Interview with Mercedes M. Yardley, Author of Nameless
So you’ve seen our reviews for the whimsically dark Nameless: The Darkness Comes and the deliciously twisted but powerful Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu, and if you’re anything like me after reading these books, you’re probably thinking right now: I simply must find out more about this author.
Well, you’re in luck! The BiblioSanctum is honored and thrilled to feature Mercedes M. Yardley on the blog today.
Mogsy: Hello Mercedes, and welcome to the BiblioSanctum! This is so exciting, thank you so much for the interview!
Mercedes M. Yardley: Hi Mogsy! I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for having me.
Mogsy: Let’s dive right in! As a dark fantasy writer, you’ve written numerous stories for anthologies and magazines, a novella (speaking of which, I loved Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu) and now the newly released Nameless, your debut novel and the first book of a new trilogy. Tell us! What are new readers in for? How would you describe your work to them?
MMY: I’d say that I write dark fantasy and horror for people who don’t like horror. I love monsters in love. Finding the beauty and intricacies in characters that most might not find especially empathetic. I adore the magnificence of words. There’s quite a bit of wordplay in my books. They’re dark and hopeful.
Mogsy: What was it like to write Nameless, going from writing short fiction to a longer piece? Did it feel very different or daunting?
MMY: It wasn’t especially difficult. Most people don’t know this, but Nameless wasn’t the first novel that I wrote; it was only the first novel published. They don’t necessarily publish in the order that you write them. The stars aligned perfectly for Nameless to come out right now, and I’m very pleased with it. So really, it’s my…let me see…fifth or sixth novel that I actually wrote. So I had a decent hang of it by then.
But it is difficult transitioning from short pieces to novel-length ones. I’m especially fond of flash fiction, which is a thousand words or less, so when I’m looking at an 80,000 word novel, it can be a little bit daunting. But at the same time, it gives me room to play, and there’s a sense of relief to it. “Ah! I can finally explain everything! This is lovely.” With short fiction you need to imply so much without really saying anything at all. Longer works allow you to take the time that you need.
Mogsy: In the books of yours that I’ve read, there is a strong horror element but also, I was surprised to see, a powerful love story. People don’t usually associate the two, but these “strange loves” that are so terrifying and yet so intense is what I’ve come to love about your work. Ever since reading Apocalyptic Montessa, I’ve been dying to ask: where do you get your ideas or inspiration for these relationships?
MMY: My husband, of course. He is strange and terrifying.
Of course I’m kidding. I’m the strange and terrifying one in our relationship.
You know, I’ve always been drawn to that sort of thing. The concept of loving the unlovable. Again, it goes back to that “Monsters Who Love” theme. Maybe it came from reading too many Beauty and the Beast or Bearskin stories growing up. But I firmly believe in the goodness of humanity. I believe that each soul, no matter how corrupt, has beauty and a little seed of goodness inside of them. This is interesting because a friend and I were discussing this very thing the other day. People who are monsters and our relationships to them. I used to work in a very dark and scary environment. I worked at a home for sex offenders, and it changed my perspective dramatically. I saw the worst of the worst, the horrible things that people could do, and I was also allowed to see that despite these unfathomable things, they were still people with some beautiful thoughts. One day one of the clients held the door open for me, and it was a very big deal. He said he wanted to learn to do things for other people. That maybe the little good things could add up and he could be of worth some day. That simple act of holding a door open for me, when I was, in all reality, a potential rape victim for him…that changed me. Beauty in the horror. Love in the monsters. It’s there.
I love exploring that. Finding that worth in people and in my characters. It’s my diamond in the rough.
Mogsy: From Luna to Montessa, Lulu to Reed Taylor, I just have to say I love your character development. And of course, I’m also really intrigued by your unique take on Jack the Ripper in your story in the Tales of Jack the Ripper anthology. Is there a process for you when it comes to shaping such interesting and distinct characters? Do you have a good idea of them before you start, or do they sometimes surprise you as the writing progresses?
MMY: This is a great question! I’m constantly surprised in my writing process. I sit down with a vague idea and go from there. Last night, for example, I wrote a story where I opened my computer and thought, “Okay. I have a garden gnome named Boris and a character named Todd. Go.” Now I know that Boris talks and Todd is dead, but I didn’t know that when I sat down.
With “A Pretty for Polly”, the Jack the Ripper story, I knew I wanted to make him as sympathetic as possible. I also knew it would be difficult. Jack the Ripper is tough to garner any sympathy for. But I was smitten with the anthology and really wanted to do something unique with Saucy Jack.
