So. You’ve heard of soul mates, right? Or even soul sisters (I know you have. We all love Train). Well, I have one. Mercedes Murdock Yardley is, like, the long lost sister I stumbled upon thanks to Facebook. Looking at us, you might never guess. She is definitely the cool sister. But we have a freakish amount of THINGS in common. Anyway, she is one of my writing gurus (If you know me well, you know I have gurus for everything –electrician gurus – thanks hubs! Battle gurus, fishing gurus, you get the idea). She is also my makeup guru and fashion guru. She plays many roles.
One of the things that makes Mercedes so unique is her skill at writing horror. She is also an editor for Shock Totem magazine, and this girl knows her stuff. And since it’s Women in Horror Month, what a perfect time to beg her to tell us all her secrets!(Plus, I'm starting a horror story, so I've been pestering her for help. Bwahahhaa)
So, horror huh? What got you into that?
MMY: I’ve always been a somewhat dark little girl.
I never thought that I could write horror. I didn’t have an understanding of what it was. I thought that it was blood, guts, and gore, and I’m not into that scene. But horror is so much more than that! It’s about dread. Emotion. A friend actually dared me to write a horror story for a magazine, and I found that I really liked the genre. It just fit. Like a puzzle piece clicking into place. I think my writing also works nicely outside of genre, as well. But if we’re talking genre, horror is a wonderful one.
Do you ever give yourself nightmares?
MMY: That’s backwards. I have nightmares, and they come out in stories. Some of the more nightmarish scenes in some of my novels (that haven’t seen the light of day, as yet) come directly from my dreams. Screaming starfish jumping out of a bloody aquarium, for example, or monsters that swim under the floor.
When I think horror, I think Stephen King or Dean Koontz (weird older-ish men). Is that a typical reaction when you tell people what you write?
MMY: Ha! Mostly people are surprised that I’m so nice and I write horror. I’ll be discussing decapitations while feeding my baby graham crackers. That’s what blows most people’s minds. That you can write something dark and still have a normal life. We don’t all live in haunted mansions! Mostly because we can’t afford it. But still!
Do you think there are obstacles to writing in the horror genre that you wouldn’t encounter in other genres?
MMY: There’s still a stigma, I think. People tend to write horror off immediately. They’ll say, “Oh, I’m just not into that,” without knowing what horror really is. Or sometimes somebody will assume that all horror writers are scary, sick twists. I honestly have found horror writers to be some of the happiest, healthiest, well-adjusted people that I know. We put all of our sickness on the page and exorcise it from or souls.
I think writing horror takes a completely different mindset than writing other genres. Do you think that’s true?
MMY: Maybe. I have gallows humor, so things that are scary to other people are kind of funny to me. I think Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling are a wonderful, romantic couple. So…maybe yes? :D
What tips do you have for someone just venturing into the world of horror? Any suggestions?
MMY: Read! Watch horror on TV! Be proud to get your fingers bloody! By TYPING, I mean. There are all types of horror. Slow burn, splatter punk, torture porn. I write whimsical horror. The genre is alive and well. Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in it. It’s quite a lovely place to be.
And now it’s time for the obligatory plug for my new short story collection, Beautiful Sorrows! Here’s the blurb:
There is a place where sorrows pile up like snow and rest in your hair like cherry blossoms. Boys have wings, monsters fall in love, women fade into nothingness, and the bones of small children snap like twigs. Darkness will surely devour you—but it will be exquisitely lovely while doing so.
Mercedes M. Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows is an ephemeral collection encompassing twenty-seven short tales full of devastation, death, longing, and the shining ribbon of hope that binds them all together.
You can learn more about Beautiful Sorrows at www.beautifulsorrows.com. It’s currently on sale in February to celebrate Women in Horror month!