For years, Danica Davidson has been doing powerhouse work as a geek writer. With articles seen all over MTV and MTV Geek and translations of Japanese Manga published in the US, she’s worked hard to turn her love for anime, comics, and games into work that she loves. Now though, she aims to use her love of video games to spark kids’ love of adventure with a set of unofficial Minecraft novels.
Davidson’s novels, Escape from Overworld and Attack on the Overworld, published by Skyhorse Publishing, follow Stevie and Maison, two kids from different sides of the Minecraft world. Maison is a young girl from Earth, and Stevie’s a blocky hero from the Overworld of Minecraft—they collide after a portal between the two worlds opens and throws their lives upside down. Davidson says she came up with their stories after working with Skyhorse publishing on another novel, then began dreaming up story ideas after learning they wanted Minecraft-related pitches.
“So soon after that, this character Stevie popped into my head,” Davidson says. “I hadn’t named him Stevie at first, I just became interested in a Minecraft character who wasn’t good at building, wasn’t good at fighting monsters, but he wanted to be good at those things and wanted to impress people.”
“Once he finds the portal to our world he has complete culture shock from it. These people don’t live in a blocky world, they don’t know how to build anything, he can’t fathom what fingers are, and he doesn’t understand cars! He thinks they’re mine carts and tries to understand if people put carrots in front of them like you do pigs in Minecraft.”
Since Davidson’s writing doesn’t have to live in the world of Minecraft thanks to its unofficial status, it lets her broach bigger parts of Minecraft culture that books or even game content might not be able to acknowledge. Stevie’s bafflement at our world and understanding of everything through recipes and logic interactions mirrors the way kids playing Minecraft are learning video games today.
For Davidson this approach becomes a way to tell adventure stories and talk about bigger subjects with kids using a language they understand. Her second novel, Attack on Overworld deals with pre-teen cyberharassment and cyberbullying as two kids from Maison’s school hack into Overworld and try to bring down the great fantasy life she’s built for herself.
Davidson says she was writing about cyberbullying, and other social issues as a newswriter for some time, and as someone making a living on the internet, she’d certainly experienced it herself. “Everyone who has a presence online has these days,” she says wryly. “You repeat the same story over and over again in journalism with statistics and the like, but I thought a better way to reach people would be to talk about it in a story.”
“Doing that, you get a better background on who bullies are and why they hurt other people, and that it’s okay to talk about it, or tell a parent or a teacher. I’m hoping as kids read this book, and recognize they’ve experienced it, they’ll feel comfortable talking to others.”
One big point Davidson makes sure to hit home: Cyberbullying isn’t an anonymous act, just like real-world harassment. Says Davidson, “the villains do know Maison—she knows one of them, she doesn’t know the other, but she’s shocked to realize these people are in her neighborhood, and that they’re just regular people who have trouble knowing how to communicate.”
All of this, of course, is in the service of telling great adventure stories first and foremost. Whether it’s Minecraft or talking about cyberbullying, Davidson wants her young readers to be swept away with adventures that can only happen with Stevie and Maison. “I don’t think about it as ‘I’m going to go tap into a Minecraft audience,’ it’s more ‘I’m going to go write a fun story with a Minecraft audience.’”
And if you ever find yourself wanting to jump into an “unofficial” novel or just plain fan-fiction, Davidson has this advice: “Go with your interests in that world, and where your mind goes. The best thing is you don’t have to write it for a publisher, or for anything in particular, and just kind of write it for your own interest. Bring in new relationships, new characters, have fighting and conflict–whatever makes you excited about that world.”
Feature Image Credit: Danica Davidson