The following is an interview with writer Danica Davidson on the recent release of the novel, Minecraft: The Outsider, through Penguin Random House. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Davidson about her creative process in playing within the Minecraft sandbox, what she hopes that readers may take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Minecraft: The Outsider! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the premise of this new entry in the world of the Minecraft?
Danica Davidson: Thank you! Minecraft: The Outsider is a Minecraft novel aimed for 10-12-year-olds about two kids from opposite worlds who have to come together. Jeremy is a city boy who’s never stepped out in nature, and Valda is a zombie-slaying, armor-wearing, rural spitfire who gets to take him into her world of hostile mobs. But a new kind of zombie is wreaking havoc, and the kids have to figure out what’s going on.
BD: Working within an established world – especially one as well known as Minecraft – can be a daunting task! What can you tell us about your creative process in approaching this story, and how did your previous work on unofficial Minecraft projects prepare you for this new endeavor?
DD: For me, it’s about mixing the excitement of Minecraft with stuff real kids go through.
I’m one of the writers behind next year’s 2024 Minecraft cookbook, The Crafter’s Kitchen, and my editor for that approached me about the possibility of writing an official Minecraft novel. At the end of the day, it became kind of a story about the city mouse and the country mouse, only it’s the city Minecrafter and the country Minecrafter, and they’re both going to learn from each other. Some of this is based on my own experiences. I grew up just outside of Los Angeles, and anyone who’s there knows it’s sprawling and massive. Then, in high school, I moved to a rural area in Michigan where the closest town had a population of about 1,000 and there were only two traffic lights in said town. To say it was a culture shock would be an understatement. I used those experiences to help write this story.
The unofficial Minecrafter books really showed me what a great template Minecraft is for imagination and telling stories. And even though the people there are blocky, it doesn’t mean they can’t experience the same types of stuff we do!
BD: Likewise, what can you share about your collaborative experience in working with Penguin Random House and Mojang?
DD: I had a few talks with my editor where I passed some ideas by him, and once we got it to a certain point, we approached Mojang with it. Mojang came back with notes on what they liked and what they wanted changed in the premise. I had come up with an idea of a Minecraft city, and they wanted me to run with this and create a whole culture there, and contrast it with the culture of living rurally in Minecraft. Once we got the bigger details ironed out, I set to work writing.
After the book was turned in, Mojang went over it again and let me know what revisions they wanted. It went through a couple rounds of edits and that led us to the book we have out today.
BD: What do you hope that readers – both new to and well versed in the world of Minecraft – may take away from this story?
DD: I hope they have a blast reading. Minecraft: The Outsider is an adventure story, but it also deals with issues like loneliness and sustainability (the loneliness part was my idea, while the sustainability part was Mojang’s). So, I hope it can help kids feel less alone, and can help them feel inspired about nature. And I hope it shows how fun reading can be and kids will want to read more and more.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DD: I have a few projects I’m working on, but nothing to announce yet. Hopefully, that will change soon!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to learn more about Minecraft: The Outsider and your other work?
DD: Please feel free to check out my website, www.danicdavidson.com. Minecraft: The Outsider is my nineteenth published book, and my other books range from serious nonfiction to manga how-to-draw books (including the first-ever book on how to draw manga using chalk) to comics. I hope you’ll check out some of my other work. Thank you!