How the Author of Geekerella Turned a Story About Fandom Into Our Fave YA Novel of 2017
They say to write what you know, and author Ashley Poston knows a thing or two about geeking out and fandom.
She's the author of the adorable YA novel Geekerella, a modern take on the classic Cinderella story. Geekerella creates an incredible romance between two characters united by a common passion for the same geeky sci-fi series, and it'll resonate with anyone who's ever been a part of a fandom.
We loved the novel, and we were thrilled to get the chance to chat with Ashley herself to find out about her personal fangirling history and why Geekerella was a story she had to tell.
Sweety High: What's your personal relationship to the world of fandom?
Ashley Poston: I remember when the internet first came to my house. My dad hooked up the modem, showed me how to get on through the dial-up connection—am I showing my age yet?—and the World Wide Web spread out from beneath my fingertips like a roadmap to my heart. I fell headfirst into fandom—into fanfics and message boards and LiveJournal communities. I found home, basically, where I fit in. I started writing fanfic in middle school and cosplaying in college. Without fandom, I wouldn't be the person I am today.
SH: How did you decide to write a love story that revolved around fandom?
AP: Geekerella was a happy surprise. I knew the moment my editor pitched the story that I wanted to write it, and I'm so glad I got the chance. While I'm not all that surprised that there aren't many books about fandom, the ones that exist are spectacular—like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. In the coming years, I hope there are more books about fandom because they seem to touch what other YA can't quite reach. They light a spark in our fandom hearts.
SH: What are the biggest things you've fangirled about throughout your life?
AP: Oh, there are so many! I grew up in the time of Harry Potter and Twilight, so of course I went to all the midnight book release parties and the midnight movie premieres.
One time, I asked LittleKuriboh of Yu-Gi-Oh!-abridged fame to call my best friend to leave a message about leather pants—don't ask! Another time, I passed Felicia Day at BookExpo, whipped my head around to look and tripped right into a trash can. And then there's the time I asked a group of cosplaying Ezios from Assassin's Creed to assassinate me in the middle of AnimeExpo. That was fun.
But I think my most extreme moment of fangirling came when I was given the opportunity to intern at Kodansha USA and work on new translations of the Sailor Moon manga. Achievement unlocked.
SH: How did the inspiration for Geekerella come about? Once you had that first seed of the idea, what were the easiest and toughest parts to write?
AP: When the seeds for Geekerella were handed to me, I just had to figure out how to make them grow. How do Elle and her prince meet? Do I give a POV to the prince? Does he rescue her, or do I want Elle to rescue herself? What magic could there be in a world where magic does not exist?
The last question was the easiest—because there is a certain magic to fandom that you really don't find anywhere else. It's the kind of magic that comes in the form of friends you've never met, and late-night message board chats, and favorite OTPs and coffeehouse AU fics and one fan-heart saying to another, "Oh, you too?" "Me, too."
SH: When it came to creating the fandom that would exist within Geekerella, how did you settle on the idea for Starfield?
AP: Like Elle, my father raised me on sci-fi. I remember watching Star Trek reruns on Sunday, and those terribly wonderful B movie sci-fis on weeknights. So, I took what I knew and I combined it with everything I loved from my favorite sci-fi shows—Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star—along with some of my favorite sci-fi tropes, and Starfield was born.
SH: At what point did you decide that you wanted to make your story a retelling of Cinderella?
AP: I've always loved retellings, so Cinderella just felt like—excuse the pun—a perfect fit. Besides, everything was right there: the beautiful gown, the cosplay and the ball. There was a story there begging to be written, and I'm happy I was the one who got to tell it.
SH: How did you decide to tell the story from the different perspectives of the two main protagonists?
AP: Since the beginning, I knew I wanted the prince to have his own POV. In the original fairytale, the prince is a foil for all of Cinderella's hopes and dreams, but in Geekerella I had the opportunity to make him more. So sweet, sweet cinnamon roll Darien Freeman was born. I loved developing his character and I loved exploring his story. That was easy.
I think the hardest part was when the two POVs finally met. I must have rewritten that scene half a dozen times because I wanted to get it right. I hope I finally did!
SH: What tips do you have for aspiring novel writers?
AP: Never give up. Keep writing. Even when you think your story is too strange, or too weird, keep at it. Push your boundaries. And research! One of the biggest mistakes for new writers, I think, is when they don't research. Half of writing is rewriting, and half of rewriting is researching—you only have one chance to get it right, so make it count.
SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
AP: We're all a part of fandoms—be them for TV shows, films, books, comics, anime, YouTubers or bands—and because of that, we have something in common. And that's pretty neat, when you think about it. It brings us all together. So here's to all of the coffeehouse AUs and headcanons, OTPs and shipping wars, because without them life would not be nearly so magical.
If you haven't read Geekerella yet yourself, click HERE to read our review!