidious series. I love the actors, I love the premise, and I love how the last movie turned the entire franchise into a neat, full circle. Cleverly done. I also appreciated that the hero of the last movie was an older woman. That’s rare in cinema.

KR: What are you reading now?

I’m reading “Will Haunt You” by Brian Kirk, “Devil’s Creek” by Todd Keisling, and “The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold. Between these three books, it’s a wonder I can sleep at night! Oh, wait. I don’t.

KR: What was the last great book you read?

I loved “Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism” by Barbara Weisberg. It’s an absolutely fascinating view not only about the sisters and the spiritualism movement, but about the rights and lifestyles of women at the time. For example, a woman couldn’t work outside of the home because it was improper, but holding seances in your parlor was fine. The social atmosphere at the time is so intriguing.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

Whatever gets you to read. I consume books in all forms and think they’re all wonderful. I like having a hard copy in my hand because I like that book smell, but I also love going on a trip and having a hundred books on my Kindle. It all works.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

I grew up on Erma Bombeck’s hysterical books and John D. Fitzgerald’s “Great Brain” series. These authors were clever and funny and talked about everyday things in such a fanciful way. It helped me see the beauty in the mundane.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I’m the poster child for pantsing. I have never successfully worked with an outline. In fact, I tried to do a loose outline for the last piece I did titled “Love is a Crematorium”, and it was a disaster. I was forcing the story and shoehorning the plot in, and it wasn’t working at all. I ended up scrapping the story halfway through and starting all over. The second version was real and had room to get the good air in its lungs. It was organic and natural. I ended up with completely different characters in a different setting, and I’m very pleased with it.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Since I plot as I go instead of outlining, my research is pretty sparse during the writing phase. I’ll leave brackets saying <details here> and fill that in after the initial draft is complete. Sometimes I’ll look something up quickly so I have the basic idea of where to go in my story, but research is a rabbit hole that can derail your writing. You can spend two years on research alone and never write a word.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

I write whimsical horror. It’s dark, it’s gutting, but there’s a lightness and a beauty to it, especially in the prose. I explore real horror, like sexual assault and murder, as well as adding surreal elements, like pyrokinesis or talking flowers. My goal is to tell each story truthfully and unflinchingly, but also hopefully leave the reader with a sense of hope or wonder at the end.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

Each day is different depending on the flux of the house, but I usually get the kids off to their three separate schools. That takes three hours. Then I do chores and errands before sitting down to write. I read over what I wrote in the last session, both to do a quick edit and to get back into the voice of the piece. I usually set a timer and write for 15 or 20 minutes straight, without stopping to edit, research, or ponder. I just get the words down. Then I get up and do a chore or something for another 15 minutes, and then come back. I find that writing in short spurts works for me because I can get other things done while thinking about my story. Since I’m home during the day, I do several other things. I volunteer, I have meetings, etc. I don’t have big blocks of writing time, and I’m not certain I’d know what to do with myself if I did.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

My favorite book is called “Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy.” It’s a fairytale with a high body count. I wrote the entire novel in three weeks because I just lived and breathed that book. It’s the epitome of whimsy, it’s charming, and the characters are so much fun. Artist Orion Zangara and I are working hard to turn it into a three-part graphic novel. Section 1 will be released next year. It’s just a feel-good story about joy and cheerful serial killing.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

I don’t. No good comes of it. Not everything you write will be for everyone. If there’s a great review, a publisher or friend will usually forward it to me. I do the same for other writers. There’s no reason to open yourself up to the masochism of reading reviews about a book that is already written. The gist of it will get back to you anyway.

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

I’ve learned to take a good, hard look at the things I originally shied away from. I didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable subjects, but good writing is all about being uncomfortable. It’s about seeing what is going on in the world today and processing it with your fingers on the keyboard. I can discuss abuse, rape, death, and other horrors with compassion and truth instead of dancing away from it. That took growth.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

It came from Mort Castle, who is an inspiration as a human as well as a writer. I was deeply stressed, feeling that I had this brief window of opportunity to make it as an author, and that window was closing. He literally touched my forehead with his finger and said, “I release you from the clock.” He told me that writing was something I’d be able to do all of my life, and the window of opportunity was a simple construct that didn’t have to apply to me. Those words changed my life. I saw that I could work on my career at my own speed without neglecting family and other important things. I could still flourish.

KR: What scares you?

The state of the world scares me. My 6-year-old daughter came home and showed me what she learned during shooting drills at school. Our house was broken into and burglarized one Christmas while we were at my parents. We came home and everything had been slashed and tossed. I took my 11-year-old to a concert downtown one week before the Las Vegas shooting, which was the biggest mass shooting in America. Same area, just one week apart. The difference between those gunned down and us? We chose a different concert. I’m afraid of mankind, pure and simple. Not only of those who have such wicked intent, but also of those who are so apathetic that they let it all happen. Apathy will kill us all.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

I’d love to! Thank you for asking! It’s a beautiful short story called “Urban Moon” and it was released in the Other Voices, Other Tombs anthology edited by Brhel and Sullivan. “Urban Moon” is a modern retelling of the Swan Maiden, but with teeth and horrific rape and social media. It’s very much a reflection of our society today. I wrote it with quite a bit of compassion and anger.

KR: What are you working on now?

I’m working on so many things right now! It’s exciting. My main focus is the graphic novel of Pretty Little Dead Girls. I’m busy working on the script for that so Orion can bring it to life with his gorgeous, intricate art. I’m editing my very first anthology for Crystal Lake Publications, and I can’t wait until that comes out in February. I’m also doing final edits on a novel for shopping before starting on my next one.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why? 

You can choose…

a) One fictional character from your writing.

b) One fictional character from any other book.

c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.

Ooh, nice twist. I’d want to be stranded with Reed Taylor from my book Nameless: The Darkness Comes. He’s good-natured, trustworthy, and would have a vested interest in keeping me alive. I’d also want to bring August from the book August Frost by Monique Roffey. He’s a lovely, quiet character and I’d appreciate his gentleness and eye for beauty. I’d also want…let’s see. Author Aimee Bender. I met her briefly once, and she was everything I wanted her to be. If we were going to be trapped, I’d want to be with easy-going people with inclusive personalities. Anyone can learn necessary survival skills, but not everybody can get along with people. I’d want to be trapped with people I can tolerate and love.

KR: Thank you Mercedes.

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Visit the Apex Publications website www.apexbookcompany.com

Mercedes M Yardley

You can visit Mercedes’ website: www.abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com

Follow Mercedes on Twitter: @mercedesmy 

Beautiful Sorrows

There is a place where sorrows pile up like snow and rest in your hair like cherry blossoms.

Boys have wings, monsters fall in love, women fade into nothingness, and the bones of small children snap like twigs.

Darkness will surely devour you–but it will be exquisitely lovely while doing so.

Mercedes M. Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows is an ephemeral collection encompassing twenty-seven short tales full of devastation, death, longing, and the shining ribbon of hope that binds them all together.

You can buy Beautiful Sorrows from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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