I’ve known Andrea Towers ever since she arrived at Marvel Comics to handle their PR and Communications. She’s been a big supporter of Biff Bam Pop! over the last few years, and is one of the busiest people I’ve encountered in the comics industry. Along with her day job, Andrea is a writer, with her first book, Geek Girls Don’t Cry: Real-Life Lessons From Fictional Female Characters on the way this April 2nd from Sterling Books.
As someone who has a day job and a night job (running BBP!) while also living as a single parent, I know how hard it can be to find time create a book in the midst of all that life throws our way. When I found out Andrea had a book coming out, I was excited to talk to her and find out how she managed her creative life while working a full-time gig, and her own journey to getting published. On that note, enjoy the interview, which was conducted over email.
Andy Burns: Your first book is on the way! How are you feeling at this moment knowing that Geek Girls Don’t Cry: Real-Life Lessons from Fictional Female Characters is almost in people’s hands?
Andrea Towers: Nervous! Excited! A little anxious. But I’m mostly excited. I’ve been working on this book since 2016 and for so long, I’ve been the only person reading it aside from my agent and editor. Traditional book publishing can be a funny thing because you’re surrounded by other authors who are going through the same process, but you’re also kind of lonely since you have to keep so many secrets. To be completely honest, because it’s been such a long journey from submission to publication, I keep forgetting that people haven’t read it yet! Now that I’m close to my release date, I’m really looking forward to seeing people’s reactions. The characters featured in my book are pretty widely spread across pop culture, so I’m also curious to see who everyone connects with and responds to.
Andy Burns: Tell us what your book is about? What’s the elevator pitch?
Andrea Towers: Geek Girls Don’t Cry is essentially a self-help book through the eyes of inspiring female characters in pop culture, profiling 25 fictional ladies from comics, gaming, television, books, and movies. I look at their stories – what they went through in their childhood, what they’ve experienced throughout their hero journeys – and pull out specific instances where they’ve dealt with real life issues like anxiety, depression, and isolation. The core of the book is what we can learn from these characters’ bravery, resilience, and self-acceptance, and how we can use those traits to overcome obstacles in our own life.
Andy Burns: Getting published is always a feat for any writer – can you take us through the process that lead you from manuscript to getting your deal?
Andrea Towers: Traditional publishing is basically a huge test in patience. I went through so many drafts of chapters and proposals before I even started submitting to publishers, and that was a process in of itself. Once I had materials that my agent and I felt were strong enough, we worked to identify publishers that we felt would be the best fit for the project. From that point, it was a lot of waiting and being obsessed with checking my email! A lot of editors really liked the book, but it didn’t fit with their specific needs, so my feedback tended to be suggestions that were editors’ own visions based on what they thought would make the book stronger for their specific publishing house. I kind of had to take all of that into consideration every time I did a revision and I credit my amazing agent, Maria Vicente, for really helping me figure out how to make my manuscript as strong as possible. In the end, it all worked out, because I clicked right away with my editor at Sterling when they made an offer.
Andy Burns: You’ve got an extensive background in PR, working for Entertainment Weekly and now Marvel Comics. How did that background help you in your book journey? Was it in any way a hindrance?
Andrea Towers: The only way I would say it was a hindrance was that I was working full time while writing a book, which is a little tricky…especially if you like sleep and are trying to plan a wedding, which was basically all of last year! But my background definitely helped me, both as a writer and as a professional in the industry. Writing constantly and being immersed in comics led to me having a greater understanding of these characters, and when I was at EW, I did a lot of analytical writing on pop culture and superhero stuff, which taught me how to craft stories for a big audience while staying true to my own opinions. Also, having made so many connections over the years through work, I was lucky enough to cultivate relationships with people who I felt comfortable approaching when I decided I wanted to have creators contribute to my book.
Andy Burns: You’re very upfront on your Twitter account about your personal psychology, the importance of self-care, and being true to yourself. Did you have any fear of putting your own writing out into the world, and if so, how did you work to overcome it?
