Sam Maggs is no stranger to SYFY FANGRRLS. She's got her hands in some of our absolute favorite properties of all time, from Spider-Man to Star Trek, and we're so thankful she's there to represent our, well, fangirling. But now, Maggs is back with something brand new on her plate: original fiction! Her debut novel Con Quest! came out just last week.
Con Quest! is a comics convention adventure for young readers about fandom, family, and finding your place in the world!
Cat and Alex are excited to be at the world’s most popular comics convention — and they’re even more excited to compete in the Quest, a huge scavenger hunt run by their favorite nerdy celebrity. The big prize: a chance to meet him!
The twins ditch their older sister Fi and set off to find geeky clues, tackle nerdy challenges, and cross as many items as possible off their Quest list, which includes volunteering at an Artist Alley booth, gathering cosplayers in enough colors to make a double rainbow, and actually finding something healthy to eat in the convention center.
Can the twins work together even when they disagree on how to compete? Will Fi find Cat and Alex before their parents realize they’re missing? Most importantly, can these ultimate fans complete the ultimate Quest?
Read an exclusive excerpt of Con Quest! below.
“Nerd throws a tantrum over Vigilante League stunt!” Okay, first of all, Fi thought as she tried her best to rush through the crush of smelly, sweaty bodies, only I get to call my brother a nerd. Though Fi was pretty riled up over the blatant invasion of privacy her younger siblings had just been involved in, one sort of good thing had come of it: As Fi had scrolled past the video of the twins singing their favorite TV show theme song in front of a large crowd (Ducky McFowl, obviously) and had found the “meltdown” video (moments before it was wiped from the internet after a storm of enraged parents demanded it), she’d noticed something. Right over the twins’ heads in the video of their argument (of course they would even manage to embarrass her online) was a giant inflatable sheep. Fi had seen that sheep hanging in the air over the convention floor, and she was zooming back toward it as fast as she could.
Well, like, way slower than she could, frankly. Yes, she’d made varsity soccer, and she was only in the ninth grade. But she could only go as fast as this con would let her.
For every slow walker she swerved around and every impromptu photo shoot she narrowly avoided ruining, Fi reminded herself of why she was doing this. Dodge an elbow—Ethan might notice me. Avoid collision with a gigantic back-pack—on the for-sure chaperoned camping trip. Shove through another long line—which Mom and Dad will let me go on.
And suddenly, like a beacon of hope, there was the inflatable sheep, in the not-too-distant distance. It was just a few more aisles ahead. Fi kept her eyes on the sheep as she surged forward. The twins were there and so was her future. Just two more aisles to go. Just one—
Wham. Fi had made the worst mistake you can make at GeekiCon—she’d stopped watching the crowd directly in front of her and had slammed into another attendee. Fi’d been moving so fast that the collision landed her straight on her butt.
“Watch where you’re going—” said the stranger.
“Oh, I’m so sorry—” started Fi.
Both Fi and the person she’d smacked into started talking at the same time. Fi stopped mid-accusation while rubbing her head when she saw a hand with rainbow-painted nails outstretched in front of her. Fi followed the line of the hand up its arm, past the bright-blue printed shirt, to land on the face of its owner. A face with heavy eyeliner and bright-orange lips topped off with a shock of purple hair. A face Fi recognized.
Rowan Reyes. Fi was shocked to see she’d actually run into someone she actually knew.
If Rowan told anyone at their school that she’d seen Fi here this weekend—
But then, Fi remembered, nobody going on the totally chaperoned camping trip even knew Rowan. She was their class loner, always wearing stuff like boys’ suits from thrift shops and dyeing her hair random colors, usually skateboarding around with giant headphones on instead of talking to people. Though the hair color thing was pretty cute and the purple did suit her. Her parents were Filipino, and Fi heard she even spoke fluent Tagalog. Rowan had just started school this past year—Fi’d heard a rumor that Rowan had been in a cult before this.
And she certainly looked the part now. Rowan was wearing a denim vest over her blue button-down and a fanny pack shaped like a stuffed bear—both of which, Fi realized in abject sadness, she recognized from Star Worlds. I mean, sure, Rowan looked better in the vest than, like, 90 percent of the other costumed dorks here. But still. Would Fi never be free of this weirdness?
