Mercedes M. Yardley is the author of Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu and Nameless: The Darkness Comes, two books that we here at Fantasy Book Review hold in very high regard. And the exciting news is that Ragnarok Publications published a brand new book of hers, Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, on September 29. So it is a perfect time to catch up with her once again and as this will be second time we have spoken to Mercedes this year we will on this occasion concentrate on the books that she loves and the authors that have influenced and inspired her. This interview forms part of our How Stories Connect Us series.
Hi Mercedes, thank you for talking to us today, here are the questions – I hope you've not been asked them too many times before…
Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?
MMY: Oh! That would be the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook. It has the best triple chocolate chip cookie recipe I've ever tasted. Holding it in my hands means that something magical is going to occur. There's also a focaccia recipe in there that I'm dying to try.
The other book would be The Star-Cleaner Reunion, a wonderful old book by Cooper Edens. It's quite long and oddly shaped. The language is exceptionally fanciful and the pictures are charming. Its full of moustachioed men on stilts washing the stars with rags, or hauling them around in wagons. My friend Rachel saw it at a library sale and sent it to me. I'm ever so grateful.
Which book or series do you read that makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?
MMY: JL Smith, who wrote The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle series, wrote this series that I was in love with in junior high. It was called The Forbidden Game, and it was a fun and dark trilogy about a demon named Julian who was in love (ish) with a mortal girl. Naturally he showed that love by trying to murder her and all of her friends.
I won a contest and received a signed set personalized to me by the author. It blew my mind. I read them again maybe five years ago and they were just so much fun. I hope they don't make a show out of them because then I'll never touch them again.
Which book or series do you read that makes your blood pump and your palms sweaty?
MMY: I was affected by Michaelbrent Colling's book The Apparition. It was horrifying particularly because it had to do with a loving parent hurting their own children. It struck different chords for me. I've enjoyed everything I've read of his.
Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters from Pretty Little Dead Girls into? And would you want them to thrive and integrate, or would you want them to burn it all down?
MMY: I can very easily see any of the Pretty Little Dead Girls characters roaming around in something written by Aimee Bender or Christopher Barzak. We all have a dreamy, ethereal way of writing. Bryony Adams from PLDG would do exceptionally well in Neil Gaiman's Stardust. She'd blink her gray eyes and wonder aloud why the star is being so prickly to Tristan Thorn. She'd try to tame his hair. She'd shame the brothers and witches for being so unkind. I think she'd thrive there, for as long as she could. She'd sparkle.
Is there a particular author that leaves you thinking: “One day I would like to be able to write just like that?”
MMY: It's funny you'd ask that. I was told I sounded like Gaiman and Bender, and I wasn't familiar with either at the time. After I read their work, I thought, “Oh my goodness! How whimsical and sweetly dark!” So I do write them a little bit, and I'm thrilled to write like them, in a way. At the same time they are them and I am me, so we're different and unique, but there's a similar melancholy whimsy to the three of us, yes.
Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy (Ragnarok Publications, September 27 2014)
Bryony Adams is destined to be murdered, but fortunately Fate has terrible marksmanship. In order to survive, she must run as far and as fast as she can. After arriving in Seattle, Bryony befriends a tortured musician, a market fish-thrower, and a starry-eyed hero who is secretly a serial killer bent on fulfilling Bryony's dark destiny.
Her mama always said she was special. His daddy called him a demon. But even monsters can fall in love. Montessa Tovar is walking home alone when she is abducted by Lu, a serial killer with unusual talents and a grudge against the world. But in time, the victim becomes the executioner as 'Apocalyptic' Montessa and her doomed lover, 'Nuclear' Lulu, crisscross the country in a bloody firestorm of revenge.
"AM&NL is a dark supernatural tale about two broken people who are fuelled by raw emotion. It is an intense story, but it is a rewarding story, and I think a lot of people will be able to connect with it. Also, it was recently voted on Reddit (r/fantasy) as the best piece of short fiction for 2013, which probably says more about how great this story is than what I can say in a few short paragraphs."
Yardley has shown that with Nameless, she has the ability to really make waves with longer form novels. This book is not as focused as Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu, and I don't think it is going to be to everyone's tastes, but it is definitely to my taste, and I can’t wait to see what Yardley writes next.