She writes awesome short stories. She writes badass novels. She kills giant scorpions without even blinking. She basically just kicks ass. Everybody – meet Miss Murder herself: Mercedes Murdock Yardley.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
MMY: I grew up in a small town out in the middle of the desert. I write whimsical horror, nonfiction, novels, short stories, and poetry. I always wrote as a child, and knew I wanted to be an author by the time I was in third grade. It only took me about 20 more years to finally do that.
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?
MMY: I’ve always written scary stories. The first story I remember reading to my classroom was one about a sea serpent attacking a submarine, with an ear-piercing shriek at the end. Horror has always made my blood run. It’s exciting! I love that feeling of being scared. It’s the feeling of being alive.
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
MMY: There are several that come to mind. Of course I’m a big Poe fan. I was probably the only kid in elementary school who had the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe. Loved Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” That horrified me to the core. But I think my favorites were the ones we’d tell each other at sleepovers and we’re out camping. Like, this one. There was a girl home alone while her parents were out of town. She heard on the news that a murderer had escaped from an asylum. She was afraid all night, but was comforted by reaching down from her bed and feeling her dog lick her hand. In the morning she walked into the bathroom to find her dog dead and words scrawled on the mirror. “People can lick hands, too.” That story gave me fits as a child!
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
MMY: My first book was a short story collection called Beautiful Sorrows. I wrote an urban fantasy novel called Nameless: The Darkness Comes. It’s the first book in THE BONE ANGEL trilogy. I also wrote a novella titled Little Dead Red that I’m proud of. This month is the re-release of my two favorite books, Pretty Little Dead Girls and Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. I can’t wait for them to come back out! They’re my babies.
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook.
MMY: I love all of the forms. I love novels, I love short stories. I love nonfiction articles and I love hearing them read by the author or acted out by a narrator. But I think my favorite form is flash fiction, which are stories under a thousand words. It’s such a disciplined and, at the same time, ethereal form.
Q. What are you working on at the minute?
MMY: I’m working on a few different things! One is a short story for a very cool anthology. I’m also hard at work writing the sequels to Nameless. It’s a busy year.
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
MMY: I’d have to say Aimee Bender. She writes creative, surreal stories with gorgeous prose. I had the chance to meet he in person and she’s everything I hoped she would be. It was such a pleasure!
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
MMY: Joe Pulver just put out a women’s only anthology titled Cassilda’s Song that I’m involved in, and it’s really something special. It’s a pleasure to be part of it. I’ve heard rumblings of a tribute to Joyce Carol Oates perhaps being put together. If that was the case, I’d be all over that.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
MMY: Right now I’m catching up on reading so I can vote for the Bram Stoker Awards. I’m pretty much reading everything of the ballot. There’s some great stuff on there, I can tell you.
Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
MMY: There are a few challenges. Some people truly do believe that women aren’t capable of writing horror, or that it’s somehow unseemly. I find that I have difficulty networking because I’m home taking care of the kiddos and can’t attend as many conferences. I also feel women are looked at differently than men. If a man takes charge of his career, he’s a leader. If a woman does the same thing, she’s difficult to work with.
Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
MMY: It’s important that women be recognized for our contributions. By shining a spotlight on female creatives, we’re making it easier for us to be more fully accepted. That’s the ultimate goal.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MMY: Don’t waste your time talking about your story. Write it. Finish it up, get it done. The best way to become a great writer is by writing. It’s worth the effort.
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