Between the Lines: From Manga to Barbie

Sep 2, 2016

Danica Davidson
Credit Deborah Peckham

Danica Davidson of Sturgis began her career as a writer when she was just three years old. That's not a typo. She couldn’t write yet but she could dictate. Her parents took down her dictated stories, and little Danica then drew pictures to illustrate them.

By age seven, Davidson had written her first novel. “It was terrible,” she admits.

By age fourteen, she convinced her school teacher to tell the Los Angeles Times that there was a talented writer in her classroom. The newspaper followed up and interviewed the young author.

“I began submitting to agents and editors when I was in middle school,” Davidson says. “And I was learning that to break into publishing was about the hardest thing to do in the world. I thought it would help to have been in the LA Times, but it didn’t.”

Credit Sky Pony Press

Davidson says her first sale to a publisher was a book on manga — the Japanese comic art form. Anime is the animated version of manga.

“That was a surprise to me. The publisher actually approached me. I had by then a history of writing articles on manga, so they asked me to write a book about it.”

Davidson was soon writing articles for hundreds of publications, magazines, and websites. The list includes MTV, The Onion, CNN, Ms. Magazine, Publishers Weekly, and many more. But she especially enjoys writing for the young. Her "Minecrafter" novels, stories built around characters in the popular video game, are written primarily for ages 7 to 12.

Davidson’s writing about manga for MTV earned her and other contributors a Webby honor in the Best Youth Writing category.

Davidson uses her "Minecrafter" novels to address social issues affecting kids. The first book in the series, Escape from the Overworld (Sky Pony Press, 2015), tells the story of 11-year old Stevie, who grows up in the shadow of his powerful father. He must find his own identity and build his own self-esteem within that shadow — all while fighting zombies.

“So far, I’ve written for young people, but I’d like to someday write also for adults,” Davidson says.

Listen to WMUK's Between the Lines every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.