Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

His guide takes geek romance to new levels

HEY, GEEKS! This Valentine's season, local writer Eric Smith, the co-founder of, wants to get you a date, and tell you how to keep one. By day, Smith is the social media and marketing manager for the Philly-based Quirk Books ("I talk to the Internet," he said.) But by cover of darkness, Smith transforms into the author of the recently released The Geek's Guide to Dating, tackling subjects like how to ask a potential date out ("Do or Do Not, There is No Try: Asking Her Out"), what to plan ("First Contact: The Date!") and how to navigate post-date results ("Beyond Thunderdome: The Day After, and Beyond.")

Smith recently got engaged, popping the question to his girlfriend, Nena Boling, in sweet geek style while on a jaunt in Toronto. Some people have their song. Smith and Boling have their book: John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Smith pulled a copy of out of his bag - with a redesigned cover that said "Say Yes" on it. The ring was nestled in a hole he carved inside the book.

He talked to Molly Eichel about geeky dates, his budding fiction career and how writing the book has made him a better fiancé.

Q Why did you decide to write The Geek's Guide to Dating?

I'd been writing about geek culture for a number of years. I had just started dating this girl - who just became my fiancée.

Q Congrats!

Thank you! Quirk's publisher, Jason Rekulak, had seen my adventures in dating. He said, "Could you combine these ideas into a book?" I went home and wrote out a sample chapter about [video game] "Metal Gear Solid" and how it applied to the dating world. We went from there.

Q Did Nena have any input?

I would share the book with her over the course of writing. She would say, "You should have more of that advice." I think the best thing that came out of the book was that it made me a better boyfriend, fiancé and, hopefully, husband.

Q Really? Give me an example.

In the book, I talk a lot about getting your significant other into your geeky interests. Should you push it?

I'm a big gamer and I was trying to get her into it, but she wasn't. So I took my own advice about specifically finding something she would like. I started to get her into the story of the game. She didn't like some of the shooting "Halo"-type games, but then I would play something with a good story [Boling digs "Bioshock Infinite"], and all of a sudden she would ask me not to play until she got home from work.

Q So you made Nena geekier. Did she make you cooler?

She's very fashionable so now I'll try to wear nicer things, like vests. She also likes classic movies. I like my movies with explosions, but she's brought black-and-white movies into my life.

Q So, what's the geekiest date you can possibly think of?

For me, if it's a first date, I would take the date to a place where we could get know each other, like a comic book store - if

you're a music geek, going to [Old City's] AKA Music and going through the vinyl. I like to go to bars with arcade games. It's a great opportunity to interact.

I would say going to see a movie, but they're terrible early dates because you just sit there and don't get to know each other. The ultimate geek dates are the ones where you get to know each other.

I love flea markets. That was, like, the second date with my fiancée. I was rummaging for old video games, and she was buying scarves.

Q Your next book is fiction. When can we expect that?

It might come out at the end of this year, from Bloomsbury Spark. It's a young-adult fantasy novel that takes place in the future where when you come of age, you have to get a tattoo that says what you're the best at.

This guy figures out that the tattoo ink comes from these people with magical powers, and he's one of these people. So he has to run away. It's very influenced by the "Final Fantasy" games. The working title is Inked. Fun fact: My editor on the book, Meredith Rich, used to live in Philly and work as Betsy Ross. So it was meant to be.


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