IndieView with Danica Davidson, author of Escape from the Overworld

The most important thing is the writing, whether you self-publish, go with an independent publisher or go with a large one. Write down whatever you want to say first and foremost, because it’s your voice.

Danica Davidson – 24 June 2017

The Back Flap

Stevie is in for a big surprise while building his treehouse: he’s first attacked by a creeper, and then must take on a group of zombies! The near miss has him feeling like the worst mob fighter in Minecraft, so when he finds a portal into a brand-new world, he’s willing to take his chances.

He steps out of a computer screen and into the room of a sixth-grade girl Maison, who’s a talented builder. Stevie is shocked by how different this world is, and Maison takes him under her wing. But soon the two friends learn zombies have also made their way out of the portal!

More and more creatures are slipping out by the second, wreaking havoc on a world that has no idea how to handle zombies, creepers, giant spiders, and the like. Stevie and Maison must put their heads together and use their combined talents in order to push the zombies back into Minecraft, where they belong. As Stevie and Maison’s worlds become more combined, their adventure becomes intense and even more frightening than they could have ever imagined.

About the book

What is the book about?

I’ve written a number of books in the last few years, and the first one to come out was Escape from the Overworld, an adventure novel for ages 7-12. It takes place as if Minecraft is a real world (and if you’re a parent, teacher or kid, you’re probably familiar with this blocky game and its popularity). The main character, Stevie, lives in Minecraft and accidentally finds a portal to Earth, after which he has all sorts of adventures while traveling around worlds. This spawned off into five more books: Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine and Battle with the Wither. I have a spinoff series with Stevie and his friends coming out later this year, starting with Adventure Against the Endermen.

I’m also in the comic book world. I have a book out called Manga Art for Beginners (a guide on how to draw manga-style characters) with a sequel book coming out next year. I’ve written the Barbie graphic novel Barbie: Puppy Party for Papercutz and have also been in Tales from the Crypt.

When did you start writing the book?

After years of submitting and being rejected, I sold the manga book in 2014 and shortly after that I started writing the Minecrafter ones.

How long did it take you to write it?

Each book varies. The Minecrafter ones take about a week for the first draft (they’re about 20,000 words) and then I go back and revise. The Barbie comic took a few days, but it’s about 60 pages and mostly pictures. The manga books went on for a few months because I would go back and forth with the artists. With each book, I would brainstorm thoroughly beforehand so I already knew where I was going with them before I sat down at the computer.

Where did you get the idea from?

The Minecrafter books came out of a sense of adventure and spanning different worlds, and how strange and fun it would be if a video game world were real. Barbie: Puppy Party has Barbie and her sisters throwing a puppy party to get the local shelter pets adopted, and that idea came from my love of animals and the rescue pets I have.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

It varies by the book. Sometimes I would get stuck on a scene, and I handled this in one of two ways. Either I forced myself through the scene with a promise I would rewrite it later, or I’d step away from it for a while to go for a walk to busy myself with something else.

What came easily?

Once I got the hang of the Minecrafter books, those starting spilling out of me. The Barbie comic came pretty easily and I found it really fun to write. I was trying for a while to come up with something for Tales from the Crypt, then suddenly I had an idea and it all came rushing out pretty quickly.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Pretty fictitious, though sometimes I see elements of myself in them. The whole “let’s get every pet adopted” thing is pretty much like me.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

When I was a kid, there was a time where I liked being read to but I didn’t like reading books for myself. That changed when I was introduced to Beverly Cleary. Then I didn’t want to wait around for someone to read it to me because I just had to know right then what would happen. Not long after that I got really into reading Greek mythology, and that eventually led me to Homer and Ovid, who are my favorite writers.

Do you have a target reader?

The Minecrafter books are aimed for 7-12, though I have older and younger readers. The Barbie comic is for ages 6-10. The manga books are generally YA, but they’re basically for anyone who wants to study manga-style art. Tales from the Crypt would be YA or adult, I’d say.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Sometimes the words just seize me and I have to write them down. For these books, I give myself a set schedule because I have strict deadlines. I make myself write at least 2,000 words a day before I can have a break. If I can write more than 2,000, great. But if not, this still keeps me going steadily.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

It depends on the book. For the books I’ve published, the publishers have generally wanted an outline before there’s a contract. Usually my outline would be less than a page and cover the basics of the plot. If an outline isn’t requested, I don’t normally write them down. I keep it all in my head.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Usually I edit after I finish. If I edit while I’m writing, I might lose the flow and get distracted. Also, if I read over everything after I’ve written it, it gives me some time away so I can look at it fresh.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Yes! I almost always have music playing, and it varies depending on what I’m writing. For the Minecrafter books, I often listen to Nightwish, which is a symphonic metal band. (Actually, I listen to them a lot if I want to write something more exciting or pulse-beating). For the Barbie comic, I had Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” on repeat. It works.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Yes, and it took me years to get a literary agent. I was very naïve in the beginning about what a difficult process it is, and I think a lot of aspiring writers are. I learned it’s normal to get A LOT of rejection before you first publish.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

My agent was submitting different work of mine, and then Skyhorse Publishing approached me about writing a manga book. From there I sold the Minecrafter books and that’s just how it worked out.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

My publishers have taken care of the covers.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

A little from column A, a little from column B. I’m learning as I go.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

The most important thing is the writing, whether you self-publish, go with an independent publisher or go with a large one. Write down whatever you want to say first and foremost, because it’s your voice. You can go back and revise it later, and revision is also a step we all need to learn, because you have to critically look over your work afterward (but not so critically you put it in the trashcan instead of finding ways to better it).

About You

What would you like readers to know about you?

I’ve been writing since I was little. I used to dictate stories to my parents when I was three, and I was writing novels in middle school. Being a professional writer has been my dream since very early childhood. I want to write in all different styles and genres, and for all different age groups.

What are you working on now?

More Minecrafter books! And I’m serious about writing all sorts of different books, so we’ll see what the future holds.

End of Interview:

For more from Danica visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Get you copy of Escape from the Overworld from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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