I first met Mercedes M. Yardley one night one Twitter. I believe she mentioned something about waiting to receive a new disk for one of her video games, I can’t remember which one now but, with me being a big gamer, that caught my attention.
I asked what other games she played, and soon we were off talking about writing and many other things. It was a fun, the conversation refreshing, well for me anyways. So, I says to myself, “Let me see who this “chick” (lol) is talking about video games and writing.” and this is what I found.
Afterwards, I followed the link to her site, which looked different than it does now, and began reading some of her work.
Show Your Bones was the first story of Merc’s I happened to read and I hit her twitter follow button shortly after reading and a Twitter-Friendship was born. Following Merc’s blog and reading about her journey being a writer, wife, and mother has taught me a few things here and there. She’s been gracious enough to answer my questions whenever I’ve bugged her about something writing related. She’s a very cool person.
So, I decided to feature Merc on my Blog this week. I shot off a couple rounds of questions to her, and she shot back without hesitation. She’s fast on the draw, lol. We both survived the shoot-out, thankfully, and you can read about it below.
JAMAL: When did you start writing?
MERCEDES: I don’t remember NOT writing. My mom used to work at the local paper when I was little, and sometimes she’d bring me along so I could bang on the typewriter beside her. After college I took a too-long writing hiatus while I worked on becoming A Responsible Adult, but I started up again in about 2007. I realized that when I wasn’t writing, half of my soul was missing, and that’s no way to live a life.
JAMAL: What draws you to your genre?
MERCEDES: I call my genre “whimsical horror”. I’m a joyful girl, but my joy has always been laced heavily with sorrow. So I’m comfortable with the darkness and I find the beauty in it. That said, I’m also very wary of allowing darkness to consume your life, so I try very hard to strive for optimism as well. No horror simply for horror’s sake. There has to be a transcendence or at least hope for one. Perhaps it’s a fine line, but one that I manage to walk with ease.
JAMAL: What inspires you to write?
MERCEDES: What inspires me? Everything. A snatch of misheard lyrics, or a picture. Just a feeling that I get inside when I see something that moves me. I wrote one of my favorite short stories after reading a letter to Dear Abby. I’m inspired by outside influences and like to see which idea starts to rake my skin with that kind of slow burn. If it doesn’t burn, I don’t want it.
JAMAL: Which of your own works is your favorite and Why?
MERCEDES: That’s a toughie. My favorite character is in one story. Challenging myself and ultimately finding my voice happened in another,. But I’ll say that my favorite piece is a novel currently called Pretty Little Dead Girls. It was something completely different for me and I wrote the entire thing in three weeks. Nothing has ever come together like that! It was such a joy.
JAMAL: What’s your favorite part of your writing process?
MERCEDES: I love when everybody is in bed and the house is quiet. I get a Coke, click the computer on, and open my document. I’m not inspired; I’m working. I reread what I last wrote, and suddenly I hit that magical moment where I’m advancing the plot, the ideas are flowing, and I add a thousand words in one fell swoop I love that moment. It doesn’t always come, but it comes often enough.
JAMAL: When did you first get published and with what work?
MERCEDES: My flash fiction piece “Show Your Bones” was published in The Vestal Review in 2008, I think. They sent me a check for twelve dollars. I took a picture of the check and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.
JAMAL: How has writing affected/changed your life?
MERCEDES: Writing straight up saved my life. We moved from Seattle to Las Vegas for my husband’s very cool, very demanding, very time-consuming job. It was 117 degrees that summer and I was cooped up in the house with my sweet little boy who has Williams Syndrome. I spent my days making doctor’s appointments for him and trying to get him into school and therapies. It was too hot to play outside and we didn’t have any friends because, after all, where were we going to meet them? In the ER? I had never felt so isolated. Then one day I decided that I was just unhappy and it was up to me to change it. So I joined NaNoWriMo and wrote my first novel. I met other writers. I got over the fear and the drudgery and became myself. I’m so much happier. My family is so much happier! My kids love that their mom has her swagger back.
JAMAL: Are you working on anything currently?
MERCEDES: I’m revising a dark, snarky paranormal. I hope to get it to my agent before the twins are born, but since I’m currently writing you from the hospital, we’ll see. Don’t underestimate me, however. I’m very determined. 😉
JAMAL: Do you belong to a writing group?
MERCEDES: I belong to the best writer’s group in the world! We call ourselves the Illiterati, or sometimes the Interdimensional Wombats. The other members are Mason and billie the girl from the band Atlas Takes Aim, and the very bizarre Ryan Bridger. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, even ninjas.
JAMAL: What advice do you have for aspiring writers in terms of learning the craft and trying to get published?
MERCEDES: Starting with short stories really worked for me. I was able to practice the craft in a concise space. I was able to learn about marketing, working with multiple editors, etiquette, etc. I’d suggest finding somebody friendly who is willing to walk with you through some of the scary stuff. And I’d say to take the “aspiring” out of it. Are you writing? Making sacrifices to carve out time? Perhaps you aren’t published yet, but you’re doing everything in your power to be so. Then you, darling one, are a writer. Don’t let the “aspiring” label talk you out of being less than you are.
Now for Some fun questions.
JAMAL: What do you do in your spare time?
MERCEDES: I play a lot of video games. They make me happy. Well, ha, you already know that, Jamal! I make flowers for my hair. I play in the backyard with the kids. I try to swing on the swing set with them every day. I’m mad about kickboxing and can’t wait to start up again!
JAMAL: What’s one of your favorite books?
MERCEDES: I love August Frost by Monique Roffey. Beautiful, sensual, quiet, and quirky.
JAMAL: What’s one of your favorite films?
MERCEDES: One of my favorite films is The Last Unicorn. It’s all about darkness and whimsy
How ironic! The Last Unicorn is one of my fav’s too. I told Merc I’d show proof and here it is. Don’t know if this’ll take away my MAN card but…I’m just versatile like that, lol!
JAMAL: What’s one of your favorite songs?
MERCEDES: My theme is “Come Back From San Francisco” by The Magnetic Fields. But whenever I’m sad, my husband plays “Leggy Blonde” by Flight of the Conchords. I love Murray.
JAMAL: Outside of your own work, who’s your favorite Villain?
MERCEDES: My favorite villain is a toss-up between Hannibal Lector and Disney’s Maleficent. I’m drawn to elegant, intelligent villains.
JAMAL: Outside of your own work, who’s your favorite Hero?
MERCEDES: Heroes, heroes, heroes. Hmm, I’m more about the villain. Oh, I know! My favorite MC is probably from the book that Ryan Bridger is currently writing. The character is so terrifyingly complex. When the book comes out, I can share it openly.
Normally that would’ve been the end of the interview, but then Mercedes, with her quick wit, threw this at me.
MERCEDES: So I have a question for you, J! Have you answered these questions? I’d be delighted to read them!
Nice one, Merc. Turn my own questions against me, lol. I suppose I could interview myself for you to answer the questions. Maybe I’ll do it as a Vlog instead of text. I don’t know maybe. I’ll see, lol.
At any rate, everyone should go check out Merc’s blog A Broken Laptop and you’ll find discover and great and invaluable new friend.