Saturday, June 27, 2020

Nicola Maye Goldberg

Nicola Maye Goldberg is the author of Other Women (Sad Spell Press, 2016) and The Doll Factory (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). She lives in New York City.

Her new literary thriller is Nothing Can Hurt You

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Quite a lot. It’s from Louise Gluck’s incredible poem “A Myth of Devotion” which I kept taped above my desk while I was writing the book. The phrase also appears in certain translations of Luke 10:19. It’s a promise many of the characters make to one another, which none of them are able to keep.

What's in a name?

For the name “Sara Morgan,” I wanted it to have the same number of syllables as “Laura Palmer,” who is sort of the dead white girl prototype in contemporary culture. But that’s more thought than typically goes into naming a character. Usually I just glance around at whatever books or magazines are on my desk and go from there.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Very! I was a scaredy-cat as a kid. I remember at a sleepover in high school, my friends and I watched Red Dragon, mistaking it for a Kung-Fu movie. I was miserable for a week. My interest in horror and mystery and true crime didn’t develop until college. I think if my teenage self read the description of Nothing Can Hurt You, she probably wouldn’t even want to read it.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings are super easy to write, but I almost always end up deleting them. Endings are a little harder. The stuff in the middle, of course, is what I spend the most time on.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

There are so many characters in Nothing Can Hurt You, most of whom are demographically and psychologically very different from myself. That is partly a function of what I wanted to explore in the book – namely, the effect of violence on a community – and also a desire to experiment with throwing my voice, with writing authentically about people with whom I don’t have much in common. But of course no one see themselves clearly. It’s possible the characters I think have nothing to do with me are the ones I most resemble.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I watch a ton of television – I often have in on in the background while I’m writing – so that’s probably a big one, though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how it influences me. And I have a playlist of spooky songs I liked to listen to while writing Nothing Can Hurt You. Lots of PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Okkervil River, Tom Waits.
Visit Nicola Maye Goldberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue