For the first of a series of feature interviews with other writers, artists and musicians, Rebecca was lucky enough to catch up with writer Mercedes Murdock Yardley:
Hi Mercedes, what are you working on at the moment?
Hi Rebecca! Thank you so much for having me! It’s a delight to play with another dark little girl.
Right now I’m completely immersed in two different things. Shock Totem Publications is releasing my first short story collection, Beautiful Sorrows, on October 19. So I’m hard at work promoting that, which is fun and frankly a little crazy. Mostly I’m just thrilled to have my first book out. It’s a dream come true.
At the same time, I’m in the middle of my current WIP, a dark novel currently called Stormlight. My agent would like it by mid-December, and I’ve been quite distracted with Beautiful Sorrows, so I’m working like a fiend. It’s easy to swim around in this novel, however. It has a shine to it that could be stunningly lovely, if I can get it just right. It’s about a woman who moves back to her childhood home and her young daughter goes missing. It’s rife with delicious, small town paranoia. Sort of like Twin Peaks meets The Lovely Bones.
Could you tell us a little bit about your writing style? How would you describe yourself as a writer?
Somebody told me once that I write like a girl, and I take that as a wonderful compliment. I have two very distinct styles. One has more smart-alec swagger, like the pieces that have been published in John Skipp’s anthologies. He tends to lean toward my cheerful murderesses. The other voice, and this is more prevalent in both Beautiful Sorrows and Stormlight, is more of a dreamy, ephemeral, lyrical style. I have a love affair with melancholy beauty.
What inspires you to write? Is there anything which stops you from writing?
Writing is in my blood. It takes very little to inspire me. Stories have come from songs, phrases that somebody has said, snatches of dreams that I almost remember. The two main things that stop me are time and personal laziness. I feel perpetually stretched far too thin, and it’s difficult to write with the delightfully chaotic home life that I have, so I have to steal away precious moments whenever I can. I’ll write five or ten minutes here, for example. I’ll write with five other computer windows up. I’ll write while holding a child on my lap and rocking the baby with my foot.
But I find that when I have long periods of time, like the baby’s nap time, I’m worn out. I’ll curl up with a cup of sea salt caramel hot chocolate and watch an episode of X-Files instead of working. I want a break. And I’m naturally a slumberous sort of girl.
Are there any other writers who you really admire? What was the last thing you read and would you recommend it?
I love Peter S. Beagle, of course. F. Paul Wilson. I adore everything I’ve ever read by Christopher Barzak, and I just discovered Michael Brent Collings. I’m loving his stuff. I just finished a chapbook called See No Evil, Say No Evil by my friend Matt Betts. I’ve read it before, but he recently released it on e-book and I picked it up electronically. If you’re into hilarious, strangely poignant poetry, then it’s for you. I’d recommend it. I also just finished a very unique book called Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism by Barbara Weisberg. This book fascinated me. It was amazing to learn about two women who were considered the first mediums in America, and their place in society. Crazy and inspiring. I’d love to write a short story based on them, at some point.
Finally, do you have any hints and tips for other aspiring writers?
My tip is to get your words on the page. That’s it. No over-thinking, no searching endlessly for the perfect word. If you can’t remember whether your character drives a car or a truck, don’t spend your precious writing time going back to look it up. Put brackets around the things you want to question later, and keep moving. You’ll stunt your production if you let yourself stop. It’s simple physics: an object in motion tends to keep in motion. Keep your forward momentum.