Today I am delighted to welcome to my blog Danica Davidson, author of the Minecrafter novels Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down Into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine, and Battle with the Wither; the how-to-draw manga book Manga Art For Beginners; and the comic book Barbie Puppies: Puppy Party. To learn more about Danica’s work, visit her website (www.danicadavidson.com) or follow her on Twitter (@DanicaDavidson). And to visit other stops on the blog tour, be sure to check in with Andrea at Little Red Reviewer, who has done a great job bringing this all together!
When I started reading manga as a teenager, everything changed.
I’d always enjoyed a good book, and as a kid I’d read comics like Betty & Veronica, Tintin and Simpsons comics. But for some reason I didn’t really consider those “reading,” even though they were. I stumbled across an anime on TV I started watching because I thought it looked interesting and different, and then I got myself a copy of Kyoko Ariyoshi’s Swan from the library. And I haven’t stopped reading manga since.
There was just such a different world in manga. Like novels, you could find manga on any topic you liked. I appreciated that so many manga were written by women; so often the beautiful art and storylines spoke to me. Because they were from a different culture, they would also look at things from different perspectives from what I was used to seeing, or deal with topics considered taboo in America. I found this very freeing as a reader and a writer.
My dream had always been to be a professional author, and manga and graphic novels helped me achieve that. I was submitting novels to agents since I was in middle school, unaware of how difficult a business publishing is to crack, and that it’s often one of those “it’s who you know” businesses. I didn’t have contacts in publishing; I had to start from the ground up. In high school I started working as a journalist for the local paper and expanded from there. I began pitching articles about anime and manga to different places because they interested me and there wasn’t so much coverage on these topics. Even general graphic novel places tended to shy away from manga or only cover it a little. I found a niche here, and ended up writing about manga and graphic novels for MTV, CNN, The Onion, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Otaku USA and Anime Insider, etc.
I also got a job adapting manga into English. I had to take something of a writing test to get in. Essentially, I would be given a physical copy of the original Japanese book and a translation on my computer. Everything was mapped out in the translation by page and panel, so you knew what was going on where. Because Japanese and English are very different languages, a straight translation from Japanese to English can sound stilted to American ears. It was my job to rewrite the translation so it kept the same meaning but sounded more natural for how people talked in America.
And it was doing this work that sold my first book, Manga Art for Beginners. The book shows how to draw basic manga character types, like butlers (any Black Butler fans?), ninja (any Naruto fans?) and magical girls (any Sailor Moon fans?). I have a sequel coming out next year called Manga Art for Intermediates, and it’s illustrated by Rena Saiya, a professional Japanese artist. I write out the layout and the descriptions in each book, and in addition to showing how to draw popular character types (businessman, bride and groom, yokai, female warrior), it talks about what sort of pens, equipment and computer programs professional mangaka in Japan use.
Besides my manga books, I also write books for Minecrafters (adventure novels for kids that take place as if Minecraft is real) and have written a Barbie comic called Barbie: Puppy Party (where Barbie and her sisters throw a puppy party to get the local shelter pets adopted) and a Tales from the Crypt comic (where bullying has deadly consequences). I want to write in different genres and for different age groups, but it was manga that got me my first sale and helped broaden my horizons creatively and intellectually.