Andrea Towers: Oh absolutely. It actually took me a long time to feel like I could be transparent on social media, but I’ve had so many instances where people have told me it’s been helpful for them to see me talk openly about things like self-care, and that means more than I can express. I’ve been doing this “Author Life Month” challenge over on my Instagram for the month of February, and one of the questions recently was “what’s your greatest writing weakness?” For me, that’s my own issue with self-confidence and imposter syndrome. I’ve been writing stories and fanfiction for years and I’ve always been pretty confident about my writing skills, but this was a little different because a traditionally published book is going to reach more people than a Tumblr post. Owning that confidence is definitely a process that I’m still working on, but one of the things I’m very thankful for is that I have a core group of loyal friends who never judge me for my insecurities and help me overcome my anxieties. And the characters in this book have helped me as well – telling their stories and realizing how important they are has encouraged me to feel more confident!
Andy Burns: Were there any fictional female characters featured in your book that you didn’t originally think to feature but who made their way in? Any surprises?
Andrea Towers: This won’t surprise anyone who knows me well, but it surprised me because when I was thinking of characters to include, she wasn’t originally on my radar – Juliet Burke from LOST. Juliet was my favorite character while the show was airing and I identified so much with her because of her struggles and the way her character was written. But it wasn’t until I was revising some of the characters in the table of contents that I realized I could include her. I was so surprised that I hadn’t thought to previously consider her – she’s the epitome of someone who used her own resilience and self-acceptance to overcome obstacles!
The flip side of this question is that there were definitely characters I thought I’d feature who didn’t make the cut. Once my book comes out, I’m actually thinking of writing a blog post where I talk about all the characters that didn’t get into the final manuscript, because I think it would be fun for people to see who else I would have featured.
Andy Burns: If there’s one character that I should be introducing my 8-year old daughter too right now, who would it be and why?
Andrea Towers: I don’t want to speak for who your daughter may or may not be familiar with already, but I’m going to say Storm. I mean, her whole childhood was defined by her parents’ death when a plane crashed into her home, saddling her with claustrophobia – and even though she struggled to overcome those memories and struggled with the anxiety that came with having a mental health issue for most of her life, she became one of the most powerful leaders of the X-Men. I love the fact that her journey shows that no matter what obstacles you’re up against, you can still be useful and important to the world and to your friends – I think one of the most important lessons we can learn is the power that comes with believing in ourselves. (And I think that there’s SO much more to Storm than what we’ve gotten to see in the X-Men movies, but that’s another story for another day.)
Andy Burns: Let’s talk your favourite character in the world, Black Widow for a second – are you loving what the Soska Sisters are doing with her current series?
Andrea Towers: Oh my gosh, YES! So much so that when I guest hosted Geek & Sundry’s comic book show The Wednesday Club back in January, I couldn’t stop gushing about it. I’ve loved pretty much every run Black Widow’s had in comics, but I particularly love how the Soska Sisters have brought Natasha back to her roots with this series. A lot of Black Widow stories have been about her going through things with other people, and even though I love reading about Natasha’s relationships (romantic and not) I like that this series really puts a singular focus on her.
Andy Burns: What do YOU want to see out of a Black Widow movie?
Andrea Towers: It’s going to sound cliché, but I really just want a movie that does a character I love justice. There are rumors that the movie will be pre-MCU and for so long, that’s something that I’ve relied on comics and fanfiction and my own ideas to fill the void of. We’ve watched this character grow and change over the past decade, so my ultimate happiness would be seeing more layers added with a really good character focus and origin story – stuff that, when it’s all put together, would make me appreciate the person she’s become by Avengers: Endgame more than I already do! Also, I’m all for the movie being just about Natasha, but if they want to throw a little Hawkeye cameo in there or explain the elusive Budapest mystery, I definitely won’t complain…
Andy Burns: Finally, with your first book nearly here, what are you planning on working on next?
Andrea Towers: I’m currently working on my second book, which will be in the same vein of Geek Girls Don’t Cry – bridging pop culture and real life – and hopefully I’ll be able to talk more about that soon! I’ve also got a bunch of ideas that I’m hoping to put into motion, so we’ll see what happens in the next few months. Right now, my goal is to just write a lot of different things and keep being as creative as I can so that I can will projects I’d love to do into being.
Thanks to Andrea Towers for taking the time to talk to Biff Bam Pop! You can order Geeks Girls Don’t Cry now.