We were fans first. And now we help build the world we love.
I’ll never forget the time I first saw Frozen. My daughter was two years old and it was her very first in-theater movie. She made it all the way to the “Let it Go” sequence and then had enough. We reluctantly headed home.
I went back the next day—by myself this time!—and instantly fell in love. And I’ve been a fan ever since. Cosplaying as Elsa at comic cons, belting out the songs car karaoke style, collecting Frozen limited edition dolls, and lurking on reddit or YouTube, eagerly gobbling up all the fan theories and Easter eggs.
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Jen’s experience was very similar to mine. She remembers taking her kids to see Frozen opening weekend with her mom with no idea what to expect. She was so taken by the music and story and a deep connection with Anna that soon she was planning a RunDisney half-marathon dressed as her favorite Arendelle princess, collecting Olaf’s, fan art, and Frozen sculptures, and of course seeing Frozen on Broadway.
She was a fan first—years before being asked to write Frozen fiction.
Our stories are not uncommon. And these days fandom is fiercer than ever. Whether you’re into Marvel or Star Wars, K-Pop or Harry Potter, a fandom can help you create a community when you feel alone. It can help you bond with other humans from around the world over your shared love of a favorite character. It can allow you to lose yourself in a comforting world when real life feels unbearable.
And for Jen and I, it led to an actual career. Disney approaching us and asking us to write stories in their worlds. As a writer, this is a huge deal. As a fan, it’s lifechanging. Now we get to not only absorb the stories we’re told, we get to help build them. We get to contribute to the lore, add our own Easter eggs, put words in our favorite characters’ mouths. It’s a powerful thing.
It’s also a great responsibility. As fans we know how bad it can feel when someone gets it wrong. When a character’s motives do not ring true. Or a fact gets forgotten.
And so we work overtime to get it right. To make sure we create a book that’s not just a book set in the Frozen world, but an actual Frozen book—to give readers the same feels they get from watching the films. Which requires us to write on two levels, really. For the casual reader who might have caught the films once or twice, or a child who just loves Anna and Elsa, we need to write a compelling adventure story that keeps them turning the pages.
But we also want to reach that other, deeper level—for the fandom readership who craves ever more content from the world they love. We want to give them the Easter Eggs, the winks, the nods, the extended lore. To give them the opportunity for them to revisit familiar faces and places and have new experiences. To expand on minor characters and give them new depth. We want to create a book that they’ll want to talk about on Tumblr or TikTok, analyzing each scene, just as they would for a film. We want the experience of our book to go beyond the last pages. To be a gateway into a Discord discussion, a reddit thread, new fan art and fan fictions. Allowing people to continue to live in their favorite world—between their favorite films.
This is where it takes a fan. And a healthy respect for the fandom.
So while it’s easy to dismiss media tie-in books as meaningless pulp fiction, not worthy of the title of real literature, there’s a reason they’re so popular. They give the gift of comfort and community. They offer an escape into a familiar, safe world. They bring people together. They reassure us of a happily ever after. And, at the end of the day, they make us smile.
As author fans, we can’t think of anything better than that.
About Frozen: Polar Nights
Anna, Queen of Arendelle, has been tirelessly preparing for the Polar Night’s Celebration that is held every year to welcome the time when the sun doesn’t rise in the Polar Circle. She has been working so hard, her fiancé Kristoff suggests she take a night off to visit her sister Elsa, the Snow Queen. Anna loves the idea. Accompanied by Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf, Anna reunites with Elsa in the Enchanted Forest.
After telling spooky stories around the campfire, Olaf swears that one of the creatures of their tales has come to life! Who else is responsible for the sudden onset of storms and the earlier than normal darkening of the skies? Why else is everyone starting to become so forgetful?
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Anna and Elsa join forces to determine what is going on. Together they recall Kristoff’s terrifying tale about a princess who turned into a draugr—an undead creature that steals memories in an effort to make others forget the misdeeds it committed when he was alive. Is it possible that Kristoff inadvertently unearthed memories of a draugr, and thus unleashed the monster upon Arendelle? Anna and Elsa must uncover the real story behind the tale before everyone in Arendelle forgets who they are and is cast into darkness forever….
Out today from Disney Press
Meet Our Authors
Jen Calonita is the New York Times and USA Today-bestselling author of more than thirty books for teens and middle grade. Her books have sold more than a million copies and have been translated into 15 languages.
THE RETAKE is in paperback. (In this MG, Zoe discovers a time travel app on her phone, which she uses to try to fix things with her best friend)
UP NEXT: FROZEN POLAR NIGHTS: CAST INTO DARKNESS coming 7/18/22
12 to 22 coming 8/16/22
Mari Mancusi grew up where the north wind meets the sea (otherwise known as Massachusetts), but has since made her home in the great state of Texas, mostly due to her love of summer. (And tacos.) A former Emmy Award winning TV news producer, today she is the author of more than two-dozen books for kids, teens, and adults, mostly of the sci-fi/fantasy variety. In addition to writing, Mari loves traveling, video games, and cosplaying. She is also Mom to an eight year old Frozen superfan who, when recently asked by her teacher to describe her hero answered: “My Mom!” (Okay, fine, she said Kristin Bell.)
You can find Mari online at www.marimancusi.com.
Filed under: Teen Fiction