Author Interview: Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Beautiful Sorrows.
“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.” –K. Allen Wood, editor/publisher of Shock Totem.
I met Mercedes M. Yardley through a writer’s group and was thrilled to find out how much we have in common. Naturally I jumped on the opportunity to interview her about her new book's release.
Mercedes, I was fascinated to learn you pitched your book at a writer’s conference and it was later accepted by Shock Totem for publication. Do you attend a lot of conferences and what benefits do you see in attending them?
Mercedes M. Yardley: It’s funny that you should ask this, Mikey! At the time that I’m answering your questions, I’m recovering from the KillerCon conference held here in Las Vegas. I’ve only attended a handful of conferences, but they’ve each been important. The classes are cool, the panels are engaging, but the best thing about them is definitely the networking. It solidifies online relationships that are already established, or you meet somebody super cool that you know you want to hang with. Or maybe you meet in passing, exchange cards, and later on really connect over a project or conversation. Since I have three small kidlets at home, I can’t fly all over the place for conferences. We have a deal where I can go to two a year, so I pick and choose carefully.
Your writing has a dark edge to it, where do you get your inspiration from?
Mercedes M. Yardley: I get my inspiration from everywhere. People are beautiful, fascinating, and dark creatures. We’re capable of so much good and so much evil. I was always attracted to stories that had a sort of whimsical bite. As a kid I loved The Secret of Nimh, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Last Unicorn. Absolutely stunning and a little scary at the same time. But I don’t write tales of straight despair. There’s hope ribboned throughout, I think.
Beautiful Sorrows is a collection of 27 stories, is there one you feel stands out among the rest?
Mercedes M. Yardley: Augh, this is like Sophie’s Choice! I wrote them, so of course I think that they’re each precious little snowflakes, important to me for one reason or another. “Black Mary” and “The Quiet Places Your Body Grows” really seem to strike a chord with people. I’m partial to “Flat, Flat World” and “The Boy Who Hangs The Stars. And definitely “Big Man Ben”. I think that’s one of my best.
I know mothers and wives have a lot of their plate, how do you balance your family time with your writing?
Mercedes M. Yardley: That’s probably my main struggle. I’ve finally realized that I just have to let something go. I can try to be Supermom, but writing goes and the house is a mess. Or I can focus really well on writing, but the kids are in their pajamas and eating dry cereal all day. So I try and do half and half. I’ll write and do writerly things for part of the day while the kids get to watch a movie. Then I’ll spend the rest of my time with the kidlets, doing the homework/doctor/reading time/everything thing. It takes patience, but the little ones grow and I don’t want to miss out on that. I don’t want to put my writing completely aside, either, because it’s so important to me. So be a hummingbird. Taste a little of this and a little of that, and realize you’re blessed to enjoy snatches of what you love.
What piece of advice would you give to the novice writer?
Mercedes M. Yardley: Make your goals realistic. Maybe you have the time to dedicate four hours to writing every single day. That’s awesome. But maybe you only have time to write 300 words, or for 15 minutes, or perhaps only one beautiful sentence. So write those words, or for that time. Craft that gorgeous sentence. Do it again the next day, and the next. Expect much of yourself, but don’t demand it all at once. Build your book, and be gentle to yourself, my lovelies. The world will be harsh enough.
Besides Beautiful Sorrows, what book would you recommend every writer have on their bookshelf?
Mercedes M. Yardley: You know, I adore a book called Get It Done When You’re Depressed by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston. Julie is a writer who struggles with depression, and she tells you how to break things down to manageable steps. I’m surprised how many writers deal with depression but don’t discuss it because of the social stigma. This book isn’t for depression only, though; it works equally well for being sick or absolutely overwhelmed. I get overwhelmed quite a bit, and I need somebody to help me break things down to bite-sized pieces. I’d also suggest that you have your favorite children’s book on your shelf, too. Something with sparkle. I have a copy of The Dragon Takes A Wife by Walter Dean Myers, which is beautiful and quirky.
By the way I LOVE your cover and the art work. Do you want to say anything about that?
Mercedes M. Yardley: Thank you! I love it, too! I was fortunate to deal with a small press, and so I had some say in the cover. Yannick Bouchard, the artist, is extremely talented, and especially wonderful with the human form. You should definitely check out his work, although some images are NSFW. Ken, the editor, Yannick, and I tossed around some ideas and Yannick quickly drew these amazingly intricate sketches. But something didn’t feel right until we just let him go, and he came up with this cover. Beautiful, desolate, and sweet. It’s everything that I was hoping for.
Something even more cool about it is that I grew up in the desert, and spent a lot of time playing out there. I’m also naturally blonde (quite a change from the black hair, yes?) and one of my old friends asked if I had sent Yannick a picture of myself as a kid. He thought it looked like me. Since then, several people have asked. It adds a special sweetness to it.
Thanks so much for letting me stomp around on your site, Mikey! It was a pleasure.
Thank you Mercedes! The info you shared was awesome. Again I am surprised with how much we have in common. I loved those movies as a child too and we were both theater majors at the same university—it’s a small world. Good luck with everything!
You can find more information about Mercedes M. Yardley and her book, Beautiful Sorrows, at mercedesyardley(at)gmail(dot)com, her blog at: http://abrokenlaptop.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @mercedesmy. You can also buy Beautiful Sorrows at: http://shocktotem.bigcartel.com/products.
BUY: Beautiful Sorrows
BUY: Beautiful Sorrows