Q/A w/ Felicia Day

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Book cover. Credit to Simon & Schuster Inc.

Felicia Day is best known for her roles on Doctor Horrible Sing-Along Blog, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka and her own, groundbreaking web series The Guild. She’s an internet guru and essentially pioneered the “adorably awkward and quirky girl” persona in film and television. Day is the co-founder of the multimedia production company Geek & Sundry, a screenwriter, producer, former violin prodigy and now an author. Her new memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) was released in mid-August.

As part of a late addition to her tour for her new book, Day will be appearing at the Jean Cocteau Cinema Sept. 13. Jackalope was lucky enough to interview her about her memories on tour, gender equality in the nerd world, and her advice for overcoming anxiety as a creator.

Jackalope Magazine: How has your tour been?

Felicia Day: The tour’s been amazing! I’m really excited to end this in Santa Fe this weekend. 

JM: So this is your last event?

FD: This will be my last event tied to the book tour, yes. It’s been an amazing four or five weeks now on the road.

JM: What has been your favorite thing from the tour?

FD: My favorite thing was just meeting so many thousands of people across the country. I got boxes and boxes of fan art and presents, which everyone brought me, which was a surprise. Everyone got me cupcakes so I’ve definitely gained weight, which is not a bad thing because the cupcakes are excellent. It was just so nice to see how diverse my fans are; all ages, all backgrounds. In particular, it was wonderful to see dads and uncles show up and want to get the book for their teenage daughters because that’s something I never really thought anyone would do. It goes to show that your creativity is not always received in the most expected ways. 

JM: What inspired you to write the book?

FD: I’ve done speeches across the world the last several years about creating a company and The Guild and digital content and it’s really taken off since I started doing it. I was one of the earliest people in the states [to create digital content.] It was just a kind of journey how I overcame my creative inhibitions and embraced who I was and got word out there with whatever digital means possible [and it] really seemed to resonate with people in a creative way—as well as making them laugh is always fun—so I wanted to combine those two things and tell my story in a more permanent way than just online. 

JM: That’s awesome! I just finished the book last night and it was so inspiring.

FD: Thank you.

JM: I have anxiety myself and so reading about how you overcame all that and how you worked through it was really, really encouraging. 

FD: Thank you. I really wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just the positive things. I wanted to really make everything that I’ve done relatable in good and bad ways. I want people to feel enabled but also not surprised when things don’t 100 percent go perfectly because really you learn more from your mistakes than any of your successes. 

JM: In the foreword of the book, Joss Whedon said of you: “She’s fierce. She’s more than a self-made woman—I sometimes think she’s not a human woman, that she willed herself into existence, before willing the world to make a place for the new, unfathomable creation.” What was it like to read that?

FD: [Laughs] It was very almost embarrassing in an amazing way [for] someone [to be] complimenting you…I emailed him during his movie release and I didn’t think he’d ever get back with me because he’s so busy working on the biggest movie in existence. I just wanted a sentence blurb to be able to put on the jacket with all the other authors that were so gracious to provide one. It was crazy because he said, “Hey, I want to write a foreword. I can’t put it in a sentence,” and I was like, “Sure?” So it really did give the book a boost and not only that but really solidified my admiration for him as a mentor and somebody I really look up to and who’s been an huge prominent of my career over the years.

JM: I feel like he’s taken a lot people and given them a platform to tell their story.

FD: Yeah, absolutely.

JM: Like we were discussing before, you talk a lot about anxiety and depression in the book. What’s your advice for someone struggling with mental illness, especially someone who creates?

FD: My advice is to dive in! There’s really no better time in history to really get your voice out there in whatever format you want to express yourself. I think I say in the book, you can attempt anything and with that I think comes not only encouragement to try things but also, not necessarily a warning but a caution that you’re not guaranteed to succeed, especially on the first or second try but as long as you try things and then find a process that you like and sign up for the daily work of something you can really find a passion if you are brave enough to risk attempting things. I think that’s kind of the core of what I do in my work. I might not be an expert at everything but I love everything I do and I’m willing to try something—unless it’s skydiving—one time just to see if it’s something that clicks with me. You can find fulfillment in very unexpected areas.

