JM: Congrats on winning the Bram Stoker award, Mercedes. What does it mean for you as an author?
MMY: Thank you so much, Joe! This was my first nomination, and winning for my first nom simply blew me away. It’s validation for me. I have three small kids at home and I’m always trying to fit my writing in where I can. Writing is my own little luxury that is just for me, my own selfish pleasure, and I constantly feel torn spending that time on myself instead of doing something for somebody else. This award means that readers are aware of my work. It means they took the time to read and to vote, that my work was weighed, measured, and found valuable. It’s one of the most touching experiences of my life.
JM: So how was the weekend of Stoker Con? Any highlights?
MMY: I had such a wonderful time! I get over stimulated easily and have difficulty with noisy crowds, so I especially appreciate quiet moments talking with people I enjoy. My highlights were getting to meet friends I previously knew only online, and getting to experience them as real people. This person orders everything without onions. This person has a grin that lights up the room. This person has the most compassionate heart I’ve ever seen. Being with my tribe was the highlight.
JM: What thought went through your mind just before they read your name? What was your initial response when they read your name?
MMY: Oh my goodness! As I said, it was my very first nomination, and as cliché as it sounds, I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I genuinely say that I was exceptionally honored to be nominated. It was a competitive category with talented writers, and never in my wildest dreams did I expect to win. What was going through my mind before they read my name? My fingernail polish was peeling. I was so engrossed on trying to fix it that I completely missed my name. I didn’t hear it. My friend Amelia took my hand and said, “Mercedes, you need to go up there.” And I said, “Why?”
I didn’t have a speech prepared. I was wearing six inch red heels because I was just going to enjoy my time sitting at the banquet. It was such a wonderful, otherworldly, genuine moment. I lived out everyone’s nightmare of being a complete geek onstage, and it was one of the most touching and beautiful moments of my life.
JM: How did folks respond after your win? Any special moments?
MMY: People were so supportive. I was surprised by how many people not only read the story, but remembered it and would bring up certain things about it. It’s only been a few days and it’s already opened several doors for me. It’s like insta-street cred. A special moment for me was one of my readers who ran up, scooped me up in a bear hug, and actually lifted me off the ground (I was 6’2” in those heels. No easy feat). The genuine excitement and joy that others had on my behalf was such a gorgeous thing.
JM: So what’s next for you?
MMY: I’m hard at work on the next two books in the BONE ANGEL trilogy. I’m also an editor for Gamut magazine, which is a high tier, neo-noir magazine that will be opening to unsolicited submissions this fall. The pieces we’ve already accepted are simply stunning. I have pieces coming out in some very cool anthologies, including GUTTED: Beautiful Horror Stories. I can’t wait for that anthology. The talent lined up for that is unreal. I’m also working on putting a poetry collection together. There are several intriguing projects going on, and I’m loving every second of it.