Interview – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Nameless: The Darkness Comes
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu and the upcoming Bone Angel Trilogy. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Mercedes.
Mercedes M. Yardley: Thank you so much for having me! You have a lovely lounge. I especially dig your curtains.
SPS: Why thank you. For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
MMY: Certainly. I’m just the girl-next-door who wears red stilettos on my feet and poisonous flowers in my hair. I write dark fantasy and whimsical horror. Monsters who love is a favorite theme of mine. I do quite a few short stories, which are scattered here and there, and just released my first novella and debut novel. So eeeeee! Now I’m officially novelist!
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
MMY: Ha! I have no perfect writing conditions! If I did, I would never write.
I have three small children, so I just try to do the best I can. I get everybody a snack. We get out coloring books and homework. Then they fight and read and run around while I write as much as possible before they start disassembling the house.
One day I might have a quiet home. Maybe it’ll be conducive to writing, and maybe it won’t.
I do write every day. Sometimes it’s as little as a sentence or two on a WIP, but I’m always working on something. I do it every chance I get, every spare moment.
SPS: Where do you think your love of writing Dark Fantasy came from?
MMY: I was always attracted to dark, sweet shows. Labyrinth, for example. The Dark Crystal. I like stories to have whimsy and glitter, but also teeth. I think fear is a powerful shared emotion. It links us all together. There’s something thrilling and delightfully breathless about being afraid, but in a safe environment. I don’t want to meet a demon on the street, but I love to curl up and read about it.
SPS: We’ll touch on your past work a little later. But, for now we’d like to talk about the imminent release of Nameless: The Darkness Comes, the first book in The Bone Angel Trilogy. How excited are you for its release?
MMY: I’m so excited! So dorkily, geekily excited! In fact, Nameless: The Darkness Comes kinda pulled a fast one on all of us, and pretty much chose to release itself a week early. SURPRISE! It was a bit of a scramble, but honestly some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life! That book is incorrigible.
SPS: Can you tell us what someone could expect if they picked up a copy of Nameless?
MMY: They can expect a dark, snarky story with a lot of heart and humor. It deals with somber elements, including kidnapping, suicide, mental health, and drug abuse, but there’s a lot of lightness to it, as well. Think Dean Koontz’s Tick Tock or David Wong’s John Dies at the End.
SPS: Tell us about Luna. Where did the inspiration for her character come from?
MMY: Luna is cherry-picked from a thousand different places. She’s named after my daughter, for one thing. She wears my combat boots. I was learning how to ride a motorcycle when I was writing this, so that’s where her bike comes from. Something that somebody says here, a situation that I observe there. She’s pretty much my sarcastic muse. She screams at me a lot. She screams at everybody a lot.
SPS: We love a good dose of Sarcasm here. Was it a conscious effort to insert humor, to lighten some of the darker situations?
MMY: It wasn’t intentional. It just happened. The very first line that I sat down and wrote said, “Dude, that guy has a demon.” Straight up. I instantly knew that was Luna’s voice, that she had this type of humor to her, that she processed things in a different way. She’s tough and vulnerable at the same time, and it shines through in the way she talks.
SPS: It’s not every day you hear of a Demon named Sparkles, care to elaborate?
MMY: I’ll just say that demons aren’t always exactly the way you’d expect them to be.
SPS: Do you have any particular characters in the book that you enjoyed writing more than the others?
MMY: Oh, I enjoyed writing them all! Each character was my favorite when I was writing them. But if I ever found myself stuck, I’d throw Reed Taylor and Mouth together. I really enjoyed writing scenes where Mouth is telling Reed Taylor off, and Reed Taylor can’t even see him. How frustrating would that be for a demon of some import? I’m sure it drove Mouth mad.
SPS: What sort of emotions would you like to stir in your readers?
MMY: Any emotion. All emotion. I want to make them feel. Feel anything. I’m hoping there’s a little concern and maybe even some fear. I’d love to stir some anxiety. But I especially want them to feel hope and maybe even love for the characters. Investment. If I could use simple words on a page to stir any emotion at all, I’d be thrilled.
SPS: Are you an author who loves to leave things on a cliff-hanger or can we expect some kind of resolution before book II?
MMY: There’s absolutely resolution. I hate that “Oh, no what happens next?” feeling when you have to wait a year for the book. The main problem in book one will be solved. Something new will be introduced. And in book two, we’ll plunge right in again.
SPS: What were the reasons behind Nameless becoming a trilogy and how much of the concluding 2 parts of the trilogy do you have already mapped out?