Well, she wasn’t going to be rude for no reason. Fi grabbed the offered hand, and Rowan helped haul Fi to her feet.
“Oh, dude,” Rowan said surprised. “Fiorella, right? From third period.”
“Fi,” she answered quickly. Nobody called her by her full name except teachers. “Yeah, third period. Rowan?”
“Yeah.” The girl smiled, yanking off her ever-present headphones and resting them around her neck.
“So rad to see you here. This is the best place on Earth, isn’t it? All your people in one place. I didn’t think you were into this stuff.”
Oh no, thought Fi in a panic. “Oh, I’m definitely not,” she said, wanting to correct Rowan before the wrong word started to get around. “I’m babysitting my sister and brother. I’d never be into something like Star Worlds; I actually have friends.”
Fi realized she’d probably been unnecessarily harsh in her rush to retain the appearance of coolness. She tried so hard to be different from the rest of her family, to be cool. But Fi saw Rowan’s expression change in an instant, regardless.
“Right,” Rowan said dryly, dropping Fi’s hand like it was on fire. “At least I’m not cosplaying a Real Housewife of San Diego.”
Fi looked down at her mother’s coffee-stained leopard shirt. Suddenly she wasn’t so sorry for being harsh. “This is my mom’s shirt, actually, and even if she does have terrible Slovakian style, she’s still kind of nerd famous!” Take that, nerd.
“Riiiight,” Rowan said, the sarcasm dripping off every extended syllable. Rowan started to look around Fi, searching for an easy way to join the crowd around her and move on.
“I swear,” Fi shot back, indignant. “You can Google her. She and my dad invented Ducky McFowl.”
Now that got Rowan’s attention. Her eyes snapped back to focus on Fi through her purple bangs.
“No way.” Rowan got out her phone, and Fi could see her immediately opening her internet browser.
Fi smirked. “Yes way. So—” Suddenly, behind Rowan’s bent head, Fi saw the inflatable sheep hanging in the air again. They were almost directly beneath it. But . . . “Shoot. Shoot, shoot!”
“Dude.” Rowan was still deep in her phone. “Your mom’s Anna Gallo? She’s, like, a cult hero; I love that show; what the heck—?”
“I gotta go,” Fi said in a rush. There were no twins here. No twins to be found. No twins of any kind anywhere in any sort of proximity to here. Fi was still totally screwed. And she’d gotten so distracted and forgotten . . .
“Wait, where?” Rowan asked, tucking her phone into her vest pocket.
Fi groaned. She didn’t have time for this. “I told you, I’m babysitting two monstrous nerds, and I can’t find them anywhere, and my parents are going to kill me, and if I’m dead they’re never going to let me go to Kumeyaay Lake—”
Rowan snorted. It was totally gross and not even a little bit cute. “You’re going to that? I heard it isn’t even going to be chaperoned—”
“Yes, it is!” Fi snapped back while unlocking her phone. Back to desperately combing social media.
“You need to chill—”
Fi kept frantically scrolling through her feed and groaned. “Why are they on this ridiculous quest—?”
“Quest?” Rowan repeated. “Look here.” Rowan grabbed Fi’s chin between two of her fingers and lifted her face away from her phone. Fi’s heart beat a little faster, and her neck felt hot where Rowan’s thumb rested. Fi jerked her chin out from between Rowan’s fingers. She barely even knew this girl. Why was she acting like they were anywhere near friendly enough to touch like that? “I’ll help you find your sister and brother, and in return you can introduce me to your super-cool mom. Okay? I wanna work in animation one day.”
Fi paused for a second. She stared into Rowan’s dorky but totally earnest face. The sooner she found the twins, Fi reasoned, the sooner she could leave this place and get back to planning her trip. And Rowan did seem to know her way around the con . . .
“Okay.” Fi nodded as Rowan’s hand dropped away. “You help me, I’ll help you, and this day can end. And I can get back to Ethan.”
“You got it, Leoparda,” Rowan cracked. “Who’s Ethan?”
“Who’s Leoparda?” Fi countered.
“She was on this cartoon in the eighties—” Rowan stopped herself. “It doesn’t matter. Give me your phone; let’s get looking.”
Pick up your copy of Con Quest! at any of these retailers.