Scooby-Doo has earned its place in the canon of entertainment. From classic cartoons to feature films and everything in between, generations of fans count on Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, Fred, and Velma for mystery, humor, and friendship!
Those hallmarks of the brand are further explored in the exciting YA trilogy Daphne and Velma, which reimagines the world of Scooby-Doo from the perspective of Daphne Blake and Velma Dinkley. We talked with Morgan Baden, author of Daphne and Velma: The Dark Deception and the upcoming Daphne and Velma: Buried Secrets (July 2021), and the books’ editor Beth Dunfey, Editorial Director of Licensed Publishing, about what it’s like to write new tales about iconic characters.
Beth: Hi, Morgan! We’ve been working together on the Daphne and Velma trilogy, which is a YA reboot of Scooby Doo, starring Daphne Blake and Velma Dinkley as high school best-friends-turned-enemies-turned-best-friends-again. Daphne and Velma: The Dark Deception came out in July. What kind of reaction have you been hearing from readers?
Morgan: I knew lots of people loved about Scooby-Doo – of course! It’s an iconic brand, a classic, with such a long history. I too have so many memories of Scooby myself. But wow, are the fans passionate! Whenever I read a new review of the book I’m reminded of how deeply loyal some people are to the core tenets of Scooby: the mysteries, the humor, and most of all the relationships the gang all have with each other. It’s been enormously fun seeing what the fans respond to – and also trying to tap into their favorite Scooby components when I wrote the follow-up book!
Beth: Like the show Scooby-Doo, each of these books focuses on a single mystery – as well as an overarching mystery about the town Crystal Cove, where Daphne, Velma, and the gang all live. What inspired the idea for the mystery in The Dark Deception, and what can you share about the next book in the trilogy, which releases in summer 2021?
Morgan: One day in the summer of 2019, when I was actively brainstorming ideas to share with you, I went to the beach with my mom. (Shout out to New Jersey beaches, some of the best in the world!) The water was spectacular that day, complete with thousands of tiny, harmless jellyfish that twinkled in the sun. My mom noted that they looked like diamonds, and I immediately thought: what if a bunch of diamonds and other jewels washed up on a beach somewhere? What circumstances would cause something weird like that to happen? So I fleshed out the idea of gemstones washing ashore in Crystal Cove…and by the time I drove home, I was ready to pitch the concept to you!
For the next book, Buried Secrets, I was inspired by some old Nancy Drew Files books I was reading at the time. One of them, The Final Scene, involved a movie star coming to town for a movie premiere. So my wheels started turning about what might happen if Hollywood came to Crystal Cove. Daphne’s mom, Elizabeth Blake, is one of my favorite characters – she has such an interesting backstory, which was really laid out in book 1, The Vanishing Girl – and I realized there was a very organic way to infuse some television magic into this book.
In Buried Secrets, a television show based on the mysteries of Crystal Cove is being filmed in town, and of course Daphne and Velma are involved with it…and of course, some mysterious things happen. We really heightened the stakes in this book in significant ways, thanks to your suggestions, Beth! People get hurt…and someone even gets murdered. So Daphne and Velma, with help from Shaggy and Fred, have a really big case on their hands.
Beth: You released The Dark Deception in the middle of the pandemic. What’s that been like?
Morgan: Well, it occurred to me recently that I still haven’t seen The Dark Deception on a shelf in a bookstore…because I haven’t been to a physical bookstore since pre-pandemic times! So that’s a bummer. Luckily, by July when this was released, a lot of events had been transitioned to virtual, so I’ve been able to speak on panels and do podcast interviews from my home. The Scooby-Doo fan base has been incredibly welcoming!
Morgan: Now I have a question for you, Beth! You have a long history with the Scooby-Doo brand. Can you talk more about your involvement?
Beth: Absolutely! Scooby-Doo was my favorite show when I was growing up in 1970s and early 1980s. As a kid, I was genuinely scared of the ghosts and monsters! I felt really lucky when I first started working at Scholastic twenty years ago and was asked to edit our Scooby-Doo storybooks and chapter books. So naturally I was delighted when our team brainstormed the idea to do a Scooby-based YA series, which turned into Daphne and Velma. I am so happy with what we’ve done with the books – I feel like we’ve come up with great twists on Daphne and Velma’s personalities while also still staying true to the Scooby DNA.
Finally, I have to say it’s been so fun working with you, Morgan! I love that you love Scooby-Doo as much as I do! I’ll never forget our first e-mail exchange, in which you told me she’d dressed up as Velma for Halloween just a few years ago. I knew at that moment you were the right author for these books!
Find out more about the Daphne and Velma books and watch our I read YA panel on Twisted Realities featuring Morgan Baden along with authors Eireann Corrigan (Remedy), Lamar Giles (Spin), and Sarah Darer Littman (Deepfake):