Welcome back to another Fake Geek Girls Like Us interview. Fake Geek Girls Like Us is a feature on +5 Charisma where I interview some awesome geeky and nerdy ladies out in the geek world. This month I get to chat with therapist and journalist, Kathleen Smith!
1. Hi Kathleen! Can you tell us all a little bit about yourself? What fandoms are you into?
Hi! I’m a licensed therapist, a writer, and a fangirl. I live and work in Washington, DC, and I have been legit crying about television shows since my mother was watching Cheers season 3 when I was in utero. My major fandoms have been Glee, Battlestar Galactica, and The Good Wife. And I just realized how random that combination is. Currently I’m crying about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and The 100. I wouldn’t say I’m in a TV show fandom right now as much as I am a part of a twitter community of women who cry about middle-aged actresses and their hair.
2. You wrote an awesome book called The Fangirl Life! Can you talk about what inspired you to write the book? And for those who haven’t read it yet, could you please give us a summary of the book? When does your book come out? And how can we get our hands on it?!?
I am an absolute sucker for self-improvement books. I love experimenting and finding techniques and ideas that help me live a fuller, braver life. I wanted to write a self-improvement book that utilized the language and world of the fangirl. I also wanted to teach myself how to see my life as a narrative, so in many ways it is a letter to myself. I wanted to encourage myself and others to live the kind of story we admire in fiction.
The book breaks down many of the topics relevant to fangirls: obsessions, fan fiction, shipping, Internet trolls, fashion, etc., but it also has a lot of theory based in the mental health world. I take a lot of the knowledge I have as a therapist but turn it into fangirl speak. So in a way the book is a test-lab for fangirls for learning powerful life skills and creating that courageous narrative for themselves.
My book comes out July 5 th! You can get your hands on it by visiting fangirltherapy.com and clicking on one of the many retailers that sell it, or you can visit your local independent bookstore and ask them to order you a copy!
3. You also run a blog called Fangirl Therapy. How does the blog work? Can you talk about the relationship you develop with the fangirls that write to you?
I wanted to create a space where fangirls felt comfortable sharing their fears or frustrations about their obsessions or interacting in fandom. I wanted other people to see these questions and realize that many other people struggle with the same things. What has surprised me the most about the blog is that it’s introduced me to so many different types of fangirling that I don’t know much about, from boy bands to athletes to anime. I wouldn’t say that I have a relationship with the people who write to me. I can’t be their real life therapist, but I can be a positive voice who encourages them to be kind to themselves and other people. Though I get a variety of questions, most of my advice has to do with simple self-care and summoning the courage to live a brave life.
4. What motivated you to look into the relationships between fandom, fangirls and mental health?
After I had been engaged in fandom for a while, I started to notice that my negative aspects of obsession tended to reflect how well I was doing in the rest of my life. I was using fangirling to hide from uncomfortable emotions or challenges. I wanted to explore how fangirling could instead be a way of engaging with my fears and motivating myself to live a healthy, mature life.
5. When did you first realize that you may be considered a “nerd” or “geek” or “fangirl”?
I’ve spent my entire life crying about books and television. My first obsession was Star Wars at age 11, but I don’t think I really heard or embraced the label of fangirl until I was much older. Maybe 25? Until then I had enough close friends to cry with about my ships, so I never bothered to venture into the wilds of the Internet to seek camaraderie. My first fandom was Glee, and after that I never looked back.
6. What are you currently reading?
I do nerdy three-book rotations: one classic novel, one self-help book or psychology book, and a young adult novel. So right now, Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence, The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
7. I saw that you are a fan of the show The 100. Have you heard of the site wedeservedbetter.com? What were you thoughts on how the season played out?
Yeah. . .The 100 is one of those shows that can be brilliant one week and terrible the next. A true CW trait. There are amazing moments that they spend a lot of time and energy setting up, and then there are ones that feel like afterthoughts. I think the nature of Lexa’s death is the latter. It was careless and a shock-value moment that somehow made it all the way to production without someone asking, “Hey maybe we should stop casually murdering lesbians on television?” I haven’t heard of that site, but I do know that her fans have been very vocal. There have been a lot of pieces written about this huge response, but I’m just going to say that I don’t think it’s my place to have any opinion about how people choose to rally after a character’s death. As long as you’re taking care of yourself and being mature about it, then that’s your prerogative to demand representation and add your voice to the conversation.
8. Are you into fanfiction? Do you have any fic recommendations for us?
I used to write fic but grad school definitely got in the way. I do remember this one Rizzoli and Isles Wild West AU I found online that was EPIC. It’s an oldie but goodie called “Calamity Jane Meets Dr Isles, Medicine Woman.” I didn’t even watch the show that much, but damn if the two of them weren’t always super married.
9. Who was the first female character that you can remember looking up to?
This is going to show my age, but I’d have to say Murphy Brown? The original BAMF.
10. Are there any movies or television shows that are coming out that you are looking forward to (near or distant future)?
Sadly there’s nothing this summer. In the next year, I’d have to say Season 2 of The Expanse on SyFy and Season 3 of The Leftovers on HBO. In the way, way future, Hulu is developing a series on Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook, which is one of my absolute favorite novels, and HBO is developing a series based on Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam Trilogy. And like the rest of the world, I’ll be crying about Rogue One until December.
Thanks to Kathleen Smith for chatting with us! Make sure to check out her links to social media and her website. Thanks for tuning in! Fake Geek Girl Like Us is an interview series on +5 Charisma where we talk to girls in nerd culture. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be featured!