Book Beat gets geeky at C2E2 with Geekerella’s Ashley Poston!

Have you read Geekerella yet? It’s a totally adorable update of Cinderella where the big ball is (wait for it!) a Cosplay Ball!  I got the chance to talk to Geekerella’s author, Ashley Poston, about her take on the classic fair tale and, since we were at C2E2, her favorite geek things!

Geekerella is an adorable and modern re-telling that mashes Cinderella with You’ve Got Mail. Elle (aka Cinderella) and Darien (aka Prince Charming) both need to break free of their lives and find comfort an anonymous person they’re texting. Neither suspects that their secret friend is on opposing sides of a movie that re-boots Elle’s beloved TV show and stars Darien.

There are a ton of clever updates which drew Ash to this project. She re-counts her editor’s proposal as a “geeky-girl re-telling of Cinderella at a sci-fi convention. I saw the proposal and my first image was of the food truck racing to a con on an interstate. Yes! Yes, I want to write that! It was a lot of fun to write and I’m glad I got to write it and put my own spin on it.”

Her own spin includes a change in the prince’s role because, as Ash simply states, “I wanted her to save herself.”

Darien isn’t your typical Prince Charming and we get more insight into his life with chapters from his point of view. That was one of her proudest contributions because “I wanted Darien to NOT be a foil for Elle’s happily ever after. I wanted her to find her own. I wanted him to find his own happily ever after and need saving.”

Geekerella also features a wonderfully diverse group of characters which is not an accident. “I knew I wanted to make Darien South Asian-American from the very get go,” Ash explains. “I’ve been in fandoms long enough to know that Hollywood is very bad at whitewashing. Really bad.” If she were to fancast Darien in a movie version, Ash has a clear first choice: “Dev Patel as Darien. Hands down. Dev Patel period.”

Geekerella is captures fandom, cosplay and cons realistically and with tons of affection. Her love for all things nerdy is at the heart of this story:

“I love going to cons. I love going to conventions. I love artist alley. I think I love a little bit of everything. Coming to cons lets me feel like I’m going to Walt Disney World and you’re walking down Main Street and you think for two seconds that the castle might be real. That’s what it feels like here sometimes.”

In fact, on the day we walked around C2E2, she was in full cosplay as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. Every ten minutes, someone would ask to take a picture of her.

While Ash loved seeing all the other cosplayers, she was a shy about asking for pictures. “I will do literally anything, but I’m really bad at stopping people because I don’t want to inconvenience them.”  I, on the other hand, have no qualms about asking on her behalf.

As I ask her how she feels when someone asks for a picture, a fan asks her for a photo. It’s the universe at work, clearly. She confesses that she’s “basically like ‘Do I pose or do I not?’ ‘Does my face look okay?’ That’s my basic mindset.” However, everyone who stops her is delighted.

Ash clearly enjoyed being Sophie for the day since she “likes being able to slip into someone else for a while. Everyone cosplays a different facet of themselves. If someone cosplays Batman, that means they secretly like something about that character. I think cosplayers are cosplaying their shadow self [from Persona]. It’s the person you want to be in a different universe.”

C2E2 has a lot of diverse programming so we wandered into some of her favorites as we roamed the exhibit hall. Her favorite fandoms include: “Studio Ghibli, obviously. I really like Yuri!!! on Ice with a passion. Bioware, Mass Effect, I love Dragon Age. My oldest fandom is Yu-Gi-Oh! And Sailor Moon!”

Another one of her favorites? “I’m such a fangirl for [voice actor] Jim Cummings. Darkwing Duck! I used to stay up when I was little to watch Darkwing Duck. At Emerald City Comic Con, they did Star Wars, the fourth one. Jim Cummings did Pooh as Darth Vader. I lost it. I was giggling massively. I’m a sucker for Twisted Toons. I grew up with those voices so those are the voices of my childhood.”

Ash describes her next book as “a space fantasy. Basically it’s Anastasia in space. It’s called Heart of Iron and it’s my baby. It is the book of my heart. I’ve been working on it for 5 years. (I wrote Geekerella in 7 months.) I think it was a lot easier for Geekerella since I knew, going in, what kind of story I wanted to tell and what kind of fandoms: Star Trek, Star Wars, all geeky sci-fi things. With my own, I had to actually imagine it all and flesh out this world. I love Heart of Iron. It’s my baby.”

Ash is not shy about embracing her fandoms because “fandom is great. In the end, we’re all just a bunch of weirdos looking at other weirdos asking for their Templar user name. Fandom is my home. I feel really happy here.”

Thanks to Ash for walking and talking with me! Geekerella is out in stores now. Heart of Iron will be out on Valentine’s day next year.

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