Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.
"Full of irreverent humor and in-jokes, it’s geeky and funny, with a heavy dose of self-discovery. . . . . Seeing girls and women uplifting, protecting, and loving each other is extremely powerful especially in the context of fandom." Teen Vogue
"This is the geeky, queer book of our dreams." Seventeen
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamieno matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.
Praise for Queens of Geek:
"This fun book about fierce friendships gives voice to a group of diverse female characters who are so defined by so much more than just their mental health and sexuality." Bustle
"This celebration of geek culture and fandom promotes diversity and being true to oneself." School Library Journal
“[A] fun read about fandom, friendship and the courage to be yourself.” Autostraddle
About the Author
Jen Wilde is a writer, geek, and fangirl with a penchant for coffee, books, and pugs. She writes YA stories about zombies (As They Rise), witches (Echo of the Witch), and fangirls (Queens of Geek). Her debut series, The Eva Series, reached over three million reads online. When she’s not writing, Jen loves binge watching her favorite shows on Netflix, eating pizza, traveling to faraway places, and going to conventions in Marty McFly cosplay. Jen lives in a sunny beachside town in Australia with her husband and their cheeky pug, Heisenberg.
Read an Excerpt
Queens of Geek
By Jen Wilde
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2017 Jen Wilde
All rights reserved.
"This is it, you guys," I say as we approach. "Everything we've always dreamed about. This is our Holy Grail."
Charlie, Jamie, and I stand before it side by side, tears in our eyes as we admire its indescribable beauty.
"Our Disneyland," Charlie adds, her pink hair blowing slightly in the warm breeze.
Jamie nods as a wide smile spreads across his face. "Our Graceland. I can't believe we're actually here."
We each take in a deep breath.
"Are we truly worthy of so much awesome?" I ask.
Charlie takes a brave step forward. "Yes. We are."
When we say it, it's a whisper, like the name itself is to be cherished: "SupaCon."
We take the final steps toward the building.
Crowds of cosplayers line the entrances.
I smile at those who look my way.
We pass Batman posing for a photo with Groot, Jessica Jones walking hand in hand with Michonne, and Goku lining up behind Darth Vader to buy coffee. A little girl dressed as Captain Malcolm Reynolds runs toward a group of Marty McFly cosplayers and asks for a closer look at their hoverboards.
My geeky kindred spirits.
"For years," I say as we get closer, "we've stalked the SupaCon posts of strangers on the other side of the world. And now here we are."
"Charlie!" A woman with curly blond hair is speed-walking toward us, waving and smiling.
"Oh, hi!" Charlie lights up with excitement and hugs her. She gestures to us. "These are the friends I told you about: Taylor and Jamie. Guys, this is my new manager, Mandy."
"Hey," Jamie says with his stellar grin.
I nod. "Hi."
"Hey, welcome to SupaCon! How was your flight?"
"Long," Charlie replies. "When did you get here?"
"Yesterday. Had to get a few things organized." She starts rummaging through her handbag. "I've got three passes for you all, but I'm afraid I could only get one VIP pass for you. Your friends will have to stay on the public floors while you do your publicity rounds."
Charlie's smile fades, and she glances at Jamie and me apologetically. "Mandy, isn't there anything you can do? Maybe you could call the studio and tell them these two are my entourage. I need them."
Mandy shakes her head slowly. "Sorry, all the VIP passes were snapped up months ago. I don't have the pull to get any more. I can get you guys inside now without lining up, but if you want to attend any panels or signings, you'll have to line up like everyone else."
My shoulders tense, and my palms start to get clammy. The thought of spending the next three days in lines with hundreds of people makes me break into a nervous sweat. Jumping the lines was supposed to be one of the perks of tagging along with Charlie.
Sensing my quiet panic, Jamie flashes me a reassuring smile. "It's all good, Tay." He leans in, his brown eyes looking at me from behind dark lashes. "At least this way, we don't have to worry about Charlie's fangirls swarming all over us everywhere we go."
I push up my black, thick-rimmed glasses and look away, choosing to focus on his Converse sneakers instead. "Okay."
Mandy watches me curiously, her eyes darting between me and Jamie, then landing back on me. "I love your cosplay! Queen Firestone, right?"
"Yep!" I grin, smoothing out my coat.