MMY: Nameless was set up to be a sequel, but suddenly I was flattened by the idea of a trilogy. There’s a richness there, and I had unintentionally set the building blocks for a trilogy. I thought, “This and this and this should happen!” And there was a second of amazement. Then some cheering. A trilogy it is! I’m so glad that Ragnarok was up for it. They’re such sweet suckers…er, people.
I have some of the major key ideas plotted. Some very dark, very important scenes. Luna is going to be pushed until she breaks, I think. She’s nearly there already.
SPS: We always like to take a moment to look at an author’s book covers. Can you tell us a little about how the cover to Nameless came about?
MMY: George Cotronis did the cover to my novella Apocalytpic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. He has this beautiful, otherworldly quality to his work. It’s disjointed and seamless at the same time, if such a thing is possible. He was so great to work with before that we wanted to use him again. We told him the basics of the plot, and he came up with the perfect Luna. He really nailed it.
SPS: You recently won the Reddit 2013 ‘Stabby’ Award for Best Short Fiction for Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu. Congratulations. Did it come as a shock? Oh, and what did they send you?
MMY: I was so surprised and so excited! Reddit has over 46,000 users, so to win something like The Stabby was really, really cool. And they sent me the coolest award I’ve ever received! It’s a huge medieval dagger with my name engraved on it. Who doesn’t want a dagger with your name on it?
Actually, that sounds dangerously foreboding. Delicious!
SPS: You’ve been gathering some really impressive reviews; did you ever expect things to progress as they have?
MMY: There are some wonderful reviews that absolutely delight me. They’re really humbling. And I’ve been receiving some of the greatest emails of my life, mostly by people who are affected personally by some of the darker subject matter that I touch on. This means so much to me. It makes it feel like a shared experience, and that’s beautiful.
But I’m sure the negative, soul-killing reviews will start rolling in soon. I’m prepared for that, as well. I’m working on developing that thick skin all writers covet.
SPS: Can you fill everyone in on the story of Montessa and Lulu?
MMY: Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu is about two exceptionally broken people who meet up in the most unlikely of scenarios. Montessa is walking home late one night when Lu, who is a serial killer, abducts her and ties her up inside of his big rig. But Montessa isn’t like other girls. She’s special, and soon Lu sees it. Instead of murdering this woman, he tries to protect her in the only way he knows how.
They’re good (ish) people doing horrible things. I wanted to see if I could make serial killers sympathetic. It’s a dark and bloody tale, but there’s real love there. There’s a beauty to the darkness. It’s like watching people you really care about destroy themselves. I wish I could step in and save them.
SPS: What we can we expect next from the pen of Mercedes M. Yardley? Book II in The Bone Angel Trilogy, or something different?
MMY: There are lovely things in the works! I have a few short stories coming out soon, as well as some shared-world work later this year. But my favorite thing I ever, ever wrote will be coming out in the fall. I can’t wait for it! It’s my literary baby! And then book II in The Bone Angel Trilogy will be out in January of 2015. It’s a very busy year.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
MMY: Not necessarily. I tried the more traditional routes, and had some encouraging interest. But ultimately, the answer I received was that although people were interested in my work, they didn’t know how to market it. My agent advised me to go with smaller presses or even self-publish because there didn’t seem to be another way to really break in. When a New York City agent advises you toward small presses, then you know the publishing world has shifted. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m enjoying it.
SPS: You are published through Ragnarok Publications. Any other authors / books there you can recommend?
MMY: Absolutely! Tim Marquitz has The Demon Squad series. Kenny Soward has The Gnome Saga series. And Tim, Kenny, and J.M Martin team up for The Dead West series. If you like zombies and westerns, that’s the way to go. And I’m especially excited for Seth Skorkowsky’s debut novel Damoren. That releases in February, I think. I’m all over that!
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
MMY: I’d suggest being fearless. Sit down and write. The editing, the agents, the submitting…all of that comes later, so don’t freak out about it now. Do you like the writing process? If so, keep going, because that’s where you’re going to spend your time. Writing. All of that stuff that’s scaring you? Let it go. You’ll learn what you need to know, and it won’t be so daunting. Just write and enjoy.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
MMY: Yes! If you haven’t read Christopher Barzak, then you need to. I mean, come on. Neil Gaiman has Chris’ books on his shelf. You should, too.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today Mercedes, and all the best for the future.
MMY: Thank you so much! It was certainly a pleasure.
SPS: For more information on Mercedes M. Yardley and her work, please do visit her Author page here. And, do keep your eyes out for our review of Nameless, dropping in the next 48 hours.