TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa mother and her daughter have teamed up to begin a new series of children’s books focusing on all things nerdy, to encourage kids to embrace their inner “geekiness” and to be themselves.
Kat Mahoney and her daughter “V,” whose pen name is “Voidstarz,” collaborated on the book, titled “Astrid & The Case of the Missing Cupcake.” Mahoney, who has previously written children’s books, authored the story and V provided the digital illustrations.
The story is about a 7-year-old Filipino girl who loves cosplay, video games, baking and solving mysteries. In the book, Astrid must find the missing cupcake quickly “so it doesn’t ruin someone’s day,” according to Mahoney’s plot.
The character of Astrid was inspired by V’s life. She is a high-functioning young adult with autism and an anxiety disorder. She was severely bullied in high school, and her journey with cosplay, video games and art helped both V and her mother cope through difficult times. She said speaking about her own experiences and helping other people is what helps her with her own struggles.
“It also helped me be more open and being myself, expressing myself. Being able to help other people come to terms with that and be able to find that themselves definitely helps me as well,” V said.
The duo are close and have very similar interests.
“We love everything from cosplay, anime, cartoons, different types of K-Pop and just everything that we do, we really enjoy it together,” Mahoney said.
V said they came up with the idea to write a book when they were discussing children’s books and V’s art.
“A lot of my art inspiration comes from the cartoons and other things that I’m really in to. I’m really in to a lot of cartoons and other animated, fun entertainment media,” said V. “I guess growing up with that, it really inspired me and gave me some amalgamation of what my art style is now, just like a cutesy, cartoony art style.”
As for the plot, cupcakes are important to the mother-daughter duo.
“We’ve competed in cupcake wars between each other before. Designing, I think I did the baking pretty good, but I think V did more of the artwork a lot better with the cupcakes!” Mahoney said. “So we love cupcakes, we love baking together. It never turns out good but it turns out fun. That’s really the greatest part of it. Because I’m not a great cook!”
Mahoney said that’s something families can do together, while learning the aspects of geekiness together while they bake.
“We like to cosplay while we’re baking,” she explained. “So we’ll cosplay different animated characters while we’re baking together, and talk about the latest cartoons or the latest video games that we’ve been playing. So there are so many different things we have that integration with while we’re baking or while we’re spending that time together.”
In the story, Astrid is also cosplaying while solving the mystery of the missing cupcake. That’s something important to both Mahoney and V, as they wanted to show something that kids can relate to, in addition to the fact cosplay is becoming extremely popular.
“Something like cosplay and artwork is what brought V to the surface with her autism and her bullying in the past, so it really was something that helped her and we found that there was a lot of kids between middle school and even in high school that we could relate to,” Mahoney said.
With the book, Mahoney said she wants her generation to understand that this is the “new generation” and cosplay, video games and streaming online is not going away and is not dangerous when monitored by parents.
“What the book focuses on is it’s okay to be involved in this type of entertainment and it’s really not a bad thing, and parents should be able to play a video game or watch an anime or play a board game and so forth with their kids, that it is fun and it actually is educational because a lot of that stems from whatever your interests are as a child, usually that’s what you pursue as a career,” Mahoney said.
“One thing that I want parents to take away from the book is also indulging in their kids’ interests… also just knowing that when it comes to things like cosplay or video games or whatever geeky, nerdy interest or hobby that their child has, as long as they’re happy and as long as they’re safe doing it, then there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it,” V said.
As for the future, Mahoney said the sky is the limit and she and her daughter have “so many ideas.”
Moving forward, in addition to new books in the series, Mahoney and V want to work on a cartoon web series that focuses on day-to-day routines of what kids go through, as well as parents.
You can purchase a copy of “Astrid & The Case of the Missing Cupcake” online.