Luna was snarky and terrified of being abandoned. (That’s why she never calls Reed Taylor by his first name only; it’s too intimate.) Montessa is special but weary. Lulu tries to keep his explosive, steamy anger under wraps. Reed Taylor has a good heart. These are the things I knew about the characters going in. They’re tiny little scraps of ideas, but I let them work themselves out until they wove together to create, what I hope, are fully fleshed characters.
Mogsy: Great answer, and thanks for satisfying my curiosity! As you know, when I interview an author, I like to find out more about their writing and their stories, but I also want to know more about them too. What is thing that readers might be surprised to learn about you that’s not in your author bio or anywhere else?
MMY: My mother had a lilac bush and purple irises growing in the backyard. There was an apple tree, too, and a weeping willow. I would climb in the willow and read. I had a certain branch that I liked to sit on. I’d write poems beneath the lilacs and play with my He-Man and She-Ra dolls there. And to this day purple irises are my favorite flowers. When I get particularly stressed and need to relax, I find that I still dream of the backyard set up like it used to be.
Mogsy: That sounds truly, truly wonderful. Speaking of reading, you also strike me as someone who would read some interesting books. What are you currently reading right now, or what are some good books that you’d recommend?
MMY: Oh, I’m reading everything! A little bit of everything at the same time. I’m reading a book on cleaning up crime scenes and blood spills. Another one about Elizabeth Short, who is better known as The Black Dahlia. I’m reading Bunnicula with my kids, and just finished a book that I read as a child called The Witches of Worm. And I also finished a book about auras that my sister-in-law lent me. Apparently my aura is magenta. I can blame it for all of my problems.
I’d suggest everybody read August Frost by Monique Roffey. It’s absolutely lovely. My favorite book that I read last year was probably a nonfiction book titled Talking to the Dead by Barbara Weisberg. It’s about the rise of spiritualism in the US and focuses on the Fox sisters. The whole concept of paranormal aspect aside, it was a fascinating look into the role of women at the time. For instance, it was improper to work outside of the home. But holding séances in your parlor? Oh, well, it’s in the house. That’s cool.
It’s just bizarre to me.
Mogsy: Well, I believe you’ve just made me add a couple more books to my to-read list. And Bunnicula! That’s such an awesome book to read to kids. On that note, how do you balance writing with the other aspects of your life like family, etc? And are there any hobbies you like to escape to in order to unwind?
MMY: My friend and fellow author C. Michelle Jefferies and I were just having this conversation at lunch last month! Balance is so difficult. Almost too difficult. She decided that she’s going to use the term “alignment” instead of balance, and I like that. I’m going to align myself with my goals rather than worrying about balance all of the time. Because it’s impossible. I find that I can take care of the kids and write, or take care of the kids and clean the house, or do promo and clean and let the kids look like little Charles Dickens orphans. I can’t seem to do all of it. So if I shoot for my goals, and make sure I’m heading in the right direction, then I’ll consider that success. I’m exceptionally hard on myself. I always feel like I’m severely lacking. I think most of us expect too much out of ourselves. But if I’m aligned correctly, and heading in the right direction, maybe that will be enough to put my heart at ease.
Mogsy: Nameless is the first book of The Bone Angel trilogy, with two more books incoming, yay! So what’s next for Luna Masterson? At this early point, is there anything you can tell us about the sequel?
MMY: Bwahahaha! That’s what I can tell you.
We spent the first book getting to know Luna and realizing how loyal yet terrified she is. She’s had everybody she’s ever cared about taken from her at one time or another. I expect Book Two to be darker. I want to push her to the breaking point and see what happens. She thinks she’s tough, but Luna is exceptionally vulnerable. We’re going to explore that vulnerability a little bit.
Mogsy: I can’t wait! Now I am excited for Luna but kind of fear for her at the same time. She was just such a delight. But now that we know about Luna, what else is next for Mercedes M. Yardley? Aside from The Bone Angel, are there any ideas for other stories? Any big projects you’re excited about currently or in the near future, either writing or non-writing related?
MMY: Oh my goodness, Mogsy. There are projects! Tons and tons of projects. Including the sequel to Nameless: The Darkness Comes, I’m currently working on four novels. Two are collaborations. My favorite thing that I ever, ever wrote is coming out from Ragnarok Publications this September, and I’m simply over the moon about it! And I’m also involved with two separate, very intricate shared-world projects. It’s an insanely busy but exciting year for me.
Mogsy: Whee I’m so happy to hear about more books from you this year! You’ve given me lots to look forward to now.
Once again, thanks for being so awesome, Mercedes. And for writing such great stories! On behalf of all of us at BiblioSanctum, we appreciate you for dropping by. Wishing you the best for all your current and future endeavors!
MMY: Thank you so much! I appreciate you letting me stomp around your turf.