If you haven’t already heard, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is getting an inclusive sequel that includes more genders, orientations, and cultural backgrounds! We loved the emotional honestly, openness, and how relatable the first book was, so it’s safe to say we’re pretty excited to see what topics the contributors to the follow-up, The Secret Loves of Geeks, are going to delve into.

At San Diego Comic Con, we sat down with Hope Nicholson, the editor and curator of both anthologies, and contributors Jen Vaughn and JP Larocque to talk about their secret loves and what they chose to put into the books. Previously, at New York Comic Con, we spoke with some of the contributors to the first book in part one here and part two here.

I have honestly never met a nicer group of people than those who contribute to the Secret Loves anthologies, who are so willing to make themselves emotionally vulnerable in order to show other geeks that they’re not alone in their experiences. It is truly a joy to speak to them at conventions.

We talked about each of their contributions in the first and second book, dug really deep to try to get to the root of JP Larocque’s disinterest in Star Wars, what they want people to take away from their shared stories, and the advice they’d give to geeks.

You can pick up The Secret Loves of Geek Girls right now and find The Secret Loves of Geeks when it releases on February 14, 2018.

How did you get involved with this anthology series?

Hope Nicholson: I’m the curator and editor of both anthologies.

Jen Vaughn: Hope had a call I believe. She contacted me to be in them and I screamed and was like, “Yeah totally!”

JP Larocque: Hope reached out to me and offered me an opportunity to contribute to the second book.

Hope, did you change how you brought people into the anthology between the first and second book?

HN: Yeah, absolutely. I think because the first book was through Kickstarter, I did half curation, half open call. Then for the second book, which was just through Dark Horse Comics, I did it as all curation.

HN: It was a bit of a different process, a lot more heavily focused with interactions between me and the Dark Horse editor Daniel Chabon regarding who we’d pick and what kind of themes we were going for in the second book.

Did you put a story in the second one as well?

HN: I did, yeah. My story in the second book is one that I was going to originally put in the first book. I decided that Hope Larson is brave enough to talk about hook-ups at cons and Hope Nicholson can as well. Except hers is about hookups outside of the cons during the same time period and mine is just about hookups with comics creators.

What are your contributions to the anthologies?

JV: In the first book, I had two small comics. One with Fionna Adams about being a young trans woman who had no one to identify with in pop culture, so she told me to start writing more comics to be that person and one about how to survive after you lose your board game group through an ex. You know, no one to roll those D20s with! Hope was very nice to add me into the second book as well for geeks. My story is about the love of podcasts and the new gods of radio.

JL: My story is called “Finding Love in Alderaan Places” and it’s in the second book. It’s basically a story – which is comedic, but that’s because it’s patterned on my life – it’s the reality of my life. Basically, I lied to somebody that I liked Star Wars and he loved Star Wars and then I maintained that lie for a very long time. It got really complicated and that’s what that story is about.

JP, do you not like Star Wars?

JL: I have some challenges with it. I feel like I’m a little bit more of a Star Trek guy versus Star Wars, that’s where I fit. I feel like Star Wars is more fantastical and feel good, whereas people who like Star Trek like… invent cures. I’m not going to get into the divide, this is hot lava! I’m going away!

What is the biggest thing you had to bluff through in that situation?

JL: We were together for over a year, we were together for a fair amount of time and it was a continual lie. So it was a lot of movies and tv show watching. There was…  I dressed up once as a character (ed. note: Jen Vaughn and I both gasped at this confession). I took a lie very far is the bottom line and I did it for love, I suppose. Although the truth is, if you really love yourself and the other person, you’ll be honest with them from the beginning.

JV: Did the relationship end because the lie was found out?

JL: It sure did.

JV: Are you kidding? That is some low shit!

Who did you dress up as? Was it your idea?

JV: He doesn’t know, that’s the problem!

JL: I don’t know! A garbage can or something stupid? I have no fucking idea!

I just want to dig very deep into this situation…

JL: Sorry to all the Star Wars fans out there.

Did you feel like you were sharing a secret with your contribution and what do you want people to take away from your story?

HN: In the first volume, I did a story about how I lost my virginity at 26. It wasn’t embarrassing to me because the point of the anthology was to share a really intimate secret and I knew that other people would relate to it.

