I’ve known Chris-Rachael Oseland for about ten years now. She’s a clever and witty lady fascinated by history and geography, and also happens to be populating the Kindle world with several books and short stories, all related in one way or another to science fiction. I interviewed her recently to discuss her writing and, as always, she gave me a lot to consider.
SciencFiction.com: I thought of you and your book the other day because I was listening to a radio station in the morning on my way to work, and they were talking about things you shouldn’t mention in an online dating profile. One of the things they mentioned was any “geeky” interests, like Star Wars or Star Trek. And I just found that so insulting, because why should I hide my interest in sci-fi? How is that any different from liking camping or sports or cooking?
I completely disagree. Here’s the thing. As you know, I have written a book on dating, Where to Find Geek Girls (Level Up Your Love Life) and I’ve done some seminars on successful dating. I’ve also had my share of online dates. So here’s why I disagree. You need balance. If your profile is just “here’s everything that’s nerdy about me,” even nerds are going to think you’re obsessed. You need to mention something else, and that’s true for sports, if you love movies…anything. The problem with profiles of just you in your Ren Faire garb is that will scare anyone off. If you want to attract people who are into what you’re into, make sure you list out everything you like so you don’t appear one-dimensional. Nerds are not one-dimensional.
SciencFiction.com: I don’t have a problem with what you’re saying, I have a problem the implication there is that if you’re into nerdy or geeky things, you should keep it a secret until you’ve “hooked” someone and then lay it out like it’s a terrible shameful thing.
So many nerd guys think it’s a status symbol to have a mainstream girlfriend who accepts you for who you are. They really want that mainstream ideal of physical perfection, or at least they think they do, and that’s why you find a lot of nerd guys unhappy in their relationships. I think that’s why you find a lot of open relationships in sci-fidom, because they went out of their way to find a status symbol instead of someone they really have something in common with.
SciencFiction.com: Let’s back up a minute and talk about your background. What’s your geek cred?
To start with, I’m a second generation science fiction fan. My mom was dragging me along to science fiction conventions when I was a little girl. I had a cape instead of a winter coat because we were poor and couldn’t afford a new coat, but we happened to have a lot of capes lying around. Green velvet and gold lame, that’s a look that’ll get you a lot of friends in high school. (laughs) And like many kids that grew up in science fiction fandom, you either embrace it and you love it and say “These are my people” or you become an accountant. I make sand worm jokes all the time – you can tell which one I went with. I’m a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers conference, which is sort of a big deal among science fiction writers. I’ve also started multiple geek clubs in multiple cities, and I’m proud to say that at least 3 of the clubs I started are still going strong even after I’ve moved along.
SciencFiction.com: Why did you want to write this for the geek fellas?
That was inspired by watching Chris Hardwick on “Talking Dead.” He’s a really good-looking man, funny and charismatic, successful, and it seemed like every week he’d complain about “Oh, women don’t want me because I’m nerdy!” It was driving me nuts. I was watching a marathon and hearing this over and over again and finally I was like, “You know what your problem is? You’re not talking to geeky women! You’re in L.A. trying to talk to models. You’re not what the models are looking for.” Joss Whedon has a wife, Seth Green has a wife, and you know why? They’re nerdy! I was getting frothy. So I sat down and dashed out a bit of that, and then I came back a couple days later and I thought, ‘you know what? This is the same stuff I’m constantly telling all the cute guys I meet.’ As geeky as I am, I seem like a guy to some of them (which is funny for the amount of cleavage I show), and they’ll say, “It’s so hard to be a geek guy, you can’t find any women that are interested in you.” And I reply, “Have you ever been to a LARP? Because I’ve never been to a LARP where a guy didn’t make a pass at me. Have you ever been to a science fiction convention?” I start rattling off all these places that geeky women go. And their answer is “No, I wouldn’t want to go there.” Why wouldn’t you want to go where the geek women are? Are you saying you don’t want to be around other geeks? Because if your goal is to get a mainstream woman that’s going to hate everything you love, you better work on her hobbies.
SciencFiction.com: Your book gives suggestions for all kinds of different personality types. What’s one for introverts?
For introverts the number one thing I recommend is going to a young adult book club. Men usually freak out when I suggest that because they think those clubs are filled with people who are mentally children, and that’s unattractive to adult men (which is a good thing!). Instead, the culture is full of people just like them who read Hunger Games and Harry Potter and Ender’s Game and who happen to have breasts. The women at these YA book clubs are mystified that men don’t show up, because they know their geeky male friends are reading these books. The men just don’t want to be seen in public admitting they’ve read them, which is ridiculous, because if you want to find a shy, geek woman, this is where she’ll be. The other good thing about these groups is that because they’re full of geek introverts, if there are too many people there, they’ll break into smaller groups. It’s in their nature as introverts! So if you don’t like the 6 women that are currently there, wait ‘til they have a split-off in a month or so. You’re going to find a bunch of women in Think Geek t-shirts who have named their cats after something in Star Wars.
SciencFiction.com: And if you run of out of things to say, you can discuss the book! What about extroverts?
