Women in Horror Month: The Mercedes M. Yardley Interview

Women in Horror Month is an opportunity to raise the awareness of women creators working in the field of horror. Whether as writers, artists or filmmakers, it is a time to shine the spotlight on the women out there who give us the creeps. (In a good way. We love ’em for it!) Here, in the latter half of the month, I will be posting interviews with some of those horror creators right here on the blog. Today’s interview is with horror writer, Mercedes M. Yardley.

mercedes-yardleyTell us a little about yourself and what you are currently bringing to the field of horror.
I bring more whimsy and delicacy to the genre. My writing tends to be quite feminine and almost vintage with a heavy dose of magical realism. Horror can always use a little more ephemerality, yes? More demons with stars in their eyes?

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing women right now in this field of creative work?
Women aren’t taken seriously in the genre. The average reader doesn’t seem to read any women besides Anne Rice, although they’ve certainly heard of Mary Shelley. Several male writers in the genre openly say that they won’t read women authors. It used to bother me quite a bit. There’s such a struggle to simply say, “Hello, darlings, we’re here.”  But it doesn’t trouble me as much anymore. I’ve come across some stunning women writers like S.P. Miskowski and J. L. Murray. We’re here. We’re always going to be here. People are starting to realize it, and that’s nice progress.

As a writer, do your works feature mostly female protagonists or male? Or a mix? Any particular reason?
I do feature quite a few women protagonists. My novels are mainly about women. I think being a woman is especially conducive to horror. But I use men as main characters, as well. Each story needs to be told in a specific way in order to give it shine, in order to tell it correctly. I have a short story titled “The Quiet Places Where Your Body Grows” that is told from Azhar’s point of view. Azhar is a young father whose daughter was found in pieces. The companion novel to this, an unpublished novel titled Stormlight, takes place in the same world, but from a woman’s perspective. Her daughter goes missing, and Azhar shows up and plays a bit role. So it’s the same town and very similar situations, but one needed to be told from a father’s perspective, and one from a mother’s.

What type of character do you find it most difficult to write?
You might think this funny, but I really used to struggle with my female protagonists. My weaker ones, anyway. If they have an edge, they’re easy. If they’re exceptionally driven, they’re a cinch to write. But if they’re confused or struggling or overwhelmed by life, that’s a little more difficult. I want to give them fragility without making them dishrags, and it’s tricky. Weakness is stereotypically expected in women but also despised. It’s a very fine line to walk when creating a vulnerable character that you want readers to root for.

Who is your favorite female character from classic horror literature? Why?
My favorite female character has to be Annabel Lee. A famous, quiet woman who doesn’t even have anything to say. Poe’s poem takes place completely after she is already dead. But she’s haunting and her love is, in Poe’s mind, enough to drive the very angels mad with jealousy. How special must she be? I love the mystery of her. That we’re given details only by a completely unreliable narrator. There’s such beauty in the horror.

Who is your favorite female character from contemporary horror literature? Why?
I’m mad about Clarice Starling. I think she’s a strong female character unlike anything I’d ever seen. She has strength and vulnerability, and her capacity to love Hannibal Lecter, despite his horrors, is very telling.

Tell us who you think the best villain is, hands down, in horror literature. Or if you already answered this in the previous questions, tell us something random. Anything. I won’t print this. I swear.
I’d have to go with Hannibal Lecter. He frightens me. He’s human, there’s nothing paranormal about him, he’s dark and twisted and does unspeakable things. Yet there’s a grace to him, and a need for love, and he has his own intricate set of rules that he follows. I find that quite intriguing. He’s interesting, through and through. I would love to write a character as complex and nuanced as he is.

Every horror writer has a boogeyman; something that keeps them awake at night. What’s yours?
I’m terrified of losing my children. Of people around me dying and nobody being able to help. I’ll turn to my husband and say, “I’m so glad you’re not dead,” and he just rolls his eyes. But it happens. I’ve already lost so many. I’m deathly afraid of it.

Is Women in Horror Month important to the field? Why?
Yes, it’s important. It’s important to take the time to spotlight authors that might not be noticed otherwise. Readers are looking for great authors, filmmakers, artists, etc, but it’s difficult to find people who transcend the noise. There are so many authors and so many cool projects that it can be overwhelming. Having a month of, “Hey, here are a few names you should check out” can simplify the process and make it easier.

In what way would you improve the visibility of Women in Horror Month if you ruled the world? (You know, pretending for a moment that you don’t already.)
Oh, parades. Floats. Parties. I’d bring it to everybody, not just people who are actively seeking more books to read. Huge block parties. Everybody would know about it. Of course, I live in Vegas where everything is a giant party all of the time.

nameless-coverGive us your details. Where can we find your work? What’s your website? Social media details, etc?
I’m all over the Internet! You can find my work on my Amazon page (http://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-M.-Yardley/e/B006B9MFA2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1). I’m also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mercedes.murdockyardley) and Twitter as @mercedesmy.  You can also catch up at my blog, www.abrokenlaptop.com. And last but not least, you can check out my page on the Ragnarok Publication’s site, http://www.ragnarokpub.com/#!mercedes-yardley/c19re.

Thank you so much! It was a pleasure!




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