The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is an ALL-FEMALE collection featuring essays, new comics, and illustrated stories. For the next several months we will be featuring one of the anthology’s contributors leading up to the slated December release.
Last month we featured writer/illustrator, Sarah Winifred Searle and this month we are featuring the writer – Stephanie Cooke – whose short story, “Lungerella,” will be featured in The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. Check out our interview below.
AGtM: First off how did you get involved with/in The Secret Loves Of Geeks Girls?
SC: I’m incredibly fortunate to live in a great city where the geek community is really active. I’ve known Hope Nicholson for a few years now through various events and a mutual awkwardness that we bonded over. Another thing we bonded over was a need to have a glass (or two) of wine and vent about some of the things that transpire in the geek industry. We really do love the comic world but sometimes it’s not the best place to be as a woman, which is something that we (and others) are actively trying to change.
On one of these evenings, Hope and I were chatting and amongst some of the venting, Hope mentioned The Secret Loves of Geek Girls to me and asked if I would be interested in contributing. I’ve been pretty open about my dating woes on social media so she figured I would probably be open about sharing them in her project. I happily agreed and then immediately forgot about it.
A little while later, I got an email outlining what was going to happen and I was thrilled. Only after it launched and I started working on my story did I find out that Margaret Atwood was involved and then some serious panic about what I was planning to contribute set in. But that’s besides the point and completely unlike me to get carried away and derailed.
Long story short: I got involved with The Secret Loves of Geek Girls because Hope got me drunk.
AGtM: You are a writer and a geek so who or what comics/graphic novels inspired/inspire you?
SC: This is a hard question! It’s a bit like asking what your favourite is. With comics, I feel like you can’t solely be inspired by the writing because if you’re focused on only one portion of this medium, you might as well just be reading a novel. That being said, there are many writers that have made an impact in my life and those include Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton, Becky Cloonan’s works like The Mire, Demeter, and Wolves. Then there’s Brian K. Vaughan’s work on Runaways paired with Adrian Alphona’s art, Rat Queens, Through the Woods, Hellboy, Bandette, ApocalyptiGirl, and oh my gosh, SO many more.
AGtM: How would you describe your writing style?
SC: While I’m capable of writing serious works, I love telling a good silly story. I love building characters that you can relate to and that draw from real life experiences. When people read something that I’ve written, I want people to be able to actually hear my voice or to be able to imagine it (at least for non-fiction works). I try to make sure that the words themselves have character and that everything about it is distinctly mine. Does that describe my writing voice or am I just rambling again? Maybe rambling is just my style. Maybe definitely.
AGtM: You allowed me to read a rough draft of your short story, “Lungerella,” which tells the tale of a young woman trying out online dating. What are your thoughts on the world of online dating and do you think it is possible to find love via a keyboard?
SC: I still think that there’s something weird about online dating. I think it’s the best way to meet someone these days but for me there’s still this stigma surrounding it. I don’t really want kids in my life but I find myself thinking about the idea of having a good story to tell and you don’t really get much of that experience when you’re essentially shopping for a life partner. Sure it can play out in more ways besides “We just met on OkCupid!” or whatever, but I sometimes get wrapped up in the idea that that’s your beginning and that’s it.
That being said, I do think it’s possible. I haven’t had a lot of terrible dates, fortunately, they’ve mostly just been meh or forgettable. I met a good friend on online dating (something that I touch on in my story) and I’ve been dating someone that I met online and that’s been amazing so far. Online dating is just a tricky beast since you might click really well (no pun intended) when you’re messaging back and forth but you just don’t have chemistry in person. It’s a lot of trial and error. I’m not phased though… at least not yet. As Mulder would say, “I want to believe!” but let’s pretend he was talking about potential love interests and not aliens.
AGtM: So be honest do you swipe left or right more?
SC: Definitely more left, which sounds terrible and shallow but if I’m going to window shop for what I want in a partner, I’m going to be at least SORT OF picky about it. But only sort of.
AGtM: With out giving too much away, your story has a realistic ending. You also tell the story in a “Once Upon a Time” tone, do you think that people need to find a balance between being realistic and still chasing a fairy tale while dating in the modern world?
SC: Yes and no. I think it’s nice to have a fairy tale ideal in your head when it comes to finding “true love” but I think that needs to be met with some reality. Keep your fairy tale as a fun little daydream but remember that we aren’t Disney princesses that have men clamouring for our affection. A lot of romance is gone in our world and there needs to be new standards for what’s a romantic gesture and a gesture worthy of being included in a modern TLC song (you’re welcome if you now have “No Scrubs” stuck in your head). We can have a fairy tale romance but I think it’s incredibly important to remember that while a prince isn’t fighting an evil witch or a dragon to save us from a locked tower, there are other ways that men can be chivalrous such as simply holding open a door for you. The witch and/or dragon don’t exist (probably) but that doesn’t mean that your relationship won’t face trials and tribulations. You can’t have happy without the sad. To me, you can’t appreciate one without the other.
AGtM: Finally what is does it mean to be a geek girl and what is your advice for geek girls out there?
SC: Being a geek girl means embracing what you love and never apologizing for it to anyone. If you meet a guy that doesn’t accept that you watch Star Wars on a weekly basis and that you learned to play cello just so you could play the music from Star Wars (I really do know someone that did this) then he’s not someone that’s worth being around. I realize that you didn’t specifically ask about being a geek girl in relation to dating but STILL. If someone doesn’t love Star Wars as much as you (and your geek love doesn’t specifically need to be Star Wars), then the next best thing is finding someone that loves you because of it (among your other fabulous qualities) and never judges you.
The best thing that I ever did for my geekdom was to get connected with other like-minded individuals on Twitter. I never felt more at home than when I found friends around the world who understood me. Having a connection to people who actually get you is the best feeling in the world. Don’t take crap from anyone. Love what you love without remorse, even if every other person on the planet thinks it’s “stupid”. Write fanfiction. Draw fanart. Let your geek flag fly proudly.