JM: You mention in the acknowledgements, when you were acknowledging your brother, a memory that didn’t make it into the book. Was there anything else that didn’t make it? How did you choose what to put in?

FD: Definitely there was a lot of editing in the process. I definitely excised a lot in order to make the story streamlined and come together as a whole. There was a whole chapter on Doctor Horrible and how it started and several stories were actually relayed by Joss in the foreword without him even reading that part of the book. 

JM: Oh really?

FD: Yeah, it’s kind of surprising. But that was just kind of a left turn in the journey and we decided to take it out. I love the fact that doing a book is a really long term commitment that you can really devote yourself to [and] to collaborate with an editor after you put what you love down. 

JM: How long did it take to write?

FD: I did many many drafts and from start to finish it was a 15-16 month process on and off as I did my work on my company and everything like that.  

JM: Were you writing between takes and meetings? What was your process for that?

FD: I broke it down in very small pieces and that reflected my spontaneous videos that I did over the years. Thinking about a whole book and finishing it and the end result was kind of daunting, but then when you start breaking it into smaller pieces it becomes attainable because you just commit to the long term process of it.

JM: I feel like something that big you have to take an axe to it. You have to section it off.

FD: Yeah, absolutely and a deadline always helps. [Laughs]

JM: You mention GamerGate in your book. At one point you say you’re sure they’ll have something to say to you after they read that chapter. Have you had to deal with any backlash in that sense since it was published? 

FD: Absolutely, especially [in] the first week it became an issue in a lot of ways. What I’ve learned is…[to] try to communicate my experience and seeing someone so vigorously denied an experience is sort of testament to how lacking in empathy some people can [be], especially with the cloak of anonymity online. I think that gaming  as a whole is a really positive place and has enriched my life in many ways. Encouraging people to be as proactively positive as the small minority of proactively negative is what I like to do. No one’s going to be loved by everybody and as a public figure or a semi-public figure you have to accept that you can’t please everyone and that was a big journey in my life. That’s just the inevitability of it. The outpouring of support just reminds me that [the negative people] aren’t the majority and that’s not how gamers generally act. And it’s not all just under that title. There’s just a lot of negativity online in many areas because of the ability to say something to someone that you would never say to their face. I tend to gloss over it when I meet new people because you have to protect yourself.

The Guild web series DVD megaset cover.

The Guild web series DVD megaset cover.

JM: Definitely. Reading that chapter I felt for you. That must have been so scary to have that onslaught of all of a sudden “I’m not as safe as I thought I was.” 

FD: It comes with being a public figure. Why I decided to speak up is because I’m somebody who more people follow than the average Twitter account. I think I say in the book, it’s really hard to stand up to those kind of voices. If you are in a crowd and everyone is yelling at you that you’re a bad person or you’re invalid or you don’t belong, you’ll feel like you want to leave and I don’t want anyone to leave the world of gaming because a small minority of people are being hostile to different voices or just not being accepting. There are plenty of places on the internet in gaming or in any area that are accepting of people. Being proactive and creative in communities and participating in them to drown out those negative voices I think goes a long way [in] making it a better place to enjoy what you love.

JM: Definitely, I’m part of the Nerdfighter community and it’s a great place.

FD: Absolutely! That’s an amazing community! And [so is] the community around Geek & Sundry and you can really point to a lot of places…who really welcome people. Really the more diverse opinions we have around everything we consume the better, because we’re seeing from another person’s point of view and understanding each other better. Whether we agree or not, that shouldn’t be the basis of being hostile and hateful and shaming. We can agree to disagree in a respectful way and that’s what I always think we should all strive for.

JM: For sure and I think we’re getting there but there’s always going to be “trolls” to deal with.

