As author Ashley Poston prepares to invade the British capital to attend MCM London Comic Con, MyM magazine got the chance to have an exclusive chat about her con-based story Geekerella.
When did you have the idea to take the classic story of Cinderella and give it a modern twist with Geekerella?
I had been playing around with a con story of my own and it just wasn’t syncing, when my publisher came to me with this idea – a Cinderella story about a girl who works at a food truck, set at a sci-fi convention. The moment I read that proposal I called my agent and said, ‘I need to do this story! This is the one I couldn’t do.’ So I was really happy to be able to write it.
It’s nice when that happens, when someone pitches you an idea you were already sort of kicking around…
It was destiny, almost. It was fate.
Did you use your own con experience to build the world in the book?
I’ve been to quite a few cons before – I’m also a cosplayer so I took it from real-life experiences. I live about an hour away from Charleston, South Carolina, so I knew I wanted to set it in Charleston because there’s a lot of deep history there. Also you don’t see a food truck all that often in Charleston, so I thought it was fun to navigate that. Charleston is still very colonial and there’s a lot of really old houses – well, old for us! – and a lot of one-way streets and it has a lot of character to it. So I knew I wanted to set the book there.
The closest con is actually Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia, which is about four hours away. I’ve been to that and New York Comic Con and a few other local cons, so I based it off what I knew of those. Anything I didn’t know, because the book is written from two points of view, I researched the heck out of. I’m a big supporter or researching a topic. Research before you write it and if you don’t think you can write it correctly then don’t write it at all.
Is the character of Darien, the actor in the fictitious sci-fi show Starfield, based on a real person?
I didn’t base him on any one person. I had the idea of Starfield, which is known in this contemporary universe to be the first sci-fi with a person of colour as the main character. So I was thinking a lot of ‘what ifs?’ And a lot of it bore out of my frustration of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness. I was really frustrated about that and a bunch of other whitewashing that’s been happening in Hollywood – the new Ghost in the Shell, I was just punching things.
So I was like, I’m going to write my frustrations out. I also knew with Darien being a South Asian American – which I am not – that I wanted to get it right. So I researched it first and I knew that if I couldn’t write him the way he needed to be written, then I wasn’t going to write him at all. Hopefully I got him right.
It must have been really interesting to take an in-depth look at another culture. Was there anything that jumped out at you when you were researching his character?
It was really interesting. I went down a really long rabbit hole. And none of it ended up being in the book because I ended up focusing Darien’s character on the feeling that the only place he found home was in his fandom, the same as Elle. I wanted that to be the feeling that married them together, so I focused more on that than anything else. But I definitely went down really long, long rabbit holes.
An edited version of this interview appears in MyM magazine Issue 62, which is on sale now. Pick up a copy to find out what Ashley chose as her favourite media! Hint: her main character Darien is named after a character in a famous anime.