Ashley Poston’s Geekerella, a Cinderella retelling with a decidedly geeky (natch) spin, is one of my favorite books of 2017. (Read my review of Geekerella here.) It’s a book about fandom written by a true fan, and it shows.
As part of Quirk Books’ Book Pop Online—a celebration of their 15th anniversary—Ashley stopped by our lockers to chat about her favorite fandoms, peanut butter, and tell us a little about her next novel.
THE ACTUAL BOOK-RELATED QUESTIONS
In Geekerella, main character Elle is a part of the Starfield fandom. What are some of your fandoms? Have you ever been as involved with your fandoms as Elle is with hers?
Oh, gosh, I have a lot of fandoms. Some of my recent favorites are Voltron, Yuri!!! On Ice, My Hero Academia … And I still always loop back to FullMetal Alchemist, A:TLA, and Star Trek. Although, I’ve never gone as deep into those fandoms as I did my very first one—Yu-Gi-Oh!. I was utter and completely trash for it. In fact, I was so trash I made a LiveJournal just for my preferred ship (Puzzleshipping, obvi, where Atem and Yuugi call each other “aibou” and snuggle) where I wrote copious amounts of fanfic, found my best friends, and learned to accept myself.
Why write a novel about fandom? How much of your personal experience went into your book and its characters?
I grew up in fandom. That might sound like an exaggerated statement—but I did. I was a really shy kid, and the town I grew up in always wanted to box me into this tidy little square where I didn’t fit at all. But then I found my fandoms—and in those fandoms, people different than me but who liked the same things, and who accepted me! I put a lot of those feeling into Elle. She feels accepted as a Stargunner. People don’t try to put her into tidy box where she doesn’t fit. They don’t take one look at her and write her off. She feels powerful in her fandom, respected. She feels like she can speak her mind—and that’s magical. Having a community of strangers that love and support you just because they can is a certain kind of magic. It’s a kindness that vanquishes evil.
I like that about fandom.
Geekerella is also a Cinderella retelling. What about the story of Cinderella appealed to you? And what about retellings do you think appeal to so many readers?
There is something inherently attractive about fairytales. They’re all wish fulfillments, products of the eras from when they were created. Cinderella is a tricky sort of fairytale, though. While it’s wish fulfillment of a girl of poor stature becoming a princess, it leaves a lot to be desired. Her happy ending relies on the prince to love her, and the prince to rescue her. While there are a lot of things about Cinderella I love—the gumption of her going to the ball against her stepmother’s orders! Dancing with the prince!—I really despised that her end-goal relied on the prince.
So, when I wrote Geekerella, I wanted to change that. Elle would save herself in this one, and the prince? Well, Darien has his own demons, too.
What’s a story you’ve always wanted to write, but haven’t? Or, alternatively, what’s an existing story that you wish you had written?
I’ve always wanted to write a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I have a lot of feelings about the fairytale, and I want to explore it. Sigh. Alas, someday!
WIthout too many spoilers, what can you tell us about your next novel, Heart of Iron?
WHY YES I CAN!
Heart of Iron is a YA space fantasy loosely based on Anastasia. When Ana’s best friend, an android name D09, begins to glitch, she goes on a quest to find a way to restore his damaged memory core before he glitches out forever. But what she finds at the edge of the universe will change her life forever—and bring back a darkness that will threaten the entire kingdom. She must face an impossible choice: does she protect the kingdom that never cared for her, or save the android she loves?
It has romance! Kissing! Sword fights! Smart-mouth pilots! More kissing! Swoony androids! Kickass spaceship captains! Death! More death! A LOT OF DEATH! AND KISSING!
It comes out February 27th, 2018, so mark your calendars!
Consider mine marked with a bunch of heart eye emojis.
THE YA QUESTIONS
If your real life adolescence was a YA book ...
What would you, the main character, be like?
I’d be the nerdy theatre tech who’s always running late for band practice because she’s overestimated her ability to be in two places at once. She has Sailor Moon printouts in her binder, and writes fanfic in math class.
Who is your secret crush?
The suave saxophone player who doesn’t even know I exist. I write fanfic where he does.
What is your number #1 source of angst?
NO! WHY MUST I WAIT A WEEK FOR THE NEXT EPISODE? THAT WAS A TERRIBLE CLIFFHANGER THERE WERE MORE COMMERCIALS THAN PLOT WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD???
At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?
The moment my name is called for a playwriting award at a regional championship. I was the underdog, but somehow they’re saying First Place. I don’t hear the announcer at first, and then when I do I burst out crying. I don’t stop. I accept the award with snot running down my face.
And who would play you in the film adaptation?
Mae Whitman, because she’s the best. *wistful sigh*
THE SLUMBER PARTY QUESTIONS
What is your secret power?
Telekinesis. I don’t really like reaching for the remote, you know?
What is your #1 favorite food?
Tell me about your area of expertise.
I am well-versed in the art and history of Disney movies.
If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick and why?
OOF. This is hard. I would choose an elite team of warriors—oh, who am I kidding. I’d choose my favorites and hope for the best.
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
Winry Rockbell (FullMetal Alchemist)
Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Poe Dameron (Star Wars)
Cullen Rutherford (Dragon Age)
Howl Pendragon (Howl’s Moving Castle)
Arya Stark (Game of Thrones)
Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)
Westley (The Princess Bride)
Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon)
What is your best karaoke song?
“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.
Tell me something scandalous!
I’ve never seen The X-Files!
What is your favorite adult beverage?
I love a nice hard cider.
What book have you read the most number of times?
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
Who is your “freebie”?
I must be really old, because I’m not sure what this means?? (And I’m not that old! I don’t think. WHAT YEAR IS IT? WHERE AM I? WHAT CENTURY?)
YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?
Oh gosh, no BFF charms, but I’d give flower crowns to everyone in YA—authors, bloggers, booktubers—because they work so hard to better this community. FLOWER CROWNS FOR EVERYONE!
Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most wish you could be?
Elle, definitely. I mean, who wouldn’t want dreamy-as-a-cinnamon-roll-fresh-out-of-the-oven Darien?!
If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what pajamas would you wear, and what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie you’d bring?
I would wear my trusty unicorn onesie and bring with me a few pack of Twizzlers to share. BECAUSE MOVIE NIGHTS MUST HAVE TWIZZLERS. And a Studio Ghibli movie (my personal favorite’s Porco Rosso).
AND NOW, MASH
Ashley made three picks for each category, and I added a fourth. The magic number (chosen by a random number generator) was 7.
M A S H
Eh, Netflix and Grill
# OF KIDS
Star of the reboot movie of your favorite scifi franchise
Undercover Secret Operative
Handler to said famous movie star
Paid in peanuts
Paid in the hearts of my mortal enemies
A flat 100k
Paid in Starfield syndication royalties
New York City
A small town in rural South Carolina
A bossy cat
A Good Dog
A food truck painted like a pumpkin
1997 Gold Ford Taurus named “The McNugget”
A lime green Pinto
A sick Porsche
Thanks for stopping by, Ashley! And happy anniversary, Quirk Books!
Geekerella is available now.