TMI with T-I-M Spotlight… on Mercedes M. Yardley
Nope, this time I’d like to step out of the spotlight and have my readers be introduced to the lovely and talented Mercedes. She is my co-chair for the HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION Las Vegas chapter, of which I’d never been able to do it without her. Sure, I’m a loud, energetic, (often times called obnoxious) nutball but she has the real talent and awards to back it up. I’m a fan of her as a person but even more of her style of artful horror… “dark with whimsy”… what?! Only her. Her Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love story was one of the best things I read in 2018. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s really weird, lovely, a charismatic enigma of a tale that ultimately grips you and makes you its slave. I was overpowered by it.
Her professional writer BIO goes as follows:
Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears poisonous flowers in her hair. She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, the Stabby Award-winning Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls, and Detritus in Love. She recently won the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for her novella Little Dead Red and was a Bram-Stoker nominee for her short story “Loving You Darkly.” Mercedes lives and creates in Las Vegas.
I recently had a moment to catch up with this dark artist for the readers, here’s what she had to say:
HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER?
MMY: Absolutely. I remember being in third grade and telling my teacher that I wanted to be an author. I’d write stories and she’d let me read them out loud to the class. I was always holed up somewhere either reading or writing something in a notebook. It wasn’t until later that self-doubt and this strange concept of “adult responsibility” set it. The world speaks loudly and it told me that writing wasn’t realistic. Let me tell assure you that the world lies. You can absolutely become an author. It’s achievable.
WHAT WORKS INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER?
MMY: I wanted to write since I was really young, so I’d say books like Stephen King’s IT (which I read at eight years old) and maybe some children’s books. I loved the Bunnicula series and the Chronicles of Prydain books. They were all cheery and dark at the same time. One book that very much influenced me when I was older was ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Oh, I loathed that book! It was so difficult to understand. The characters were unlikable. But it was my introduction to magical surrealism, and I didn’t know such a thing existed. You mean I can write like that? I can have stars fall from the sky and chime when they hit the ground? I can have irises scream and throw themselves to the floor? That book changed my world. It changed my life.
DO YOU HAVE AN IDEAL READER IN MIND? WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD BEST RELATE TO YOUR STORIES?
MMY: The only time I have an ideal reader is when I am literally writing a story for a specific person. My novel NAMELESS was written for my oldest childhood friend, so naturally, I thought of her. Other than that, no. I write for myself. I write to explore and discover. I think my work is varied and different, so certain things reach out to different readers. Some seem to enjoy the lyrical prose and fairytale nature of some of my dreamier books. Others seem drawn to the snark and open discussions of mental illness in some of my darker books. I discuss current situations quite a bit. Literature is a safe place to discuss the horrors of reality. We lose people we love. We meet real-life monsters. We deal with suicide, murder, depression, oppression, and hate. Someone might open my book because of the storyline but will stay because we’re having a conversation about something very true and real. We need to discuss these things, but our society is really strange about it. We sweep anything difficult or uncomfortable under the rug. Ever walk into a room and say, “Straight up, I’m struggling with some grief.” That shuts the party right down. All you’ll hear is a sad trombone and then crickets.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE THE WORDS YOU DO? WHATS THE PROCESS LIKE?
MMY: I choose the words that fit in my mouth perfectly. They have to roll around in there like pebbles or pearls. I began my career writing short stories, especially flash fiction. Flash is generally 1,000 words or less, and the pieces need to be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. That means you choose each and every word with care. You polish each one like a jewel. So I tend to write fairly briefly, using the word that I think does the best job. I write like I think. I write like I talk. Words are currency and I try to use the correct ones.
My process is simple: I sit down and write. I don’t pre-plan. I don’t outline. I sit down and say whatever it is that I want to say. I want to tell a story, yes, but the main reason I write is to process things. The last story I wrote was influenced by the murder of my friend. I can’t talk about it yet, but I can write about it. It was brief, raw, and messy. Later on, I might be able to explore it more thoroughly and with grace, but at the moment, that was all I could do.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE?
MMY: Wesley Chu would play the serial killer Lu in APOCALYPTIC MONTESSA AND NUCLEAR LULU: A TALE OF ATOMIC LOVE. He would be perfection in that role. Neil Patrick Harris would play the likable killer in PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS: A NOVEL OF MURDER AND WHIMSY. Rose Byrne would be Cherry in my book that is currently being shopped around. She has such a broken, delicate strength about her. She’s my ideal actress for that part.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES NEW WRITERS MAKE?
MMY: I have two answers for this, and they’re complete opposites. In my experience, new writers tend to fall into two camps.
- New writers care too much about what other people think. They want people’s opinions. They write and re-write their work based on what others say. They don’t know the ropes yet and don’t know how to stand true to their own selves without being buffeted around by the publishing world.
- New writers don’t care what other people think. They want people’s opinions. They’ll refuse to rewrite based on the critiques of others. They don’t know the ropes yet but think they’re entitled to dismiss the publishing guidelines and etiquette of the publishing world.
MMY: I haven’t! It looks like a delight!
WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU? A MILLION READERS? AN AWARD? BEING PRAISED BY PEERS?
MMY: This is a great question because I’m currently reevaluating this myself. Goals are important because they let you see how far you’ve come. First, my concept of success was getting my first book out. Then it was getting an audiobook out. Then it was to win a major award. With each accomplishment, I try to enjoy that feeling of success before moving the goalpost out a little further.
Now? I think my current definition of success is to write whatever I want to write. I don’t want to have to hustle. I don’t want to break in. I want to have publishers and readers say, “Oh, Mercedes has something new coming out? Excellent. I want to read it because I enjoy her work.” I want to earn that confidence from others and write stories that are fulfilling to me.
HOW DOES FEAR FACTOR INTO YOUR NARRATIVE?
MMY: I’m a woman living in Las Vegas who has had almost all of my fears realized at some point. Fear absolutely factors into my narrative. It’s a natural emotion and deserves to be looked at, good and hard, like any other ugly thing.
ADVICE FOR WANNABE WRITERS THAT HAVEN’T COMMITTED YET?
MMY: My advice is that you don’t *have* to commit. Unless you’re planning on writing full time in order to support yourself, literature shouldn’t be a grind. It’s art. It’s joy. It’s free therapy. We give ourselves these arbitrary rules. You have to sit in your chair and write every single day. You have to write for two hours at a time or it doesn’t count. Unless this is your full time job and you need to get the words down in order to eat and heat your house, let those rules go. Write for 15 minutes. Write if you want to. If you put too much pressure on yourself, not only will you loathe the process, but it will show in your work.
I cannot recommend her work highly enough.
Don’t take my word for it.
You can reach her at www.abrokenlaptop.com.https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/tmi-with-t-i-m-spotlight-on-the-amazingly-fascinating-and-uber-talented-mercedes-m-yardley/https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/TMI-with-TIM-600x257.pnghttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/TMI-with-TIM-150x64.pngColumnTMI with TIMHWA,MERCEDES M. YARDLEY,Tim Chizmar,Vegas