Don't let The Geek's Guide to Dating fool you. Sure we've listed it on our Humor & Entertainment Best of the Month list for December. And sure it's chock full of cleverly funny pop culture geek references. But it turns out it's actually a practical, well, guide -- a well-thought-out and presented reference for anyone who has (or knows someone who has) trouble using geekdom to their dating advantage. And if this book stands to prove anything, it's that geekdom is an advantage.
Before you tune out with a wave of the hand and an "I'm not a geek," ask yourself whether there's something you're really into, then consider these delineations: Pop Culture Geek (comic books, TV & Film, Gamer), Technogeeks (Internet, Apple, PC, Social Media), Academic Geeks (Book, History & Politics, Math & Science). Odds are you're a geek about something, whether it's spelled out here or not.
Referring to the reader as Player One (who's seeking a Player Two). This guide provides the most basic advice for the most novice of love-seekers, as well as some creative nuggets for those who consider themselves experts.
But as author Eric Smith discovered, a guide to dating can be just as helpful to someone already in a relationship. We asked Smith to tell us more about how he wrote The Geek's Guide to Dating. And let's just say: if you don't find your heart even a little touched when Smith reveals the surprises he encountered writing it, then you might be involuntarily single and you should read it immediately.
How/when did you first latch onto the idea for this book?
You know, I love answering this question because I think the book came about in the most unconventional way.
For years, I've been writing about geek culture, particularly in Philadelphia. I ramble about local video game developers, comic book artists, events, etc. on my blog, Geekadelphia. On top of that, geek culture has played a big part in my career. When I'm not writing, I work at Quirk Books, a publisher that puts out books that involve... oh, zombies, Star Wars, things like that. I'm pretty much a full time geek, and I love it.
Last summer, I met an incredible woman on OkCupid and luckily for me, we started dating. I'd leave Facebook updates about our misadventures, all of which were very silly, funny, and sweet... and Quirk Books' publisher Jason Rekulak started to take notice. He asked me if I could combine my passion for geek culture with tips on love and dating... and soon the book was born.
Who did you write this book for?
I really wrote it for people like me. Geeks that live for their passions, be it video games or comic books, social media or Magic the Gathering, and are out in the dating world.
When Quirk approached me with the book idea, I started researching almost immediately. My girlfriend at the time (now fiancÃ©e) happened to have a nice stash of dating books, which she let me borrow. I also bought a handful of etiquette books and read up on a lot of blogs. OkCupid and How About We have fantastic blog platforms, let me tell you. I read a lot, and spent a ton of time flipping through all of my personal geeky archives for things I could reference in the book.
But I have to say, my favorite bit of research involved comic books. Readers will notice a lot of comic book references throughout the book. Before I started writing it though, I wasn't really up on my comics. I mostly read the occasional graphic novel, and that was it.
I visited my local comic book shop, a place in Philly called Brave New Worlds, and took the guys there out to dinner and drinks. We talked comics for a while, and I started visiting the shop every new comic release day. The result? Lots of references in the book, and a new obsession with comics. They ruined me. I can't get enough. I recently tore through Hawkeye and adored every single page.
How did the format of the book come to you?
We tried to lay it out in a way that referenced the geek canon whenever possible, which really just felt like the natural way to put this kind of book together. And the 8-bit illustrations, well, that was just a must have. Quirk went with an illustrator named Juan Carlos Solon, who goes by the name Kickpixel, and his work was just such a perfect fit for the book.
Surprises: any unexpected discoveries?
While I was doing research, reading dating books, etiquette guides, advice columns on blogs... something quite lovely happened. I took the advice I was penning and the knowledge I was pooling together, and tried my best to really use it myself. I'm not perfect. No one is. So I took everything I was reading and writing to heart.
The result? I like to think I became a better boyfriend. And the same girl I was dating while writing this book, is now my fiancÃ©e. And at the end of the day, if working on this book somehow makes me a better man for her, then it was all worth writing.
My desk at home isn't anything impressive to look at. It's in my kitchen, which means my coffeemaker is within reach, and there's a window that peers into my backyard. The best part about it is I can write standing up when I want to, and I can let my chinchilla (btw, I have a pet chinchilla, his name is Mittens) sit on my shoulder.
There's also a place called Coffee Bar here in Philadelphia. It's a nice cafÃ© that serves delicious coffee and happens to have a bar. So if I'm in there writing on a Saturday or a Sunday, I can write all day while sipping coffee, and order up a beer or a cocktail later in the evening. Easily my favorite place to write in all of Philadelphia.
And if it's a particularly nice day and my battery is fully charged, I'll sit in Rittenhouse Square, a lovely park here in Philly.
I'm a grown up "scene" kid who grew up listening to the sweet pop punk and emo. Throughout the book there are little shout outs to those groups, all of whom write music that keeps me happy and inspired. These albums were definitely on repeat while writing this.
- "Coming Home" "“ New Found Glory
- "Leaving Through the Window" "“ Something Corporate
- "Dusk and Summer" "“ Dashboard Confessional
- "Invented" "“ Jimmy Eat World
- "QU" "“ Sherwood
- "Action" "“ Punchline
- "Handwritten" "“ The Gaslight Anthem
- "Love & Fear" "“ We Shot the Moon
- "Anhedonia" "“ The Graduate
I also listened to a lot of chiptune music to get me in the geek zone. There's a Philly group called Close to Good that I listened to a lot, as well as a popular bit rock group called I Fight Dragons. Nothing like rocking out to video game music you can dance to.
As for the how, if I'm at home, it's either blasting on iTunes or on my record player. Out and about, it's with headphones via my computer.
I find that I'm most inspired by other people. I swear, I must drive my writer friends crazy with my invites to the coffee shop. But there's something about being in the company of good, passionate people that just lights a fire under me, and makes me want to do better work.
So to my friends that I group text every other day... sorry guys, but I need you.
If I can't wrangle them up, I'll take long walks around my neighborhood or play a really good video game with an intense story.
Temptation: What do you try to avoid while writing?
This is going to sound silly... but cleaning. Seriously, cleaning is the ultimate excuse to not write when you're holed up at home. I should write... but oh, I should organize these bookshelves, and oh, maybe I should alphabetize my video games and/or movie collection.
If you've got stuff to clean and you're a writer... get out of the house.