HN: The second one was a lot harder for me to get over because it’s something that happened after I lost my virginity. It’s easy to talk about something that already happened, it’s harder to talk about something that’s slightly still developing or that you’ve been going through for a while, which was, “What’s it like to be suddenly a hyper-sexual person in your late 20s for the first time?”

HN: The truth is that a lot of mistakes get made, it’s very complicated, and it wasn’t an easy transition at all to become a person having sex. People really behave badly in sex and I’m a person who believes in fairness. I’m always like, “You shouldn’t behave badly! You should be good!” And you can’t force people to be good, you can only try to mitigate the risks by hopefully sleeping with people who respect you. But even then, you just never know what you’re going to get into.

HN: That’s what my story is about and it was very scary to tell. I definitely felt like I was telling a secret. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be known as the person who did hookups at cons, but at the same time I’m like, “Look, most of us who have sex have done it.” It’s important to talk about why it happens, how it’s normal, how you shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed, and how to mitigate any risks of bad fallout afterwards.

JV: The losing your board game group story was hard to write because no one likes to put on social media, “Hey does anyone want to play with me? All my friends are gone or have taken my ex’s side.” Then you just get pity players.

JV: It was kind of like having to admit that I was having trouble with friends. Also, I think a lot of people think I’m constantly busy or always have a lot of friends, but it was just showing that I too can be lonely.

HN: Sometimes cool people have trouble too.

JV: I didn’t say I was cool! I said other people occasionally maybe dreamt up the idea that I’m cool. Loneliness happens to everyone, it’s situational. It’s the same with depression. It was using games not just as a metaphor but also literally. The message is that you can find companionship of all kinds through a love of games.

JL: I would say it was interesting because, with distance and time from the relationship, I was like, “Okay I’m seeing the comedy in this, I see how it’s funny. I kind of want to share this and talk about this.”

JL: Since contributing this story, since passing this story on, I’ve now run into this individual a number of times. So I’m like, “Well, there is a real person behind this.” At the same time, one thing that I tried very hard to do in talking about this relationship was balancing my criticism of the relationship and understanding the role we both played in that.

JL: So understanding how I lied and understanding how I was not the greatest person, as much as I make fun of his love of something that I didn’t understand. So I tried to be fair about it, but sharing that was definitely a bit of a challenge after it was done. I was like, “Oh wait, shoot! I’ve just been laughing about this because I just keep seeing the jokes and the humor in it, but this was a real relationship. This was a real person.”

JV: JP, I don’t know if you noticed, but Kylo Ren is also Star Wars and our interviewer is wearing the shirt. She’s wearing a Star Wars shirt!

JL: Star Wars, nooooo!

It’s alright, this is just the Trash Can Man now.

JL: That’s how I’ll be credited! “The Trash Can Man said…”

If there was one piece of advice that you could share with geeks about love, what would it be?

HN: For me, it’s definitely that you’re not alone. Whatever you’re going through, even if it’s a story that’s not in our book in any way, there’s someone else going through the same thing. And I think some people say that’s not enough to fix the problem. Oh no, you can’t fix the problem just by knowing about it, but at least you can take some comfort in it.

HN: When you feel alone, any problem you have gets a million times worse. So while sharing companionship and sharing stories might not eliminate your problems, I think it does start to make you able to see a way out and to be able to see the light at the end of the anxiety-ridden worm hole you may currently be in.

JV: You go first because I think I’m going say what you’re going to say.

JL: No no no. You do it, you do it.

JV: I’m going to say something different now because I know what you’re going to say! Mine is – because we live in a nerdy competitiveness sort of era for some reason – don’t let fandom keep you from loving something. It’s not always necessarily about the community or the loudest people in the community. It’s about your relationship with what’s being created or what you’re creating. Enjoy it for what it is, don’t let forums or Twitter get you down. Love it, be in the moment, enjoy it, life is short.

JL: I think for me it would be: don’t force yourself into situations that maybe aren’t right for you because you feel you have to. I think if you’re honest with yourself and you’re honest with another person you can find ways to build bridges and to have a really genuine relationship.

JL: If you fake it, if you lie, if you try to do something just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do, or out of fear or whatever, it just leads to problems. It leads to issues, as I discovered. So, I would say honesty is the biggest thing.

Find out more about Hope Nicholson on her websiteTwitter, and Facebook.
Find out more about Jen Vaughn on her website and Twitter.
Find out more about JP Larocque on his website and Twitter.

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