Interview With an Author: Goldy Moldavsky

Daryl M., Librarian, West Valley Regional Branch Library,
Author Goldy Moldavsky and her latest book, The Mary Shelley Club
Author Goldy Moldavsky and her latest book, The Mary Shelley Club

Goldy Moldavsky was born in Lima, Peru, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she lives with her family. She is the New York Times–bestselling author of Kill the Boy Band and No Good Deed. Some of her influences include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the esteemed works of John Irving, and the Mexican telenovelas she grew up watching with her mother. Her latest novel is The Mary Shelley Club and she recently talked about it with Daryl Maxwell for the LAPL Blog.

What was your inspiration for The Mary Shelley Club?

I was inspired by the story of how Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein. Mary and a few other friends competed to see who could come up with the best scary story. I realized I could transport that concept to a modern high school, but instead of the friends trying to write the best horror story, it’d be a fun twist if they tried to bring their scary ideas to life.

Are Rachel, Saundra, Bram, Felicity, Freddie, Thayer, or any of the other characters in the novel inspired by or based on specific individuals?

Yes, actually! When Mary had the idea for Frankenstein she was holed up with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori, and Clare Clairmont. In my book, the members of The Mary Shelley Club mirror the same group of people Mary Shelley had her scary story competition with. But also, the members embody classic archetypes you might see in your typical teen horror. The Popular Jock, the Funny Sidekick, the Nice Guy, the Freak, and the Final Girl.

How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?

The best thing about writing a novel, at least for me, is seeing how it changes from conception to completion. The more you write and revise the richer it becomes. I had originally envisioned a school dance that would’ve been very similar to the prom scene in Carrie, but it just didn’t work for the story so it got cut in early drafts. But luckily I got to add other things, even onto the latest drafts. For example, the Halloween party was a late edition, as was the initiation ceremony. But one of my favorite scenes was also one of the last additions to the book, which was Bram’s birthday afterparty.

Are you a fan of Horror films/novels or did you have to research them before writing The Mary Shelley Club? If you had to do research, how long did it take you to do the necessary research and then write the novel?

Horror movies were my first cinematic loves. I don’t know why they struck me at such a young age, I just know that when I wasn’t watching Disney videos I was making a beeline for the horror section at the video rental store. But while I thought I was a good horror fan, it wasn’t until I started writing The Mary Shelley Club that I realized I wasn’t as well-versed in horror as I thought. There were plenty of classics that I’d never gotten around to seeing simply because they were before my time. But if my characters were going to be true fans I knew I had to do my research and watch all the movies I’d missed.

If you are a fan of Horror, do you have a favorite novel and/or franchise? A least favorite? (I realize that you may not want to address this one and if that is the case, please don’t. But I also realize it might be so bad that it could be fun to answer.)

A very unoriginal answer, but my favorite franchise is Scream. It flipped the slasher subgenre on its head and it also managed to be scary and genuinely funny. Least favorite is probably the Friday the 13th movies. Just not my jam, but I appreciate its enduring legacy!

What is the most ridiculous or outlandish way you’ve seen someone die in a horror film?

Good question! There have been so many that it’s hard to narrow it down, but one that sticks out is the barbed wire death in the original Suspiria. On the page, it may seem ridiculous but I actually think it was really gruesome and inventive!

The ending of The Mary Shelley Club seems open to more stories. Is this the beginning of a new series or a standalone novel? If it is the beginning of a new series, do you have plans you can share?

As of right now, The Mary Shelley Club is only a standalone book. But in my wildest dreams? I’d love to continue the story. I think about where the (surviving) characters are often, and even keep a notebook whenever I get a new idea for them. You never know.

If you belonged to the Mary Shelley Club, do you know what your “fear test” would be? Can you share it?

Well, that’s a difficult question to answer because I’d base my fear test around my target’s biggest fears. BUT if we were playing around with the things that make me scared, I’d probably be positioning a few spookily smiling weirdos in dark corners.

What’s currently on your nightstand?

I’m reading Darling by K. Ancrum and enjoying it very much.

Can you name your top five favorite or most influential authors?

Maria Semple
John Irving
Emma Mills
Melina Marchetta
Chuck Palahniuk

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Was there a book you felt you needed to hide from your parents?

No, my parents were busy immigrants who would sooner read books in Spanish, Russian, or Hebrew than anything in English. There was never any worry that they’d leaf through any of the books I picked up. Even so, they’ve never censored anything for me—which is maybe why I was into horror at such a young age!

Is there a book you've faked reading?

Ha—all the classics I had to read for class. (I was a reluctant teen reader.)

Can you name a book you've bought for the cover?

Can’t think of any, sorry!

Is there a book that changed your life?

The Tao of Pooh is one of my all-time faves and made me rethink how I spend my time.

Can you name a book for which you are an evangelist (and you think everyone should read)?

Invisible Monsters, by Chuck Palahniuk.

Is there a book you would most want to read again for the first time?

Invisible Monsters! I have a terrible memory but that works in my favor when it comes to something like this. With enough time I can go back to my fave books and appreciate the stuff I’d forgotten about them.

What is the last piece of art (music, movies, tv, more traditional art forms) that you've experienced or that has impacted you?

I’m a big TV fan so I’ll say What We Do in the Shadows is one of my favorite shows that just gets funnier with every season.

What is your idea of THE perfect day (where you could go anywhere/meet with anyone)?

My perfect day takes place on a secluded beach, with a cocktail in hand, and a good amount of shade, the day after I’ve completed a big project.

What is the question that you’re always hoping you’ll be asked, but never have been? What is your answer?

Can’t think of anything good, sorry!

What are you working on now?

My next YA book will be an absurdist satire retelling of Lord of the Flies.

Book cover for The Mary Shelley Club
The Mary Shelley Club
Moldavsky, Goldy