Veronica Belmont, Tech, Lit, and all-around Geek Extraordinaire!

In honor of Women’s History Month, NBF is doing lots of themed articles, including profiles and interviews of awesome geeky women. Veronica Belmont is just that. She started out by doing a lot of podcasts, and then in 2006 she became a producer and on-air talent for CNET.

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A little background before we jump into the interview:

You might recognize her most recently from her podcast/video show of Sword and Laser, a sci-fi/fantasy-themed book club. She co-hosts the show with Tom Merritt. Sword and Laser also created their own anthology of viewer-submitted stories! She’s also a part of another book club called Vaginal Fantasy on the Geek and Sundry network on YouTube. Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, Kiala Kazbee, and Veronica Belmont read two romance novels (usually in a sci-fi/fantasy theme) a month, and then get together on Google+ to chat about them and drink. It’s awesome, hysterical, and often touches on great points about the books. Oh, and she also hosted the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary pre- and post-shows on the BBC and is the co-host of Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers! And she does a ton of other geeky/tech things. She’s really like a Geeky Renaissance Woman.

Now onto the interview!

1. Who do you think of as your geeky or non-geeky woman role model?

I really love Tina Fey. I know she doesn’t exactly work in my industry – well, technically we both work in media, but we do very different types of stuff. But I’ve always really related, not just with the characters she portrays, but herself as a writer and as a presenter. I just love how she combines stories from her own life and her own sense of humor. And she’s fallible; she has issues and problems, and things that she deals with in her life, and that comes across in her work. Being an open book like that is something that I definitely aspire to.

2. Have you experienced discrimination/sexism in your work and how do you deal with that?

When I started out, I never really intended to go into video production, so when I jumped into that space, you kind of learn very quickly how hostile and weird the internet can be. The second you put a face to a voice and you’re on camera (I had been doing podcasting for a while and I didn’t really have an issue in that regard), it becomes about a whole lot of different things, at least to the people viewing at home. But I’ve been mostly lucky, I would say. I’ve dealt with it occasionally. I don’t know why; I don’t know if I’ve just grown a thick skin, or if I’ve gotten used to it, which is kind of depressing when you say it that way, but it’s not something I deal with, at least day-to-day.

I think that you do have to sometimes prove yourself a little more then perhaps your male counterparts do. It’s always like that in the technology space, just because it’s always been such a predominately male space, though I think that is definitely shifting.

But yeah, there’s always going to be some weirdos out there, there’s always going to be people who put out a weird, random sexist comment, and you’re like “What is this, the 1950s? Are we still talking like this? Grow up! Just grow up!” That’s usually what I think in my brain, anyway. And I always just try to respond with the most rational, intelligent thing that I can think of saying – not to prove them wrong, that’s just how I deal with trolls in general. I try to kill them with kindness and sense. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Some people can be saved, and some people are on the internet to just be a pain in the ass, and there’s nothing you can do about that but let it roll off your back.

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3. Since you do two book clubs, where’s your favorite place to curl up with a book or an e-reader?

My favorite place is in my extremely comfortable Tempur-Pedic mattress bed, which is like a burrow. My problem though is that it’s so comfortable that I fall asleep almost immediately. So my husband found me last night, sitting straight up in bed, ramrod straight, pillows behind my back, my glasses on, Kindle in hand, passed out, completely asleep. That’s almost every night, I get like three pages in. It takes me a really long time to read when I do that, but it’s the best way for me to fall asleep too.

If it’s an exciting part, it’ll keep me up. It’ll get my adrenaline going and I won’t be able to sleep and I’ll have to keep reading. But if it’s just like normal, regular, you know, transitional elements in the book between exciting moments, I will just pass right out.

But I also listen to a lot of audio books, so I get a lot of my reading done that way. If I’m at the gym, or driving, or doing household chores, I’ll just pop in my earbuds and listen. I can’t listen to audio books and do anything productive with my brain at the same time, so it has to be a very passive kind of activity for me to be able to concentrate on the book.

4. What is your favorite thing about being involved with both of your book clubs, Sword and Laser and Vaginal Fantasy?

I get exposed to a lot of books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own. I think especially with Sword and Laser, because Tom is really the sci-fi buff and I’m really the fantasy fan, so I’m reading a lot more science fiction that way. Which I still love, I just would gravitate typically more toward the fantasy genre. So that’s been awesome because I’ve discovered a lot of amazing books and authors that way.

With Vaginal Fantasy, I mean, it’s funny because I’m not like Felicia or Kiala, who typically read these kinds of books on their own, with the exception of something like Kushiel’s Dart, which was actually given to me, and then I read it and then also appreciate it for the incredible world building and storytelling that’s in that book. So I love it when we read a Vaginal Fantasy pick that has some sexy elements to it but also could stand alone as a typical genre fiction book and still be enjoyable. I think sometimes a lot of the books we read pretty much have one purpose and that’s to be a romance book, and those are fun and silly, but they’re not exactly feeding the brain in any meaningful sense.

5. If you could be best friends with any woman author, who would it be and why?

Probably N. K. Jemisen. She’s a total badass, she’s probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever interviewed, and she just seems like she’d be really fun to go have a couple of pints with. She’s just brilliant. You can just have a conversation with her for hours. I feel like all the interviews I’ve done with her could have gone on twice as long, and I probably wouldn’t have even noticed, because it’s just fascinating hearing her talk.”

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6. What’s your favorite genre of book to read and why?

I would definitely say fantasy. I think it’s partially the escapism. For me, I feel like science fiction tends to err on the darker, more dystopian end of the spectrum. That’s not always true, but maybe that’s just the stuff I’ve been reading. Fantasy always has this kind of a hope to it for me. There’s something hopeful or magical that I gravitate towards, because even though I don’t believe there’s magic in the world, I sure do wish there was. And I just fucking love dragons. You can quote me on that. Sure they’re not in every fantasy book, but they’re in enough.

7. Do you have any advice to young girls or women who like to read, or do tech videos, or get into geeky things?

If you love doing it, you should be doing it. Haters are gonna hate no matter what. But if you’re passionate about a topic, whether it be technology or science or erotic fiction, there are other people out there who enjoy it as much as you do, and they want to hear your thoughts and opinions on it. So don’t let other people get in the way of doing the stuff that you love.

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Thank you so much again to Veronica for doing the interview! Check her out on Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Goodreads, and Facebook! When we chatted, I also asked her to name a few of her favorite women authors. So if you’re looking for some awesome authors to read, check out the list below.

Some of Veronica’s favorite authors:

One thought on “Veronica Belmont, Tech, Lit, and all-around Geek Extraordinaire!

  1. Pingback: If My Writing Style Were an Outfit… |

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