Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears stilettos and red lipstick. She is the author of the short story collection Beautiful Sorrows, the novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and her debut novel Nameless. Her website is www.mercedesyardley.com.
Welcome to Ravenous Reads, Mercedes. Care to tell us a little about yourself?
MMY: Gladly! I’m a small town girl who moved to Las Vegas. I have three little kiddos and I usually have at least one of them climbing on me while I’m trying to write. I’m really attracted to the juxtaposition of loveliness and brutality, and I find that I write about these things a lot. The dark and the light. The sorrowful and hopeful.
I sometimes ask “when did you realize you had the writing bug?,” but I’ll ask you this; why do you write?
MMY: Writing is the only thing I really do for myself. It helps me clear my head. It gives me a rush. I didn’t write for several years because I was trying to get my head out of the clouds and be responsible, but I realized that I wasn’t happy. Stories were always in the back of my head, and I treated them like they were a nuisance to my Serious, Adult Life instead of respecting them as valuable. Now writing is my lifeline. It really is like breathing. If I stop writing, I’d die.
Thinking back, what’s the first book you remember reading?
MMY: It was a book my grandmother gave me called “Unicorn Magic”, by Ida Mae McIntryre. It’s fanciful and dark, about an evil wizard who wants the prince to marry his daughter made of straw. I was attracted to the dark and whimsical from the get-go. In fact, thank you for asking me this question! I just tracked down an old copy of the book an ordered it.
What stories have stuck with you over time?
MMY: I had a book of fairytales that I used to pour over. The little glass fairy and the boy who had his eyes turned into jewels for crying too much are some that stuck with me. The Last Unicorn, by Peter. S. Beagle and Watership Down stuck with me, as well. Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. It’s a rather eclectic list.
Apocalyptic Montessa is the antithesis of a light, fluffy read. Where does the darkness come from?
MMY: The darkness come from truth. It comes from reality. There’s that phrase “It takes a certain darkness to see the stars” and I think that comes into play here.
My goal while writing Apocalyptic Montessa was to see if I could take people at their worst, their most vile, and see if I could still create some humanity to them. I’m seeing so much on the news that’s just breaking my heart. Monsters wearing people clothes who are roaming the earth. Is there any humanity left? Are there actually spirits and dreams and personalities inside? I had a discussion with a friend about this very thing not long ago. If somebody does something so hideous, can they still be a person of value? I wanted to explore that, so the darkness was necessary. But there was still love between Montessa and her Lu. It may have been skewed, but it was real.
I write dark tales and I also write fluffy tales. Right now I’m working on a very sweet, childlike tale titled “The Shiny-Eyed, Silver-Haired Boy and the Bunny-Who-Was-Really-A-Girl”. I enjoy doing both.
Your character, Lu, turned the table on his abuser, but instead of overcoming a tough moment in his life, he let it consume him and mold him into a monster. Can you tell us the motivating factor behind Lu’s actions?
MMY: Lu always runs hot. Just this side of explosive. Lu doesn’t know how to let things go. He controls himself to the very best of his ability, but he wasn’t really taught how to cope with things in a healthy fashion. The things that his father said have always stuck with him. Who, really, doesn’t want to please their father? To be labeled a demon and have his father do the things he did…I think that fissured Lu.
If he had met Montessa earlier in life, I think she could have grounded him like he needed. But he didn’t have anyone. He was on his own and did the best he could.
Without the paranormal and disturbingly extreme aspects of Lu and Montessa’s almost Romeo and Juliet-like affair (a movie I loved, by the way. The one with Leonardo), in real life women tend to seek out these bad, bad boys. What’s your view on this?
MMY: Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet was one of my favorites! It was also one of the best soundtracks of the ‘90’s. Lu would really dig One Inch Punch’s song “Pretty Piece of Flesh”.
As to some women being attracted to bad boys, I think it has to do with a few things. It’s exciting. Media always glorifies the bad boy. And if you find somebody who is tough and wild, but they show their tender side to you, isn’t that the ultimate? Beauty and the Beast. Suddenly that situation makes you Beauty.
Have you ever experienced an all-consuming love to the point where you felt, at the time, that you would do anything for that person?
MMY: Ha! Love is scary enough without throwing extra craziness into it. But would I ever commit murder? I don’t think so. That’s a pretty ingrained moral decision. To protect myself or someone I love, sure. But I could never seek out innocent people and kill them for somebody else. My upbringing was much more stable than Montessa’s or Lu’s.
I like my reads and movies bloody, complicated, and extreme. There seems to be an influx in both industries. What do you think the appeal is?
MMY: I think our generation grew up on some pretty dark cartoons. The animated Watership Down movie. The bunyip song on Dot and the Kangaroo scarred a ton of us. A Nightmare Before Christmas, which is adorable and dark. Our parents also had a ton of different media available to them that their parents didn’t. I remember watching shows from behind the living room chair that were just terrifying and thrilling. So we developed our dark tastes early.
I also think we’re experiencing pretty horrifying times. Perhaps not necessarily worse than before, but thanks to the media, we’re hearing about every single terrible thing that happens. Our appetite for more extreme forms of entertainment is increasing.
Which one of your tales are precious to you?
MMY: My favorite thing that I ever wrote is a quirky novel titled Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy. It’s about a woman who is destined to be murdered, and everybody realizes it. The language is very lyrical and it has heavy magical realism. I may or may not have an announcement about it soon.
I also have a short story titled “The Boy Who Hangs the Stars” that is dear to my heart.
What are your top 2013 reads?
MMY: I read the most fascinating book titled Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism by Barbara Weisberg. It’s a nonfiction title about two sisters who are considered the first mediums in America. I thought it was sociologically riveting.
I also really liked a short story titled “Jingle” by Terri-Lynn DeFino. It had a wonderful cadence to it.
If you could experience/play the role of one actor/actress in a film, who would it be and in what movie?
MMY: I always loved Christina Ricci’s roles. They range from fun and campy to thoughtful and powerful. I especially liked her in Penelope and Sleepy Hollow.
Clark Kent is madly in love with you, but Lex Luther knows how to make you feel like a woman, who do you take home for the night and why?
MMY: Anybody can make you feel like a woman for a night. Guys like that are a dime a dozen. Give me a man who bares his heart. That’s who I want.
What can we expect from you in the future?
MMY: I recently quit Shock Totem Magazine in order to write novels full-time. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately the one that needed to be made. My first novel, Nameless, is being released in January 2014. I have a couple of other novels in the works, as well as two really cool novellas in different shared-world projects.
I’ll be coming out in a few different anthologies, as well. One that I’m particularly excited for is the Neverland’s Library anthology. Anyone familiar with my work will see quite a few familiar characters showing up in that story. That was a lot of fun.
Where can you be found?
I’m all over the place. I blog regularly at http://abrokenlaptop.com/.
You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mercedes.murdockyardley. That’s my personal page.
If you want to hear about straight writing, I have an author’s page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mercedes-M-Yardley/259448987862.
I’m on Twitter as @mercedesmy.
Please drop by! I’d love to get to know everybody better.
I’m glad you took the time to chat with me. Your answers were fabulous!
Thanks for the interview! I really enjoyed it.
Be sure to check out Mercedes’ Reads on her Amazon Page.