"Secret Loves of Geek Girls" preview
Credit: Gisèle Lagacé & Shouri
Credit: Sarah Winifred Searle

Who said romance was dead? It's a live and well in a new anthology series featuring Margaret Atwood.

Following on the heels of the recent Fresh Romance, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls explores the true stories of female writers and artists and their tales of friendship, courtship, love and sex. Spearheaded by Hope Nicholson and her small press company Bedside Press, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls features prose, illustrated stories and (of course) comic stories that describes itself as for and by "geek girls."

With the Kickstarter for The Secret Loves of Geek Girls closing Friday evening after surpassing its goal three times over, Newsarama spoke with Nicholson about this non-fiction romance collection, the range of stories involved, and the range of creators including Atwood.

Newsarama: Hope, what led you to do The Secret Loves of Geek Girls?

Hope Nicholson: It originated from a docusoap (reality tv) series I was pitching a few years ago. That series was about following a group of women, authors, comic creators, cosplayers and dancers on their road to convention season. Sadly it never got picked up, but through my interviews and meet-ups with a lot of very different women in the industry I became connected to a vast network of stories. That's only increased over the years, and romance in particular is a subject that we come back to a lot. Though the series wasn't picked up after my recent success in self-publishing other projects, I thought instead it might make a great collection of stories.

Nrama: Why'd you limit it to non-fiction instead of incorporating fiction?

Credit: Sarah Winifred Searle

Nicholson: Well, it was always meant to be nonfiction since the docuseries that it originated from was about the true stories of women in fandom. Besides, Janelle Asselin already did a wonderful romance genre campaign recently with Fresh Romance, so I don't think I could compare to that! I think that it's important both for 'women's genres' (like romance and fashion comic books) to be celebrated, as well as the true stories of women in the industry. I want it to be as hard as possible to see us as something strange or exotic. We're here and we're very open about ourselves, so these are our stories.

Nrama: One of the surprising names on the contributor list is Margaret Atwood. How did she become involved in this project?

Nicholson: We met on Twitter! We talked about comic books a few times, and when we met up in person I lent her Sex Criminals, Wicked + the Divine, Batgirl, and Batwoman. She hasn't read many of the more recent comic books but she was big into them when she was young, and she's drawn cartoons herself that I thought were very funny on her website. From these chats I eventually asked if she would like to draw cartoons for the anthology and I was pleased that she agreed! She's been very supportive during this entire process.

Credit: Sarah Winifred Searle

Nrama: In addition to comic stories, you also have illustrated stories and prose. What led you to mix mediums?

Nicholson: At first I thought I would just do a prose anthology, as something different from the comic work I've already been doing, as well many of my friends aren't artists and I wanted to give them an opportunity to showcase their stories. But when I opened up the project and invited contributors many more women than I thought wanted to draw comics instead. So I was flexible and changed the concept! And I'm very happy for that, it’s a wonderful way to showcase different mediums in one project.

Nrama: How did you go about assembling the contributors for this anthology?

Nicholson: I'd say about half of the contributors were invited; they were women that I've met around Toronto and at conventions who I had conversations with and was familiar with. Many others I met on twitter and reached out to, and still others were suggested by some of our contributors. When I opened the campaign for public submissions there were also a few that came in that way.

Nrama: The Kickstarter is already well past it's goal, with $60,000 over the $30,160 goal at current count. You've stated all the excess will go to the writers and artists -- how does that figure out now for them?

Nicholson: Well you have to remember that even though that number looks like a lot, each funder addition means another book to print and ship, so not all of this extra is just profit by any means! Let's see I have to do some quick math to figure this out, but looking at the current budget estimations, each writer or artist will be receiving roughly 3.5x their current page rate after all the funds are distributed.

Credit: Gisèle Lagacé & Shouri

Nrama: Given you've already reached the goal, what are your plans for release in December besides sending copies to the Kickstarter backers?

Nicholson: Whew, well I won't lie looking ahead to shipping three times as many books as I have in the past is daunting! I'm hoping to be able to increase the amount of conventions I go to to promote this book though, since I want to make sure it's in as many hands as possible, and I'll be looking for ways in which I can increase the availability of that book. I'm really hoping that it shows the diversity of our dating lives, and helps to reassure other women who have questions about their dating and love lives.

It'll definitely be available online for purchase and shipping through, and it will also be at a select number of retailers who are picking it up through Kickstarter. It will also be available as a digital download via ComiXology.

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