I've never cosplayed before, but I couldn't resist the chance to dress as my literary hero for SupaCon. I look down at my outfit, quietly congratulating myself. I nailed it. Black trench coat over a tank top and gray jeans tucked into Doc Marten boots, I am Queen Firestone. I'm also shaking with nerves, but now that I'm here, it's so worth it. It's even worth getting changed in the airplane bathroom so we could dump our suitcases at the hotel before check-in and come straight to SupaCon.
Charlie smiles proudly and puts a hand on my back. "She even sewed the crown sigil on the back! Spin around, TayTay!"
I drop my backpack to the ground and do an awkward spin, showing off my handiwork.
"That's epic!" Mandy says. "I love those movies. I haven't read the books, though."
My eyes widen. "You gotta! They're the best books ever written! They changed my life. I mean, the movies are life-changingly awesome, too, but the books are where the true magic happens."
She giggles at my enthusiasm, then clasps her hands together. "Okay. You guys ready to go in? Let's go!"
We follow her as she weaves through the crowd and leads us around the back of the building. Three security guards with arms the size of bazookas guard a door that says PRIVATE: STAFF ENTRANCE ONLY.
Mandy shows them her pass that hangs on a lanyard around her neck, and they let us in with an intimidating dip of the chin. Her heels clickety-clack on the concrete floor as we walk down a narrow hallway. I can hear the hum of the crowd on the other side of the wall. I'm a bundle of excitement and giddiness and anticipation. There are so many panels to see, signings to attend, and Pop toys to buy and only a few days to do it all. I tap my fingers against my thumb anxiously and try to mentally use the Force to make Mandy walk faster — the faster we get inside, the more we can tick off our SupaCon bucket lists.
I nudge Jamie with my elbow. "I can't believe we're actually here!" He pulls the lens cap off his camera and nods. "I know. This is crazy!" Two weeks ago, we were at school.
Wearing my scratchy, heavy winter uniform, complete with long skirt, knee-high socks, and dorky necktie. Charlie, Jamie, and I were huddled in the cold library, cramming for midyear exams. Melbourne was rainy and cold and gloomy.
Now, we're in San Diego, the US of A, in the middle of summer, at the most famous pop culture convention in the world.
And it's all thanks to Charlie, her three-million-strong YouTube channel, and the little Aussie indie movie she starred in that is now becoming the breakout hit of the year.
"So," Mandy says, glancing back at us as she walks, "did you two grow up with Charlie?"
"Yeah." I'm not much of a talker when it comes to people I've just met.
Jamie shrugs and tilts his head to the side. "Sort of. I was born in Seattle. But my mom got a job in Melbourne about four years ago, so I've been living there ever since."
Mandy slows her pace to walk alongside him. "Well, welcome back to the States!"
"Thanks. Good to be back."
Charlie puts an arm around him and turns to Mandy. "Don't be fooled by his American accent; this guy is a true Aussie now. Right, Tay?" "Yeah." I start chanting "One of us, one of us," and a chuckle sputters out of me, followed by an unintentional snort.
I am the Queen of All Awkward.
Mandy smiles, but looks at me like I'm from another planet. "So how did you all meet? At school?"
"Yep," Charlie says. "We're graduating soon. When you told me about my SupaCon invite, we decided to make it an epic trip, just the three of us. This is my graduation present to all of us. Kind of like a pregraduation celebration."
"And preparation for next year," Jamie adds. "When we all move to LA together. Charlie is going to be a huge star while Tay and I study hard."
He winks at me, and I feel my cheeks warm.
"Charlie's told me all about your grand plans in LA," Mandy says. "I'll be sure to work hard to make sure she becomes a huge star." She glances up at Jamie. "I really thought you guys were older. You don't look like high schoolers."
I assume that last comment was solely meant for Jamie because I know I look exactly like a high schooler. People constantly assume I'm much younger than eighteen. I think it's because I'm short, round, and have big, innocent eyes. Or maybe it's my enthusiasm for all things pop culture. Or my perpetual shyness. Or all the above.
Charlie looks like a normal eighteen-year-old to me, too. She's much taller than I am, and thin, sporting bright pink hair and a Last of Us video game T-shirt.
But I can't blame Mandy for thinking Jamie is older; he's showing some heavy stubble along his jawline from not shaving since we left Melbourne. Add to that his towering height and dark brown hair pushed into a laid-back mess (thanks to the long flight over the Pacific), and he could pass for twenty-one, easily.
He's got the whole Peter Parker thing down to a tee, including the camera hanging around his neck.
