At WonderCon this year I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Ashley Poston, the author of the incredible new book Geekerella which came out last week. If you saw our review of the book you probably already know that we’re huge fans. It’s a super cute, fun retelling of the classic Cinderella story focused around fandom, conventions, and basically all things geeky.
Basically, it’s the nerd love story you’ve always wanted.
After sitting down with her, I am convinced that Ashley Poston was the perfect person to write this kind of book. Like many of us, she cut her teeth on Star Trek and anime series like Sailor Moon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Inuyasha as a kid before entering the crazy world of online fandom. She’s an avid con-goer who also enjoys cosplay — and she can go on and on about video games, books, movies and more. (I know because that’s basically what we did.)
We took some time in-between geeking out about Mass Effect and Kingdom Hearts to talk about Geekerella. We discussed how she came to write the book, just how much she’s developed the fictional Starfield franchise, and more! She even reveals her favorite character towards the end.
Check it out below!
So how did you come about writing Geekerella?
Ashley Poston: I was actually asked to write a book about a geek girl at a sci-fi con- well at a convention. They were like, “Hey, you have a really cool voice and you really like fandom – do you want to do this?”
I had already been playing around with a geek girl story so I was like, “Yes I want to do this!”
So it was just a match made in heaven. I wanted to write it at the exact same time that someone wanted the story written so it was like the perfect marriage. It was amazing timing.
I always say that publishing is 10% skill and 90% luck. So that was one of those lucky breaks!
What, besides Cinderella, did you look to for inspiration for this story?
AP: Can I say Cinderella retellings?
A Cinderella Story… I really like You’ve Got Mail. There’s a lot of You Got Mail in this. When Harry Met Sally. I just really love Nora Ephron movies. And I love hate-to-love [stories] and lovers not knowing that they’re secretly in love with each other. Like the whole pen pal mystique.
Is it hard to look at Cinderella and Cinderella retellings and make it your own?
When I’m writing a book I don’t like to read in the genre that I’m writing so I distanced myself from anything that was remotely Cinderella or YA contemporary. I want to make my characters and the plot organic. And that was the way I knew how to do it.
Starfield is a pretty big part of the story. The book is full of fandom in-jokes and references but obviously Starfield isn’t real in our world. How developed is the show for you?
AP: I wanted to make it as much of a fandom as anything else is so I actually wrote down every single episode name and summary. And like there’s 54 episodes to this make believe TV show. I was that committed.
And like every single episode [title] is a spoof off of a well known movie. Like “Better Space Than Never.” And like “A Nox to Remember.” Like everyone single one of them is like a pun on words. It’s my shining achievement.
Episode 54… doesn’t have a title by the way.
Well, it does. But it’s secret to me. I might tell everyone… someday.
Do you have any plans to try and follow up with Starfield some other way? You could always do short stories or e-novellas or something like that!
AP: You know, I’m not going to say no. That would be a lot of fun. I’d love to write fanfic of Starfield. Or just write a novel of Starfield with Prince Carmindor and Princess Amara.
Rainbow Rowell did something similar with her book, Fangirl.
AP: Yeah, Carry On!
It would be so much fun!
But I don’t know. It might take some of the mystery and the joy out of you crafting Starfield in [my] head. But I would also love to do some short stories of some of the side characters [from Geekerella] like Sage and Cal… and Brian. Gale. Lonny. I have these happily ever afters all in my head. I know what happens to these characters like years after this book happens. It’s deep.
What made you decide to make up your own fandom instead of using a preexisting franchise? (Other than the copyright issues, of course.)
AP: I mean, that was a big one!
Someday, I really want to write a Spock at Starfleet story. If anyone writes one I think it should be someone who knows Spock really well. I’m not saying it should be me but… it should be me. That’s my one big dream. To write Spock at Starfleet Academy!
Since casting is a big part of the story have you put any thought into who would play the characters? Do you have a dream cast in mind?
AP: I do! Mae Whitman as Elle. Definitely. Because she has that snark and it’s perfect. And I know he’s kind of old now to play Darien but… someone like Dev Patel. Like, I envision Darien as Dev Patel. He was so precious during the Oscars. He just had pure joy on his face. I was like, yup. Yup. That’s it.
I never really thought that much about Sage, though. Sage is just this really real person in my head. So I don’t know who I would cast as her. I have no idea.
Okay, so, as hardcore fans we’ve all been in that position where something we love has been adapted or rebooted and someone who has been cast is just really wrong for a particular role. What casting choice sticks out that really bothered you and then who did you think couldn’t do it that absolutely pulled it off?
AP: The biggest let down was Cumberbatch as Khan. I will never get over that. There’s no way to get over that. It just felt- it wasn’t- I don’t know. I did not like it. At all. It was bad. And I just don’t really like Into Darkness in general. That entire movie is just a train wreck. It should just be ‘Sunk into Darkness.’
One that pulled it off… uhm.
The jury is still out on Riverdale. I am not going to make an assumption about any of them until the end of the season. And it really just depends on what they do with Jughead because he’s ace and he needs to be ace.
But let’s see… one that pulled it off.
Oh this is harder than I thought it would be! Wait, no. No it’s not.
Mae Whitman in The Duff.
Oh! [And] Kevin Cline as Maurice in Beauty and the Beast in the new one. I didn’t think he could pull it off. But he made that movie for me. The rest of it I’m iffy on but he made Maurice for me.
Do you have anyone in your life whose influence on you kind of mirrors Elle’s dad? Did someone get you into fandom or did you get into it on your own?
AP: A little bit of both.
My dad introduced me to Star Trek a long time ago. Like, the one with the whales is forever my favorite one. Like Spock and the whales, and “Do you know your whale’s pregnant?” And I was like, “Oh, you go Spock!”
But yeah my dad got me into sci-fi. We always had the sci-fi channel running in the background. Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, those old B-role sci-fi movies: I’ve seen them all.
As for fandom and community, I’m an only child. And I didn’t make friends really well when I was younger because I had this really bad stuttering problem. I grew up in this area of South Carolina where it’s really rich and posh and everyone has to be cool. And here I was carrying around clear binders with Yu-Gi-Oh! and Inuyasha on the cover and I was not cool.
The fandom community taught me that you’re okay the way you are and ‘love yourself and you will be loved.’
It’s just really ostracizing when you can’t find your people and then you find them in a fandom community online and you’re like, “Oh, so here you are!”
What’s a question – either about your work or just in general – that you’ve always wanted to be asked but no one’s ever asked?
AP: I’m gonna think on that one for a minute there. There’s a lot of questions I haven’t been asked yet!
Nobody’s ever asked me if I could cosplay as literally anyone – like talent be damned! – who would I cosplay as? It would basically be Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect. In her armor. … Not in her fatigues. Like [in her] actual N7 armor. N7 FemShep is where I’m at!
Okay, last question: Is there anything else you think people should know about the book?
AP: About the book…
There’s a dog.
Frank the Weiner. He’s my favorite character. I say that non-ironically. He’s my favorite character.