L-R: Sam Maggs, Hope Nicholson and Ashley Posten
On Monday 29th May I had the opportunity to attend an event run by Quirk Books where Ashley Posten, Hope Nicholson and Sam Maggs were to be talking about their latest books. This is the first time I’ve ever wrote an actual post about what the authors said about their books, normally I just make a few comments but this panel fascinated me.
Ashley Posten is the author of Geekerella – a Cinderella rewrite set at a sci-fi convention, with the trademark HEA that all modern Cinderella stories has and without the gross foot chopping.
Hope Nicholson is the author of The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen – a historical book based around the female comic book characters through history.
Sam Maggs is the author of Wonder Women and her first book The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy – Wonder Women is a historical book about 25 women lost throughout history.
What inspired Sam Maggs to write Wonder Women is that she found in textbooks, there was Marie Curie and an overwhelming amount of white dudes; so she started to do a lot of digging and found that only 22% of game developers are female, a third of Google employees are female and that only 5% of US patents had a woman’s name on it. This distinct lack of role models in history made her want to show that we can be successful as well!
Women have been forgotten through history, particularly women of colour who didn’t claim their patents; Sam wrote this with the intention of having more young women find women fun! Surprisingly enough – which is mentioned in the book mind you (I’m reading it right now) – is that when we think of a scientist we automatically think a male with frizzy white hair and a lab coat but women did a lot of scientific breakthroughs.
Hope Nicholson said her book is predominantly about women in comic books, not just the characters but the women involved behind the scenes – the artists, the graphic designers, the authors. It was designed to erase a lot of resistance over female characters and to shove that there are different types of female characters in comics – even though they’re predominantly the secondary and tertiary characters in their comics.
The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen wasn’t just about the fandom and what they put out there but what the fans are getting back.
Ashley Posten’s Geekerella is about finding your place in the fandom. It was where Ashley found herself and where I myself, have found who I am as a person. I’m not just that chick that reads fantasy or comics. I am me. Ashley’s idea was to show the world that although we’re female, we’re active people in this world!
Elle – the main character – is not a super perfect goodie-goodie like a lot of people would expect, she’s got flaws just like a normal human.
A lot of cosplay research went into this book especially from the early 90s and the main focus was Star Trek conventions as Star Field is in a similar sort of vein.
Another big difference that Ashley made in Geekerella is that her Prince Charming is South American-Asian and she refused to write his POV unless she could give it the justice it deserved. So, in order to do this, she spoke to several South American-Asian people and got their POV on things.
This was honestly the most amazing panel I’ve attended, it was packed full of facts about people I didn’t know about.
Did you know that there’s a whole magazine dedicated to the ways Lois Lane tried to trick Superman into marrying her?
Did you know there was a comic book artist called Wendy Pittey who was also a cosplayer?
One of the key things I learned is that everything on the internet is wrong!!
Why is this? Well Sam Maggs can tell you – False information self-perpetuates and a few instances of this are as follows:
- Mary Bowser – she was born in the 1860s and at this period in time it was illegal for a black woman to be educated and she likely lived as a slave to boot. She lived with a white family who sent her off to be educated and then placed her in the Confederate White House during the Civil War where she used her illegal education to read notes and papers from the Confederates which was then sent to the Union Army. BUT the internet says that she blew up that White House.
- Annie Smith Peck – one of the first female mountaineers and the first female mountaineers to climb in trousers is famously said to have said “I live out of my truck!” according to the Internet at least – but Sam found that it’s actually “I live out of my trunk!” as in steamer trunk.
Just goes to show that the internet can be wrong!
Another key things I learned is that all of the characters in these books are diverse – women of colour, transgender etc though it was slightly difficult to accurately represent queer women as the language needed to do it didn’t exist then.
Representation is important.
I asked the ladies a couple of questions while I was there, which was the first time I’ve ever asked a question at an event and I’ve been to quite a few.
What person in your book is your favourite and why?
Sam Maggs – Anandibai Joshi because she was a Indian doctor born in the 1860s when women were not allowed to be educated; unfortunately her story is a bit of a sad one – she lost her child and became convinced that if she’d had better medical care then her baby would have survived and this is what made her become a doctor.
Hope Nicholson – Sally the Sleuth who was a detective comic character in the 1930s in a magazine called the Spicy’s – it was a men’s magazine where she had a 1 page spread where she’d get naked but also fight crime. It was then rebooted in the 1960s, but the oddest thing was in the 1930s women could only be partially nude, men couldn’t be nude at all but a dead female character could be fully nude. Odd huh?
What genre would you classify your books as?
Sam – History
Hope – Comics
Ashley – YA. 110% Contemporary.
I’m currently reading Wonder Women and I can tell you that I hadn’t even read the first page all the way through and I felt empowered. It’s a really interesting read and so light hearted for a history book.
This is the back of Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy which is quite nifty!