REAL GEEK MOMS: Author Zen DiPietro
The goal of my “Real Geek Moms” series is to show the world that moms can be geeky too. When you think of a mom, you don’t always wonder if they’re geeky, but you know what? They might just be! I’m here to let the world know that moms DO know what they are talking about. They can be geeky too, maybe even more than their kids! Plenty of mothers in the world love teaching their kids how to embrace their inner geekiness. I’m on a mission to find them! I’ll even talk to pet owners and how they like to embrace the geek with their pets. Prepare to meet amazing women all over the world.
Meet Zen DiPietro, a geeky mom of two, who is an author and an all around badass! I got to interview her and learned a lot about her geek loves, writing, obsessions, kids obsessions and more! Before you check out the interview…head on over to her website, and follow her on Twitter ! You can also go to her Amazon author page to see her books! You can get some news about her books here.
What does being a geek mean to you?
It means letting my freak flag fly. I was always called “weird” in school and I hated it, but I’ve learned to wear “weird” as a badge of pride and individuality. I like being a Browncoat Whovian Trekkie. It makes me happy.
It also means that I’ve encouraged my own kids to embrace their individuality. Thing2 liked pink shirts for a few years, so he got all the pink shirts I could find (not many, since he didn’t want girl shirts, and it’s tough to find pink ones they don’t have ribbons or lace or whatever). He prefers orange now, but he knows he can like whatever it is he really enjoys. And if anyone calls him names for liking what he likes, he knows that they’re the one with the problem. Geeks know how to own their originality.
What’s your take on the fact that there are still people out there thinking girls are fake geeks?
I have to wonder what their measuring stick is. I mean, does liking a single fandom qualify a person for geekdom? How hard do you have to like it? Do you need to buy merchandise, or is enthusiasm enough? It doesn’t make sense.
In general, I’ve found cons and the geek community in to be very welcoming. It’s only online that I find the “fake geek girl” talk. Is there some vocal minority of butthurt guys who just don’t want to share their toys with girls? I don’t know. If so, they should think about how much money girls can bring to franchises that often struggle to find enough of a following to keep going.
Are you married? Kids? Their age(s).
I just had my thirteenth wedding anniversary last month. My husband is a huge support in my geeky endeavors. We have two boys in grade school. Thing 1 has recently taken to telling me that Star Trek is boring when he’s mad at me. He knows what’s sacred.
When did you start writing?
Like most writers, I started when I was a kid. My first story was in first grade, about two bunny friends. One was an artist. I didn’t write a book until college, but it never got published. It was good practice for later, though, when I picked writing up again.
What made you love writing?
My mom had me signed up for a book club before I was even born, so books have always been my lifeblood. When I got into science fiction and fantasy, my imagination just took off and I had all these ideas. And what to do with all those ideas but make them into stories?
Do you have any pets?
Two cats. Both are strange creatures. Bean was a nearly-feral stray, and we’ve had to do a lot of work with her to socialize her. She tends to dislike faces. But she’s a sweet, loving girl. Just quirky, because she got a hard start in life. Meena is also a rescue, and very aloof, except for when she wants kitty crunchy treats and uses her tiny squeak of a voice to ask for them. Don’t wiggle your feet under the blankets with her around. I’ve always loved animals and our furbabies are an important part of the family.
Who’s your biggest influence?
It’s not so much who, but what. I read and watch and pay attention to the world around me. It’s everything, really. There are stories everywhere. Even sitting and watching a spider walk by a cricket he can’t physically get to and imagining him freaking out, like when you have to sit behind a Krispy Kreme donut truck for a really long time in traffic, just looking at those donuts and imagining all that yum.
There are more stories in the world than we’ll ever manage to tell. I just look for the pieces that intrigue me and get my mind working. Then I get to work.
If you were trapped in an elevator for a night, who would you want trapped in there with you and why?
I’m an introvert and that isn’t much space, so I’d have to say I’d prefer to be alone. If I have a book and a laptop, I’ll have more than enough to do.
What kinds of fun geeky obsessions do your kids have?
I’ve known far too much about Pokemon names, types, regions, method of evolution than I should, for a long time now. It’s amazing how much you pick up when your kids are into something.
They have more books than shelf space, and I feel like I keep buying new shelves. Thing1 has a passion for anything by Rick Riordan.
Oh, and video games. Of course. They only get a certain amount of time to play each day, or that’s all they’d do. Especially Thing1, who is on the spectrum and very one-track-minded.
