This is part two of our interviews with many of the contributors to The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, an anthology series focusing on female creators and their often extremely personal stories centered around love and relationships. Check out our full review of the anthology here.
We sat down with Hope Nicholson, the Editor and original publisher through her publishing company, Bedside Press, as well as a contributing writer, Megan Lavey-Heaton, a contributing writer, and Fionna Adams, another contributing writer, in part one of these interviews and it’s definitely worth the read.
In part two of these interviews, we got to speak wth Kristen Gudsnuk, a contributing artist on three separate stories, Adrienne Kress, a contributing writer, and Meaghan Carter, another contributing writer. Read on to see what another group of strong, geeky women have to say about love and relationships, both romantic and platonic, as well as the advice they’d give to geek girls everywhere.
How did you get involved with The Secret Loves of Geek Girls anthology?
Kristen Gudsnuk: I hopped on a little later. Hope followed me on Twitter and I was like, “Um, can I be in your book?” because I saw Margaret Atwood was in it, and I’m a huge fan of hers, I’ve read like fifteen of her books, she’s one of my favorite authors, and Hope was like yes! So that’s how I got involved, just asking.
Adrienne Kress: Hope is our fearless leader here and I think generally that is the connection for me. We’ve been friends for a couple years now and we’ve been talking about this particular project and the theme of my essay. We’d actually had lots of conversations ahead of time and then she said she was working on this project and asked if I was interested in being a part of it. I was like, “Of course, but what would I write about?” And she was like, “Well, what about this thing?” I thought oh my god, that’s perfect! I feel very lucky, but it just sort of happened.
Meaghan Carter: Honestly, the same thing. It kind of fell into my lap. Hope approached me to let me know she was working on an anthology and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. I said yes and now it’s history.
Did any of you have a favorite story or contribution to the anthology besides your own?
KG: I read a bunch of them, it’s hard to choose one. There was one about Animorphs and I really liked and connected to that one, but I don’t remember what it’s called, honestly. I’m sorry. I read a bunch of them.
AK: Anything involving Lord of the Rings or Spock I really enjoyed, but I’ll talk about J. M. Frey’s essay, “How Fanfiction Made Me Gay.” She’s also a good friend of mine and I think possibly that’s one of the reasons.
AK: We were asked by somebody else earlier about being vulnerable and being open in these stories, so reading something by somebody you know and also Hope’s essay as well about losing her virginity – when you are friends with people and you get to read these really open, honest, sometimes really heart-wrenching essays, very personal stories about themselves – that was very moving to me. It’s sort of cheating to say two of my friends, there’s a lot that I love, but there is definitely something very special in reading those kinds of stories by people you know.
MC: I am a little bit biased, but mine! No, my best friend Megan Kearney, she has two stories in the anthology. Literally, the best comic story in that book is by her. It’s the one about coming to terms with the idea of being demisexual and going through life and childhood not really knowing what the hubbub is about having crushes on people and realizing what she is and how that comes to be. I think it’s the best story in there by far.
If you could give advice to a new geek girl, what would your advice would be?
KG: Don’t listen to people who complain that you don’t know enough about a subject because that’s ridiculous and no one comes out of the womb knowing everything. All that matters is that you follow your passions and enjoy whatever it is that you like. Don’t let people take it from you.
AK: I really like that, the gatekeepers are evil. To play off of that, I think there’s a tendency in our community once we find our thing to pigeonhole ourselves and I just say don’t. Try to keep an open mind, once you find your thing that’s wonderful, but there’s so much other stuff out there. Try not to turn judgey yourself. Be careful, it can happen. I might not be speaking from personal experiences or anything like that…
MC: I think, especially in terms of secret loves, you’ve got to own you and the idea of knowing what you love and hold on to that. Don’t hide what you like, be up front about it, know what you like, love it as much as you can. When you find someone who you really like and you’re genuine with them, it’s going to be that much easier to find someone who likes the same things as you. So be genuine, own you, and own what you love.
AK: The thing about being genuine is that there is no point in not being genuine – it’s going to come to a head at some point. The truth is always revealed.
MC: I feel like people have a good bullcrap detector when it comes to not being genuine. People see through it when you’re trying to be something else, so it’s so much easier to make friends and find people you love if you’re genuine about it.
KG: On that note, there have been a lot of times in my life when I was like, “That’s it! I’m not going to be a geek anymore, I’m going to be a cool girl!” I feel like when you try to do that, you lose part of yourself and in the end, you’d rather be the whole you, who is maybe into things that other people think are weird, versus being a self-conscious shell.
AK: That also goes for, not just the things you like, but for the way you personally experience them and share them. Some of us are very quiet and some of us may be incredibly loud. Either way, people are going to have opinions on that and it doesn’t matter, be who you are in either dimension.
Kristen, as an artist for three of the stories, what was the collaboration process like working with the writers?
KG: It was really easy, it was really fun. I sent a couple ideas to each of the authors and they all liked what I did. There was some back and forth with ideas of how to really capture the stories, but I was kind of given free reign, which was fun. …I guess that’s it. [laughter] That’s how I answer all my questions, I end them with, “I guess that’s it!”
Adrienne, you delineated between celebrity crushes and having real world relationships in your story, do you still have celebrity crushes and do you want to name any?
