I am excited to welcome author Mercedes Yardley, who is celebrating the release of her new novel, Pretty Little Dead Girls.
“RUN, STAR GIRL.” 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.
Mercedes M. Yardley’s Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is a dark, lovely fairy tale with lyrical language and a high body count, and features a cover by Hugo award-winner Galen Dara.
Writing What You Know VS. Writing What You Don’t
Any creative writing teacher you’ve ever had has told you to write what you know. It’s fantastic advice on a few levels. Writing about things you are familiar with helps to give it that concrete feel and shine. You know what you’re talking about and can enrich your work with rich details that add to the depth of the story.
Another aspect of writing what you know is that you’ll be able to write something unique to you. Your everyday life might seem humdrum to you, but chances are it’s fascinating to somebody else. Do you drive a fork lift? Do you care for a special needs child? Do you know how to paint, or sew, or make dolls, or fix cars? Not everybody can do that. Writing about your individual skill set parts the curtain and shows us a little about the author, which can be an interesting thing indeed for a reader. It can bring them into your own corner of the world.
My friend is from an island in Hawaii. He was discussing how there are wild chickens that just run around all of the time, constantly underfoot. He told of tripping over chickens while navigating around the island, and no matter what people did to curb the population, there always seemed to be thousands of them. But at night, they disappeared. They weren’t in the streets anymore. They flew to the trees and slept in the branches. He said it was strangely silent without their noises, and if you’d go outside with a flashlight, you’d see fuzzy little chicken butts dotting the trees.
This was a simple, casually told story about a typical day in his childhood, but that visual of sleeping chickens was magical to me. How unusual! It’s something I’d never heard of! It was a charming detail that could be thrown into any story to make it more real and give it a sense of place.
But what about telling what you don’t know? We write of fantasy worlds and people who don’t exist. I’ve never traveled to space or met a dragon. I’m not doing daily battle with the demonic, or have a desert that longs to chew on my bones. If you’re supposed to write what you know, how do we make the stretch to science fiction, fantasy, and horror?
It’s fairly simple. You can learn enough about your new subject matter that it becomes something you’re familiar with. The Internet is a wonderful and horrifying thing. You can take classes online and off. Learn what it’s like to pilot a helicopter. Tag along with a group of ghost hunters. Ride around with a police officer. Learn.
You can also apply your knowledge of life to this situation. I have never murdered a man but I have lost my temper. I’ve never had a child kidnapped but I know how it feels to worry about where my son has wandered off to. Ultimately books and stories connect us in our humanity. Great storytelling boils down to creating an experience for your readers. We know fear. We know love. It doesn’t matter if it’s fear of a lion or a person or an alien from the skies. It doesn’t matter if we love a girl who is destined to be murdered or a creature that gave its life for us or a fairy we’ve tried to protect. These emotions ring true. Be honest and write your fantasy worlds, interspersing it with the common emotions we all feel. Your readers will still identify.
Meet Mercedes M. Yardley!
Mercedes M. Yardley wears stilettos, red lipstick, and poisonous flowers in her hair. She likes to do a little bit of everything, and writes dark fantasy, horror, nonfiction, and poetry. Mercedes minored in Creative Writing and worked for four years as a contributing editor for Shock Totem Magazine. She is the author of the short story collection Beautiful Sorrows, the novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and her debut novel Nameless. She often speaks at conferences and teaches workshops on several subjects, including personal branding and how to write a novel in stolen moments. Mercedes lives and works in Sin City.
Want to purchase Mercedes’s novels?
Pretty Little Dead Girls
Nameless: The Darkness Comes
Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love