Q&A: Maya Rodale, author of “The Mad Girls of New York”


Fearless journalist Nellie Bly will stop at nothing to track down stories that expose injustices against women, even at the risk of her own life and freedom, in this gripping novel inspired by the true story of a remarkable woman.

We chat with Maya Rodale about the release of her latest book The Mad Girls of New Yorkplus writing, book recommendations and more!

Hi Maya! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m the bestselling author of books about fearless, funny, feminist heroines that are mostly based on real women in the story. I’ve written historical romance, YA, non-fiction, and my new book The Mad Girls of New York is my first work of historical fiction. I live in New York with my family.

How has 2022 been for you so far?

Better now that it’s spring in New York!

When did you discover your love for writing?

I discovered my love of writing in college, when I took creative writing classes because I thought homework would be easy… I could just make stuff up! But I found that while the homework wasn’t exactly easy, it was something I was happy to spend hours and hours on.

Quick Lightning Ride! Tell us about the first book you remember reading, the one that made you want to become an author and the one you can’t stop thinking about!

One memory stands out: sobbing in my mother’s arms after reading Bridge to Terabithia. It wasn’t the first book I read, but the first time I was devastated by it. What power for a book! Come to think of it… no wonder I write books with happy memories.

your new novel, The Mad Girls of New Yorkout April 26and! If you could only describe it in five words, what would they be?

Fearless, funny, feminist, above all true.

What can readers expect?

A daredevil heroine based on real life Nellie Bly, who feigns insanity and gets committed to the lunatic asylum and writes a sensational newspaper article about it. There are rival reporters, vibrant female friendships, a love triangle with a fellow reporter and bachelor New York City mayor, and a happy ending for Nellie and every other woman in the story.

Where does the inspiration come from? The Mad Girls of New York comes from?

The Mad Girls of New York is inspired by the real life of Nellie Bly! In 1887 Nellie went to New York with the intention of becoming a journalist. The madhouse undercover assignment was the only one she could get – “I said I could and I would. And I did,” she said. His story caused a sensation and launched his career.

But I couldn’t help but notice that Nellie was also a single woman in her twenties in Manhattan who was charming, confident, worried about her bangs, and commented on handsome doctors even as they condemned her. to an insane asylum. I thought she would make a terrific heroine for a novel.

Can you tell us a bit about the challenges you faced while writing and how you managed to overcome them?

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I’m grateful that my writing challenges are fairly mundane – distraction and obligations. Home and family matters can reduce my writing time. And then I’m also guilty of spending my time writing on Twitter or Instagram (come say hello! I’m @mayarodale).

Are there any favorite moments or characters that you really enjoyed writing or exploring?

I loved writing the character of Prayer Girl, which was inspired by a line from Nellie Bly’s original story (“a woman prayed loudly all night for death”). Like many of the women Nellie meets at the asylum, Prayer Girl is perfectly sane. His way of coping with his situation is dark, sarcastic humor and I loved writing his banter with Nellie.

What’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever received?

write every day is both the best and the worst advice I have received. Developing a writing practice and habit is key to getting words on the page, which is key to getting better at writing. But sometimes that just isn’t practical or doesn’t happen, especially for people who have day jobs, homes, and families. If so…don’t write every day. Just write when and where you can.

What’s next for you?

More novels about fearless, funny, feminist historical women that are mostly true. Subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to know about new projects: www.mayarodale.com/newsletter

Finally, do you have any book recommendations for our readers?

Nellie Bly and the era of stunt girls Journalism is fun, fascinating, feminist… and I never tire of it. I highly recommend the book Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s Stunt Reporters by Kim Todd. And, of course, there is The Mad Girls of New York.

Will you pick up The Mad Girls of New York? Tell us in the comments below!

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