I’m pleased to have in this interview most of the crew behind Ragnarok Publications flagship novel, Nameless, by Mercedes Yardley. At first, it started as a cover reveal, but grew to a full blown interview. Enjoy. Check out this cover, and notice the blurb on the back, my first, and I couldn’t be happier that it is on Mercedes’ first book. She is a tremendous talent that will rock our genre for many years to come. I’ve reviewed Nameless (here), which is now available in print and Kindle (sale of $.99).
(THE BONE ANGEL TRILOGY #1)
Luna Masterson sees demons. She has been dealing with the demonic all her life, so when her brother gets tangled up with a demon named Sparkles, ‘Luna the Lunatic’ rolls in on her motorcycle to save the day.
Armed with the ability to harm demons, her scathing sarcasm, and a hefty chip on her shoulder, Luna gathers the most unusual of allies, teaming up with a green-eyed heroin addict and a snarky demon ‘of some import.’
After all, outcasts of a feather should stick together…even until the end.
ISBN: 978-0-9913605-1-2 ASIN: B00HWLX6RO
Tim Ward – Mercedes, a demon named Sparkles, huh? Hilarious and yet makes me want to see this character. Any teasers about who this thing is?
Mercedes Murdock Yardley – Sparkles is beautiful with perfectly manicured nails and she calls you “Darling.” She’s also married to Luna’s brother, which causes some contention, as I’m sure you can imagine. Sparkles is all kinds of nasty, and she sort of gives me the creeps.
Tim Ward – With the name, Sparkles, as well as the blurb mentioning your heroine having a sarcastic chip on her shoulder, what do you think about how this story blends humor with the darkness involved in fighting demons?
Mercedes Murdock Yardley - There’s a lot of humor throughout. I like the darkness and the light. That’s how I think it naturally is. Quite a few of my characters don’t like each other and they let everybody know it. Luna especially has a lot to say for herself. She’s one of my favorite characters. She’s a tough one to keep down.
Tim Ward – Maybe both of you can comment on how the cover by George C. Cotronis was perfect for this story.
Mercedes Murdock Yardley – The cover amazed me! When I first saw it, I thought, “Yes! That’s my Luna!” She doesn’t like her “gift”. She doesn’t like being demon fodder, but they’re constantly in her grill and she can’t deny it. She’s weary and isolated and attacked from all sides. She also has grit, and I thought George portrayed that perfectly. He’s so talented.
Tim Ward – Mercedes, what is it like being the flagship author for Ragnarok Publications? How does this approach illustrate your vision for your career, especially with what happened with your recent parting ways with your agent?
Mercedes Murdock Yardley – It’s thrilling and humbling. I’m so excited that the Ragnarok guys are willing to have me. I wasn’t supposed to be their flagship author, you know. It was a happy coincidence. The stars lined up beautifully and everything fell into place.
My agent and I were both sad about parting ways, but I write in such a way that my work is difficult to place. Every book is very different. My agent suggested that I work with a small press because they have the freedom to publish things that the Big Five can’t really touch. He expressed that the bigger publishing houses are basically running authors off if they don’t fit in precise boxes. I write things called Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. It doesn’t really fit in a box.
Ragnarok does everything beautifully. Great editing, beautiful covers. They’re professional but friendly, which is really important to me. These
are people I’d hang out with. Friends who just happen to be brilliant at what they do. They encourage me and seem to like my stuff, which makes me happy. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy this business. They remind me of that. I was really burned out when I met them. They made me excited again.
Tim Ward – Joe, what does Nameless do for Ragnarok Publications? Any teasers for what else we might expect for 2014?
Joe Martin (Creative Director, Co-Publisher) – With Nameless: The Darkness Comes, Ragnarok has graduated from novella, to anthology (Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters), to our first full-length novel. In addition, it’s also the first of a planned trilogy called “The Bone Angel Trilogy,” with each book coming out one year apart—we’re aiming for late Jan/early Feb of 2014, 2015, and 2016. I’m hoping this shows everyone in the market that Ragnarok is committed to its authorship and to its readership. Also, by investing in a series, this tells readers we’re building a brand. Plus, you know it will be quality.
Mercedes’s Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu recently won the Reddit Stabbit Award (r/fantasy) for “Best Short Fiction” of 2013, in a category that also comprised books written by Mark Lawrence and Brandon Sanderson. That makes us all feel kind of peachy about what we’re doing, to get that recognition, and Mercedes just has a unique voice in genre fiction that will help Ragnarok reach a diverse audience, mixing fans of thrillers, dark fantasy, romance, paranormal, urban fantasy, and horror all in one big bubbly Mercedes Yardley goulash.
So, ultimately, I think the role Nameless will fulfill is creating not only a sense of Ragnarok’s commitment in several different ways, but also increase our reach and lend us a bit of credibility as we continue to grow.
As far as other plans for 2014, you can check out our Books page and see we’ve got other series planned through the first half of 2014, and I hope to announce more titles for our Fall season within the next month. And we’ve got another Kickstarter coming up in which we’re teaming up with Roger Bellini’s Neverland Books to solicit Rogue: Assassins, Mercenaries, Thieves to the crowdfunding masses. We’ve got the majority of our authors committed to this one and we’ll be announcing a lineup here shortly, as well.
(Check out their press release 1/22 and Django Wexler’s upcoming novella.)
Tim Ward – George, I don’t know if you were hired to make this cover or if they bought it for their title, but if it is the former, what info did you need about the story before making this and what elements of this portrait are most powerful to you in illustrating her story?
George C. Cotronis (Cover Artist) – My interview answers always feel disappointing to me, mostly because I’m not very good at explaining how I work in a way that will make it sound good, or inspired, or artistic. I work by combining photography in different ways to create something new. I won’t call it digital collage because it’s more involved than that. Collages have the freedom to look like they’re made out of different things, but my work doesn’t. The result has to look as if it was painted or photographed exactly as captured on the cover. That said, I got art direction from both Joe Martin and Mercedes Yardley that basically said ”this is what the book is about, here is the blurb for the back cover and we’d like a badass girl on the cover.”
So I started out with a model pose that gave off attitude, combined it with a model’s face that had that arrogant chin up and did my magic on the rest. Sent it to Joe, he asked for a couple of changes and that was more or less it. My favorite part of the illustration is probably the hands coming up behind her. It’s a bit surreal, but it adds something spooky to the whole. I’d love to say I read all the books I illustrate, but that would be a lie. I don’t have the time and most importantly, I don’t believe a book cover has to be an accurate depiction of people or events from the book. It has to be an accurate depiction of what the book is, a kind of promise to the reader that says ”this is what the book is about, the feeling you get when you look at this is the feeling you will get when you read through these pages. It caught your eye, so now buy it.”
Tim Ward - George, any artist type advice for how you created this?
George C. Cotronis (Cover Artist) – Ooh, tough. Specific advice would be largely useless. I guess the only advice I have is based on what I said before: Don’t sweat the details of the book, just try and capture the vibe, the promise you want to make to the reader. It’s okay to ignore some of the art brief. If you can deliver something that is amazing, they will forget all about it. Art comes first.
Tim Ward - Any comment, Joe, on why you chose the cover by George?
Joe Martin (Creative Director, Co-Publisher) – My own work is more traditional than George’s. I mean, it could have worked with an urban fantasy styled cover similar to what one might see on a Patricia Briggs or Seanan McGuire book. That’s likely what I would have done with it. And I think readers of those books will appreciate Nameless but, at the same time, Mercedes writes urban fantasy poured from a blender. A fantasy cocktail. Here I go with the foodie references again—you caught me when I’m hungry, I suppose. But her work is as much dark fantasy as urban fantasy, and George’s covers have an artistic and dark and soulful quality to them that seems to draw from cryptic influences and can’t be pinned down to just one, and that vision melds seamlessly with Mercedes’s voice. I knew when I started looking at George Cotronis’ Ravenkult website when I was seeking a cover for Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu that he was our guy. There was no question in my mind. And the schedule just worked out for Nameless, luckily for all of us.
Timothy C. Ward
Timothy C. Ward has been podcasting since 2010, first as AudioTim, and now with AISFP. His first publication, Cornhusker: Demon Gene (A Short Story), is available on Kindle for $.99. He interviewed Mercedes Yardley on his AudioTim podcast back in 2012 with K. Allen Wood, also of Shock Totem Magazine.
J.M. Martin wrote comic books and worked on-staff at Caliber Press—publishers of The Crow, Deadworld, The Realm, Kabuki, and more—throughout the ’90s; while there he co-created a collectible card game based on Todd McFarlane’s SPAWN® universe which sold in excess of $3M retail.
He was a Gold ENnie-award-winning managing editor (2001–2005) for Privateer Press, instrumental in building the Iron Kingdoms and Warmachine intellectual properties from the ground up.
He has also been a managing editor (2006–2008) for a nationally-syndicated magazine publisher called YOUnique, interviewing celebrities such as former UFC champion Rich Franklin and The Hunger Games movie star, Josh Hutcherson.
Martin recently started NineWorldsMedia.com, a company specializing in editing and design services for writers and publishers, and is the co-publisher and creative director for the newly-established Ragnarok Publications, publishers of dark genre fiction.
I have two broken laptops, three kids, a husband and no time to write, although I try my very best.
I like to write stories. I like to write poems. I like to write essays and sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they aren’t.
I’m the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, and Nameless: The Darkness Comes, which is the first book of what I’m calling The Bone Angel Trilogy.
I specialize in the dark and beautiful. My website is abrokenlaptop.com.
George Cotronis was born in Gothenburg, Sweden in ’85. He started doing illustration work in late 2002 and started working as a freelance illustrator and designer in 2005. He currently lives in Sweden’s Alaska, Luleå. His portfolio is www.ravenkult.com and has premade covers over at www.ravenkult.bigcartel.com
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