How turning a Disney passion and love of mysteries into a full time business writing books.
One great benefit of midlife is the freedom of being able to pick and choose what you do based on what you have a passion for. Whether it is taking a love of the ocean and home decorating and starting a business creating sea shell home décor or taking a love of art and sewing and creating fiber art or taking a love of writing and learning and starting a blog, following a passion can lead to enjoyment and profitability. Following her Disney passion and love of mysteries is exactly how Nancy Rodrigue began her business of writing Disney themed adventure mysteries that incorporate Disney Park clues.
Nancy Rodrigue first went to Disneyland in 1962 when she was 6 years old. It was love at first sight for Nancy and her dad. They would go to the Park at least once a year after that. and watch all the Disney movies that came out. Nancy also started a small collection of memorabilia like the A – E tickets, brochures, books, etc.
So when did Nancy start turning her Disney passion into a profit? “In 2008, a friend (who used to be a Disneyland cast member) called me and told me about an idea he had after seeing the movie “National Treasure.” He said, ‘What if Walt did something like that? What if Walt left a treasure behind? Do you want to write a book with me?’ And that was all it took. “
The original novels were written for an adult audience, something that hadn’t been done before. Nancy started by writing down the plot then came up with the main characters, where they would go in the treasure hunt, what they would find, and how they get to the hidden clues. Within two months, she had about 120,000 words written. Nancy recalls that it was easy to write about Disneyland and showcasing Walt Disney as the main character in the books.
The first Hidden Mickey novel: Sometimes Dead Men Do Tell Tales! was written in about five months. However, with editing and rewrites, it took about a year before it was in print and ready to sell. After that, Nancy was able to come out with the next book in the series each year. She had a writing partner for the first two novels and starting with the third book, she has been the sole author.
Since writing the first Hidden Mickey series, Nancy has added Hidden Mickey Adventures for ages 9 and up. The characters in these books are the next generation of clue-solvers and are the children of the heroes in the first series. She has also written puzzle books featuring both Disneyland and California Adventure.
Research for all 9 of the Hidden Mickey and Hidden Mickey Adventures novels “was intensive.” It was important for Nancy to be historically accurate with all the details about Walt, and with the locations she used within the stories. When a story says Walt went to a train store in London in 1951, he really was in a train store in London in 1951. Nancy admits, “Of course, the conversations with his wife or his companions falls under the title of ‘creative license’ to further my story but when I am working with a place and a person as well known as Disneyland and Walt Disney, I have to be accurate. A lot of my readers are avid fans and would surely call me out if I have, for instance, a ride out of place in the Park!”
What does Disney think about Nancy’s books? Downtown Disney invited Nancy to a book signing back in 2009. Her 1957 T-Bird featured on the back cover of her first book, Hidden Mickey, was parked next to her table outside of the Compass Book Store. Many Disney executives and Imagineers have the first series of books and have had some nice things to say, which has been very encouraging.
To help get the word out about her books, Nancy has joined a few Disney-based fan clubs. The books are for sale in Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. She started a Hidden Mickey Fan Club on Facebook and has been invited to speak on different author panels and at Fan Clubs. Of these experiences, Nancy says that they are “always a lot of fun. It is nice to meet face-to-face and have a chance to learn stories from the fans.”
I met Nancy and her husband, Russ, and their dog, Toto, at the LA Times Festival of Books held April 22-23, 2017. They had a booth featuring their books where I was able to talk to them and learn about their Disney passion endeavor. I could tell right away how serious they were about Walt Disney and his legacy.
What does the future hold for Nancy, her Disney passion, and her Hidden Mickey series? She is currently working on Hidden Mickey 4.5: Unfinished Business-Wals. Wals was the lead character in Hidden Mickey 3 and 4, but he never had his story completed. He was handed a clue from Walt, which he opened and read. He knew where he had to go to begin his journey, but she never finished his clue search. There was a lot of clamoring from her readers about what happened to Wals, so she is giving him his own story!
Congratulations to Nancy Rodrigue for turning her Disney passion into a profit. For more information about her books, please visit her website.
What passion can you turn into a midlife business?