I’ve loved serial fiction for a long time; particularly fanfiction—and now podcasts. There’s something so thrilling and maddening about being hooked on a series and having to wait for the next installment to come out. So when The Gay YA was approached about covering Serial Box’s new series Geek Actually, a diverse, geeky Sex and the City, we jumped at the chance. Serial Box is doing wonderfully innovative new things with serial fiction, and we absolutely can’t wait to see where they take this series.
We sat down with two of the writers, Cecelia Tan and Rachel Stuhler, to discuss the process of writing collaborative fiction.
What was it like working on a collaborative series? How does it differ from writing straight fiction?
It was a lot more fun than any of us expected. The characters are the sum of all of our talents and experiences, and collaborating helped us bring so much more to the table. That said, continuity was a real challenge at first. We worked on our own episodes in blocks of four, so we were writing in isolation. We then needed to come back together and streamline, taking out repetition and adding in pieces that were missing. We’ve really grown to enjoy each other and the support you don’t get when working on a solo project.
How do you think fandom and geek culture is evolving?
RS: Geek culture has always been inclusive, but I feel we’re entering a wonderful new, expanded era of diversity, where we can hear and tell stories from so many different viewpoints. And as geek moves further into the mainstream, more and more people find they identify with our ideals and ideas. We’re getting bigger, better, and stronger every year, and closer than ever to having our imagination lives be as diverse as the world we live in.
What advice would you give for geek girls who may not know where they fit in in a largely white-cis-male dominated industry?
RS: I’m not being dismissive in any way, but I would say, don’t worry about what the men are doing. I grew up in a family of only women, and it never occurred to me that, as a woman, I was “restricted” from any job or interest. This isn’t to say sexism isn’t there – it absolutely is, and I was shocked when I first entered the entertainment industry and ran up against it. But because I didn’t expect resistance, I moved forward in my life and career without being concerned about it.
And the truth is, every white male cisgender story or game may not be for you. That’s okay. It’s a great big world of geek and I swear, your tribe is in there somewhere. And if you feel your story is missing, tell it yourself!
It’s so thrilling to have a queer, diverse Sex in the City-esque series for readers. Was it as fun to work on as it is to read?
RS: It was a ton of fun to work on! Geek Actually gives voice to so many struggles we’ve faced in our own lives, things that we haven’t necessarily had the room to discuss in our individual work. These women speak with the words of the four of us, our friends, our family. It was freeing to open up and let it all out.
RS: For me, it’s a tie between Christina and Michelle. Christina because I spent a lot of years working on film sets; many of her everyday experiences mirror my own. But in terms of ambition, I’m more Michelle. I can be pretty high strung when it comes to work (and I hate that!) and I am a bit of a perfectionist.
The truth is, we all saw a little bit of ourselves in each of these characters. They aren’t one-to-one representations of the writers, but an amalgam of who we are – and frankly, who we’d like to be.
Cecelia Tan: For me it’s Michelle some of the time: if I’d kept my day job in book publishing instead of quitting to become a full-time writer in the 90s, that’d be me. Instead, I followed more of Aditi’s path, where my characters are my kids. But when I really let myself nerd out, deep in my heart I’m Elli. All I want to do is put on my cosplay and debate the lack of queer representation in Harry Potter. For example.
You can start reading Geek Actually today at Serial Box! We’re so thrilled for this series and for more diverse representation.