If you’re comfortable with cosplay (and by this I mean the guy who probably already owns a kilt), go to a LARP (Live Action Role Playing game). LARPing gets a bad reputation. It’s really just a good excuse for people who like dressing up in costumes to go camping. And it’s great for people who want to make a bunch of friends really quickly, because there’s a script! You have things to talk about! All day long, you’re dressed up, – and for women, that’s like lingerie – there’s a shared activity, and there are showers at night, perhaps shared, and lots of romances start there. And come Monday, you might find you want to spend more time together in your regular life. All of these are reasons why it’s not ideal for an introvert, by the way. The LARPs to avoid: Amtgard or any place that advertises the specs on your boffer sword, and places that don’t advertise plot. Women are all about plot.
SciencFiction.com: What would be the absolute worst place to meet a geek girl, in your opinion?
A sorority or a frat party. If you’re out of college, then any networking event that attracts a lot of marketers. Let me bring up a bad stereotype – anyone who thinks you can meet someone in a bookstore is an idiot. That is a wonderful myth. Try and put yourself in the woman’s shoes – if someone came up to you and said, “Hi, I know you came here for a specific reason, but I want you to pay attention to me, someone you’ve never met.” Geek women are very self-conscious about someone who appears to be stalking you through the aisles. If you do have some magic moment together when your eyes lock across a room, you should write a polite note with your number and a short message like, “I see that you’re reading something I’m also interested in, but I also see you’re busy. If you’re interested in getting together to discuss it sometime, here’s my number.” If she’s interested, she’ll call. Following her through the store isn’t sweet or romantic – it’s what stalkers do.
SciencFiction.com: Tell me a bit about SteamDrunks: 101 Steampunk Cocktails and Mixed Drinks.
It’s my best-selling book, and my baby. I also have a Master’s degree in history, and this was a way to combine my love of history, geekdom, and drinking, along with a heavy dose of snark. It’s all genuine Victorian (and a bit earlier) drinks, which sounds nice at first until you find out what they used to drink. They had a bit of limited knowledge, so everything in the drinks are things you probably already have in your kitchen. They loved citrus, and sugar had just gotten really cheap, so lots of sweet drinks. Also, they liked strong drinks! An afternoon lavender tea for a nice and proper lady would have the equivalent of three shots. So it’s actual history of what people were drinking at the time. Vicktoria Riley did the cover art and she and I are currently working on a children’s book about Tesla. Both should be available in print by the end of the year.
SciencFiction.com: What surprised you most in your research for this book?
What really surprised me was learning that the Victorians drank like modern alcoholics. They didn’t drink water at all because it was dangerous – they had ale or cider. Then when they went to a party, they drank things that had the equivalent of three shots. And the other thing was how much they used curdled dairy. I associate curdling with “something’s gone wrong,” not “Oh, a chewy treat in my drink!” I recommend substituting almond or coconut or soy milk if you don’t care about authenticity, otherwise you will have major curdling. So just how much things had changed is what’s surprising.
The thing that has disappointed readers most is absinthe. It has such a strong licorice flavor that it’s used really sparingly, like a quarter of a teaspoon to half a teaspoon. Just enough to give it color – they loved the color but hated the flavor. You can’t base your ideas of drinks back then on the worst excesses of Byron. One bottle of absinthe should last you a year. If you’re that obsessed with making your drinks that pretty green color, buy some food coloring.
SciencFiction.com: And the other historical drinking book is The Unofficial True Blood Drinking Guide.
This is in the same vein as SteamDrunks, where it’s a mix of history and actual alcohol. It takes all the vampires from the series, starting with the most recent, and tells you how to make the cocktails that they would have at the time they were alive. For example, for Russell Edgington, there’s a 3000 year old version of hard cider, and for Eddie Fournier I have a bacon, blackberry, and bourbon cocktail, and that includes directions on how to make bacon-infused vodka. I spent a lot of time researching the drinks, and there’s a blurb about each character. It’s a great show. I love that it’s equal-opportunity in regards to not wearing underwear.
The hard part was coming up with potable hard drinks. I mean, I can’t give you a real Roman cocktail because we don’t put tar in our drinks. The earliest recipe is Russell’s, the Carpathian cider. The other issue was finding the right drinks geographically. Carpathians were nomads, and so they didn’t drink things that took a lot of ingredients. He was turned around 840 B.C., so beer wasn’t being brewed in the part of the world where he was, but there were plenty of apple trees around… Even the techniques to make the drinks are what they would have done then. Sometimes the results are a little rougher than if you used modern tools. I teach you how to make your own yeast! I am as authentic as I can get. Learning is fun and alcoholic! The one I really recommend is the Syllabub, and that one is for Lorena Krasiki. They were hugely popular in the Revolutionary War period, and you can make one in your blender in five minutes. They’re really dramatic looking too, because it’s made with red wine, which looks like blood, and then it’s got this whipped milk cream on top that looks like the gore of a staked vampire.
SciencFiction.com: Gross! And awesome.
Bad Girl’s Boba: 69 Boozy Bubble Tea Cocktails is aimed at anime fans. It doesn’t have all the snark and extra commentary the others do. The titles are all based on either anime or candy bars, and all the drinks with candy bar names actually taste like the candy bars. We tested that rigorously.
There are also 6 short stories up on Amazon right now. Chris-Rachael’s goal is to get 20 -30 up through the year. These are the perfect bite-sized stories for you to peruse on the commute to work (as long as you’re not driving) or while lounging by the pool or beach. The books and stories are at their lowest prices right now, and the most expensive is $3.99. If you’re interested in any of the mentioned titles, please click on the links. After purchase they’ll be delivered to your Kindle (or Kindle app, in my case, available on both Android and iPhone markets). Enjoy!