I watch Mandy out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure out how old she is. When Charlie told me she got a manager, I had pictured a middle- aged woman in a pantsuit and a mobile phone permanently attached to her hand. But Mandy is young, possibly in her early thirties, and is wearing a Vampire Diaries T-shirt under a blue plaid shirt. The lanyard around her neck boasts the SupaCon logo: an electric blue circle with SC in the middle.
She stops by a door. "Jamie and ... sorry, what was your name again?"
"Taylor," I say. I'm not insulted that she forgot my name. I'm the girl no one ever notices. Not in an oh-that-poor-lonely-wallflower sort of way. I'm not sad about it. I'm invisible by my own design. My mum lovingly calls me Little Miss Introvert, and — even though my little sister sometimes jokes that parties are my kryptonite — I like being the people watcher standing on the sidelines.
"Taylor, right, sorry. You two can enter the main floor here. Charlie, we need to get to your first event."
Charlie nods and gives me a big bear hug. "Okay, you two. Have fun!" "We will," I say.
"I'll text you when I'm done."
Jamie and I push through the door and into a swarm of people. I suck in a deep breath through my nose. "Whoa."
The day has hardly begun, and already the floor is bustling. I've never seen so many people in my life. A set of escalators nearby is packed with cosplayers who look as awestruck as I feel. Aisles of booths stretch across the floor, and the constant chatter of voices echoes off the high ceiling and wide windows that flood the venue in natural light. I read online that over one hundred thousand people walked through here last year, and as hordes of fans shuffle shoulder to shoulder around me, I'd say this crowd will top that easily.
A slow smile spreads across Jamie's face. "We're here," he says in a creepy singsong voice, like the little girl in Poltergeist — one of his favorite movies.
"Okay," I say. "This is a huge thing for us. Who knows if we'll ever make it back here. So let's make a promise to ourselves."
I turn to him and push myself to hold eye contact. "This weekend is all fun, all the time. No worrying. No complaining. No stress. Just fun, geekiness, and fandom. Deal?"
"Deal." He sticks his hand out, and I shake it. "That all sounds good to me. All I want to do this weekend is meet Skyler, buy comics, and geek the hell out."
I laugh. We both know that promise was more for my benefit than his. Jamie isn't the worrier; I am. But I'm determined to make the next four days different from all the others.
I slip my thumbs under the straps of my backpack and hitch it up a little higher.
"First things first," I say with a dorky grin. "I need to get on Tumblr and tell the fandom I'm here. Then we need to find the line for the Skyler Atkins signing."
Guys! GUYS! I'm in the USA!
SupaCon, I am IN YOU!
I'm super jet-lagged, but I'm so excited I probably won't sleep for days anyway!
I can hardly believe it.
This is my first time overseas. I was so nervous about the airport, going through security and doing all that gave me some serious fucking anxiety. Am I the only one who feels like that? I mean, everyone else seemed so chill.
Sometimes I see people at the supermarket or somewhere else mundane, smiling and cheerfully making small talk with strangers and not looking tense or uncomfortable at all, and I just want to go up and ask them how they do it. How do they manage to do everything they need to do and go out in the world and be human without feeling the weight of it all crushing them into oblivion? I don't go into stores alone; I get overwhelmed. It's the checkout that's the worst; I'm too shy to talk to cashiers. Just the thought of doing it is exhausting.
I'm forever observing, trying to learn how to be an adult human being by watching others, and I'm constantly in awe of how easy some people make it look. And then I feel certain that something is wrong with me for not being able to do said normal, easy things with such ease.
I'm rambling. I'll stop now.
Anyway, I just wanted to update you guys. I'm off to meet Skyler at her signing! Ahhhhhhh!
Here's a gif of Skyler being adorable.
#QueenFirestone #SupaCon #gif #SkylerIsBae #OneTrueQueenCHAPTER 2
After saying good-bye to Tay and Jamie, Mandy and I stroll down the hall. We step into a large freight elevator that takes us up to a spacious, round room filled with SupaCon staff and celebrity guests.
"This is the green room," Mandy says. "All the guests will be in and out of here all weekend as everyone goes from panel to signing to lunch and whatever else is going on." Her phone buzzes, and she steps away to answer it.
Discreetly eyeing the famous faces in the room, I wander around the edge of the room and over to the snacks table covered in sweets and pastries. Everywhere I look, I see Hollywood heroines and hunks, TV vampires and hunters, and fellow YouTube stars. Some are seated at tables while others stand in groups, all swapping stories and laughing together. One face in particular catches my eye.