AK: Oh my god, come on this isn’t fair! This is really embarrassing! I’m like, “Totally of course, I still have crushes!” I was just going on and on about Oscar Isaacs like fifteen minutes ago, Poe Dameron. And then, not embarrassingly, it was a wonderful performance, but he’s a hideous character in Ex Machina and I still think he’s very, very, very sexy. I’m also a big Tom Hiddleston fan for the obvious reasons and I’ll always be in love with Kermit. Kermit will never lose my love.
Meaghan, what was your online dating process like?
MC: I started off with a profile right away, but the process was very up and down. Getting more comfortable with it took a while, I would go on two, maybe three, dates with one or two people and then be like, “I’m done! I’m over it!” It’d be like eight or nine months until I’d try again.
MC: It wasn’t until a friend of mine in my shared studio space was doing it more regularly. I was like okay, I’ll do it and that’s when I started coming up with the rules, like we’re not going to dress up, we’re going to be at work, and we’re going to give ourselves a deadline. That’s what really helped me regulate it and also build up a defense mechanism of we’re not going to care, we’re just not going to care about this!
Kristen, as an artist, is there a story you would have liked to have shared in this anthology?
KG: I’m also a writer, but when I had to write a personal essay in college, I was like, “Can I just make up a story and pretend it happened to me?” It’s funny because my actual comic, Henchgirl, which is also coming out of Dark Horse, stealth plug, if you know me, you’ll see that it’s exactly my life except highly fictionalized with superpowers.
KG: But when it comes to writing actual stuff about the real me, I get horrible writers block and I’ve never done it successfully. So I’ve got nothing there, I was very glad I didn’t have to write a personal essay! I don’t think anything interesting has happened to me.
Adrienne, your story also dealt with making yourself more vulnerable for people. If it’s not too personal, can you talk about that process?
AK: Yeah, the idea was that when we put crushes on pedestals, we protect ourselves because they can never live up to our expectations. Therefore, we can never actually end up wanting to date them. So we don’t actually have to date them, we can fantasize about dating them, but we don’t have to go through the messy process of dating them. So for me, the biggest thing about being vulnerable was just dating people and getting through the discomfort.
AK: I think the problem is that, for a lot of us, we were raised on various media and the way that romance and love stories are portrayed as beautiful – even if there are fights, the actual romance part is still kind of easy.
AK: I was a huge musical theatre fan and with the love in those stories there’s dancing and singing and it’s perfection. The thing that I really had to learn and be okay with was that things are messy and they’re not perfect and that’s actually okay. You can have a very beautiful love story and it be very, very, very human. Once I was able to relax into that feeling, into the awkwardness, I think that was my biggest opening up and being vulnerable for sure.
Meaghan, my biggest roadblock with online dating is actually going out to meet people. [laughter] Like this is fun, but I don’t actually want to go see them. At that point, I’m like this is exhausting…
MC: I realized that between talking to someone online and actually meeting them face to face, I had a much better read on them face to face. I could be so head over heels when talking to them online, but then meeting them in person there was zero chemistry. So I realized like let’s just do the coffee date right away, let’s just get it out of the way.
MC: Otherwise, I can’t suss you out as a human. Power to the people who do the online relationships, but for me specifically I need to meet you and read your face before I know we’re a match. I think if you need some kind of motivation to meet someone, give yourself two hours, make it somewhere you’re comfortable, but don’t frequent very often in case you see them there again. Just make it quick, make it painless.
How do you all think the internet lends itself to relationships and dating these days?
KG: I met my boyfriend on OKCupid. [cheers] I signed up and I met him the day after I signed up, he was the only date I went on, we’ve been together for like five years now.
AK: That’s so cool!
KG: I know, he’s very cute. I got super obsessed with him and I was like that’s it, I’m done, I’ve figured it out. Also, I hate dating. I think the internet is perfect for people who hate going out and talking to people, so it helps the nerds find love.
AK: I attempted online dating and I was horrible at it. I was so picky, I didn’t like who I was. I was so judgemental and that goes back to my essay about these expectations of perfection. I would go into it looking for perfection. I met my boyfriend working together, like meet-space as they call it. It made the most sense that I did it that way.
AK: And while there are clearly positives, I think one of the negatives is that there is so much choice and we can romanticize everyone else while the person we’re with is real and awkward and has flaws. So I think also what the internet has done has made people think there is somebody better out there. It makes it harder for people to commit to the person they’re with.
MC: I think it’s a mix between those two answers really. It’s made it really easy for people who aren’t comfortable in a bar scene or for people like me who constantly misread friend signals as romantic signals, “Oh you’re being nice to me, you definitely want in on this! You want to smooch this, I get it.” And being wrong every time.
MC: So, I think it’s made some things difficult, but it’s made a lot of things easier as well and smoother. Relationships are always going to be messy and always hit or miss, Internet or not, but I think there’s a lot of good that has come out of it, personally for me and it sounds like for Kristen as well.
Find out more about Kristen Gudsnuk on her website, Twitter, & comic, Hench Girl.
Find out more about Adrienne Kress on her website, Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook.
Find out more about Meaghan Carter on her website, Twitter, Instagram, & Tumblr.