You’re a vegetarian geek, do you create fun vegetarian themed geek foods at all?
We do more regional things. Thai night, Mexican night, that sort of thing. But my kids love a veggie tray. If I serve them carrots and cauliflower and celery on their plates, they’ll eat some. But if it comes in a veggie tray, now that’s a party, and they chow down. So party-style is good.
We also do what we call “floor picnics.” We spread a sheet out on the tv room floor and watch a movie while we eat. It makes an adventure out of something simple.
Tell us a little about your books.
My first series, Guardians of Terath, is science fantasy. I have a new series with two books releasing this fall, and that’s pure science fiction. The spacefaring cloak and dagger adventure kind of stuff that I can never get enough of.
I write the kind of books that I want to read. They’re always character-driven, because nothing makes my bookworm heart grow more sizes than getting to know and love new characters. But I try to incorporate humor and excitement and ideas that make you think. Because I want readers to get all the feels. I know that’s what I’m hoping for every time I start a new book.
What are some of your geeky obsessions?
So many! My most passionate fandoms are Firefly, Star Trek, and Dr. Who (9 and 10 in particular.) But I loved The Expanse, and Stranger Things was great. I was excited when I saw there was a new Voltron, because that was one of my earliest fandoms.
I like costumes and artwork and of course. I used to be an RPG gamer, but having kids made that very impractical to do. But if I that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have had the time to start writing again.
For me, it’s always been about discovering new worlds and all the possibilities that come with tweaking the reality we know. That’s why science fiction and fantasy appeal to me so much.
Tell us about Women of Badassery.
I’m an accidental blogger.
I’ve always been an avid reader, but a few years ago I hit a reading slump. All the books I was reading felt the same. It was hard to dig up stories with women as main characters. When I did find them, I often ended up throwing the book down in frustration because the gender roles were so bloody cliché. You know the type—insecure women who obsess over their looks and/or relationship status, and men who are cocky uber-alpha dudes.
The internet has everything, so I searched for a book blog or website that listed books with female protagonists. I couldn’t find one, so I decided to make it myself.
Although the title has the word “women” in it and I do focus on books with female protagonists, the blog is all about unity rather than divisiveness. The treatment of the male characters matters just as much. I look for gender equity and diversity, meaning that all of the characters are more than formulaic stereotypes and share in the work of making a good story.
The blog has been a huge success. It’s been a real pleasure to find that many readers feel the same way, and I love sharing my passion for books with others.
Tell us something we may not know about you.
Hmm. My husband and I were just recently talking about my near-death experiences as a child, so that should fit the bill.
I very nearly took a lawn dart in the head as a toddler. When I was about three, I fell from the bed of a moving pickup truck, right onto the road. Then when I was about four, I nearly drowned in our swimming pool. There was also the time I woke up in the middle of the night to find a man standing outside my open window with a knife in the screen. (It was not just a bad dream!)
I barely made it out of my childhood alive. 😉
Do you share any obsessions with your kids?
Books, for sure. We read every night before bed, and they always get books for Christmas. We go to the library a lot.
Neither of them really appreciates Star Trek yet, but Thing1 likes Doctor Who—particularly the creepy episodes.
Have you given your kids any advice on how to express themselves and their inner geek?
Not specifically. But they grew up with me wearing elaborate costumes and going to events, so to them, being “out there” is normal.
They both like t-shirts of their favorite video games and movie characters, and Thing2 has a passion for patterned socks. I think they’ve learned self-expression by osmosis.
Is there anything you’re working on in the future that we should look forward to?
Absolutely! Dragonfire Station is about to start dropping. This series is spacefaring adventure and intrigue, in the tradition of Star Trek, Firefly, and The Expanse.
The first book, Translucid, releases September 15. Fragments will follow on October 25. The final book of the trilogy (Coalescence) won’t be far behind. Probably Spring of 2017. There are also some short stories in the same universe publishing in various anthologies.
It’s too early to have Amazon links, but here are the Goodreads links.
What’s your advice to anyone out there struggling with showing off their geekiness?
It depends on why they’re finding it a struggle. If it’s because they feel self-conscious, I’d recommend finding a small, local con to attend. Listen to some panels and commune with other people who have the same interests. It’s a great community, and interacting with people who share your passions can really bolster confidence.
Besides, cons are a lot of fun! Anything’s a good excuse to attend one.