Halloween Author Highlight--Mercedes Murdock Yardley
It's less than a week until Halloween and I've waited to the end to feature a most graceful specter. If any writing speaks dark and lovely, it's the work of Mercedes Murdock Yardley. I'm just an upstart writer, still trying to understand the inner workings of the trade, and I continue to learn a great deal from Mercedes. During the summer, I had the opportunity to participate in a book signing with her (my first!) and aside from the fact that she has written some really wonderful books, she is one of the sweetest and most gracious people I have ever met. I am coming to understand that people will read the books of authors they like personally, share their love for the book and the author, and before you know it, you have a best-selling author on your hands. Who knew? ;)
1) You've said in the past that you don't necessarily write dark horror and fantasy, but that you write honestly. When did you discover this was your genre? Did anything in particular happen?
MMY: I always wrote things that were skewed toward the dark, but the whimsical dark. Something frightening that had hope inside of it. Then I sold a couple of my pieces, some to literary magazines and some to horror mags, and that’s how I began running with the horror crowd. A more delightful group of people you’ll never find. I find that I write truth, and the truth that I see tends to be shadowy and sad, but always with beauty and joy thrown into the mix.
2) I love, love, love the title of your most recent work, Apocalyptic Montessta and Nuclear Lulu. How did you think up that very catchy title?
MMY: Thank you! I love this title, too! It was a long time coming. I thought of the title a few years ago and never really had the story to go with it until now.
In the beginning of the book, Montessa’s mother finds Montessa’s name on a grave stone. That’s true. My mother was walking in the cemetery and saw a marker with “Montessa” carved on it. She wanted to name me that. My father won out and that’s why I’m Mercedes.
I’m not sure when we started using the phrase “Apocalyptic Montessa”, but it’s the name of my computer and a few other things.
My husband’s name is Luke. “Yardley” sounds very familiar to the word “Nuclear” in Russian, so I call him Nuclear Lulu. I know, we’re crazy. So I used our names for the story, but that’s all us. He’s not a pyrokinetic serial killer and I’m not a psychic stripper. We’re both actually quite boring.
3) You have a busy family life. How do you find time to write? How many hours a day do you devote to it?
MMY: That’s funny. I just spoke at a conference this weekend about finding time to write, and it’s difficult. My trick is that I use the stolen moments that I find. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. Two minutes. There are days when I literally only write one sentence. That’s what I accomplish. But I try to make it the best sentence that I can come up with that day. One perfect sentence. Celebrate the small victories and trust that small things can create something great. That’s how you build a novel.
I’m pretty much writing all day, here and there. I turn the computer on and leave it up all day, running to it as much as I can. And when I’m not at the computer, but at therapies for the kids or driving to or from school, I’m either chatting with the kidlets or thinking about my story. I spend maybe three hours a day actually writing, in snippets of 15 minutes or less.
4) You recently parted ways with your agent, but you have such a great relationship with Shock Totem. Will you publish independently now?
MMY: I do have a wonderful relationship with Shock Totem! They’re my family and published my first book, Beautiful Sorrows. That said, I also work for them, so I’d like to branch out so we’re not publishing me all of the time. We want to avoid nepotism.
Apocalytpic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love came out through Ragnarok Publications, and I couldn’t be happier. The team is amazing, they do great work, and they’re very media savvy. I’d love to work with them again, if they’d have me.
I’m looking into new agents whom more accurately represent what I write. We’ll see. I haven’t ruled anything out yet.
5) Do you have anything in the works that will be published soon?
MMY: I currently have two different manuscripts out, so keep your fingers crossed with me on that one. I also have stories coming out in about ten anthologies, but I’m not sure when they’re all being published. Most will be next year, I believe. I just came out in a horror anthology called Undead and Unbound with my one and only zombie story titled “A Personal Apocalypse” and my story “A Pretty for Polly” came out in Ross E. Lockhart’s Tales of Jack the Ripper. I’m proud of that story. This year is the 125th anniversary of Saucy Jacky’s murder spree, and I tried to find the sensitive side of him. It’s about as difficult as you’d think.