Danica Davidson on her career’s evolution and her latest novel, “Minecraft: The Outsider”

"...If you want to be a writer, all you have to do is write. Telling stories from the heart is what makes a writer. If you want to be a professional writer, it’s important to learn the business side of publishing or journalism, depending on what you want to get into. And don’t give up!..."
minecraft

I last interviewed Danica Davidson in 2022 about her book, Chalk Art Manga: A Step-by-Step Guide. However, I last talked to her about her Minecraft work in 2016. Nearly eight years later, and I finally get to talk to Davidson about another Minecraft novel. Titled Minecraft: The Outsider, the story follows Jeremy and Valda teaming up to stop a new type of zombie which threatens all of Overworld. Wanting to catch up with Davidson and learn more about this book, I was able to interview her for ScifiPulse.

To learn more about her, you can visit her homepage and follow her on twitter @DanicaDavidson

Nicholas Yanes: So, how has life been? Solve any mysteries? Get away with any crimes?

Danica Davidson: It’s good to be back at SciFiPulse! The main things right now are that I’m excited to have a new book out, and I’m healing up from a surgery I’ve needed for a 2020 sports injury (because what didn’t happen that year?). No crimes, and solving any mysteries only brings about more mysteries.

Yanes: You and I have both written for a multitude of digital platforms that are either dead, dying, or contracting due to economic changes. Looking back, was there a moment in which you began to realize that many of these media companies were financially on thin ice?

Davidson: I knew that one big-name news place — where I worked for four and a half years — was in trouble during my last six months there. I really saw it go downhill from choices being made on the inside, like putting clicks above quality. These days I’m mostly just writing anime and manga news for Otaku USA, and that’s a lot more fun.

Yanes: On this note, what advice would you offer to young adults who want to become professional writers?

Davidson: If you want to be a writer, all you have to do is write. Telling stories from the heart is what makes a writer. If you want to be a professional writer, it’s important to learn the business side of publishing or journalism, depending on what you want to get into. And don’t give up!

Yanes: When I saw Minecraft: The Outsider, I immediately noticed that it was an official Minecraft novel. Considering that your previous novels were unofficial, this is a huge accomplishment. Could you take a moment and talk about how your work went from unofficial to official?

Davidson: Thank you! The unofficial novels started when I sold my first book, Manga Art for Beginners, to Skyhorse Publishing, and they asked if I had any ideas for Minecraft books. Minecraft is so big and has its own universe, and I thought it would be a great platform to write kids’ adventure stories. I wrote the first book, Escape from the Overworld, about an 11-year-old boy named Stevie who lives in the Overworld and accidentally finds a portal to Earth. This led to two series and a total of twelve books! I got support from Microsoft, even though these books are unofficial, but people there liked the literacy angles and the stories I wrote. I was even invited to speak about my books before members of the European Union in Belgium at a Microsoft event.

Then I thought my days writing things related to Minecraft were over, and was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong! Penguin Random House reached out to me based on the unofficial books. First, they asked me to help on their official Minecraft cookbook, The Crafter’s Kitchen, which is coming out next year. There were three of us working on it: Victoria Granof, who is a professional chef, wrote the recipes. Emma Carlson Berne wrote stuff about sustainability, and I wrote the chapter headers, intros, et cetera. Then I thought I was probably done with Minecraft again, only for the editor to ask if I would be interested in writing an official Minecraft novel. Yes, I would!

 

 

Yanes: On the subject of Minecraft: The Outsider, how did the idea for this story come to you?

Davidson: I talked about a few different ideas with my editor, Alex Davis, to see what he thought. Then I wrote a proposal of the plot. Mojang came back telling me what they liked and didn’t like, and after some back-and-forth, we cemented a plot that became the plot of the finished book. I’ve been writing some more serious books lately, so I was in the mood to write something fun and lighthearted here. Mojang also wanted there to be a message of sustainability in the story, so that part was their idea.

Yanes: When developing this story from idea to finished draft, was there a character or subplot that came to life in an unexpected way?

Davidson: I think Valda really leapt off the page, but I wouldn’t expect any less of her.

Yanes: Now that the book is done and published, is there a line of prose in it that you are particularly proud of?

Davidson: Oh, that’s hard to say. The book opens with the line “Jeremy had never made a potion of Invisibility, but he knew what it was like to feel invisible.” I think we all feel that way sometimes.

Yanes: Valda and Jeremy both seem like great characters. Are they based on people you know in real life?

Davidson: Jeremy is named after Jeremy Bonebreak, a friend I’ve known since middle school. He’s also a Minecraft fan, so when I started writing the unofficial books, he would read my rough drafts and give me really helpful edits. I asked permission to use his name in this book as a thank-you, but the Jeremy character is pretty different from the real person.

Mojang told me they wanted some kind of a Crocodile Dundee thing going on, only it was going to be a city boy (Jeremy) in the country with a rural girl (Valda), whereas in the movie Crocodile Dundee is a country man in the city. I rewatched the movie when Mojang said that because I hadn’t seen it in a while. I thought, “Okay, so Crocodile Dundee has no sense of propriety, but if you’re ever in danger, you want him in your corner because he’ll be able to take care of it.” So that was the basis for Valda.

Yanes: When people finish reading Minecraft: The Outsider, what do you hope they take away from the experience?

Davidson: First and foremost, I just hope they’re entertained and have a good time. I hope they enjoy Jeremy and Valda and maybe feel less alone based on some of the stuff these characters go through.

Yanes: Finally, what else are you working that people can look forward to?

Davidson: I have a few different projects I’m working on, and I would love to return to Jeremy and Valda someday. People are welcome to check out my website, www.danicdavidson.com. This is my nineteenth work, and I’ve also written manga art books (including the first on chalk manga drawing), some comics, and a Holocaust memoir with a survivor. So, I write in pretty different areas and I can keep you busy with lots of books. Thanks for having me!

Remember, you can learn more about her, you can visit her homepage and follow her on twitter @DanicaDavidson.

And remember to add me on LinkedIn, and to follow ScifiPulse on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

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