FD: You can’t please everybody. [Laughs]

JM: Exactly.

FD: If you’re trying to please everyone then you’re doing something wrong and I think that’s what my grandpa told me.

JM: A friend told me if someone calls you a bitch, you’re doing something right.

FD: Exactly! If you reach one person in a positive way it’s worth five people negative telling you that you’re bad.

JM: How do we combat gender inequality in the nerd verse? What do you think is the best way?

FD: I think it’s more people creating and making it not noteworthy that someone from a different background other than the norm is expressing themselves. Really it’s just about that. I guess that’s easy to say but that’s why I want to encourage people to try creating and whether you’re a supporter of a creator or a creator yourself, the different points of view open our eyes up to other people’s existence in a really positive way and I think that improves the world a lot. Just be proactive and whatever skill you’re creating, just get your voice out there.

JM: You just finished up your “Embrace Your Weird” t-shirt campaign for “Stomp Out Bullying.” Was that inspired by that?

FD: Yeah, it was. When I was on book tour I saw a lot of people come up and say “Hey, your book really inspired me because of the anxiety that I have and feeling different,” and some kids will come up and say “Hey! I’ve been bullied and [you’ve helped me.]” Embracing [my] weird in a sense has really allowed me to accept who I am a little bit more, so while I was on book tour I had one of the people at Geek and Sundry design the shirt and release it and all the proceeds are going to charity. It’s really awesome to see everyone come together and stand up. No one should be shamed for loving something they love. There’s room for all of us to live our lives the way we want to as long as we’re not harming other people. I think, especially when you’re a kid, it’s hard to know that in your bones and be proud of who you are. The more we can say “Hey, yeah, you should be weird. Embrace your weird,” the better for all of us.

Supernatural 10x11. Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) and Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) struggle to find a cure for the Mark of Cain. Photo credit to Warner Bros. and The CW.

Supernatural 10×11. Using her hacker skills, Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) and Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) struggle to find a cure for the Mark of Cain. Photo credit to Warner Bros. and The CW.

*SPOILER* JM: I have to ask. What was your reaction to Charlie being killed off last season of “Supernatural” because it definitely ripped my heart in two.

FD: I appreciate you being affected. It’s always a compliment if somebody kills you on a show because they know that somebody cared about you. I love being part of that family and of course I’m sad not to be able to be on the show going forward, but you never know what will happen and, like I said, it was a blessing to be a part of it as long as I was anyway.

JM: It’s a great family for sure.

FD: It really is and that’s kind of the shows I love to be on; the fandom families. That’s really important to me.

JM: Going back to the book, writing a memoir can obviously be nerve wracking when it comes to writing about people who will eventually read your book. Was that difficult for you? What do you friends and family think of it?

FD: They all really liked it and they were like, “I learned something about you I didn’t know!” which is always nice. I wish all my friends wrote memoirs and then I’d be able to know a little more about them because sometimes I’m awkward in conversations. The good thing is nobody got mad and I didn’t reveal anything that people felt uncomfortable about. In Portland, the guy who I kiss [for] the first time and that I tell a story about actually showed up to one of the signings and I was like “Gasp! Oh god, is this awkward?” and he was like, “No, it was really funny!” so I was relieved. It might have been the only person I was kind of worried about. 

JM: I’m excited to see you at the Jean Cocteau! 

FD: I’m very excited, [too.] George R.R. Martin is going to be there, I hear.

JM: I know!

FD: [Fangirls] I know! It’s cool.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is available where ever books are sold. The audiobook, voiced by Felicia Day and Joss Whedon, is available on Audible and iTunes.

Feature image property of Simon & Schuster Inc. Video by Mutant Enemy. Audiobook sample by Simon & Schuster Inc.

Felicia Day Book Signing

September 13, 2015 @ 6 p.m.
WHERE: Jean Cocteau Cinema, 418 Montezuma Ave
COST: Free Admission with Book Purchase $25.99 | Event Admission Only $10.00
CONTACT:
(505) 466-5528