Rachel Adams (she/her) is one half of Roar Cat Reads. We’ve been creating content and community for six months now, so we figured it was time that you got to know the women behind the blog!
Rachel, you help run a website with the tagline Queer and Nerdy in Vancouver. Have you always identified as queer and nerdy?
No, I don’t think so. I have known for a very long time that I’m queer (20 years), but I’ve only really embraced my nerdiness in the last 3-4 years. I push very hard against the queer thing as I despise labels but acknowledge their usefulness. Because I have known that I’m gay and have lived openly for 20 years, I do want to wave a flag and say I’m here, but it feels weird for my sexuality to be one of the things I should introduce myself as. I’m excited for a time when that is not the case. I want to put the flag down and just be me; possibly the younger generation are getting to that point.
As much as I hate labels that are applied to me, I understand that it’s a way to identify people who are like you and into the same things. As a community-building aspect, it’s a good thing. I like being labeled a nerd more than I like being labeled queer. Being “queer” feels necessary; being a “nerd” feels like I’m going to attract more nerds, which makes me happy.
I had a significant life change a few years ago, and I became closer to more friends who were nerdy at that time. I started playing a lot of board games, and shortly after that I started playing D&D. I embraced the ability to be outside of myself for a little while (particularly with D&D though I will try to role-play literally anything). It was a sad time for me, but some of the best times I had were playing Carcassone and Castles of the Mad King Ludwig and Machi Koro with this small group of people.
Now I am a nerd and I am proud of it. I was a nerd in denial, a secret nerd, a stealth nerd. I had these interests, but I didn’t think I was allowed to be into them. The acceptable way to do that was with sports; you can be as nerdy as you want with sports, and people accept this.
Where are you from originally? When did you move to Vancouver and why did you choose to stay?
I’m from England, and I originally came to Vancouver during the financial crisis of 2008. The place I was working in Bangor, North Wales, downsized and offered voluntary redundancy. I spent the money to come to Canada for 2.5 months to visit a friend who had moved out here. I absolutely loved it and applied for a working visa to come for another year. I loved the city and was lucky to get to know locals. It felt much more like a forever place than if I’d kept my friend group with transient people. I came into my career, which has been a nice, stable influence for me as well. When I came to Vancouver, it felt like things fell into place.
When did you first start playing D&D and when did you know it was going to become a big part of your life?
I started playing about three years ago. It was something I talked about with a couple friends who were interested, but it was that conversation where they say, “We should work out how to do this!” but no one would pull the trigger on it. I got the Starter Set and read through it. Pretty soon, I was DMing for a couple of my gay friends, and at the same time, I started DMing with a nerdy ladies group that I met through Meetup.
I really enjoyed the creative aspect of putting the story together. All the enjoyment I got out of board games predisposed me to going through the rules to figure out how they allow the game to happen. The two groups were very different, which made me realize how diverse D&D can be. The gay men group was very much “kick the door down, where’s the loot,” whereas the ladies group was much more challenging to DM. They were unpredictable and would befriend things rather than kill them. I lucked out having these two really great groups of people at just the right time. It filled a creative need for me and a social need as well.
What are some of your favorite queer books?
- Ash by Malinda Lo. It’s a retelling of the Cinderella story, and it’s just so cute. It’s a really nice read, and I appreciated it because I will often draw inspiration for my D&D campaigns from fairy tales or stories that I’ve read.
- Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. It’s not a good book necessarily, but it was exactly the book I needed to read when I read it. It was wonderful.
- Seven Eves by Neal Stephenson. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s an absolute log of a book – easily 800 pages. It’s sci fi, and the world is slowly destroyed over a period of three years. Humanity survives by various means, but there’s a particularly awesome relationship between a Russian cosmonaut and a scientist working on the International Space Station.
You have started a new weekly series chronicling our fantasy football league. Why did you push for it to be included under the “queer and nerdy” umbrella?
It has been brought to my attention that there is a lot of crossover between nerds and sports fans. Nerds like to be the holders of all knowledge about a certain thing by sheer consumption of that thing. The same can be said about sports fans (I watched seven hours of football on Sunday). There is no difference between knowing all of the rules of D&D or where to find it in the Player’s Handbook and having an encyclopedic knowledge of the wins and losses of a football team or stats for an individual player. The more I think about it, I’d actually like you to find a difference between those groups of people.
You’re the creative heart of Roar Cat Reads. What crafting projects are you most excited about?
I’ve got a number of them on the go at the moment. One of the first things I enjoyed making was the monstrosities. I made them on a whim. I was trying to make terrarium ornaments, but I don’t actually know anything about terrariums. However, I made a little thing that I would want to exist in a terrarium if someone would like to gift me one. We have a bunch of them in our plant pots at the moment, and I think they look great. At my upcoming Eldtrich Horror birthday party, I expect one or two of them will adorn the cake. If this sounds excellent to anyone, let me know because we have a bunch cluttering our house!
I’m learning to make dice bags at the moment. It’s been a fun project, because I love collecting dice (we get a set every month through our Adventure Dice subscription). I need a place to put them, so dice bags are perfect!
I’m attempting to make my own dice with resin, which so far has been with mixed results. But it’s fun to play around with it and see what’s possible. Any time I see something artsy that I think I can work out how it’s done, I want to give it a try. That’s how I got into making maps for D&D sessions as well. It’s also cool because I can see that skill progressing. If only I would put in the boring practice to really hone that skill! It’s nice being around artistic people like Nick. He taught me how to sew. Being in a creative community is so valuable.
Is there anything else you think readers should know about you?
I’m running a charity event in 9 days. The part I have taken on is wrangling the technology. Tricia is the face because she is the greatest (editor’s note: Rachel really said this, but I (Tricia) did choose to keep it), but I’ve been learning how to use OBS and other various bits and pieces. It’s been a fun process to learn it, and I’m excited to stream more content in the future. If anyone reading wants to ask questions about that process or help me learn more about it, let me know!