It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s an interview with Sam Maggs – feminist and editor extraordinaire over at The Mary Sue. Sam and her debut book Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks will drop some knowledge about what it means to be a fangirl. Jam packed with enough geeky fare to give you all the feels, we sat down with Sam to learn about Geekdom, Fandom, and her favorite part about writing Fangirls Guide…
What makes you a fangirl?
A fangirl is anyone who loves something passionately and without embarrassment – and that’s me! I’m a fangirl of everything from Tamora Pierce novels to Mass Effect – and it’s made my life so much fun!
What was the seminal work that pushed you over the edge into “geekdom”?
I was born into a geek family – my dad has always been into comics and my parents saw the original Star Wars in theaters more than 20 times when it first came out, so I was pretty much doomed from the start. But for me the big thing that made me into a true fangirl was Stargate SG-1! I found it when I was about eleven years old, and the space-faring team included a lady, Sam Carter, who wasn’t just your typical Strong Female Character — she was also an astrophysicist! For a little nerd like me, seeing that represented on-screen was huge. I’m still obsessed with Stargate to this day, to be perfectly honest.
Your first piece of fanfic—what was it about, and what are three qualities needed for writing awesome squee-until-you-can’t-squee-any-louder fic?
My first piece of fanfic was a Josh/Donna romance from The West Wing and it’s best if we never speak about it again because I was about twelve at the time. It’s probably still on the internet somewhere. If you want to write great fanfic (eg. the exact opposite of mine), it’s important to pick a show and characters you really love; try not to get so nervous that you never start writing; and find awesome beta readers. They’ll save you every time!
How do you feel about the term “Fake Geek Girl”? If a woman were accused of being a “Fake Geek Girl” how would you instruct them about defending their Geeky honor?
Calling someone a “Fake Geek Girl” is just a way for gatekeeping jerks to force women out of spaces in which they haven’t traditionally felt welcome. It’s total garbage! If someone ever calls you a Fake Geek Girl, you can either quiz them back on something equally esoteric that you know tons about (like some obscure anime you happen to love), call them on their crap or stare at them in disbelief and walk away forever. The last one is especially true if this happens to you in a comic book or video game store — take your money somewhere more deserving!
What advice would you give those dealing with internet trolls? (Besides pounding your keyboard with your head?)
Your mental health and safety are the most important things! Deal with trolls in whatever way makes you feel best. If you’re comfortable responding to them and calling them out, more power to you; if you want to block them, screengrab everything they say to you and send it to local law enforcement, you can absolutely do that too. What’s important is that you know there are whole communities of women on social media who have your back and are here to support you no matter what.
One of your chapters focuses on conventions. What was your first con? What was your first cosplay?
My first con ever was a small, fan-run convention in Vancouver for Stargate fans called Gatecon, which was a really nice experience for a first-timer because it was super-intimate and not very crowded — far less intimidating than heading somewhere like SDCC for your first go! My very first cosplay was years later, when I finally felt confident enough in myself to try it — I dressed up as the TARDIS from Doctor Who. I’ve been totally addicted to cosplay ever since!
What is one thing those attending their first con should never forget to bring?
Comfortable. Shoes. I can’t repeat it enough. Comfortable shoes are everything. Con floors are usually made of concrete and you’re going to be walking and standing all weekend! Invest in some serious gel inserts and a comfy pair flats. You will still look hella cute and you won’t be mad at yourself by the third day.
Your favorite part about writing Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy was … ?
Listening to the theme to Pacific Rim while I wrote it! When you listen to it you feel like you can definitely do anything, including punching a giant robot in the face (or writing a book).
Who would your ideal feminist super hero group consist of? Antiheros are welcome.
I’ve got to go with Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan, a Muslim Pakistani-American teenage shapeshifter); the current Batgirl of Burnside (Barbara Gordon, computer whiz); Rat Queens’ Dee (a cleric who escaped from a Cthulhu-worshipping cult); Red Sonja (the metal bikini-rocking Hyrkanian she-devil); and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. For laughs, obviously.
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is available digitally and in print tomorrow! Can’t wait? You can find more from Sam here.