After the official Bram Stoker Awards nomination ballots were announced, I was contacted and asked to give an interview as an official nominee. (I’m a nominee! Yay!) The awards are later this week and they didn’t have time to run the interview series, but I’m allowed to put my interview up here. Please take a second to read some of my thoughts about my long fiction story Little Dead Red. Have a wonderful day!
Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project? If nominated in multiple categories, please touch briefly on each.
MMY: Stacey Turner invited me to a very cool anthology of Grimm Brothers’ stories that were retold exclusively by women. I’ve always been partial to Little Red Riding Hood and thought of how I could bring it into the modern day without losing the horror of it. I’m quite pleased with the result.
What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept(s) to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process?
MMY: Little Dead Red is all about abuse. Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and murder. It was difficult to tackle something so realistic and try to do it justice. Little Aleta and her mother, Grimm Marie, are fictional characters who represent very real world problems. I feel like their stories were told with care and grace, and that’s rewarding.
What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated work fits into (or help give shape to) that ideal?
MMY: I think great dark literature should make you feel. It should move the reader in some way, whether it be outright terror or quiet unease. Good literature is the antidote to apathy, and I think Little Dead Red makes the reader uncomfortable because it’s highlighting something that could actually happen to their children, if it hasn’t already.
I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?
MMY: I have three young kiddos in a tiny house the size of a shoebox. I can’t wait for ideal circumstances because they will never come. I do like to have Coke Zero at the ready, and also comfortable, snuggly socks while I write. I usually don’t listen to music because I need to hear if the kids are murdering each other in the next room. Or right in front me, because they’re usually with me.
I seem to get stuck when I try to force an idea that doesn’t grow organically. When I say, “Hey, I want to highlight a certain issue,” and stick a character into the story who doesn’t belong there, everything falls apart. The same thing happens if I’m writing strictly for deadline under duress, and I’m not emotionally invested in my piece. I had an editor fly out to Vegas for 36 hours so we could brainstorm and unstick me, because I’ve been at a halt on two books for about a year. She flew home yesterday, and I’m finally ready to face this demon.
As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?
MMY: The best advice I’ve ever received was to celebrate every little step of the process. As a creative, we like to challenge ourselves. We’re always thinking about the next project. But if you enjoy every aspect, every relationship created and every small advance toward the ultimate goal, the journey becomes a thing of beauty.
If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?
MMY: I think these awards are all about being recognized by your peers in the industry. A typical reader hasn’t heard about The Bram Stoker Awards, but the genre authors have. It’s very cool to have the members of the HWA read and ultimately care enough about your work to put it to a vote.
What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to?
MMY: I’m terrified of losing my children. I’m also uneasy about the idea of there being a Big Bad Horror out there that is too tough to handle. I like to take on projects that hit a core terror in each of us. Losing those we treasure is horrifying. Losing the critical fight and having the ancient horror overrun you? Unthinkable in Western horror.
What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about?
MMY: My favorite book from last year is Brian Kirk’s We Are Monsters. I was lucky enough to read an ARC of that and it was dark, psychological, and strangely sensitive. I love Therese Walsh’s The Moon Sisters. Matt Betts has quirky, unexpectedly poignant poetry alongside his fiction. I tend to read nonfiction for pleasure. I love that feeling of constantly learning. I hunger for knowledge.
Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. She writes short stories, nonfiction, novellas, and novels. She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Nameless, Little Dead Red, and her latest release, Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy. Mercedes lives and works in Sin City, and you can reach her at www.mercedesyardley.com.