A short girl in a SupaCon staff T-shirt approaches to add another box of doughnuts to the catering table, and I greet her with a smile.
"Hey," I say, still eyeing the familiar face on the other side of the room. "Is that Alyssa Huntington over there?"
The girl glances behind her and nods. "Sure is! She's here to promote a new movie."
I try not to stare at Alyssa, but I fail miserably. "It's so weird to see her in person. I've been watching her videos for years. She's one of the reasons I started vlogging."
The volunteer gives me a sideways glance and runs a hand over the back of her neck. "It's funny you mention that, because I've been watching your vlogs for years! I'm such a huge fan of yours. And I loved The Rising, too."
I don't often get recognized by fans, so I'm taken by surprise. "Oh, thank you so much!"
She glances around the room before leaning in. "You know, I'm really sorry about you and Reese."
I cringe internally. "Oh, it's fine."
"Did he really cheat on you? Or were you already broken up when those photos were taken?"
My whole body tenses. I pick up a doughnut and bite into it too hard, hurting my jaw. I chew unnecessarily slow, hoping she'll change the subject before I have to answer the question. She doesn't, so I swallow, look away, and say, "Um, is it cool if we talk about something else?"
Her mouth drops open, and her eyebrows shoot up to her hairline. "Oh God, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize. ... Are you still in love with him?"
I wave a hand in front of me and shake my head. "No, I'm not. Definitely not. It's just — that's kind of personal. And I was hoping SupaCon could be my way of showing everyone I'm fine, that I've moved on. You know?"
She nods and places a hand on my shoulder. "I totally get it. Good for you."
I search the room for Mandy and spot her standing by a window, texting on her iPhone with a worried look on her face. I excuse myself from the conversation and walk toward her.
"Everything okay, Mandy?"
She shoots me a glance and purses her lips. "Mhmm."
I raise an eyebrow. "You sure?"
I walk over to the window and peer down over the growing mass of people outside.
"This is going to rock," I say. "I can't wait to finally meet the fans. How many people do you think will be at the signing today?"
Mandy clears her throat, and I turn around to see her frowning at me.
"Mandy, seriously. What is going on?"
She sighs and puts her phone in her bag. "There's been a change in plans."
I shrug. "So?"
No amount of changed plans could possibly be that bad.
I'm at SupaCon. Nothing could ruin that.
"Reese was supposed to start filming his new movie last week, but it was delayed. So ... he's coming. Here. To do the panel. He'll arrive tomorrow morning."
I was wrong.
There is one thing that could ruin SupaCon, even for me.
I take in a deep breath through my nose and cross my arms over my chest. "Well, I guess we were bound to see each other eventually. May as well get it over with."
Mandy's shoulders tense, then she bites her bottom lip.
I let out a sigh. "What is it?"
"The studio wants you to act like you're back together. Just until the first box office results come in. It's still opening week, and they think a rekindling of your love will be a great boost to the numbers, what with all the shippers out there still brokenhearted."
I scoff at her. "So what am I supposed to do? Pretend to still be in love with the guy who crushed me?"
Mandy stares at me with a pleading frown. "I know it's not fair to ask."
"No, it's not." I'm fuming. "I'm not some prop for the studio execs to roll out when they need a showmance." I try to speak calmly. The last thing I want to do is look like a diva yelling at her manager in front of all my peers.
Mandy nods sympathetically, but I can tell by the look on her face that she's already said all this to them.
"What happens if I say no?"
"They've threatened to replace you in the sequel."
Excerpted from Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. Copyright © 2017 Jen Wilde. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Taylor,
Chapter 2: Charlie,
Chapter 3: Taylor,
Chapter 4: Charlie,
Chapter 5: Taylor,
Chapter 6: Charlie,
Chapter 7: Taylor,
Chapter 8: Charlie,
Chapter 9: Taylor,
Chapter 10: Charlie,
Chapter 11: Taylor,
Chapter 12: Charlie,
Chapter 13: Taylor,
Chapter 14: Charlie,
Chapter 15: Taylor,
Chapter 16: Charlie,
Chapter 17: Taylor,
Chapter 18: Charlie,
Chapter 19: Taylor,
Chapter 20: Charlie,
Chapter 21: Taylor,
Chapter 22: Charlie,
Chapter 23: Taylor,
Chapter 24: Charlie,
Chapter 25: Taylor,
Chapter 26: Charlie,
Chapter 27: Taylor,
Chapter 28: Charlie,
Chapter 29: Taylor,
About the Author,